Friday, May 30, 2008


Ray, if someone asks if you're a god; you say yes!

I think that is Bill Murray's character, Peter Venkman, oops I'm wrong; it was Ernie Hudson's character, Winston Zeddemore who said it to Ray, Dan Akroyd's character. Thanks to's Ghostbusters quotes page for clearing that up.

J and I popped in Ghostbusters II to watch last night. As I'm clicking around to play I see "animated episodes". Huh? Animated? Like the cartoon that J and I used to watch in our respective houses when we were 7 and 6? That's right! There were 2 episodes of the Ghostbusters cartoon. When the first episode was done, we confirmed that Bill Murray did not do the voiceover but Arsenio Hall did, and it was copyrighted in 1986. Awesome. All kinds of awesome. What a great cartoon based on a great movie!

We made it halfway through the next episode and never actually got to see the boys take on Vigo the Destroyer or make the Statue of Liberty get off her lazy ass and make her way through Manhattan.

Also a noted aside, as an impressionable 9 year old catching the theatrical release of Ghostbusters II in the summer of 1989 was the first time I ever saw the film get melted by the projector. Of course it happened right as Vigo was coming out of the painting so I thought it was part of the movie until I heard groans and the lights come on. WTF Dad? The theater had some lackeys handing out free passes as an apology. We used those passes to watch Batman, which was amazing. I had a whole new respect for Michael Keaton since the only other movie I had seen him in up to that point was Mr. Mom.

Do you need links to these movies? I'll assume you know Batman and Ghostbuster II but I'll give you Mr. Mom just in case.

Haha! That wasn't what I was going to post about at all!

I read the saga of 5 friends who biked across southern Angola on BMW and KTM motorcycles. They were all from South Africa and had a great time including the several harrowing adventures, all from the riding and none from the very friendly and hospitable locals. His title for the story is "Angola, it's not like they said."

The story comes from the user MetalJockey from the Adventure Rider forums. Be warned, it takes a good 30 minutes to make it all the way through to the epilogue and even though the thread is 65 pages long, Metaljockey has linked his next post so you don't have to slog through it all. Also, it's slightly NSFW because of topless native Angolans.

Which of course, reignited my extreme desire for another motorcycle. I had a 1983 Honda Magna cruiser that was a good starter bike and a good lesson in purchasing used motorcycles (read: I got ripped off). Now I'm hooked on the enduro style motorcycles used for races like the Baja 500, Dakar, and RallyMoto. I just love the idea of commuting to work and then, oh no!, traffic or a detour, but there is a lovely field that cuts right to my job. No worries, I'm on my BMW/KTM! So I hop the curb and offroad it to where I'm going. Also I would love to go camping on my motorcycle and some of the roads definitely qualify as offroad. They also get great gas mileage, so except for the extreme physics disadvantage in a wreck, there is no downside!

Check out the bikes that have been the objects of my petrol lust:
BMW GS650 (in special Dakar trim) starts at $7100, although new the only available colors are silver, black and red

Or the KTM 690 (in Red Bull trim), starts at 8,898, at least if you buy it from these guys

They can both be found used but not very often. The good news is by the time I can actually afford them, they'll be even cheaper!

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Wed. evening

A rare evening post.

Thanks to the random commenter in the last post for bringing some new info to light. Apparently Adrian Sutil passed 3 cars under yellow, which is illegal, and gained an unfair advantage. But that doesn't change the fact that Kimi ran into another car. Let's also pretend that Adrian didn't make illegal passes and Kimi would have been in 4th at that point in the race. So would Kimi have still wrecked? At that point he would've been 4th behind his teammate Felipe Massa, so would Kimi have taken the other Ferrari out? (And thereby incurring the wrath of Italy and probably Brazil) Or would Kimi have backed off a bit and taken his time to make a clean pass? Or would team orders have come down to encourage Felipe to "make a mistake" and then Kimi would have been able to overtake and gain more points for his run at repeat world champion? (I don't think Ferrari would've done that but it is within the realm of possibility)

Either way it was a great race and the wait until Montreal can't be over soon enough.

J applied to NASA's "stay in bed for 90 days" study to help astronauts fight atrophy and various other zero gravity problems their bodies go through while in outer space. It's fairly wild actually. They get 11-15 days of hanging out at the Human Test Subject Facility in Galveston, Texas at NASA's center whilst getting tests done and baseline measurements. Then it's 90 days of being in bed with your feet slightly elevated above your head. The sleep labs are equipped with computers (and a 28.8 kb modem, ha!) and a gaming system that Ronita Cromwell couldn't remember what it was. They are periodically wheeled out into a common room to converse and play board games with the other bed bugs. Once their bones have decreased in mass, their muscles have atrophied and they permanently want to sleep upright, they can move around and stick around for another 14 days while they go through physical therapy (just like the astronauts!) and regain their strength and general health.

She's actually very excited about it and hopes she makes it. It would be tough not seeing her for 4 months but it's for our country, dammit!

