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Have a Beer. Don't Cost Nothin'.
Good Evening, Godless Sodomites.
One of the things I tried to do this week, as the previous week that idioglossia was away, was get together with anyone who wanted to for coffee, and a walk. Why a walk? Well, because then I can take the dog, and kill two birds with one stone!

As A. was just coming off her night shifts, it was a good time to get together, and she's found a spot that she'd gotten a good shot from herself: she wanted me to try the same thing, and do my thing. Perfect situation, if you ask me!

So, I picked her up at her place around 6:30pm, and we headed out while there was still light. Now, I've shot the Prince of Wales Bridge before, so getting a fresh take on an "old" shot is always interesting.


Prince of Wales Bridge, looking to Parliament and the River

Prince of Wales at Sunset

The Bridge at Prince of Wales

Prince of Wales on the River


As you can see, we got a phenomenal sunset as well: lots of pink and orange in the cloud cover... for about eight minutes. It was that quick.

After that, dropped A. off, sans coffee: the walk was good enough. Got home, and the dog promptly collapsed, while I edited pictures. Mission accomplished.
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I survived. In fact, it's entirely possible that idioglossia had a worse week than I did. Once I got the dog into a routine, and accepted that well, I was just going to have to be home in the evenings, no matter what, things went pretty well. The schedule from the previous "Hell Week" continued, and the dog was reasonably content, and mostly well-behaved. I'm slowly starting to ignore him, and make him wait for 5:30am to get up: when he achieves that, we'll work towards 6am. I think by the time we get to that, he'll be 'sleeping free' in the house proper, anyways.

So, the week itself involved a lot of Xbox. I'm still thoroughly lovin' Borderlands: I've been working through Dr. Ned's Zombie Island, and the Claptrap Revolution expansions, and it's still super fun. Fun enough, I've still not actually sat down and played all the way through HALO: REACH.

It also helped that I took Friday off. A four day work week was a bonus: but the real advantage was not rushing back and forth to make sure the dog got his 'out' time. I got up, took him out, fed him, crashed on the couch with him for a few hours, crated him, got my own errands done, etc. All worked really well. Well enough, I could accompany yumikid and Moe to the Butterfly Show on Friday afternoon!

It was stinkin' hot in there, and by the time we left, we were all sweatin'. But I got some good pictures, and managed to take my time with the macro, despite there being a bazillion kids there (an entire grade school was there):


Resting in Company

white butterfly on green Grandeur

Iridescent Black on Purple

Up Close And Personal feeding


What was both amusing and slightly depressing was the attitude in there. The kids, no problem: they're all about instant gratification, and it was really funny to watch them. They all had pieces of oranges, which are sweet, to attract the butterflies to them, so they can look at them. Cool.

But they're kids. So, they were running up to butterflies on leaves or flowers, and jamming the wedge of orange right at them (and in some cases, almost bouncing the wedge off the butterfly, definitely whatever they were resting on). Obviously, they're insects, they flew away as a defensive response.

So, I actually stopped and explained to a few of the kids that, no, you have to move very slowly, and they're not just going to hop onto it, like a pet would: they'll come if they decide to, and if they don't you wait very still, and well, wait. Once explained, they got that, and it worked: they were happy to show friends the same 'technique' of not startling the butterflies. And then I saw adults doing the same thing. Not the teaching them to be calm, quiet, and patient, but just like a six year-old, jamming an orange wedge into the 'face' of a butterfly, and being annoyed when it flew away.

Other hilarity: a woman with a cellphone, holding it two inches over a butterfly, cursing her 'camera' for not taking a good picture, as she failed completely to hold it still. And yet another guy, with about ten grand of photo-equipment strapped to his neck, cursing his "crappy rig" for taking lousy pictures. He had a 200mm macro, set to f/2.0. His focal point would have been somewhere around an eighth of an inch deep, and he was jamming the camera into a spot, and firing the shutter without any thought. his tenth-of-a-second expsoure meant that everything was coming out blurred.

I, on the hand, did ok, as you can probably see above. I was so intent on focusing on a butterfly above me, staying still, and getting the flash to fire at the right level, that it was about thirty seconds before I realized everyone around me was telling me not to move, etc. Turns out, a butterfly was alternating between trying to land on my hand, and on my camera!

Much fun, and as you can see above, some decent pictures taken.

The rest of the weekend was, surprisingly, really photo-oriented. Each 'event' is gonna get a seperate post, so, stay tuned.
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From Fark.com:
Drunk driving arrests fall in Austin. Police: Well then, we'll make a new charge starting at .05 (statesman.com)

That’s about how I feel about Ontario’s “0.05 we take your car and charge you” rule. Oh, so, we’re getting the point across that you shouldn’t drive drunk? But we’re writing fewer tickets now. NEW LAW! We can arrest you for driving NOT DRUNK!

Seriously. Why would you penalize the people who are actually having one or two beers in a night, and aren’t legally drunk?

If you’re going to change the legal definition of drunk to 0.05, I can buy that. But this “you’re not drunk, because drunk is 0.08, but we’re going to charge you with temporary DUI for being responsible” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in what they’re trying to do.

Same with the “zero tolerance under age 21”: Same principle: they made a big deal about busting a ‘drunk’ 20 year old, the night this policy came into effect in Ontario.

He’d had one beer, and was driving home four totally ruined drunks. He was completely speechless. Because he wasn’t drunk. He blew a 0.014: he’d had a beer an hour and a half earlier.[1] But no, they got an “impaired inexperienced driver off the road”.

No. They didn’t. They taught a new driver that they might as well get smashed and drive home. Because the punishment is the same for one beer as it is for nineteen.

The argument is “ability impaired’ but not ‘drunk’. I don’t buy it. You are drunk, legally, or you’re not. Pick one. That will make everyone’s life easier; the person who has to know what the hell not to do to not get charged, the cops writing the charges, the judges trying them. Adding a bunch of new stuff on top of old stuff that’s occasionally questionable in its application? That’s dumb.

And keep in mind, I’m a guy who has pulled ignition wires, and knifed tires to stop people driving drunk. I’m 100% against DUI, and I’ve gotten in fights to stop people. But I balk at charging people with DUI who aren’t drunk, and are trying to be the responsible one, so there aren’t drunk drivers on the road. That seems insanely counter-productive to me.

It feels an awful lot like placating MADD (who I supported for years, and no longer do) and writing more tickets for income’s sake. What it doesn't do is teach new drivers how to manage their lives: There is absolutely nothing wrong with going out to dinner, having a beer, or a glass of wine, and driving home. PERIOD. If you are of age (19+) to do so, this is legal. Except when it isn't, which is if you're under 22, now. That's ludicrous. All you end up with is a bunch of people who have to learn how to manage their alcohol consumption later in life. And for those who argue "zero is zero" and no one should have anything when they drive, it's the only way to be sure"... Well, I give you the Abstinence Program of Sex Ed. That's worked out BRILLIANTLY well, hasn't it?

What I disrespect most is that MADD, an organization who started around a goal I support whole-heartedly, are now simply stat-mongers, looking for the next headline and fundraising handout. They have absolutely NO interest in doing the right thing, but are simply advancing a cause, and those are two very different ideals.

They're making enemies of the kids, sorry, the adults, who support them most. Go check. Once you get past all the MADD- and SADD- sponsored statistics, you'll find that while teen and new drivers do have accidents while impaired? They do it a lot less than 25-34, and especially 40-60 year olds. A lot less.

Ok! Rant off! 'bout time too, my grammar and spelling are awful in that.

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idioglossia took off yesterday, she's back ... sometime? Thanksgiving Monday? So, a week.

How IS that week looking?

Well, obviously, work Monday through Thursday. Yes. Thursday. I just got my request back to take Friday off, approved, so, I only have to deal with hell-schedule for four days. This will make my life MUCH easier.

Hell Schedule:

  • Wake at 5am
  • Take dog for walk, feed dog, feed self.
  • crate dog at 6:30
  • bike to work
  • bike home at noon, let dog out
  • bike back to work
  • bike home at 4:30, after an hour exercise ride (25km)
  • let dog out, walk dog (hour)
  • feed dog at 6:30
  • walk dog (20 min)
  • Bed at 10pm

    Repeat through Thursday. And yeah, I know. Lots of people have it harder than me. But damn. That's a busy schedule as far as I'm concerned! The good news is, Zaphod is getting better and better at being alone, and being unsupervised around the house. In the last week, he appears to have got to the point where the basement isn't 'new and interesting' and he'll just come downstairs with me, flop on the couch (as long as he's been walked) and call it quits while I watch TV or play xbox. That alone is gonna make my life more relaxing.

    With having, now, only a four day week, and now getting a four day weekend, that's definitely going to make my time easier. He's a dog, he's used to routine. So, when I'm not working, I can get up at 5am with him, feed and walk him, and re-crate him and, taking a page from idioglossia go back to bed. I'll be able to do this for four days, which is awesome, and will actually leave me rested, if sober. It is, after all, tough to go out drinking until 2am if you've got to get up and let the dog out at 5am. No one wants to see me drunkenly forgetting to put pants on to walk the dog.

    I will be in town this weekend too: My little brother and his wife are doing Thanksgiving with her folks, so we may do a Thanksgiving-at-mom-and-dad's in a few weeks, when they can head up, and idioglossia and I can head down.

    So, as I'll be up at an ungodly hour during that time, I may get some dawn photography in, now that I'm trying to get back to it.

    SPeaking of getting back to it, I'm fighting through with my existing camera. It appears that Nikon is in the process of revamping the product line, so I'm hoping I may get a shot next spring at a relatively cheap D300s Body. The D90 is being replaced by the D7000 right now. But there's something else. Oh, of course, I still want the requisite lenses: 10-16mm Sigma or similar, 10.5mm Nikon Fisheye, 105mm f2.8 Nikon Macro, 70-200 Nikon f/2.8. There's a few others too (like the 35mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.8) but that's the basics.

