Today is my birthday. While I don’t personally care too much about birthdays, I do recognize that people like to celebrate their (or others) successful entry into the world so I’ve decided to break out of my drought of posting to give a little wave to the world.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Mediocre has been a little slow since the middle of Februrararary and if it weren’t for Jeff’s post about turbos (see Tuesday’s post, and the incoming conclusional post on Monday) we’d still be a little quiet. I’m sure you’re asking yourself “Why so few posts recently?’ and here’s the quick answer: “We’ve all been busy, and winter sucks around here.”
(This is basically what we see here in Seattle for 9 months straight, except with less blue sky)
Now that’s not to say that we’re done with Mediocre or with working on/racing the cars, I’m just saying that constant rain and clouds takes a surprisingly large amount of energy out of you. What’s planned for the incoming months? Let’s take a look at the quick list for each of MY cars. Jeff and Alex might chime in later if I can convince them to contribute.
(Fix carb, full brake replacement, suspension overhaul, fix rusted floorpan, repair/rechrome bumpers/trim)
Check out the full “photoshoot” here: http://mydigislr.shutterfly.com/celica
(Motor mounts, oil cooler, maybe a new exhaust, maybe a retune…we’ll see)
Now, it’s my birthday so I get to keep the stage for a few more minutes. Who am I kidding, if you suckers read this far you’re going to keep reading anyway…suckers. While this little blog has had some ups and downs, periods of TONS of posts and periods of drought, we’ve always maintained a pretty good audience and some consistent readers. We’ve grown a lot (looking back at my first few posts, I’m a little ashamed at the quality) and we’ve still got a lot of growing left to do. In the end I just really wanted to thank everyone for their support, either in being a reader or being a contributor, and say that I really appreciate you guys taking time out of your days to read our little corner of the interbutts.
Now get off my website, I’ve got work to do.
– It’s Steve’s birthday and he’ll be sappy if he wants to
I’m stealing someone else’s searching powers again, Motoiq.com had this as one of their posts a while ago and after watching it again, and again, I just had to share it here. This is just a lightning round update, there will be a full post on Monday.
As we all know I’m a sucker for this type of video, but you can be pretty sure that if you aren’t moved by something like this you probably weren’t born to race.
– Steve was born to use hyperbole
For this post, I thought I would take a break from high performance upgrades, racing strategies, or discussions about why owning an older car can be challenging. Instead, I want to focus on a topic that has bothered me since before I picked up my drivers license: tailgating. I don’t like it. And I’m not going to pussyfoot around this one… I dont’ like people who defend themselves for tailgating. If you’re one of those people – and let’s be honest, there’s a 50% chance you are – listen up. Here are three great reasons why you should stop arguing with me and stop tailgating.
Reason #1: risk to other drivers and yourself
The absolute most important reason for not tailgating is that it greatly increases the chance of a wreck. (You’ll notice that I didn’t call it an “accident” because it wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t tailgating!) As a human in a machine, there is a reaction time between the moment your eyes see something, your brain interprets that data and makes a decision on how to react, your muscles actually doing something, and the car responding to your commands. We’ll call that amount of time X. There is another amount of time that we’ll call Y. It’s the time it will take for your car to catch up to the car in front of you. Normally, Y is constantly changing because you and the driver in front of you are varying speeds. But in a rear-end collision, that time is very finite and very short. If time X is greater than time Y, you will hit the car in front of you. Among other factors such as road conditions and the health of your car, the distance that you follow will play a huge role in the length of time Y. If you’re tailgating, time Y can be extremely short.
But enough of the technical, let’s just look at the facts. If you rear end a car in front of you, you will be blamed for the wreck. You might get a ticket and your insurance premium is likely to increase. Your insurance company may even drop you. Your car will likely be damaged, the other driver’s car will likely be damaged, and you will be responsible for fixing both. You might injure the the other driver, their passengers, your passengers, and yourself. If there are any medical bills associated with the wreck, you will be held liable. If the wreck is bad enough, you could cause serious injury to another person who can then take you to court for the time they lost at work, pain and suffering, and future medical bills. And let’s not mention that you could flat-out kill someone.
Risk. C’mon, I had to go there.