Edit: J just read over this and is still excited. Also I was going to be lazy and not post the links but I had to doublecheck Ronita's first name so I found them all again.
Picture of the bed rest lab (please note lady laying prostrate in bed)
Wired Science article

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Monday, May 26, 2008


Racing is a cruel mistress

What a great weekend of racing! The awe inspiring Grand Prix of Monaco, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR guys and gals? going around in ovals in Charlotte.

First off, a big "fuck you" to Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi, I like you and you're a great driver but that shit was not cool. There is a small team that is fast and full of heart but just can't compete with the leading teams of Scuderia Ferrari, Mclaren Mercedes and BMW Sauber, but they're go out every weekend and drive their hearts out. Adrian Sutil is one of their drivers and he's good but he's driving an inferior car so he is seemingly slow, but still has yet to start at the back of the field of 20 cars (an impressive feat when 15th on grid is considered a huge accomplishment for that team). His team was bought by Indian billionaire, Vijay Mallya, and he has dedicated millions of dollars to help get his team up towards the front. The GP of Monaco begins and Vijay's Force India Ferrari team gets off to a good start. Adrian has qualified 19th, but is bumped up to 18th because of someone else's penalties. The race starts in the damp and then the rain comes. Most teams started on the intermediate wet tires and some head to the pits to get full rain tires. Adrian is driving brilliantly, smooth on the throttle, being patient with passes, staying away from the walls. He's passing people and with pit stops, safety cars and everything else, Adrian Sutil in the Force India Ferrari is up to 4th! And he's ahead of the factory Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. The track (closed public streets) is starting to dry and now everyone is on dry tires. Nico Rosberg dumps his AT&T Williams Toyota into a wall and brings out the safety car. The race is drawing to a close and it goes green flag for the last 10 minutes of the race. The cars are now close and racing can happen. Out of the tunnel at 180 mph and Kimi decides to take a run at Adrian in 4th, because obviously he can't drive in the dry and now Kimi should be in front of the lowly Force India car, so Kimi comes flying down the outside, but there is a bump there! Kimi hits the bump, the rear tires get light and Kimi does all he can to stop his out of control Ferrari. Unfortunately what ultimately stops him is the back of Adrian Sutil's car knocking him out of 4th position and what would probably be Force India's best finish of the year, all because Kimi's ego couldn't wait another lap or two to make a clean pass. Shame on you Kimi.

Congrats to Lewis Hamilton in the Vodafone Mclaren Mercedes for taking first, Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber for taking 2nd, Felipe Massa in the Marlboro Scuderia Ferrari for taking 3rd and a HUGE congratulations to Mark Webber for taking 4th in his Red Bull Renault and Sebastian Vettel for taking 5th in his Red Bull Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari. Also, nice driving to Rubens Barrichello in his Honda so close to his 36th birthday; I hope 6th was a nice birthday present to yourself and your team.

Roughly the same thing happened to Danica Patrick, 30 or so laps left (out of 200) and she's driving out of the pits, having gained a position and was up to 6th, when some guy named Briscoe powered out of his pit box, got sideways and slammed his rear tire into Danica's snapping her rear suspension and putting her out of the race. Sarah Fisher, the only woman owner/driver in the Indy Racing League, crashed and I'm not sure how Venezuelan Milka Duno ended up (she finished 16th) but she was the 3rd woman in the field for the Indy 500. Congrats to Scott Dixon from New Zealand for winning the Indy 500. I didn't watch all of it because I find oval racing dull. I'm sure if I was there or ideally in the car, I would have a different opinion, but I really don't care to watch oval racing on TV. It's just a personal preference.

Remember all who have died for this country on Memorial Day and be safe out there!

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Friday, May 23, 2008


You want how much per gallon?

Here in the ass backwards utopia that is South Carolina there is low property taxes, low cigarette taxes and low gas taxes; the mean salary and education are also low to boot but the cost of living is still one of the lowest in the nation. A pack of smokes is $3.50ish and I saw a price of $2.76 per pack of Camels if you bought 3 the other day. Gas is usually lower than the national average but it's creeping up just like everywhere else.

J and I were driving back from Anderson Tuesday and I saw gas for $3.58. I didn't stop because I didn't really super need gas. HUGE mistake. When my gas light came on (indicating 3 gallons or less left) I pulled into a gas station, saw $3.75 and bailed. I didn't feel like paying almost $40 to fill up poor little Focus. So I drove home, gas light ablaze and rode the CATbus (Clemson Area Transit, our "free" public transportation system) to work today. J is driving about 40 miles one way to work therefore she drives Tercel who gets much better gas mileage than Focus. I worked out Focus' gas mileage and with one trip to and from B'ham, and a tank or two of around town driving, I averaged 27 miles/gallon and paid an average of $3.54/gallon. I still don't have any hard numbers for Tercel just yet but I'm assuming at the very least somewhere in the low 30s, if not hopefully in the mid 30s. I'm sure switching her out to a 5 speed transmission would help that figure too. J paid $3.74/gallon to fill up Tercel yesterday and saw that diesel was $4.65! Good grief! Those poor truck and semi drivers!