    But, one of the things I'd still llove to do, and have been talking about for, oh, three, four years now, is pick up a good semi-professional point'n'shoot.

    What the hell's that, you ask? Pro's don't use point'n'shoots. Well, some of 'em do. And there are some high-end PnS cameras that I've recommended over the years. The best of them that I can see is the Canon G11 (shortly being replaced by the G12). It's got a good, if not massive zoom (10x), what is effectively an SLR sensor, the DIGIC4 CMOS sensor, shoots RAW, and, unlike a dSLR, it's pocketable. It's got a hot-shoe for flash, and the images are solid, and printable to an easy 16x20. With the G12 coming out, the G11 should be hitting the sub-$400 range very shortly.

    And the reason for getting one would be... The camera you regret the most is the one you leave at home. The only problem with a dSLR is that, simply, they're big. To carry my gear around, I have to bring a backpack, and sometimes, you really just don't want to. And yes, there are pro photographers who carry point'n'shoots, for exactly this reason. It's nice to be able to get that shot, in good quality, without carrying your entire rig all day on the chance you might see something. Would I have the same level of control? No, not by a long shot. But I would have enough to get the shot I'm looking for, rather than trying to snap it with the PoS camera in my phone, and give myself something to work with in Photoshop.

    Jumping back to the weekend at hand, not only am I gonna do some photography, one way or another, but I've also got car stuff going on. There is a "Capital Invasion" going on this weekend, with the guys and girls of various Genesis Coupe forums coming to Ottawa from Toronto, Hamilton, Guelph, Montreal, and Quebec. Sounds like between twenty and forty cars, with a meet in Kanata, lunch, cruise out to Gatineaus, drinkin' on Sunday evening for those who want it, and breakfast Monday morning.

    There'll be the usual crew of unsavory types from the Ottawa/Gatineau scene, as well, the dozen or so of us who make it out to regular events and cruises. In fact, I've gotta figure a way to mount idioglossia's little FLIP HD camera on the dash, so it's stable, and I can get a video of the cruise. Looking at the way the leaves are turning, and the shots I got last weekend, Thanksgiving weekend is going to be absolutely perfect for this cruise, and the weather looks like it's going to cooperate, too.

    That's about my life right now. Girl, Dog, Car, Camera. In that order.
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    I love my car, don't get me wrong. I really do. And I'm not getting rid of my "other girlfriend" anytime soon. At the very least, I'd come out of the deal 'upside down'[1]. So, it's not going to happen.

    But, with all the discussions idioglossia and I have been having about her getting her license, and a car that's more practical for the dog, and general work around the house, I do, of course, consider what I maybe should have done.

    Maybe. I'm pretty sure I'd do again, given the circumstances at the time, what I did. Why? Well, just LOOK at it.


    GenCoupe Front Quarter


    However, there are faster, more practical cars on the road. I would get my doors run off by the only significant competition in my heart and mind, for my Genesis. What is it?

    It's the Subaru WRX. Not the STI, that's a different class. But the WRX goes out the door for about $33,000, which is affordable[2]. It's got me beat on the dragstrip by about a second and a quarter in the 0-100km/h run, and the same in the quarter mile. It pulls, thanks to the symetrical AWD system, more cornering g's than my car too.

    Does it look as good?

    Well, no.





    But look at it. on top of the handling and power, it's also a hatchback with a 60/40 split bench in the back. Technically, the dog's big crate could go in one side, on it's edge, and the dog could kip out on the 60% side of the bench for roadtrips. With the full bench down, and the hatchback, it still won't take anything truly massive, like a fridge, or patio set[3], but it would be good enough for countertops, general HomeDepot runs, etc.

    So, regrets?

    Well, storage is really the only one. I love my car. It's just not. Practical. But it is staying. And idioglossia will get something of her own that IS practical, but still stylish[4]. As for me, I have A PLAN.

    This is where a vast majority of you tune right the hell out. It's ok. I'm gonna talk about cars, for the car people.Collapse )

    But, I'm a car guy. And a car guy can dream. A car guy can dream of a project car that he loves, and a daily driver that's still fun to drive. And a girlfriend who doesn't leave him because of his obsession with cars.

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    Oh, not in the same way as some people, that's for sure. But I keep an eye on what's coming out, I look for new stuff that piques my interest, and I generally try not to discriminate. Even against country. And we all know country sucks.

    But I digress.

    The last few years, I've bought more music than for a long time previous. Don't get your hopes up, Industry types. It's because of the convenience. I don't have to go to a store, I can just get on my phone, and buy an album, and listen to it. I still download if I'm not certain about something: I find the internet is a wonderful, wonderful place to "try before you buy" and if it is crap? Yeah. It doesn't get bought.

    But I can't FIND anything right now! It's weird, I got in fits and spurts as to buying stuff, and what genres. And I do like to buy, rather than torrent, no matter what anyone says. I like to give the artist the money. I'd just rather not give the middleman the money.

    DIgressing again.

    So, the last two years? It's been pretty good for finding new stuff that I like. I've been taking a heavy run through Canadian HipHop, which, for me, hits the mark far better than U.S. mainstream rap and hiphop (with some exceptions. I find it's more... philosophical, lighter, and, typically Canadian, more self-deprecating. In the last two years I've found:

  • K'Naan
  • Shad
  • D-Sisive
  • Classified

    And I'll tell you what, one led to the other. THese are all guys who've been around for a good number of years, and became prevalent outside of their home town/regional markets recently. Because of Shad, and Classified, I've found guys like Joel Plaskett, who I'd actually written off as just another soft-alterna-rock-in-touch-with-the-emotions guy. And, miracle of miracles, he's not.

    There's also been some big name stuff for me. I picked up David Bowie's new live album, A Reality Tour, which is stunningly good. New albums from George Thorogood, Danko Jones, Arctic Monkeys, Champion, Fefe Dobson,

    Don't think I've neglected the U.S./Mainstream market completely, though. I heard a kid on satellite radio about two years ago, and immediately bought his album. That led me back into the rap/hiphop that I'd left alone for a long time:

  • Asher Roth
  • MistaChuck (aka, Chuck D)
  • Jay-Z
  • The Roots

    I also grabbed, as I talked about last week, Santana's new album. Not to mention perennial favorites The Streets out of the UK.

    But I've been going over new releases for a couple of weeks now with very little luck. I've been tempted three or four times to buy Eminem's "RecoveryLove the Way You Lie</a>: I always said he got a free pass, and I own every album he's put out: like him or not, he's a brilliant lyricist, and once you get past the bullshit, there's a lot of philosophy and introspection in there, too. However. Relapse was bloody awful. A truly terrible album, with, and I hate to say it, almost no redeeming qualties. This isn't, maybe, news. He said himself he wasn't particularly proud of it. But even so. That one was his free pass. Now, I'm tentative, especially as they want fifteen bucks for the download on iTunes.

    Aside. Ten. Ten is your magic number. Ten Dollars (aka, $9.99) for an album on iTunes, or whatever your preferential music service is the magic number where I don't think twice about picking it up. If it looks interesting to me, I'll spend ten bucks or less to find out. I won't spend twelve or fifteen: then, I go download it first, and buy it afterwards if I like it. I shouldn't pay as much, or more, for the digital download as I would for the physical CD.

    So, now, I'm stuck again. There are some albums out this week, but they all cross that threshold, and they're all big names (Clapton, Collins, etc). I'm looking for something NEW. If you've made it this far, you've got a good idea for what I'm listening to right now, and where my preferences lie. So.

    What've you got?

    What's turning your crank in new music, keeping in mind the above?

    Don't make me go back to CBC's "Song a Day" podcast. My phone can't keep up with that!!

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    So, this week has been insane, and shows no sign of stopping. Part of that is, if I slow down now, I’ll fall over, and go to sleep, while the dog destroys the house around me. So, I maintain the pace.

    Part of that was going for a cruise with the Ontario Genesis Club guys on Sunday. While I was out, I was, as often happens, listening to the satellite radio in the car. What came on was a preview for an album coming out this week: Santana : Guitar Heaven. The deal was, every hour, they played a different track from the album. And I admit, I only caught one.

    But what a one to catch!

    Santana covering AC/DC’s “Back in Black” with Nas on vocals

    Wait, what?

    Really?

    And, it was good. Good enough, I was thoroughly intrigued. And, it’s Santana. So, this morning, I got to work, hopped on iTunes (oh, hated iTunes, but you do give me my fix) and bought the album, straight to my phone.

    The choices (and especially the “featuring…”) are eclectic, there’s no way around it.

    1. Whole Lotta Love (f. Chris Cornell) (Led Zepplin)
    2. Can’t You Hear Me Knocking (f. Scott Weiland) (Rolling Stones)
    3. Sunshine of your Love (f. Rob Thomas)(Cream)
    4. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (f. India.Arie and Yo-Yo Ma)(Beatles)
    5. Photograph (f. Chris Daugtry)(Def Leppard)
    6. Back in Black (f. Nas)(AC/DC)
    7. Riders on the Storm (f. Chester Bennington and Ray Manzarek)(Doors)
    8. Smoke on the Water (f. Jacoby Shaddix)(Deep Purple)
    9. Dance the Night Away (f. Pat Monahan)(Van Halen)
    10. Bang a Gong (f. Gavin Rossdale)(T.Rex)
    11. Little Wing (f. Joe Cocker)(Jimi Hendrix)
    12. I ain’t superstitious (f. Jonny Lang)(Howlin’ Wolf, Jeff Beck Group)
    13. Fortunate Son (f. Scott Stapp)(Credence Clearwater Revival)
    14. Under the Bridge (f. Andy Vargas)(Red Hot Chili Peppers)



    I think my only complaint so far is, with the exception of “Back in Black”, and “Little Wing” they’re almost direct covers of the originals. There’s not a lot of innovation, beyond Santana’s signature guitar style. But the arrangement, to me (admittedly, a music/production ignoramus) is cribbed directly from the original track, unlike a cover such as Johnny Cash doing Nine Inch Nails “Hurt”.

