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Archive for September, 2009

Women and cars

September 27, 2009 9 comments

Everyone who has been to a car show ever has seen the booth girls clad in nothing but their undies or outfits of questionable effectiveness at covering their naughty bits. While I love a good hoochie-who-thinks-she’s-making-a-career-out-of-standing-around-and-having-people-take-pictures-of-her-in-her-underpants as much as the next guy, it really doesn’t show the flip side of girls in the car tuning/racing/appreciating hobby.

 
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(I didn’t NEED to put up a picture to make my point, but it was fun searching for photo content for this post, so I’m sharing)
 

What about the girls/women/ladies that turn the wrench on their own car? What about those that race their cars? I know there are females who race and some of them are damn good (some of them are damn miserable too, but that goes the same for men), but it’s rare to see them. One of the problems with this rarity is that when we actually do see one turning her own wrench or exercising her go-fast foot we all get overly excited. It’s new, it’s different, it’s fucking exciting! Holy crap, a girl!

 

 (See now THAT’s the kind of women I want to see more of. American Le Mans star Liz Halliday and Champ Car driver Katherine Legge)

This reaction is often because we are excited to see someone new and to encourage them to keep competing and to bring new friends with them next time. The problem with this reaction is that it keeps happening over and over and over again. There are tons of us dudes running around asking questions, trying to offer help, or trying to have conversations with these ladies, but there are only a few of them and the constant attention is often unwanted or eventually becomes unwanted because it gets annoying over time.

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is two fold. We all want more women in the sport either as competitors or technical peers, but sometimes it’s us that inadvertently push these women away. Encourage your sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends, or even just friends to come out with you next time you go to the track. See if they’re interested in a ride-along or even a drive if you can relax that iron grip on the steering wheel for a few laps. Putting in a new part this weekend? Call up the girls and see if they want to come over and help/watch/learn/hang out. You might be surprised at what happens when we bring women into the sport to do things other than look pretty in their underwear. (Or make delicious turkey dinners)

-Steve almost made it the entire way through the post without being a chauvinist

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Categories: Cars, Steve

How a differential works

September 25, 2009 2 comments

Chances are that if you’re at all interested in cars you know what a differential is, but probably not how it works. There are plenty of different types and plenty of different applications out there and it never ceases to amaze me that there is so little ‘average guy’ knowledge about these awesome devices.

The problem with the differential is that it’s not a ‘sexy’ device. Sure it’s one of the greatest mods you can do to your car if you’re interested in handling or putting down absurd amounts of power efficiently, but it’s hidden in the depths of your transfer case (or as I like to call it: “a car’s nether-regions”) and you can’t really polish it up for shows or take pictures of it to help inflate your internet ego. Big business in cars shows and for those who only know the surface of automotive performance are the things that you can physically see and understand their benefit. Example: Wheels/Tires for the looks and Turbochargers for easily understood benefit.

   

(One of these things is not as sexy as the others)

The problem with people only installing the ‘sexy’ parts is that they aren’t really creating something that’s all that usable. For example: you can turbocharge your penis as much as you want, but it’s useless if you can’t take it out of your pants. Put a differential down there and it might not be big, but it’ll sure handle like it is. (Ok, I’m halfway proud of myself for coming up with a groin-area reference that actually kinda made sense, but I’m also halfway uncomfortable that it was the first thing I could think of to help make my point.)

Anyway, now that I’m done explaining how your junk is related to a differential here’s a little lesson for you.  A friend of mine recently saw this video for the first time and very excitedly sent it over. I’ve seen this video a few times before and it never ceases to amaze me how easily things can be explained when done in 1950’s demonstration format. Oh the 1950’s how I miss your womanizing, hate for communism, and uncanny ability to make something so unsexy as a differential into a really helpful little video.


 (Skip to around 1:50 to get to the differential information)

-Steve is still giggling about the turbocharged wang analogy

Categories: Cars, Steve

Interesting search queries

September 23, 2009 3 comments

I was skimming through the statistics of the site to check our basic traffic flows and saw an interesting and confusing search query that brought at least one visitor to this Mediocre blog. The query in question?