I haven't posted about this yet because with 2 moderately fuel efficient 4 cylinders as daily drivers, we have been fairly insulated from the craziness that is the oil industry. But it's time for me to do something about it. I will start catching the 8:15 CATbus to school and if I miss it, then I walk. Sure I could buy a bike and make it a little faster but it only takes about 30 minutes for me to walk to work and I don't have a bike and don't feel like spending money to purchase a bike. J has a bike at home in Orlando and we might bring it back to Clemson one day but I know that'll never happen. It's still a good idea though.

I'm looking forward to visiting with J's folks in August. We're flying of course because it's easier and faster and with the price of gas quickly becoming out of control, just about the same cost to fly versus driving. But a whole lot of writing has to happen before then, so I'm not getting too excited. Also Allegiant Air is apparently doing well because instead of only flying on Tues., Thurs. and Sun. they now fly everyday but Tuesday. Weird. It looks like it changes occasionally and they don't fly on Tues. or Sat. in August.

My labmate who lives in Anderson worked out that he was using a gallon of gas to get to and from work and will start to take the CATbus but the last CATbus to Anderson leaves at 5:20 or so, which is pretty early in grad student land, so he hopes to start getting to work earlier so he can leave earlier. But his new wife just got a job here, so they can commute together and save some money.

Basically the recession and decreasing supply of oil and the increasing demand of gas should really start to shape the future of this country pretty soon. As a futurist, I'm predicting a much more European view of cities. Much less urban sprawl, building up and not out, stores within walking distance, schools within walking distance, hopefully a greater sense of community (I know, look at me being all idyllic) and a better and more widely used public transportation system. Honestly I think the last one is going to be tough. We're so used to having our own cars and driving ourselves places that using their schedule is going to be a tough transition. I honestly don't think it will take much to get the first couple items to occur. It's actually already happening in certain areas. In fact it's happening right here in Clemson. Son of a bitch! I should've known Tom Winkopp was behind that! Or as I like to call him Tom "Develop Everything I Can Around Clemson" Winkopp. Either way, it's still a good idea but Patrick Square will have a neighborhood that sits behind a commercial area:

He says it's going back to a "small town" feel and he's right. That's how most of Europe is and America used to be: towns concentrated around the town center, everything within walking distance and the next town was a few minutes away but unless you needed something exotic, you could live comfortably never getting into a car or bus and walk everywhere. That sounds so foreign to us now. Cars, trucks and buses are everywhere and we our lives virtually depend on them. I know we're not going to rid the world of vehicles and I don't want to, bicycle races don't inspire passion the way rally, F1 and NASCAR do. But it would be nice to not have to rely on them everyday, therefore I vow to either take public transportation or walk to work as much as I can. Also as an added bonus this will make me get to work earlier because it gets too hot to walk by 9 am.

How are your daily routines and habits being affected by gas prices?

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Thursday, May 22, 2008


Why don't more people listen to Warren Buffet?

Warren has been quoted saying that he would rather have a Democrat as president. The article I was reading didn't go into details, but I for one agree with him. Although I would rather see a Libertarian, Green, or Independent president but honestly don't see that happening any time soon, if ever. Warren did say he's a bigamist when it comes to politics, which I'm not at all. The more parties, the better. Force people to really research what the parties stand for and who their precious vote should go towards.

I haven't mentioned it before but please keep China and Myanmar (Burma) in your thoughts and donations as they struggle with horrendous natural disasters and the death tolls just keep climbing.

In the other side of the news, the greatest F1 race is happening this weekend in the great principality of Monaco. They're finishing up practice now, so the streets should be open and you can walk or drive the circuit today and tomorrow, which is quiet day. You can drive the circuit? Why yes, you can. What makes this race so unique is that it is a true street circuit. The 20 F1 cars are racing on public roads that anyone can drive on most any day of the year. Monte Carlo erects walls and stands and converts their small country into the world's premiere racing circuit. I heard one of the announcers state this morning that the 3/4 square mile (485 acres) that is Monaco could fit inside the Indy 500 or the Coca-Cola 600 complex where the Indy cars and NASCAR cars are this weekend. Check out the course for the Gran Prix of Monaco.

If you only watch one F1 race this year, I would highly recommend this one. Trust me, I don't think Prince Albert will be watching the Indy or NASCAR folks go around in ovals but he will be trackside for the Monaco GP.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008


How would you know if the wheels were gay?

In continuation of my post about Gay Wheels and their gay friendly car companies, I have a slight correction. I stated that VW's Eos was the cheapest hardtop convertible you could buy. I was mistaken and sincerely apologize to Mazda and their unstoppable Miata whose retractable hardtop version starts at $25,115.

I assume that lesbians also check out that website and (quick google) and there is no lesbian but gay wheels does say they cater to the whole GLBT crowd, so not just the boys but the girls too and everyone in between.