    I would have liked to have seen more of that innovation, and maybe even more rappers as vocalists, a la Judgement Night Soundtrack from the early nineties. While that was original music, it was, at the time, completely different and innovative to pair a metal band with a rapper of any kind.

    Given that these are, generally, seventies and eighties hits, and many of them with quite short, sharp, rhymed lyrics, throwing that in there, on top of Santana’s always excellent guitar work, and really changing up the production values could have been really, really interesting, and really let them ‘own’ the songs.

    Stand outs?

    For me, as I said, “Back in Black” featuring Nas. The song fits perfectly to a rap style, and this one, more than any other tune except maybe “Little Wing”, Santana really makes his own. Also, Cowbell. Seriously, ‘nuff said.

    “While my Guitar Gently Weeps” featuring India.Arie and Yo-Yo Ma. Wow. Did I ever expect this to suck. I just figured, not gonna work. But, along with “Back in Black”, this is one that totally echoes the original: By that, I mean, you hear a bar or two, and you know exactly what song you’re listening to. But at the same time, it’s new. The Cello is a great addition, and used (not really surprisingly) extremely well in concert with Santana’s guitar. India.Arie’s voice just softens everything down, and really fits the song. You don’t hear many female covers of “weeps” and it’s too bad, because a feminine voice really suits the song.

    “Whole Lotta Love” featuring Chris Cornell. While I’ve been singularly unimpressed with Cornell’s solo work, this one is practically made for his voice. Vocally, this is more shades of Temple of the Dog, rather than his abysmal solo album two years ago.

    “Little Wing” featuring Joe Cocker. Love the slowed down, bluesed-out sound to this one. Santana, being the guitarist he is, doesn’t try to mimic Hendrix’ riffs, which is the mistake I always cringe at when someone covers Hendrix songs. Cocker doesn’t actually belt it out, more of a drawl, and as such, is completely understandable. You can picture the dark bar where it’s being performed. Well, I can. Right down to the two spotlights on guitarist and vocalist.

    “Under the Bridge” featuring Andy Vargas. I had no idea who Andy Vargas is, I had to google him. He’s the regular vocalist for Santana’s band. And I thought “Under the Bridge” was going to be a straight-up attempt at doing the song the same way as RHCP. His voice at the start? Identical. By the middle though, they’ve slipped into the band’s own rhythm, and Vargas’ has opened up his voice some. That, and again, Santana’s guitar changes the song, without changing the vibe of the song. I like it.

    All in all, it’s a solid album, and really fun to listen to. Five out of fourteen as immediate standouts is, sadly, better than the average album: especially when the remainder are good, just not explosively so. It’s just not quite as special as it could have been, given the talent involved. Totally worth the twelve bucks I spent on it, and it’ll get re-listened to regularly I think. If I had to give it a rating, it’s a above average for the talent, but not much above average as a whole. 3.5 out of 5 is legit, I think.
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    It’s Friday. It’s been a long week.

    Start again. It's Sunday morning, at 5:42am. I've been up for an hour and forty-two minutes. You shall see why shortly.

    Monday, I ‘got back on the wagon’. I have a routine again, which is nice, and the exercise is … well, four months of mostly-sedentary looking after the dog means that my cardio has gone to shit, and I’ve put eight of the thirty-five pounds I’d lost, back on. Which is why I’m back on the wagon. I’m still aiming for my goal of a hundred and eighty-five pounds by Christmas. Even a very, very achievable one pound a week will get me close (to about one-ninety-five). I step that up to two pounds a week, and I get my goal with time to spare.

    To that effect, it’s all about portion control, and exercise. I’m using my LoseIt app again, because that actually works for me. Otherwise, the routine looks like this:

  • bike to work
  • bike home
  • walk dog for an hour
  • elliptical for 30-60 minutes

    With watching my food intake (which, while not fantastic this week, has at least been ‘negative’ on calories, because of the exercise), it should be pretty easy to hit what I want. I’m also going to be throwing some weights/home-gym work in as well, which, at the very least, will give me some variety.

    It’s going into winter, and man, that’s another year where I a] didn’t do enough biking and b] still didn’t replace my bike. My Devinci Stockholm is now seven years old, and carrying more than thirty-thousand kilometres. None of the major drivetrain components have every been replaced: all I’ve ever done is assembled-cleaning of the cassette and crank, replaced the chain twice, the brake pads twice, and a multitude of tubes and tires. But it is starting to feel tired. And I still want my Marin 29er, either Muirwoods or Point Reyes.

    But I digress.

    I say “middle of the grind” in the title: not only did I get back on the wagon this week, but as of Sunday, I’m home alone with the dog. idioglossia is away from Sunday through to Saturday for work.

    Speaking of the dog, he's a dog, not a puppy now:

    Zaphod posing


    Schedule will be everything next week. Get up at 5am, feed the dog, walk the dog, leave for work at 6:30am. Come home at lunch to let the dog out, back to work, then home again at 3pm. Normally, that’s when I’d walk the dog and wait for idioglossia to get home at six, however…

    I'm gonna do coffee-and-walking around the city, I think. I gotta get some me-time, plus deal with the dog needing to be walked, paid attention to, etc. Should be an interesting and educational week. (KIll me now).

    Sunday This Afternoon, I’m doing yet another Genesis Coupe meet. Definitely enjoying these, and it sounds like another meet with ten or twelve guys drivin’ through Gatineau. Also, some of the Southern Ontario guys are talking about a major meet in Ottawa, so the Ontario guys and Quebec guys can meet on common ground. That’s likely to happen either the 25th of September, or the 10th of October. Either way, I’ll be involved in organizing it, which could be some serious fun. If there’s Toronto, Hamilton, Guelph, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City people coming in, there could be twenty or thirty cars for a cruise, which will be a blast.

    There’s a good chance we’re gonna We totally hit Resident Evil 3D Friday night. either tonight, or tomorrow morning, too. The girl wants to see a zombie movie, so I’m taking THAT action while she’s willing!

    It wasn't bad. Not great, but not bad. For me, the 3D was superflous, and definitely not worth the extra cost. Story, again, typical for RE, maybe even a little light. The biggest issue with it though was the complete, 100% ripoff of "The Matrix" for the 'badguy'. I mean, holy shit. The shades, the intonation, mannerisms, EVEN THE FREAKIN' NECK SNAP. Seriously. I kept expecting him to call Alice "Mrs. Anderson". And no, that's not me over-dramatiacizing it. idioglossia said the same thing.

    Lets see if that makes any sense at all with the strikeouts for late-post, hunh?
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    I am a casual gamer. By definition, at least. I can probably be considered slightly more serious than that, but I’m not obsessive about them, that’s for sure, but at the same time… I do loves me some video games.

    So, where is everything right now? Well, it’s fall again, which means everyone is ramping up. The biggest for me, oddly, has been this summer’s release of HydroThunder:Hurricane on XboxLive. For those who don’t know, HydroThunder was the game that introduced us to the Sega Dreamcast waaay back in 1999. That, fairly, is a game we played obsessively at The Bombshelter. You’d come home from school or work, check the leaderboard in house, and see if anyone had taken the top spot: if they had, it was time for swearing at the machine again.

    Despite a spectacular increase in visual quality, nothing has changed: the gameplay is still stunning, and frustrating, and endlessly fun. Now, we have XBL leaderboards to contend with (where myself and mightydogking are consistently running in the top five-hundred world wide: generally out of a hundred thousand or so players). There is a constant battle among friends to hold those top spots (Some people, sykomonkey I’m looking at you, have set their sights on a single track. Me? I want it all.) We’re definitely down to battling over tenths of a second, and sometimes hundredths.

    And this has been going on for weeks now!

    So, 1200 points on Xbox Live (the cost of the game) is about fifteen, maybe eighteen bucks. Considering the game play we’ve gotten out of it? Money well spent.

    Tomorrow is the release of HALO:REACH. I’ll say it again, I’m NOT a fanboy. I’m really not. But I’m looking forward to this immensely. Again, I’ve been following HALO since it first appeared on the original Xbox, back in… 2000? We were definitely at Arlington, because we kept playing marathon split-screen campaign sessions on Legendary. HALO2, we got together at my place, ran a network cable between two Xboxes, and played epic drunken multiplayer HALO on two 32” CRT tv’s, with 4-player split-screen.

    And that’s what it’s really about. It’s not the game per se, although that’s obviously part of it. It’s the social part of the gaming. Whether it’s HALO:ODST (which we’ve been playing at [Bad username: mightydogking]’s place on system link), or HydroThunder:Hurricane where we’re all checking the leaderboards and bragging about improvements on twitter, it’s the social competition (and yes, team work sometimes) that seems to do it.

    Like I said, though, the GAME has to be good, and I’ve yet to put my finger on what the game does to create that feeling: I would have said “story” but there isn’t any story in HydroThunder. It’s just a race. And quite honestly, there’s only eight or nine tracks: it should be played out by now. But it’s really not, and I don’t know why. I just know it isn’t!

    But, it’s not just what’s already there: it’s what’s coming.

    And what’s coming is ZOMBIES. Dead Rising II hits this fall, and we had a mountain of fun with the original. Second one looks like more of the same. It's definitely on the agenda.