“boy in jungle”

Now I’m not sure how anything on this entire site has anything even remotely pertaining to the phrase “boy in jungle” so I’m a little confused how that person ended up here. I’m glad they stopped by and hope they had a good time, but I can’t imagine they found what they were looking for in the first place. I’m still not sure what “boy in jungle” would’ve yielded for search results, but I think it might have something to do with that Disney movie “The Jungle Book“. (Holy crap, that movie was made in 1967 ?!)

 
 

(Anyone see anything even remotely about cars in this post?) 

 

Anyway, I’m super busy at work and a little under the weather right now so I appologize for the slowness to the posts, but I’ve got two posts in the draft pipeline that I will be completing soon. Stay tuned Mediocre fans, there will be more average quality posts by the end of the week!

– Steve wishes he had a giant retarded bear for a friend

Categories: Random, Steve

4spd, 5spd, 6spd, Auto, …?

September 21, 2009 1 comment

One thing that I like to keep a solid eye on in the automotive world is the transmission offerings of new cars. It’s getting a little bleak in the US automotive world nowadays and it makes me quite sad. Gone are the days where you used to be able to walk onto the lot and pickup the car of your dreams with a stick shift. Cars used to be dominated by the manual transmission and now that we’re starting to move away from it, I’m quite sad.

For example, I personally love the looks of the Lexus IS cars. I loved the older body style IS300 (yes, even the sportcross wagon) and I love the new body style with its very aggressive, yet mature lines. One thing I DON’T like about the new IS cars is that you can only get a manual transmission on the lower end model, the IS250. Even the mighty Lexus IS-F sports sedan (basically Lexus’ answer to the BMW M series cars) comes only with one of those stupid flappy paddle gear things. While that may be cool for some people, I’m a purist and complete fanatic when it comes to the mantra “Sports cars should have three pedals and a stick shift” so I remain very hesitant to think of the new IS cars as something I might want to own.

(Family man fast, the Lexus IS300 SportCross. My kind of wagon!)

Yes yes, I’m sure there are some of you technology nerds out there that might disagree with me (Alex, I’m looking at you), but I just can’t get onboard with flappy paddles. I’m not driving an F1 car, I’m not competing in the WRC, get that garbage off my steering wheel and give me back my clutch pedal. Can you shift faster with a flappy paddle and auto-manu-matic gear box? Yup, you sure can. Is it faster per lap with a flappy paddle? Sure it is, by a few 10ths of a second. I won’t ever smash on the technical merits of flappy paddles, but honestly, I don’t want them at all. I like driving my cars the proper way, with a stick shifter and a clutch pedal.

https://i0.wp.com/phoenix.fanster.com/files/2008/12/stick-shift-transmission.jpg

(Bliss)

Here’s my list of reasons you should ever own an Automatic transmission:
1.) Your left leg was amputated during the war after saving your buddies from a grenade by jumping on it

2.) Your left leg was amputated after you were gored when you fist fought (and won) against a rampaging bull

3.) Your left leg was amputated after you missed a triple backflip on your motorcycle trying to impress the prom queen

4.) Your left leg was amputated for something equally as manly as options 1-3.

 

Yup, that’s it, it’s a pretty short list. If you try to argue “I hate having to shift in traffic” go pack up your purse, make sure your skirt isn’t tussled and get the hell off my damn website…you don’t belong here.

When you drive an Automatic, you’re not really in control of the car, you’re sort of just being moved with it. Shifting may seem ‘tedious’ to those of you that were breast-fed until they were 19, but for those of us that actually enjoy driving our cars rather than just operating them, shifting is an inherent part of the process. When you relinquish control of the machine to the machine, you lose part of the exciting part of being the driver.

People who know me have often heard me mention that I think cars are a miracle. Without this miracle, there would be no way that you (some measly human) could manipulate 3,000lbs of metal, cloth, and rubber. With even the tiniest of inputs from your pinky finger on the steering wheel and big toe on the accelerator you are executing a miracle.