Along those lines, I was surprised to see there were no Subarus on the list. Why you ask? Product placement. One of the most popular lesbian shows is The L Word on Showtime and Subaru has had a significant portion of several episodes. They did a Subaru Pink Ride for breast cancer (which turns out ISN'T REAL! Shame on you Suby! You should really organize something like that! Edit: and they do) but they paid good money to fake a charity bike ride for breast cancer and in earlier seasons, they sponsored Dana who was the tennis player who tragically died of breast cancer. Here's a recap of that episode from a cycling perspective and in the comments apparently the Subaru/Lesbians connection started when they were the first major non-tennis of Martina Navratalova and they actually sponsor the AIDS Lifecycle event that is 500+ miles in 7 days and raises money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. Sorry Subaru, I should've known better.

Ever since I saw my first Subaru do this (Rally Portugal 1998, the masterful Colin Mcrae, RIP, at the wheel) I knew that a turbo and all wheel drive would be in my future. I've been hooked on rally ever since. Subaru is a huge sponsor of rallying internationally, nationally and locally. They sponsor the Leave No Trace program also. They teach you to "leave no trace" while outside, pack out your trash, no new fire rings, don't pick the flowers, etc...

The Impreza is the model line directed towards my demographic with the Subaru Impreza WRX STi being the top. The starting price keeps creeping up but you can get into a turbo AWD Impreza WRX starting at $24,350 for the 4 door sedan, add $500 for the hatchback and the bad boy STi starts at $34,995, only available in the hatchback. Unfortunately all require premium and if you like to feel the boost kick in until redline, you don't get the greatest gas mileage.

So let's say that you want the AWD but are willing to give up the turbo. I can get you into an AWD Impreza 4 door sedan for $16,995 and only $500 more for the hatchback. The Outback sport, whatever that is, starts at $19,995. Oh wait! I figured it out. The Outback sport is exactly like an Impreza hatchback, but it has two tone paint and some more options. Ooooooh, aaaaaaah!

I love the fender flares on the new STi but the lower Imprezas don't have them, therefore I don't like them as much, which doesn't really matter because I can't afford any of them. But if I could, I would personally buy a used WRX wagon because I love them and most wagons and hatchbacks, they are AWD, have a turbo and are much cheaper than new so I could afford all that premium and still have some money left over for suspension and exhaust modifications, and a Cobb Accessport for tuning purposes. I would rallycross the poop out of that car. Why would I do such a thing you ask? Because Subaru has stepped up and provided contingency money (read: prize money) for making the podium at a national level autocross organized by the SCCA. Volkswagen and Team Dynamics (wheel/rim manufacturer) has also stepped up with some money. No you probably won't make much money, but it'll at least cover gas money and entry fee and it's better than getting nothing! So BIG thanks (viele dank, that's German) to Subaru, Volkswagen and Team Dynamics for helping out the rallycrossers!

That's probably enough car talk and Subaru love for today; off to work!

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Friday, May 16, 2008


You mean like this?

As stereotypes go, if you heard about a website called Gay Wheels, would you expect something like this:

The Nissan Micra Convertible in Pepto Pink? Also available in pretty awesome trim:

Or something like this:

The 1977-79 Lincoln Mark V?

Turns out it's neither really. It's a website devoted to reviewing autos from gay-friendly companies (Don't worry yours is probably on the list; Both ours are!) Basically it's a place where if you're concerned about if the company offers benefits to same sex partners of their employees. The list is surprisingly long for those that do and embarrassingly short for those that don't (Honda/Acura I'm looking at you, the new Civic SI is so good but apparently doesn't respect non-hetero lifestyles, the other 3 are Hyundai, Kia and Suzuki, booooooo!) So if you care about equality for everyone, then please consider these fine automobile manufacturers for your next new or used car purchase.

So I was perusing their site, checking out what gay people look for in cars and it turns out that it's almost exactly what I look for in a daily driver: fuel efficiency, expense of car and ownership (insurance, gas, oil changes, parts, etc...), performance (or at least upgradeability of performance) and styling. So here is the top 10 most researched cars on their website for the first quarter of '08. Most of them are exactly what's on my list as well. Let's go over the list, shall we?

1) Volkswagen Rabbit - excellent choice! 2 door or 4 door, 5 cylinder engine that sips regular to the tune of 22/29 (manual of course), looks good, lots of useable room with the hatchback, tons of aftermarket support (VWs have been tuned for decades), 4 wheel disc brakes, ABS, 4 yrs./50,000 miles of roadside assistance, damn!, VWs are a tad heavy for my liking but at 2975 lbs. for the 2 door and 3072 lbs. for the 4 door, not awful awful (Focus is a tad portly at 2645 lbs., my dream Lotus checks in at 1952 lbs.) Starts at $15,600 with lots of options standard.

2) Volkswagen Eos - If you're looking for the cheapest hardtop convertible on the market, you've found it. I don't really shop for convertibles, they're heavy and not as solid as their non-convertible brethren. Starts at $28,990. Check it out. Definitely a cute car, if that's what you're after.