    Amazingly enough, there don't appear to be any major racing game releases this year: Last year was great, with Dirt 2 and Forza 3, but this year, assuming it happens and doesn't get delayed again, the big news will be Grand Turismo 5 on the PS 3. There's two problems there for me. First, I'm not buying a new console just for one game. Second, there is no guarentee that GT5 will actually arrive this year. They've been delaying it, effectively, for something along the lines of nine years. The entire franchise of ForzaMotorsports has developed, and turned into a contender, on two generations of console, since GT5 was announced. Until it's on the shelves, it's vapourware. And until it proves itself to be ten times the game that Forza is, there's no way it can live up to the hype surrounding it now.

    GT5 is the Duke Nukem Forever of racing games.

    Also, I'm not buying Playstation3 just to play it. Did I mention that?

    There is Need for Speed:HotPursuit, which is actually HotPursuit3, but I guess they’re not talking about that, coming this Christmas. Now, the first two Hot Pursuit games? Way too easy on the console. MotorCity? Also not a win. However, the “Underground” and “Undercover” games were great, despite the fact that NFS has moved well away from its roots as a driving simulator (NFS:Porsche Unleashed, at least ten years old now, is STILL a spectacular game), but they’ve built a great franchise of arcade-y, story-based games. And yes, they get a ‘by’ on this, I will be picking it up. So, for that matter, will my dad.

    I can't think of much else, for some reason. Still, that's enough to keep me happy an occupied, especially while idioglossia is out of town over the next month.
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    Right now, I’m in the middle of a crazy few weeks/weekends. Two weeks ago, cottage long-weekend at Jay’s: Burning Stan was the result, you’ve already seen the video, but a good time was had in general. We met a monster of a Bull Mastiff, who was happy to troll around while the other two dogs, Rooney (A sharpei/Bassett mix) and our Lab, Zaphod, cavorted like maniacs:


    Titan & Zaphod - Why is your head so BIG?


    Burning Stan, as mentioned, went great again this year, followed by the usual fireworks. Again: we have ‘super pooch’ as he had no issues at all with fireworks being set off twenty feet from him. Just fell asleep. Our dog has no problems at all with loud noises, which is awesome. He rarely, if ever, startles.

    This last weekend, I abandoned idioglossia and Zaphod, and took off to parts unknown. Ok. Bellville, Cambridge, and Milton.

    I left around 11am on Friday, and headed down to Mom & Dad’s. The plan was to stay there overnight, indulging in a few happy pops, and get up in the morning to drive further south. What actually happened was, I got there by about 2pm, and my Dad and I ended up out in the garage waxing the cars, and drinking. See, I’d planned on doing mine: I did the whole four-step process about six weeks ago (Clay Bar, Pre-Wax Cleaner, Shine and Filler, and Wax) but I wanted to touch up for this weekend. The reason will become clear soon. So, I left plenty of time. However, I mentioned to dad the effect the clay bar alone has on a car, so he decided to try it out on his ’97 Integra. Miracle of miracles, the ‘teg has no rust on it. That’s nearly unheard of for a thirteen year old Honda, but there it is. So, he got to clay-baring, I got to waxing, and we both got to drinking. Well, he got through the clay bar process, and was impressed. Enough, so that I handed him the bottle of pre-wax cleaner, and he got to work on that. While he was… enthusiastic with the application, and less so with the removal (it’ll bear some touch-up with removing the cleaner), the difference was immense. Enough so, he’s going to buy the whole kit, and do Mom’s Forrester as well, as it has a lot of oxidization on the paint (it’s a 2003), but no major flaws.

    We had… several… beers while we were doing this, as you can imagine. Dinner saw a couple of bottles of wine as well, and by 8pm, we were pleasantly pissed. Quite pleasantly!

    6am came around, and I did my thing. See, the whole point of the trip, other than the bonus of hanging out with the folks for an evening, was that it was about half-way down the road to Toronto. I was set to meet what I thought was six or seven other Genesis Coupe owners at Square One, and from there we’d convoy down to Cambridge Hyundai, where a larger meet had been organized.

    Yes, I’m a car geek. Some people go to conventions (Ok, fine. I do that too now) and I go to car meets.

    What I found, however, is that between me last checking the forums on Thursday night, and me arriving at Square One on Saturday morning, the five to seven cars had turned into fourteen Genesis Coupes, plus an Accent:


    rooftop shot 04

    GroupShot 01

    Genesis Coupe - Flying Wings and Waterfall White on White GroupShot 01

    Whooooooooooo! checkin&apos; the rooftop Chillin&apos; in a sea of Genesis


    We hung out there, I got a lot of names I promptly forgot or confused, and around 11am, we headed out onto the highway. Where we started causing problems immediately. Not intentionally, but that many of the same car, in a row spread over a kilometre or so? Gets some attention. I was running last in the pack once we were on the highway (but mid-pack early on, so there’s a picture of the back of me by one of the other guys), which meant that I got this shot, very quickly:


    The Line-Up


    We got into Cambridge in fairly short order, and the dealership went pretty much batfuckinsane when a string of fourteen or fifteen coupes pulled in together. And honestly, after we got there, they just kept coming. I asked one of the sales guys for a ladder at one point, so that I could get at least a few feet above the rooflines of the cars, and really get some perspective on the number of vehicles there: he one-upped me completely, and took me (and one or two other guys) up onto the roof to shoot for ten minutes.


    Rooftop Panorama2


    There were a couple of cars of note. The guy who did the legwork to organize the event, Andrew, has been involved in the tuning community for a long time. He’s known as FatNFly, or FatFlyGuy. And his 2.0T GT Genesis Coupe is, honestly, a thing to behold. Fortunately, he thinks my pictures of it (which, to be fair, I don’t think I did the best job with) are the shit. In fact, he’s talking to me about printing some for car show use. Which, of course, I’m going to let him/help him do, with the obvious proviso that he keep them either watermarked with my info, or signed, with accompanying business cards if that’s the route we go.

    I have to talk to him about how he wants to go forward, but I think I can organize MUCH better than him just printing some images. And, he’s not a guy who’s afraid of spending money on presenting his car. He’s got over $25,000 invested in it this year alone, above and beyond the cost of the car itself.

    And given that he’s seriously intune (if you’ll pardon the pun) with the tuner community, and well respected within it from what I’ve seen, this may be a very good thing for me. Because this IS the photography I love to do. More than anything, I love shooting cars, and making those dramatic shots.

    Which, I guess I should get to!


    Fat&apos;n&apos;Fly - 02

    Fat&apos;n&apos;Fly - 05


    The rest of the afternoon was a bit blurry. The dealership in Cambridge was completely involved in the event: good thing too. Ballpark counts put forty to fifty Genesis coupes on the lot, plus the assorted other tuner and muscle cars.

    There were a lot of stock vehicles there, no doubt. However, there were tons of modified vehicles: I’d say probably twenty-five to thirty percent. And yes, I’m including the guys who have done only a Blow Off Valve and wheels/tires. Because, quite honestly, I’m one of them.

    That said, I also did some tuning in the lot!

    One of the things the dealership had arranged was deals on parts. While I couldn’t afford a lot, I’d promised myself months ago, when I found out how affordable an upgrade it was, was that I’d order a stock, GT trim Strut Tower Brace. This is an affordable piece normally (about $75 ordered, plus tax). However, for the afternoon it was closer to sixty bucks. What was funny though, was when I paid for it (I got the last one of five they had in stock) the guy put the three pieces down on the counter, and dropped a well-loved torque wrench down with ‘em. I kinda looked at him and he says “well, you’re going to do it now, right?”

    So I did. Took about five minutes, super easy job, and they had the torque wrench pre-set to the right levels.

    There was a whole lot of love for my stance (Eibach Prokit, about a 1.4” drop in ride height) and wheels/tires/offset. However, there were several guys (and girls) who were equally good, IMO, and some better.


    AM-KW-MB triangle Mike_D - Black on Black White pinstripes


    Thing is, I expected there to be a beer-outing afterwards, but it occurs me now that what actually happened makes sense: This is, for all the tuning going on, a new car: these guys all have jobs, families (well, not all, but some), and obligations. The guys who didn’t, well, they were going home to nap, I think, because a bunch of them were goin’ to an all-night deal later on.

    So, at 4pm, it just kinda… ended. People had started wandering away around 2:30, but there was a mass exodus around 4pm, leaving myself, and about four other guys. One of whom was a Hyundai Parts Development rep.

    Actually, the Hyundai guy’s car is worth talking about a little, if you dig those things. All the parts he had on it (intake, exhaust, wheels/tires, etc) are bolt-ons you can buy, with warranty, at Hyundai. The wheels, for instance, were 20”, wearing 245/30R20 front, and 275/30R20 rear tires:


    Aqua Minerale

    AquaMinerale on 20&apos;s


    So, yes, he was there showing off some stuff: but I gotta say, I didn’t much like the Aqua Minerale blue, and it’s still not a colour I’d choose myself: but with those rims, and that stance, and the carbon-wrap roof, that’s a REALLY good look for the car.

    Where was I?

    Ok, yeah. So, 4pm rolls around, and everyone leaves. Given there’s no one left, I did the same, and headed into Milton. quotation got your SMS: but I got it late, and I already had plans in Milton:

    I’ve still not wrapped my head around Milton. I’ve been back once or twice in the last ten years, sure. For my brothers wedding, when my folks left (seven years ago). But for the wedding, it was in-and-out. I was best man, photographer, and sober-chauffeur service. I didn’t SEE the town. And while construction was starting when mom and dad left (that was actually their impetus for leaving), it wasn’t … there yet.

    Now, there’s an entirely new city floating around, on top of the old one. There’s new, major infrastructure there; roads that simply didn’t exist the last time I was through. The population has doubled.

    I drove down Derry Road.. and got lost. Literally. I had to pull over, take out my GPS again, and follow it back to a section of town that I still recognized. It was literally that different in five or so years.