Modern cars are so technologically advanced that they barely even require a driver to get places anymore. With smart cruise control, you don’t need to touch the accelerator anymore. With Automatic transmissions, there is no need to shift. Hell, some companies now even sell a ‘parking assist’ option that will parallel park the car for you without you having to touch the gas, brake, or even steering wheel. You’re not even a driver anymore…you’re a passenger in an autonomous robot.

 

(Do you really want this little asshole to drive you around?)


If you don’t know how to drive stick, get out there and learn. Once you can drive stick you will be technically competent enough to be able to go anywhere in the world and drive pretty much any car available. Hell, maybe I should just outside the US where you’re hard pressed to even find a car without a stick. Americans are too soft when it comes to stuff like this and I fear that without the purist jerks like me complaining about it, no one would even care.

– Steve “Give me a 5speed and some open road”  Molloy

Categories: Cars, Steve

Oh, the people you will meet

September 18, 2009 4 comments

As Steve mentioned a few posts ago, rarely are we going at this expensive and time consuming hobby alone.  He talked about how your friends help you out a great deal along the way.  I’d like to expand upon that concept and take it in a bit of a different direction.  I want to talk a bit about a few people I’ve met in my journey so far with the Mediocre Jetta.  I’m quirky, I’ll admit it.  I have irrational attachments to completely irrational things.  I never put on dirty socks, ever.  It really creeps me out.  I park in the same spot, facing the same direction every day at work.  It’s on the complete other end of the business park from my office.  I don’t mind the walk, it helps me relax after a long day. 

Shortly after locating my spot, a black Mk4 GTI began parking next to me.  The GTI owner worked later hours, so we never crossed paths.  Then, in July, APR was running their tri-annual, “Buy our Stuff for Cheap because of lame excuse XYZ sale”.

Being the nice ‘Dubber that I am, I left a note on the GTI’s winshield, under the wiper, whoring out a local shop (http://www.namotorsports.net, started by some alums from my High School).  A few days later, I get a note on my windhsield, from the GTI owner.  He leaves a quick blurb about his plans for the GTI and passes on the APR stuff.  We pass notes back-and-forth randomly for the next few months, but never connect in person.  Eventually we connect, in person, and share a nice long chat about ‘Dubs and cars in general.  I quickly find out, this dude is serious.  See for yourself:  http://www.cardomain.com/ride/579694

 

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(Mister Rich and friends fondling the rear end of their new parts car prize)

Long rambling story short, this is us a few months later.  He had picked up a junked ’91 GLI for the interior and BBS RM wheels.  I was free to have at anything else I wanted, for a reasonable price.   

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(Some people look and see a pile of junk, Mediocre Motoring sees a good weekend!)

That’s right, I was getting very difficult to find parts (Non-power GLI Doorcards), all because I park in the same spot every day and passed a few notes after work.

Fast-forward to Saturday.  I’m teaching Mo Volks (my special lady friend) how to drive stick in Steve’s old neighborhood.  After an hour or so of stop-and-go learning, she’s starting to get the hang of it.  As the lesson comes to a close, the Mediocre Jetta sounds a bit louder than usual.  Driving to get groceries the next day, it’s obvious to everyone within a ¼ mile that the exhaust has a hole somewhere near the muffler.

As I mentioned before, I’m naturally paranoid, especially about anything involving someone else and my car; I planned on waiting till a decent weekend to fix the muffler.  Then it fell off.  On my home from work.  On 62.  In PM rush hour traffic.  The following morning, with the loudest Jetta on the North Shore, I drove to the exhaust shop closest to where I work.  Irrationally expecting to get screwed, cheated or somehow ripped off, I dropped the car off.

Come 5:30, I walked down to grab the Jetta.  I expected a huge bill with all kinds of  suspicious repairs and strange fees.  Nothing of the sort ever came to fruition.  The total bill, for a cat back custom exhaust, was less than I could buy the exhaust.  I spent a good 45 minutes talking with the owner of the shop, about all kinds of car things.  Just good, old fashioned shooting-of-the-shit about cars.  Fuel injection, alcohol funny cars, how shit is too expensive, how people who slam their cars to the ground are dumb, Auto-X, drag, rally racing, muscle cars and Stoptech brakes.