3) Toyota Yaris - Another excellent choice! Crazy gas mileage out of the 1.5 Liter 4 cylinder (29/35 mpg, city/highway), lots of interior space, that hatch is useable (although the floor is a bit high but it does cover the donut spare) but only available in the 2 door variety. A 4 door sedan is available but I don't like it at all, it just looks so blah. The hatch at least looks like an egg or space ship or something, not some lame Corolla wannabe sedan. This car has been out for a few years in Japan so it has a decent aftermarket and can easily be made to handle much better. Starts at $11,350 and a black hatchback is the newest addition to our group's "garage". It has storage everywhere! And a red one competed in the One Lap of America this year!

4) Mazda MX-5 Miata - I don't even feel like I need to talk about the Miata. If you still think it's a girl car, you have obviously never seen one driven properly. They're fast. Crazy fast, lightweight, fuel efficient and the first RWD car on the list. I think if you don't haul stuff much or need a backseat and love to drive, you've found your next car. Tons of aftermarket support, Spec Miata series, etc... A friend has one, slapped a supercharger on, left everything else stock and has one beast of a car and still gets 30 mpg. Starts at $21,285.

5) Audi A3 - The most expensive on the list so far, but worth it. Great engine 2.0 Liter turbo (which means more power is a chip and a bigger turbo away!), hatchback usefulness, Audi prestige, quality and craftsmanship and racing heritage, and of course the first AWD (all wheel drive) car on the list. Great for inclement weather and even better in winter conditions. I'm also going to add exclusivity to the list of pluses. I'm fairly certain I have seen no more than 4 or 5 in my past years of travel, starts at $25,930 with a 6 speed manual or Audi's incredible S tronic auto transmission.

6-9) VW Jetta, Saab 9-3, Dodge Caliber, Volvo C30 - The Jetta is a bigger Rabbit but still a good car. I've never really liked Saabs but now that Subaru is helping to make them, I guess they don't suck as much but give me a used WRX Wagon anyday over a Saab, Dodge Caliber - bleh, super macho angular design, too heavy, J and I aren't really big Chrysler fans so pick something else, Volvo C30 - honestly have NEVER seen one on the road, so big exclusivity points, large window on the hatch looks cool.

10) Mazda Mazda3 - Rode in my friend's last weekend (and drove it after he was unsoberish), strong and torquey 2.3L 4 cylinder, useable and friendly dash layout, great styling and there is increasing aftermarket support. Excellent option for a smaller 4 door sedan or if you want a bit more room, opt for the 4 door hatchback (technically a 5 door). So far 2 of our friends have 3s (one sedan and one hatch) and they've had no major problems and really love them. It has a nice solid feeling manual transmission too and handles really well. Okay they start at $14,645 but that's with the 2.0 Liter, for the nicer "S" model and the 2.3L, they start at $18,185 and the hatches start at $18,675.

There are also gay car clubs. Who knew? The Lamba Car Club has chapters around the country and there is one in Atlanta actually with a show coming up next weekend. Here is the article by Doug Buhrer. My favorite part of the article was
I've belonged to straight car clubs, too. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) Straight clubs are populated with perfectly nice people who love their collector cars. But hanging out with these people feels too much like a family reunion; they're nice enough, but I don't have much in common with them. There isn't much to talk about other than cars.
Emphasis mine but I love people that quote Seinfeld. The second part of that will have to wait until a later day.

Hope you've enjoyed today's gay car talk.


Thursday, May 15, 2008


2 down, 48 to go!

It's a good day for sexual identity equality, the California Supreme Court has decided that their "man + woman = marriage" law was unconstitutional because it clearly discriminated against people. So congrats to all you California gays, lesbians, transgendered and those who don't want to be labeled; you are now free to marry any man, woman or other human as you see fit.

For those keeping score, that's Massachusetts and California who recognize same sex marriages, 4 who are okay with civil unions: Vermont, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Connecticut, and the other 44 have no strong opinions about it or feel very strongly against it. We're 2 states closer to joining Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, South Africa and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec who all allow same sex marriages. Here's a couple articles if you're interested.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I'm addicted to rageahol!

-Homer when his family confronted him about being a rageaholic. Let's see if Google can help with the episode: “I am furious yellow” Episode#: 287. Sounds good.

J is dirty. She has trouble keeping her vehicle clean. She doesn't dirty it up but throws trash and paper everywhere. Mostly it's in the passenger floorboard, which makes it easy to clean up but inevitably something will get lodged underneath the seat and inspire some car cleaning yoga.

I just paid $28 for an oil change which involves oil and filter, tire pressures, clean the windshield and vacuum out the interior and check all the other fluids. Yes it would be cheaper to do it myself, but I know the guys at Xpress Lube on 123 in Clemson, they're amazingly fast and cool guys. They're car guys too and it's nice to support a locally owned oil change franchise.