    The reason I was killing time in Milton though, was I was catching up with a friend from waaay back! She and I hung out in .. well probably summer of 1995 and 1996, the last two years I spent summers in Milton. Time of day says “dinner” and dinner it was. Three hours isn’t really enough time to catch up properly, but we got a start, which was, honestly, nice. I lost track of her completely for the best part of ten years, and to give credit where credit is due, facebook is the reason that we caught up with one another again.

    8:45pm or so, we paid up, and I drove her back home. After I dropped her off, I headed up the road, and hopped back on the 401, eastbound. I’d not decided whether or not I’d pull off and spend the night at Mom & Dad’s again Saturday night, so, I set the cruise control at a nice, safe, conservative 120km/h, and rolled onwards into the night. I’d filled up on the way down that morning, and was still showing around two-thirds of a tank.

    I got to Bellville (or rather, the signs for Bellville) around 11pm, maybe quarter after. I still had a third of a tank, and a range showing of 319km. I know that range left guage is pretty damn conservative too: I’ve seen it drop 1km for every two that I drive. But, I also don’t spend a lot time at 120km/h, either. I’d still not decided whether or not I was stopping in Bellville for the night. I had about ten minutes, at the 2km a minute I was covering.

    I thought about it. It’d be about thirty to forty minutes from the highway to Mom & Dad’s, and then half an hour again on the way out in the morning. I was on the highway, and I was, to be honest, feeling pretty good. Sun burnt, and warm, well-used, but not exhausted by any means. So, I kept going. I did wonder if it was worthwhile getting off the road at Kingston, grabbing a coffee, and filling the tank.

    By the time I got to Kingston, 50km later, I was showing about a quarter tank left, and 278km on the “range remaining”. That is enough to get back to Ottawa. Or it should be. Again, I usually take Hwy 15 up through Smiths Falls, but I’d planned on just keepin’ hoofing up the highway at speed. Traffic was light, I was making good time, and the music was… sublime in the cool night air, with the windows down, and the sunroof open.

    Midnight is, in fact, the hour of AC/DC. I listened to the entirety of “Back in Black”, and I don’t think I’ve done that in a car by myself since high-school.

    Despite being low on gas (and I was definitely getting down there) I took a new route into Ottawa. Normally, on the few occasions I do take the highway, I’ll head up to Huntclub and then across to Riverside. Saturday night, rather than that, I let the GPS point me the way, and I got off the 416 at Prescott/Bankfield road. Across to.. Hey, look at that! Zips across on an angle to Prince of Wales, which then angles up the river past Manotick: this IS faster and shorter. It would have been even faster had I not been stuck behind a drunk in a green Honda Civic, who was playing “stay between the lines” and dropped from 85km/h to as low as 50-55km/h as soon as (s)he saw headlights coming. Seriously frustrating drive for ten minutes there.

    I pulled into the driveway at 12:56am. Pretty much exactly four hours and four minutes after I left Milton. Not only is that one of the best times I’ve made on that particular run, but I got out of the car with nary a back-twinge to be felt. Two days later, still nothing. Those are, simply, the best seats I have ever had.

    So, the stats on the day?

    19.5 hour day
    1150 kilometres
    8 hours behind the wheel
    $85 in gas
    60 faces to go with internet names (give or take)
    9 Large Coffees.
    3 cans of coke
    ½ a roast chicken
    1 hotdog

    Really, looking at that, it’s actually NOT that difficult to keep me happy, is it?



    .

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    For those who couldn't make it, I give you, Burning Stan, 2010.



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    Just when we think we’ve got everything going smoothly… blammo!

    Sunday afternoon, idioglossia took a pile of compost out back. We put an composter in right after we moved in, and it’s working well, but we tend to only add to it once a week: we keep a bucket in the kitchen (with a lid!) and, thanks to the fact I’m a coffee fiend, the coffee grounds actually kill 99% of the smell from the can. Which means we don’t have to empty it until it’s full, which is nice.

    Zaphod, as usual, followed her out.

    Which is when all hell broke loose. idioglossia lifted the top off the composter and dumped the kitchen waste in, and noticed a lot of buzzing.

    Hornets.

    Which, within moments, were swarming the pooch. He yelped, startled across the deck, biting at himself, the air, and everything. We managed to direct him inside, at speed, where he was still being stung, because there were a half dozen on/in his fur, and trying to crawl up and under his collar.

    We’re pretty sure he got stung in the mouth too, as he was biting at them, but after he’d bite at them, he’d open his mouth and fly out. In hindsight, kinda comical: “You’ll release the hounds? The hounds with bees in their mouths? And when they bark, they shoot bees at you?” At the time, much less so, the poor little guy. We figure he was stung a half a dozen times.

    Fortunately, by about 10pm (this happened at 6:30 or so) the visible swelling was fading, and he was approaching his usual cheerful self. However, he spent nearly three hours with his tail down, cowering on the couch, trying to bury himself between the couch back, and me.

    We spent two days having to take the lil’ dude out front to pee, on a leash. This actually went remarkably well, but the nest had to be dealt with.

    Our composter is in the back corner of the yard: it butts up against the fence corner. I figured, from the way they were swarming around after I knocked a couple of patio stones leaning against the fence down, that they were actually underground. We have a lot of pebbles as landscaping (legacy of the previous owners) , and they were crawling all over one section of these. Unfortunately, it was too late in the evening on a Sunday to get to CanadianTire to buy bug spray. But I knew where they were.

    Monday, I hit CanTire on the way home from work, and around 9:30pm, got to it. Why 9:30? Because by then, they’re pretty much all returned for the night, and getting lethargic and slow which equals not aggressive. Or at least, less aggressive. And the Raid Foam for wasps/hornets/bees is awesome. Stand ten feet away, and direct a jet of foam at the location of the hive (or the hive itself, if it’s a hanging, visible one). The foam soaks its way into the entrance of the hive, and they have to go in and out through the stuff. There was a lot of movement when I hit it, too, so I figured, “perfect: it’s in the ground, and I’m busy coating the entrance”.

    Get up the next morning, and there’s still movement, so I soaked it down again, and for about three feet around it.

    Empty can.

    Tuesday, I came home at lunch and banged away at the composter, and jammed a shovel into the ground around the patio stone the composter sits on. No movement. Dig a bit deeper, no movement. This is great, I figure. But I need to move the composter off the patio stone so that I can flip the stone over to get at the hive underneath.

    So, I wrap my arms around the composter, and pull/rotate/pull/rotate. It moves about six inches. Not so easy. Pull up the gate at the bottom, jab a shovel in, pull out ten or twenty pounds of mulch and soil, put it in a recycling tub, and try again. And it moves another six inches, but easier. Pull out another twenty pounds or so. Try again. Another six inches. Take a look…

    …And there’s a pile of shredded paper smeared across the patio stone and a little pile of about a hundred dead hornets.

    Hunh.

    Shuffle the composter again. And there’s another smear of paper, and another pile of dead hornets, another fifty or sixty of ‘em.

    Recognition!

    HIVE IS INSIDE THE COMPOSTER I’M BUSY SHAKING AROUND!!

    So, I did the most intelligent thing I could. I knocked the fucker over. And sure enough, there’s a headsize hive, with the bottom scrapped off it. Not in the ground like I thought.

    I ended up spending the afternoon (after talking to my boss about using a few hours of vacation time) dismantling the composter, scraping out all remanents of the hive, killing the last few remaining hornets, (and just missing the queen, dammit, although I think she was already going due to the RAID attack). Then rebuilding the composter, and shovelling all the compost material back into it.

    We should be ok, as well. Hornets, after some researching, I found only nest in the spring, and die off completely over the winter. The queen survives, and starts a new hive every year. Given that I interrupted the cycle about two thirds of the way through the year, even if she did get away and starts a new hive, it’s very unlikely to have time to reach any level of dangerous potency, and then it’ll be winter, with the die off. I am going to buy a ‘fake’ paper nest: As wasps and hornets are exceptionally territorial, they won’t start a nest near another one.

    Which, actually, may be why we ended up with one in our yard. Our neighbour four doors down has a fake nest hanging in her yard. The queen probably avoided that, and chose us as ‘far enough away’. The composter would seem like a likely spot, as with all the airspace from branches and leaves rotting away, it would seem like a hollow tree to them, which is a preferred location for a hive.

    At least we don’t have these Giant Hornets here.

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    I keep writin' stuff, and then not bothering with it. Also, I've been putting all my car-related thoughts over on the various forums I've ended up on, so you don't have to read them here.

    You're welcome.

    That said, the car plan is coming along nicely. Actually, better than I'd planned. There was a whole post about it, but basically, wheels are done, the springs have arrived, as has a super-sale short-shift kit, and that's it for the summer. That's also basically it for suspension: I'll probably also add the GT-stock strut-tower brace from Hyundai, as it's only $70, and makes a world of difference. I'll go into detail in another post, and anyone who wants to skip it, can.

    Tuning is, without doubt, an addiction.

    Semi-related, I've gotten roped into helping out with one of the forums, the 'local' Ontario Genesis Club. Basically though, it's just organizing and publishing details on local meets and events of interest.

    Which brings me to my weekend.

    I've never done the whole 'process' of waxing a car before. I hadn't realized, waxing a car, these days, isn't just waxing a car. I did the clay bar treatment first, followed by the pre-wax cleaner, then the shine and sealer, and finally, wax. It took me the best part of four hours and a pot of coffee.

    Admittedly, the results are stunning, but man. That's a lot of work.

    Sunday was a small meet: it ended up being four guys (and GF/Wives). Met at Timmies, and then hauled out to Scotiabank Place to meet up with a fifth guy, who was running the MCO.org Autocross there.