What did I learn?  That not everyone in the automotive business is going to rip you off and that there are some great car people on the North Shore.  What can you, the Mediocre readers, learn?  I’m not 100% sure, but I think you should never wear dirty socks…ever.

  -Mister Rich

Categories: Cars, Rich

Life without beer

September 15, 2009 4 comments

This may seem strange to anyone who knows me personally and has witnessed first hand just how much alcohol I consume on a weekly basis, but… <dramatic pause>… I’m taking a hiatus from beer. I’ll give you a second to pick your lower jaw up from the floor before I start explaining. 

 

(This is pretty much what I’m picturing when I imagine some of my friends reading this)

So yes, it’s true…I’m giving up beer. Well, let me rephrase that. I’m giving up beer TEMPORARILY so that I can continue with an experiment that my girlfriend recently introduced me to. A friend of ours, the good Reverand C. Ben Hoffman, has been on a journey to improve his body so that he can have an epic halloween cosutme: Leonidas from 300. In his quest to achieve ultimate Spartan aesthetics he has been going through some dietary rotations and exclusions from his usual intake. (Check out his blog for full details, it’s actually pretty damn interesting) 

(Farewell sweet prince)

  Inspired by the Reverand’s quest, my girlfriend brought up an interesting question to me and I wasn’t sure how to answer it. The question wasn’t about  if we could never pick up a beer again, it was about the worth of such a thing. Would it be worth it to go out of our ways to change our drinking habits? Would bars be worth it? Would Football ever be the same? If I were still single…would women I meet at the bars be nearly as attractive at the end of the night? I am not someone who is usually at a loss for words, so when she posed the question and I couldn’t answer, I seriously had to mull over the posibility that beer has become a considerably large part of my normal life. Fascinated with this, I decided that I would join her on her quest to see how different life was without beer. Our little self challenge also allows us a single cup of wine, or one mixed drink if we’re in a social situation where it’d just be overly awkward to not drink, but we have yet to find a need to exercise this option.

  (After the third pitcher of Blue Moon she’s on the left. Without beer, she’s on the right. Yes, it’s the same girl.)

 Considering that I didn’t actually start drinking until I was 21 (Holy crap, someone actually respected that law?!) and went through a good portion of college having to explain to people why I was drinking water out of a red solo cup at parties, I don’t think it will be too large of a problem to just not drink. Although…football season DID just start up and Hockey season is almost here too, hmmmm.

So what do you think? Will I last for a week? One month? Longer? Leave us a comment and let me know how much faith you have in me.

– Steve is reminded a lot of New Jersey when he sees the girl on the right…

Categories: Beer, Random, Steve

You probably didn’t do it alone…

September 11, 2009 2 comments

One thing that’s certain in our chosen hobby is that it’s rarely a single player sport. Almost everyone you talk to that works on their cars has some kind of story about the time they were installing a new part, and almost universally that story involves a friend or buddy helping them out. So rarely do you hear someone say that they put together a car by themselves that I am a full believer that no heavily modified car is built alone.

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(It’s a 3 person job. One on the engine, one on the suspension, one on the camera.)

Almost nothing worth doing, can be done alone. Never forget your friends and never be so foolish to think that you can do it without them. No matter how much people like to say “I built it myself”, they almost always mean “My buddies and I built it together.”

Whether it’s lending a hand in turning a wrench, providing feedback and opinons on your thoughts, sharing lessons learned, helping you write posts for your new site about cars, or even as simple as letting you use their garage…friends are always there for you and you should make sure you’re always there for them.

To all the guys that’ve helped me with my ride; cheers mates. Without you guys, I’d never have gotten anything useful done. Beers are on me next time we go out.

– Steve <3’s his friends

Categories: Cars, Random, Steve