Tercel had her oil changed. She's at 183,000 miles now and still going strong, or at least strongish. She needs a new flex joint in her exhaust and sounds pretty mean now with the exhaust exiting just below the driver instead of at the back out the muffler. The exhaust is still going through the catalytic converter, so it's just loud and not environmentally damaging. She drives great and after an alignment (maybe this afternoon) she'll drive even better. But her interior leaves alot to be desired. I saw a newer Tercel, probably '95 or '96, and it's interior was immaculate. Gorgeous cloth seats that looked brand new, and maybe they were. So far, and especially with gas being almost Europe expensive, my plan is to get J a newer, nicer car that is still fuel efficient (sorry Hummer, large SUVs and trucks) and for me to daily drive Tercel and put Focus in the garage and slowly turn her into a race car. Of course that depends on whether or not we have a garage at our next place and also if we live in the city, we probably won't need 3 cars, so I would have to change my plans then also.

We'll see. I was watching Motorweek yesterday and saw the 2009 Porsche 911 GT2 and it was truly amazing. Then they mentioned the base price of $192,460. GAH! I had no idea. I can only start to imagine spending that much money on a car. You could get so many toys for that much money. You could get another house for that much money and get your money back once you sold that place instead of losing most of it via depreciation.

Okay, off to work!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Large kickle; hold the tickle!

- Bender as he's being trained by Leela to fight Destructor in the Ultimate Robot Fighting League, from the "Raging Bender" episode of Futurama. I love that episode because Bender and Leela are great and Hermes gets a brain slug and speaks in monotone the whole episode.

This weekend was amazing! Friday was spent packing and straightening the house and then hanging out with Drs. Protege and Acura and their parents who were in town for graduation. Yes it kinda sucked celebrating something that I was also supposed to be partaking in but it will still happen. PERSEVERANCE! NEVER GIVE UP! It was cool seeing their parents again since the last time was their wedding last year. We're taking care of their cats while they're up in CT revisiting their folks after the 'rents were down here last week. Apparently lots of golf is on the schedule for Dr. Protege, I'm not sure what Dr. Acura will be doing but I'm sure she'll enjoy it.

Then woke up early Sat. and drove to Greenville to get J a haircut and I ate breakfast and walked around and realized that there isn't much open in the West End of G'ville before 10 am. I guess Starbucks but they can't scramble an egg and put it on a nice bagel for me, nor do I want them too. T'would be nice but more work for Barista Brat and her fellow baristas. (She runs a good blog and her archives are great but she doesn't update much) We'll revisit the breakfast theme later. Yes I LOVE breakfast and can eat it whenever, therefore I love any place that serves breakfast all the time, or at least past 11 am.

Enjoyed the Reedy River Park(Falls Park apparently) and learned some interesting facts about Greenville and the river thanks to some educational plaques scattered around the park. There were some walkers and joggers and kids but not many people at all. I can see why morning people like the mornings so much, all the night people are asleep and everything is so tranquil. As I sat on a bench, river adjacent, I got to see a robin root for a worm and then fed it to his lady bird who was sitting on the nest and presumably some eggs too.

Walked back to the car and listened to some tunes while I waited for J. Back in the car we made our way back to Clemson to load up the car and head off to Drift Atlanta! Well after eating lunch, we both took an impromptu nap and didn't leave at 1 like I wanted but 2:15 was good enough. We show up at 3:30 and there's tire smoke a-plenty. We drop off the car, grab the camera and go watch the slideways smokey action for awhile. Then we head down to the pits for some freebies, info and the spectacle. Also this is when you get a good chance to meet and talk to the drivers. After qualifying, all the cars came back to the pits to get some new rubber and get some food and liquid into the drivers. I finally got to meet Tanner Foust! Hooray! I've been a fan of his ever since I started following rally and got to watch him progress from the Production GT class where he battled Matt Johnson up to the big HP Open class cars and battle Matt again and take on the Subaru Rally Team's Ken Block and Travis Pastrana. Unfortunately Rally America doesn't have a rally in the SouthEast so Drift Atlanta is the closest they get to Clemson, so it's a great chance for me to meet some great rally drivers, Tanner Foust, Stephan Verdier and Rhys Millen, and then get to watch them drift like mad. Congrats to Rhys for winning the 2008 Drift Atlanta stop also! That Kiwi can drive!

Tanner told me he started ice driving and then moved on to rallying. Ice? Oh, right ice, on the roads and not just in the freezer. I need to experience a real winter one of these days and see what people are talking about with snow for months on end and freezing weather on a regular basis.

To save a bit of money, J and I decided to camp in front of Road Atlanta after all the drifting. It's such a clusterfuck leaving Road Atlanta with all those people. If you show up late you have to park far away and they let the lots closer to the gate out first and there's only one exit for all these cars. So instead of sitting in the car for no less than 30 minutes, we hung out by the car, snacked some and watched all the cars sit in traffic.