    Being Ogled at Tim Hortons


    The autocross itself was super fun. Basically, for those who don't know, there's a start line and finish line, and the cars are released about thirty seconds apart. Each car has timing on board, and it's a 'trip' system. Only requirements are that the car be in safe working order, and that you wear a helmet. The track is laid out with cones in a parking lot.

    On the "racing expense" chart, this one rates pretty low. Tires and brakes are your wear items, and it costs $40 to participate. The guy, chris, who was running on Sunday in a Tsukuba Red Genesis Coupe, has done six events this summer, and he's still on the stock 19" summer/performance rubber. This is, admittedly, pretty good rubber, and he expects to burn the tires completely by the end of the season, but that's actually pretty decent wear, if this is the thing that you're into. He's got no other real modifications: just a Blow off Valve and intake. For all intents and purposes he's running stock, and was classed in "Class D".


    A Little Wheel Spin [fundrive]


    The turn out for the event was pretty good: I saw about twenty-five cars participating, and you usually get between six and eight runs.

    What staggered me was the variety of cars there, and more specifically, what wasn't there. There were only two civic's: one a bone stock SI sedan, the other a modified early 2000's hatch. There were two right-hand-drive Nissan Pulsar hatchbacks. There were a lot of Miatas and the Miata's were FAST. Even with the modifications to the suspension (and one with a turbo) the Miata's were more than just competative. There were two corvette's, who fared badly: the Corvette is too big a car for that tight a course: there was no room to open them up, by the time they got into the throttle, it was time for the brakes again. One of the Corvette's was a young girl in her dad's Corvette, which was really funny: but she was trying really hard, and dropped ten seconds between her first and final runs. That's pretty amazing.

    There was one Merkur XR4TI, a car I adored (and still adore) in high school. There were, surprisingly, very few front wheel drive subcompacts in general. Couple of 240sx's were there, and one of the slowest, but most fun? A 1978 Ford Thunderbird that was driven entirel sideways by a British rally driver.


    Forrester XT Waiting to Race

    BMW heads towards the Finish Line

    Merkur XR4TI on the track

    1978 Ford Thunderbird digs in

    Miata off the startline [fundrive]

    RHD Nissan Pulsar hatch [fundrive]

    Acura RSX on the Roundabout [fundrive]


    I'm definitely going back: despite the heat (and it was enough to give me some mild heatstroke) I had a great time. I do need to approach yumikid, and borrow her 70-300mm lens for the next one, on July 18th. My 18-70mm just didn't have the reach, and I was guessing on focus and even shutter, because I just couldn't see the subject properly with that focal length. This is one of those situations that really requires a good zoom.

    ** -- **


    The Dog. The dog is getting big. 45lbs give or take, now, or about half of what we expect him to get to. He's cute as all get out, and becoming fun. On Sunday evening, he tried to be Jesus and walk on water at mightydogking's pool. Needless to say, he is NOT a divine puppy, and was very, very surprised when what he thought was solid, uhh... wasn't.

    And he tried very hard to be cool and nochalent about it, but that's tough to do when you're dripping.


    Owly Images


    He's riding in the back of the car now, too. We got him his own seatbelt harness, and after a few early issues with him trying to get out of it, it's working really well. He just hops up into the back seat, and falls asleep for three hours. He's a fantastic traveller.


    Zaphod rides in back


    He also proved to be less submissive than we thought after a weekend at Mom & Dad's. There were four dogs there for the weekend, including my brother's decidedly alpha Sharpei-Basset hound mix. Turns out, Zaphod is not willing to be set upon and dominated by Rooney (the Sharpei/bassett). So, they duked it out.

    Stunningly, it was pretty much an even 'fight'.

    THey did this for seven hours on Saturday morning, and then collapsed next to each other. I admit my bias, but I'm pretty sure that Zaphod actually came out on top, but only very slightly. What we've ended up with is a pair of dogs who're great at playing with each other, and totally wear each other out. It's actually REALLY nice.

    But this is how they end up:


    Detente


    They also both got a little retarded from the encounter, which makes them look like this:


    Zaphod Would Like To Sleep


    Upcoming events?

    July 17th: help pack the 'goos!
    July 18th, more Autocross!
    July 29-Aug 2nd Annual "Jay's Cottage" party!
    August 15th Annual idioglossia's family cottage get together!

    Ummm? I'm sure I'm forgetting something.
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    Word is down, I have Friday off work. Why?

    Well, there's a big ol' list:

    1] Drive up to Jay's cottage, help him unload a new stove, and remove the old one.
    2] Drive home Friday morning, let dog out sometime afternoon.
    3] Genesis Coupe Meet at 6pm on Friday (yes, it's a car geek meeting).
    4] Saturday Morning walk dog!!! Finally!!
    5] Possibly go see Spoonsie finish her Triathlon
    6] Beer
    7] More deck planning, prep, and construction (Saturday through Monday)

    if it's raining, possibly some gaming. HALO:ODST or I'm hearing really good things about Lost Planet 2.

    Other than that, it's looking like a reasonably quiet weekend. idioglossia will be kickin' around the house, and we will be able to take the pooch places to meet people and play with 'em. SO I think there's a good chance we may end up on mightydogking's back yard at some point.

    Beyond that, I gots NOTHIN'.
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    I'm getting really sick of this.

    You don't want your precious little snowflake exposed to something? Hey, that's fine, I support your decision. Deciding arbitrarily that no one else can see it? You can go fuck yourself. Sideways.

    Mom checked out racy teen books from library — and she won't give them back

    Basically, her 13 year-old handed her these books (Gossip Girl titles), and she 'flipped through them' and saw words like 'marijuana' and 'sex'. Note, she didn't READ them.

    Now, I've not read them, for obvious reasons. I'm not the demographic they're for, and honestly, it'd be creepy if I was reading them. I have limits on my "will read anything including the cereal box" policy. But this is ridiculous. What you're really protesting, you twit, is words. Not even ideas. I'd frown on protesting ideas, but ok, ideas you can fairly disagree with, intelligently, even. But she doesn't like the WORDS. You can't just pick words out of a book randomly and decide the book is unsuitable. For all she knows, they could be making a moral point. Ok, sure. It's Gossip Girl, a franchise that's made its name on being racy and pissing off parents, but really, until you've read it, you don't get to criticize.

    "The whole book was filled with everything I don't want my daughter to do or be," she said.

    Again, I can totally respect that decision. There's an easy, easy way to deal with it. Don't let her read them. There. Problem solved.

    But you don't get to be the moral conscience for every parent, who might actually want their kids to read and, heaven forbid, discuss the material with them. Parents who actually get the idea that maybe, just maybe, there's a reason the kids want to read these books, and maybe, rather than just sticking your (and their) heads in the sand, it's worth actually reading the books yourself, and then sitting down with your child to talk about them. I always bring myself up as an example for stuff like this: I've done it before, and I'm going to do it this time. While I never got the "sex talk", I always talked about the books I was reading. Because I was encouraged to. It was a regular topic around the dinner table, and at thirty-six, today, that's still true: my folks and I still talk books when I'm visiting them, or they're visiting me. We talked about themes, maturity level, the lot. When the public school I went to told me I needed special permission to read Watership Down in grade five, my folks didn't even need to think twice about it. When I needed that same permission again to read Helter Skelter, and again to read Mein Kamph, again, I got the permission, and we had (as you can imagine) long, in-depth discussions about the subject matter.

    Even worse, she puts the onus of stopping her daughter (and all the other daughters out there, without discussion as to their parents wishes) on the Public Library system, aka, the government:

    "They're supposed to be public servants"

    That's funny, I thought you were supposed to be a parent?

    I'm actually not being facetious. I have a serious problem with people pulling both ends of the spectrum, basically so they don't have to do the job themselves. She's not returning the books, and eating the fines, so that NO ONE CAN READ THE BOOKS. Arbitrarily, she's appointed herself moral compass for the community.

    Well, fuck you, lady. you don't get to make that decision.

    I realize that she has a point: I'm not convinced all teens of a certain age should have unrestricted access to everything. I get that. But just deciding that no one gets it, no one gets to be informed, she's made the decision and so be it? Nope. We've got problems there. She might as well be burning those books. Because at the very least those books ARE appropriate for sixteen year-olds, who also use the young-adult segment. You can't have all 'age thirteen' appropriate material in a section that is basically for age twelve through eighteen.

    Parenting is not necessarily blocking your childs access to something you think is questionable. You think none of your daughters friends are reading these books, watching the show? you think she's not finding a way to read/watch anyway? You haven't accomplished anything, and you definitely haven't fullfilled your obligation as a parent, to inform and educate your child, rather than put up a bubble to keep them innocent. All your doing is forcing her to hide it all from you (and she is, you dumbass, trust me. She is hiding it from you, and probably more.)

    Parenting is educating. I know parents. I know my parents. And I know that maybe, just maybe, the parents around me are the exception, not the rule. But they are almost definitely a good example of how to do it right. Are they all perfect at it? No. No one is though. At the very least, they're none of them shielding their children from the things they're going to be exposed to anyway.

    At the end of the day, I'll be extremely upset with the library system in question if they kowtow to her demands to either label or remove entirely material she finds objectionable, simply on her say so. Because it sets an awful precident. It tells people they can complain, and have their morals imposed on other via the hand of the government, with no process, no vetting, no discussion. These are parents who try to ban books that use language properly, in context, because they read it out of context or worse, hear that the text might be bad, and never even think to look. They're parenting through knee-jerk reaction, and even I, a non-parent, know that's wrong. If the library system, the PUBLIC library system, kowtows to the wishes of one or two individuals, they're not representing their owners, the public as a whole. We lose the Catcher in the Rye's (bad language, sex), Farenheit 451's (mature ideas, violence, questioning authority, language), Handmaid's Tale's (language, sexual content, violence, treatment of women), the Basketball Diaries (drug use, sex, violence, language), even The Golden Compass and Harry Potter ("Anti-Christian message"[1], magic) and a multitude of others who have to bring up the 'problem' words and language and ideas, to discuss them, to open discussion on topics that kids, young adults and yes, parents need to discuss. Because kids have ideas too, and parents need to remember that.