After all that we found a nice tree to park under and camp for the night. I put the tarp down and thanks to this event, I learned to fold the edges of the tarp UNDERNEATH the tent. Since this was car camping, we went all out. First went my sleeping pad, then a thick sleeping bag, then both our nice backpacking sleeping bags, then our 3 pillows and then a lovely purple fleece sleeping bag. It was very plush and comfy. We got ready for bed and were talking and then it started raining. Then there was lightening and thunder. I counted and it was roughly 5 miles away assuming my weather math was correct. It was nice sleeping in a tent in the rain and not waking up with a wet sleeping bag and wet pillow. The mud when we woke up was epic. And this was not regular mud. It was red Georgia clay mud that stains whatever it gets near. My flip flops were not up to the job of keeping my feet clean and after loading the car and luckily having enough plastic bags for all the nasty wet, muddy gear, I set off in search of a water faucet or spigot. I did not find one, so I proceeded to channel my inner hippie/homeless guy and washed my feet and flip flops in a relatively clean puddle. Then it was off to Atlanta!

Our first stop was the West Egg Cafe for brunch. It's next to a construction site so they offer free valet parking, which was really nice. So here J and I are in the clothes we wore yesterday and with fresh tent hair and head inside. It's full of bright colored walls and pipes and lovely works of art scattered around the space. I felt we actually fit in a little bit even if we were a tad stinky. The place was packed too! It was a 45 minute wait (closer to 30 min. probably) and we showed up at 11:15ish. We scoped out the dessert case, their cookies are big enough to feed a ravenous badger and only $1.75! We did not try their $2 Coca-Cola cupcakes which are award-winning I'm told. The host took our name and told us we could hang out in the garage around the corner. Wha? Garage? We walk past all the free ATL literature (Creative Loafing, etc...) and find ourselves in a garage complete with huge sliding bay door that has been converted into a waiting room with comfy chairs and stools. The only thing it needed was a small bookshelf with some books to read while you wait. The guy with the Falcons polo shirt and black Crocs complete with Atlanta Falcon and skull trinkets made me laugh.

Our table for two was ready and we sat down and ordered a chai latte for J and a cappuccino for me. Both were delicious and ready fairly quickly for how busy they were. I ordered the Peachtree Platter, two eggs any way (scrambled), cheddar monterey jack grits, a biscuit, fried green tomatoes and brown sugar bacon. J had the Westside Turkey Club, sweet tea basted turkey, swiss, bacon, cranberry dijon mustard on freshly baked white bread. Hers was very good and I will attempt to baste some turkey in tea in the future. Mine was good but the menu didn't state "roasted garlic grits" and my taste buds were quite offended at that surprise. I don't usually like garlic in my breakfast foods but they were good after I realized what I was eating. The tomatoes and eggs were very good, but let me tell you about the biscuit and the bacon. The biscuit was warm, light and sooooo good. I tossed some egg and bacon in there and had one of the best bacon, egg & cheese biscuits ever. I don't know how they make the brown sugar bacon (I'm guessing, and will attempt, they dredge the bacon in brown sugar before frying) but it was deliciously fatty and sweet and ooey gooey. It wasn't crisp so I used a fork and knife but the flavor more than made up for not being able to solidly pick it up. It was smokey and sweet and I want some more. NOW! Next time we go there, I might get the eggs again but biscuits and bacon will definitely be on my plate. A huge thanks to Jennifer Johnson and chef Patric Bell for the fun and funky atmosphere and delicious hearty breakfast! They open at 7 am on the weekdays, 8 am on the weekends and close at 4 pm, so don't be late!

With full sated bellies, we drove up Howell Mill Rd. to Atlanta Rocks! Intown. After a quick belay test and 2 daily passes, we were free to climb their 12,000 square feet of climbing awesomeness. A big main bouldering area was complemented by two hidden bouldering caves, and those were surrounded by over 50 ropes and auto-belayers covering the walls. Flat surfaces to faux rock outcroppings will keep any climber of any skill level entertained for a long time. If you need to give your fingers a rest, but still want to work out, they also have a nice gym with weights and treadmills and more (I just glanced over there but didn't go upstairs). After a few hours there, and realizing I'm a solid 5.8 climber and J is a solid 5.7 climber, we exchanged some pants at REI and then made our way home.

Thanks to Formula Drift, Mother Nature, the West Egg Cafe and Atlanta Rocks for a great weekend. Thanks to you for reading, and thanks to Ford and the gas companies for getting us there and back.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Indiana and North Carolina - It's your turns!

IN and NC get to weigh in on the Democratic Primary today and it should be exciting. The word on the street is that Barack has NC locked up and IN is still up for grabs.

Friday when I was home, I walked smack dab in the middle of a family "discussion". This is my friend Caveman's family and something in their genes or the way they were raised means they argue by screaming at each other and whoever screams the loudest "wins". They were discussing Bill "Motherfuckin' Ice Tea" O'Reilly and Rev. Wright and politics in general. I of course told my favorite O'Reilly story where he went to Sylvia's in Harlem and was shocked at how well behaved all the black patrons were. Seriously Bill, you need to get out more. It switched from that to how to fix the education system and how the schools need more money for better materials, higher teacher salaries, more extracurricular activities but we also need to get the parents involved also so the kids won't go home, watch TV for hours on end and not do their homework or discuss what they learned in school. No easy answers for any of America's problems but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to fix them!