    I think this parent here, this one who wants books banned and subjugated, she's forgotten that her daughter has her own ideas. And she probably needs to start remembering that pretty quickly.

    Thinking of the Children? You're doing it wrong.

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    Friday night, went to see Iron Man 2. While it's not an Oscar winner, by any means, it is a really, really fun couple of hours.

    What wasn't fun was coming out to find that my car had been egged. Did my usual thing, parked where the cars were thinner (minimize chances of door dings. Yes, I'm a car geek. You all know that) and parked between Futureshop and Outback.

    When we came out of the movie, there were two impacts: one, looks like the egg just skidded along the window as it broke. Minimal, and everything was still wet. this is actually a bonus: it's when it drys that it really starts to do some damage. Second hit, low on the passenger side, behind the door, close to the rear wheel.

    So, after having a lot of fun, the mood soured immediately. Took the car to an open carwash, where I powerwashed the crap off (there was a DART cop car sitting there: the cop was asking me how I liked the car, gave him some info on it, and he gave me some advice on how to (and how not to) clean the egg off). After we rolled through the car wash, it became pretty evident it'd done.. well, pretty much nothing.

    When we got home, I sat in the parking lot with a roll of paper towels, a bottle of vinegar, and a lot of seething anger, and soaked what remained of the egg off the car. And I'll be honest, it looks like the egg didn't sit long enough to actually mar the clear coat. If you want the low down on what an egg can do to a car's paint: Read This. It ain't pretty.

    The bad news is, there is one rough spot. The second impact point, the one on the paint, looks like it was pretty much straight on. There's some very light, but visible-if-you-know-it's-there scaring, in a circle, unsurprisingly, the size of an egg. It's slightly rough to the touch. That's what worries me the most right now. However, what I'm going to try is washing the car AGAIN, to get the dirt from a weekend of driving in the rain off it, and then using a scratch-remover paste to see if that'll cover/remove the majority of the issue. If not... I may need a repaint, which sucks, and will be expensive.

    The good news is, everything I've read on the subject says "if you get it off within two hours, the whites and yolks can't do real damage: it takes about two hours for visible maring to appear." On top of that, it was at night, it was cold, and it was raining, all of these slow the process (if you bake the egg in the sun, on the paint, or allow it to do so on it's own, you've got problems). Which means that I probably buy a buffer, some good pads, and a clay-bar kit, which I was planning on doing anyway to get the last years crap off the paint, especially on the front end, and I may get away with this.

    But man, it's probably a good thing I didn't catch 'em in the act. Cuz there would have been trouble, with a capital Maglite, aka "the 4-D-cell Defense".

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    Well, I was at home on Monday. Despite my best preparations, my back (the old issue) is screaming at me. So, I went to work, got the morning basics done, and came home. Today, chiro for a quick snap, lots of ice, and no ASA. Why no ASA? Because I actually need to be able to feel the pain, so that I know what the problem is, and where exactly it is.

    I met up with Spoonsie, Cyclaw, Maddy, Nickolai, and Geoff (I think I got those right) at Spoonsie's place, where, of course, I prepped in my truly traditional manner. Hydration? For sissys. COFFEE. That's what you need before a race!


    @cyclaw @boozysmurf  on Twitpic


    The CN CHEO Accenture 70km was an experience. I've never taken part in any form of organized single competition like this. Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect. The group that started at 8:30am, our group, was probably three or four hundred bodies. I could be underestimating that, but that's what it felt like. We were there early: I biked to the event, something I would come to regret later. Coffee, bread and butter, pears and apples was my breakfast, and did the job nicely: not heavy enough to weigh me down, but not light enough to not provide energy for me.

    Where was I?

    Oh, yes. The starting line. My biggest concern going into this was being 'the slow one' who held everyone behind him up. I was DEFINITELY not dissuaged of this sitting on the starting line.
    My bike is seven years old now. I have approximately 30,000km on it, spread over those seven years. I've never replaced, repacked, or regreased the bearings. There is, I admit, sludge built up on the cassette and dereailleur. The cables have loosened off enough that the gears slip a little, and I think, if I'm completely honest, the crankset has seen much, much better days, and could bear replacing. In that 30,000km of riding, I've replaced a dozen tubes, five tires, two sets of brake pads, and two chains. I didn't have time for a clean-up on everything, all I could do was unstick the gear levers (little bit of rust inside them) and oil the shit out of everything.

    On the starting line, I was surrounded by a sea of carbon fiber and spandex. There were some people, like me, on lesser bikes, but at the very least, the majority had new-in-the-last-year bikes, with far superior components (there was a lot of Deore and up). I heard people tossing around phrases like "it's cheap, but I only had a thousand dollars to play with for this bike". (Comparitively, I paid $700 with tax for mine, way back when). There were at least three bikes there that would give a car a run for monthly payments. The clothing was no less "class divisive". Spandex everywehre. Purpose-designed bike shirts (and I admit, the pockets on the back, kinda cool, but not necessary for me). Lightweight fabrics, with wicking properties and probably fair-trade at that.
    Ok, I kid a bit there. But, in mountain bike shorts and my Team Bombshelter skull'n'crossbones, I didn't exactly fit in on the attire front, either. Not that I care, I'm just setting the stage.

    As I said, I was still worried that I was going to be the guy holding everyone else back.

    Starting a race in an unorganized group like that? Kinda intimidating. No one bumped: Amazingly, I could get a better start-from-a-stop than most of the other riders, because I don't have clips: I'm not trying to snap my shoes onto the pedals.

    The pack spread out very quickly. To start with, I stuck close to one of the guys I met that morning, Nicolai. However, turning into downtown, I lost my pump from my emergency saddle-bag (pump, tube, tire-pulls). Stopped to check I'd not lost anything else (like my wallet) but the pump is gone, and I was losing time. So, I got back on the road. Turns out, at least at the start, I'm not bad. I quickly caught back up to Nicolai, and went past him at about 8km, around the roundabout at Prince of Wales. I actually started passing people: I thought maybe I was pushing too hard early in the 'not a race', but I felt pretty good, and was moving nicely, so why rock the boat? Sometimes, it's harder to go slow than it is to just keep maintaining pace.

    The other advantage of the pack spreading out was that I slipped nicely into a groove, that was really only disrupted by the run through downtown. The downtown section (about 2km, from city hall across to Lyon) was 'in traffic' and as such we were cautioned to obey the rules of traffic, etc. Which, unfortunately, often meant stopping for lights. I would definitely have broken my 'goal' speed if it weren't for that, but I'll get to that later.

    Once I hit that groove, though I was flying. Rather than holding traffic up, I was passing more and more. Again, I was wondering if I was maybe using myself up too quickly, but as it didn't appear to be stressing me too much, I kept going: the two uphill stretches were balanced nicely by the return trip on the same route, and the obvious problems with traffic lights throwing a wrench in the works.
    The one problem appeared to be 'officiating'. The turns through city traffic were NOT well marked. The volunteers (awesome as they were) didn't appear to know where we were supposed to go either. Just in front of the start/finish line, after the first full lap, I, and a dozen other riders were directed to turn left, just before the line. We did, picked up speed in front of the museum.. and ran into a blockade. We had to turn around and go back the way we came. Frustrating to say the least.

    The other issue occured when, approaching the start/finish line for the third time (2nd time completing the 1st complete leg) I looked at my speedo/odo on my handlebars and saw "67km" As in, amount completed. So, I could eitehr stop at the finish line now, and be 3km short, or keep going. Keeping going was DEFINITELY not a mere 3km proposition.

    I kept going.


    Me - at the line2


    And this was where I started to run out of steam. There was a lot more bike traffic now; the community/family bike ride had begun (5km) and there were not only kids, who were relatively well behaved, but groups of adults wobbling along, five, six, wide, with little regard for traffic coming the other way. That, also, was really difficult for those of us who were 60km into a ride, and really just wanted to get it finished and rest. Again, were it not for that, I'd have been faster average speed: there were sections were I was down under 20km/h for nearly a kilometer at a time, and that was painfully frustrating.
    I kept seeing both Spoonsie heading the other direction at turn-around: I was about 5km behind here at the finish line, maybe ten to fifteen minutes. I also saw Maddy the same way, but behind me. She was a trooper, firing along on a tank of a mountain bike, and still maintaining a hell of a good pace. I got passed by the same guys (and repassed them, too) over and over. When I crossed the line at 81km, it was within about 800ft front and back of about twenty of the guys who I'd been back-and-forthing with the whole race. As they were all kitted out in team gear, on high end bikes, riding as a team (ie. drafting) that made me feel pretty good. I never asked how hard they were actually pushing: I didn't want to know if they were taking it easy or not!

    The final numbers. It's all about the final numbers.

    81km in 2h43m13s. Average speed, 29.67km/h. I had aimed for 30km/h, and didn't really expect to get near it. When I saw my average, and knowing I had to keep slowing for family riders and traffic through the non-closed sections, I was PISSED (with myself: little more push, and I'd have made it). I would definitely have been over, probably over 31km/h for the entire ride.
    As for fund: I raised $256. The team, $2507. The event, $570,173. Every penny of that goes to CandleLighters, Ronald McDonald House, and the CHEO Foundation.