Caveman has always had this yelling method of fighting, so once he gets in that mode, if you don't have the same screaming genes, then you can't have a civil rational discussion, so you give him space and take it up again later if it's important. It's the last part that his new wife is having trouble with. She wants to discuss it there and then, but doesn't realize that even though Caveman wants to calmly discuss the problem, his mind or genes or entire body is preventing him from doing that and goes into screaming mode. I think she's slowly realizing that he needs a little time to calm down and collect his thoughts to appear like a rational person instead of a raving lunatic.

Get out and vote IN and NC Democrats! Let your voice be heard whether or not the superdelegates like it!


Friday, May 02, 2008


I'll bet you get this wrong

That is what the email I received from said and I took them up on their challenge. Was I ever wrong! 1 out of 5!

I just took The Bush-McCain Challenge -- an online quiz to see if you can tell the difference between George W. Bush and John McCain. Check it out, and see if you can do any better than I did!
Bush vs. McCain Challenge!



On the other hand

Yesterday I was a tad harsh on organized religion. It really does more good than I let on. I'm a bit more removed from it than I have been in the past and I let the Media influence me with all the negative press that religion gets. It's much better news to cover a pedophilia scandal than feeding and clothing the homeless and needy. Disturbing news brings in more money than feel good news.

There's bad people everywhere, just not in religion, but I also feel that religion is used as the ultimate unquestionable scapegoat more than anything else.

I'll be passing through ATL (and stopping at REI on the occasion of a huge sale they're having sale code ANNV20 for those in the know) on my way to the 'Ham to spend the weekend with friends and family. With most of the REI brand merchandise on sale, and the 20% off coupon, I might just be picking up a new tent, or sleeping bag, or water filter. Not really sure, it depends on what they have and how expensive everything is. Luckily the sale just started today so they should still have a great selection. I'll most likely stop by the one just off 85, exit 94ish I think, the Clairmont Rd one, not the Mall of Georgia one in Buford because I know traffic is going to be nuts around there when I'll be passing by at 6:30-7:30.

Gah! I'm hungry! Lunchtime! Enjoy the weekend if I don't see you before then!

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Thursday, May 01, 2008


Post #901

Wow, that post count just keeps going up and up. I wish the same could be said of the quality of my writing.

I was sort of offered a job yesterday but it's still in the same area and J and I would really rather not stay here. But who knows? Maybe I'll start applying for jobs this fall and I won't find anything and wish I would've taken it. It would be great job experience for a great company that would make the silicon needed for photovoltaic cells (solar panels) much cheaper and more accessible to more people and make the people involved some money for a good cause. For now, I'm focusing on my dissertation and then I'll worry about jobs.

One of my favorite readers and friends, Tom, read this post and emailed me some comments. He is about a week or two away from becoming a father and so has a special point of view when it comes to pregnancy and bringing forth life. He asked me if I would ever ask J to get an abortion. No. I can't foresee any reason why I would do that. But at the same time I don't feel right telling someone else that they must give birth to that tiny, microscopic fetus in their uterus. And as far as when does life start, I would like to propose 8 weeks. We went to Body Worlds in Charlotte and went into the mother and fetus exhibit and before that you can't really tell what it is, but at 8 weeks, it's cute and has the tiniest toes and fingers you've ever seen. Any idiot can get pregnant but it takes a caring mother and/or father to give life and care for it and make sure that baby has a full healthy life; that takes true talent and dedication. I know Tom has it in him. I wish the same could be said for everyone else getting pregnant in this country.

He also brought up the fact that I don't talk about my religious views much on here and noticed the only time I really did was reluctantly back in 2004. I feel that someone's religion and spirituality is one of the most personal things to talk about, and I don't like to volunteer that information. If someone asks me about it, I'll share my feelings and sometimes it's fun to debate theology and religion, but at the end of the day, it's a rare occurrence for those debates to actually change anyone's mind about their personal held beliefs.

And I REALLY like to keep my politics and religious beliefs separate. Kind of like the separation of Church and State. When I go to church, I don't want to hear about politics. When I'm watching CSPAN or reading about Congress, I don't want to hear about church. The laws Congress pass affect Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Protestants, Catholics, little kids who haven't decided on a religion yet, and everyone else in between, so why should they be based on one book from one religion? That doesn't make sense to me.

I saw a survey that said a significant portion of the American people wanted a president who was a member of a major religion, no atheists. What I'm looking for is a president who is smart, eloquent, and able to see both sides of arguments and then decide what is best for the majority of his people. I don't want "unilateral" to ever be part of what they do. Organized religion does good. They feed the hungry, clothe the needy, teach English to non-native speakers, and give hope to people around the world. Organized religion can also promote intolerance and hatred, superiority complexes, hypocrisy, sexual deviance and misogyny. That's why I'm not the biggest fan of organized religion. Yes I know all organized religion doesn't do the bad things, but they all don't do the good things either. That's why I keep religion out of my politics and I would appreciate it if you would do the same.

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