    While I hurt like hell today, two days later, and was much worse yesterday, necessitating a sick day, and much attention from my chiropractor, I'm seriously considering doing it again next year.
    Sidenote regarding chiropractor: he suggested I go see a bike specialist. They do a 'video fitment' service, which, while expensive-ish, would give me the measurements I need to choose a frame properly, and possibly avoid a lot of the issues i have with my back while riding. His thought is that while my bike may have fit me very well seven years ago when I bought it, I may not have the same body-position as I did, and that's causing me increasing problems. As I'm in the market for a new bike anyway, this is somethign I'll consider, at least. I won't go for a custom-designed frame, by any means: I'm just not that hardcore. However, ahving the numbers for the geometry, and being able to search frames/bikes online for those numbers (or close to them) would give me a real advantage in finding a bike that fits.
    I mean, people put that kind of effort into their running shoes, and I spend a lot of hours in the saddle. Only reason I don't spend more is my back (and occasionally, my hands going numb, although that wasn't a problem this weekend).

    Of course, the first thing to try, this year, is a set of aero bars: just being able to change my position on the bike while riding would make a huge difference, I think. And I don't race, so I don't ahve to worry about any "legalities" surrounding aero bars, as I understand there are some.

    Despite my trepidation, I had a hell of a weekend. And thanks to everyone who donated.

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    So, on Sunday, May 2nd (yes, this sunday) I'm riding with Spoonsie in the CN CHEO RIDE. The one I'm specifically in is the Accenture 70km. It's supposed to rain. I'm doing it anyways. Because I'm thinking of the children. I'm willing to suffer for them.

    And to that effect, I need your help.

    PLEDGE ME.

    I can't be more clear than that! Because it's a sponsored event, the sponsors are covering all the ancilliary costs. Which means every single cent you donate through me goes to CHEO. Directly. 100%. Nothing gets chewed up along the way.

    I'm currently carrying my pledge sheet around with me, and you can click on the link (look, here it as again, for your convenience) to donate online. Think about it. Ten bucks (or more) gets you a tax recipt. But neither I, nor the children, are greedy. Even $2 would help. If everyone I know online donated $2, not even the price of a premium coffee, I'd raise about four hundred bucks, maybe even a little more.

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    Sometimes, it sucks being a car guy. Because a car guy will try to do something different. Most people, they need summer and winter tires, they go to the dealership, get the stock sizes, call it quits.

    Not me, though, oh no. I have to be DIFFERENT. I have to be individual.

    I put my order in, finally, with DiscountTire. $2261 with shipping, duty, everything. What you see is what you pay. I got the sizes and offsets I wanted.

    Specifically the order was:

    Front: 19x8 +20mm HyperSilver finish, TSW Snetterton
    Rear: 19x9.5 +20mm HyperSilver finish, TSW Snetterton

    Front: 245/35ZR19 Hankook Evo Ventus K110
    Rear: 275/35ZR19 Hankook Evo Ventus K110

    Installation kit, road-ride testing, duties, shipping, the works.

    Friday afternoon I get home to an email from them.

    “Wheels currently out of stock, no ETA from manufacturer indefinitely”.

    So, I called them (Toll Free international call). I spent 14 seconds on hold (they tell you). I spoke with a really nice guy named Mike.

    Basically, it looks like TSW underestimated demand for the spring. They may or may not be making another run of wheels (I assume they are, it’s their business) but there’s no ETA on when they’ll be available. It could be tomorrow, it could be August. Mike, excellent customer service rep that he seems to be said this:

    “If it were just tires, I could find you something in the same sizes, with equivalent performance, from another manufacturer. If they were slightly more expensive, I could discount them to the price you’d been looking for. Wheels though, that’s completely subjective, and while I can recommend styles, you stil need to decide you want them. To that effect, take a day or two, look at some of the styles you’d discounted, then call me back with a list of four or so, we’ll go through them, and see which ones we have available.”

    Well, it’s not the perfect solution. But it is a solution. And I’m not bound and determined per se to absolutely have the Snettertons.

    So, as of now, I’ve got five options.

    1] Tenzo R Cuzco V1 : super nice looking, organic rim, 10-spoke, matte black or gloss black. Excellent widths (8.5” front, 10” back, with +17 and +22 offsets. Totally acceptable) but they’re flat-face, and I had wanted deep-dish

    2] Tenzo R Type-M V1: Mesh-type, flat face (the downside) but looks like this on a Genesis. Very cool. Despite the flat-face, I think I could be happy with these. 8.5” front, 10” back, with +17 and +22 offsets

    3] TSW Willow: in black and gunmetal, basically. Same sizes and offsets as the Snettertons (same company, I assume made with the same blanks). Gives me my ‘lip’ (3” rear lip, in fact)

    4] TSW Nardo: gunmetal, split 5-spoke. My least favourite, but strangely acceptable. Deepdish, and same sizes and offsets as the Snettertons and Willows.







    I gotta say, ANY of these will look awesome. The Tenzo's come in a fantastic gunmetal colour. The nardo's and willow's both come in gunmetal with a chrome lip. but the thing is: the Tenzo's are fullface, and I really wanted that lip. And the nardo and willow give me the lip, but I wanted a mesh style, rather than straight spokes. They're good rims, but they're totally runner up.

    Even with the Tenzo's end up looking like this (from the forums):





    Would I have a problem with my car wearing those shoes? No. No I wouldn't.

    The 5th option is… sneaky.

    See, TSW has 3 brands under their banner. TSW is their “tuner” brand. The third I’ve heard off, but I’m nto 100% on. Their luxury brand is PETROL.

    And PETROL has a wheel called the Vengeance, that DiscountTire does stock (whether or not they have the size/offset I want in stock is still up for debate).

    Here’s a Vengeance (on the left) next to a Snetterton (on the right).





    Yeah. I noticed that too. The only difference is the cap in the centre, and the price. The Snettertons are $256 each. The Vengeance are $320 each.

    So, I’m going to put the Petrol’s on the list, and I’m going to ask first if they have them in stock in my sizes, and then if they’ll discount them to the price of the Snettertons, as I know damn well they come off the same line. And we’ll see what they say.

    I also have an uncompleted order with another online place, Performance Plus Tire, who also stock Snetterton’s, and appear to have them in stock. The problem is, they don’t do free shipping to Canada like DiscountTire do, and they wanted me to click through and complete the purchase process at which point they’d call me with details on Duty. Now, I want Tax and Duty info up front. For obvious reasons. So, they’ve been emailed. They’re slightly cheaper than DiscountTire, but that gets chewed up in the $280 worht of shipping, and I would guess, another $200 in duty/taxes at the border. They end up being about $200 more expensive, out the door, based on those numbers. But, if they have the wheels instock, and I can get what I wanted, then that might be useful to me, and I might be willing to pay that extra bit.

    So, we’ll see. Like I said, these are the trials and tribulations of a car guy.

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    "It's the little things."

    I always want to end that with "Motherfucker". It's Sam Jackson's line, it just sounds right.

    The dog is changing much. I'm getting up earlier. idioglossia is still not a morning person. So, I tend to take the 5am wake-up call from Zaphod:





    That's about an hour before I would normally get up during the week, which isn't a particular hardship, although it has curtailed late-night TV viewing. Turns out, I do need six to seven hours a night, to be considered "human" the next day. Unfortunately, the puppy-schedule (up early, home at lunch, spending time in the afternoon) has seriously curtailed my workout schedule. Normally, this time of year, that would be "leave work at 3pm, go for two hour bike ride". As the pooch needs to be let out, that's not happening. And I feel bad about crating him after 40 minutes at noon (to get back to work) and then doing the same thing at 3pm just so I can go out and ride. I still don't have a fix for that particular situation.

    What I can fix right now, however, is my morning routine. See, part of the getting in shape? Eating better. That's taken a nose-dive since PAXEast, but one thing that's hurting me is, I get up at 5am, let the dog out, make tea, hang out for an hour, get ready to go, pass the reins to idioglossia, go to Timmies, and head to work.

    THe problem is, I have a set volume of calories for the day. Currently, that's about 1750 calories. Coffee, no problem. I drink my coffee black. I loves my coffee. But I'm not making coffee in the morning. I'm making tea. And I actually take my tea very, very heavy on milk and sugar. I have no idea why I do that with tea but not coffee, I just do.

    And that tea is worth anywhere from 150 to 200 hundred calories. I start the day at a deficit. And you combine that kind of 'minor' action, with the lack fo regular cardio workout (biking or elliptical) taht has become the norm in the last month and I'm in a little trouble.

    I think what this means is, I need to start making coffee in the morning. Which means something else. I need a new thermos. One that actually SEALS.

    I've bought three thermos' in the last few years. All stainless steel. Priced between twelve bucks and closer to forty bucks. Non of them seal properly. Specifically, none of them seal well enough that I can put the top on, bike to work with the thermos in my bag, and not have a spill by the time I get to work.

    Is there a reason no one can make a stainless steel thermal container that can actually do what it promises to do? Actually CONTAIN a liquid for, I dunno, I'd be happy with twenty minutes, to be honest.

    But, if I have a thermos (that works), I can set the coffee to start at 4:50am, it's ready to go at 5:10am or so, I can have a cup when I let the dog out, and take the rest to work. That solves several problems: shorter trip to work (not via Timmies), save $1.72/morning (not going via Timmies) and have hot coffee all morning (not going via Timmies and having coffee in a paper cup that goes cold in an hour).

    you see the theme?

    What I've got to do though, is find a decent thermos. And I'm giving up on places like Benix, Zellers, etc. I think I may have to break down and buy the only decent-looking (ie. Looks like it will actually seal properly because the seal isn't just an ill-fitting O-ring) thermos I've seen in years.

    Which means buying a thermos from Starbucks.

    Oh, and speaking of Tim Hortons, I'm currently (as the cups start to go away: I know one location that still has XL contest cups, everywhere else seems to be sold out) 3-57 for Roll Up The Rim To Win. It has not been a good year.

    So, if anyone's got any suggestions for a thermos that actually WORKS, feel free to speak up. Otherwise, as you were.

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