Reason #2: it doesn’t help
I haven’t done any real research on this, but I believe people who tailgate feel that it will get them to their destination faster and/or it makes slower drivers get out of their way. For the most part, these are common misconceptions. Most of the time, it is red lights and congestion that will hold you up. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a very aggressive drive tailgate and dart in and out of traffic to get ahead. Sure, they’ll seem like they’re getting further up the highway than me, but we both take the same exit and we both get stuck at the same red light. I’ve even seen them sitting at the red light and it turns green just as I’m approaching. So really, all they gained was a bit of “hurry up and wait.”
As for making slower drivers move, that’s just silly. Yes, slower drivers are supposed to keep to the right, but the fact of the matter in the Greater Seattle area is that most lanes on the highways are filled up most of the time. Tailgating the guy in front of you when you’re both stuck behind a thousand other people in a 1/2 mile stretch of highway is not going to make them move. You really gain nothing by riding his ass.
It doesn’t help… get it?
Reason #3: it pisses people off
I can already see the reaction to this from the people who defend tailgating, “Why should I care if I piss off the other drivers?” Well, for starters there is a thing called common courtesy and not being a total cock to your fellow man (I think that last one was taken verbatim from the bible). But more importantly than that, pissing off other drivers can cause them to be aggressive to you and other drivers. It’s a vicious cycle, really. You’re a cock, so you tailgate and piss someone off. They, in turn, cut off someone else. The person who gets cut off turns out to be an up-and-coming murderer who decides that getting cut off is the last straw. They get to the office and unload an AK-47 into their colleagues. Well, congratulations, Mr. Tailgater, you just caused a mass homocide. Feel better about yourself?
Exaggerations aside, you really could get into it with someone over something as trivial as commuting to work. For example, my wife and I were in a crowded parking lot hunting for a spot when a lady swooped in and stole a spot we were waiting for. I murmured something about her being a bitch and kept on moving when my wife reached over and honked the horn. A few minutes later we found a spot and the lady who stole the first one walked past and said with a bitchy attitude, “See? You found a better one!” Well, what if said she-bitch was a 300 lb. linebacker with a short temper whose wife just left him. Now your face is going to pay the price for that honk. Same thing could happen by tailgating.
You don’t want to piss this guy off, but he could be the one you’re tailgating.
So please do everyone a favor and back the fuck off. You’re putting yourself and others at risk for absolutely no reason besides making yourself feel better. But guess what? Do it to the wrong person and you could come home with a boot in your ass all because you thought (incorrectly) that it would get you to your destination faster. Way to go, captain, maybe you can use that boot from your ass to remove the dent in your car that the 300 lb. linebacker made.
~ Alex “No, I’m not at all bitter about this topic” Gregorio
Normally there’d be a fully written out post here on Monday morning and if all things worked as planned, there would be. Right now we’ve got two posts that are currently stuck in the queue waiting to be published, and I’m currently wrestling with the wordpress functionality to let me post them without mucking up the formatting.
Fear not! This week and next week are going to have properly sized posts replete with full pictures and intelligently placed snark (and perhaps a boob or two…no promises).
(Two boobies…but probably not the kind you were hoping for)
Stay tuned, I’ll have at least one of the posts pushed out hopefully by today or tomorrow.
– Steve is working his technical wizardy…searching for “boobie birds” on Bing
Normally I don’t really like puzzle games and so I was a little hesitant after I had bought the game Zen Bound 2 from Steam for around $5. The description sounded pretty cool and the artwork made me look twice so I picked it up and it wasn’t until I got a few levels into it that I realized it was effectively a really cool, downtempo, relaxing puzzle game.
Here’s my problem with puzzle games: Fuck puzzles.
(Fuck your puzzle, I’m out)
Seriously, puzzle games are annoying because of the inherent nature of the difficulty of creating puzzles for a wide audience. There will always be a puzzle you can beat and a puzzle you can’t. The most fun puzzles are the ones that are challenging and make you feel like you can’t beat it, but there is a way and you will eventually find it. The problem with this is that everyone is on a different level regarding their puzzle solving skills or their patience level.
(The princess is in another castle… FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU!!!)
Typically my skill is high, but my patience is very very low so I don’t normally do well in this type of genre. This game; however, is easily the best $5 I’ve spent in a long time. It’s calming, simple, and yet frustratingly complex. Wrap some string (tied to a nail at some point on the sculpture) around until the sculpture is a certain target % wrapped (typically 99-100%). It’s complex because if you’re not focusing in on what you’re doing you’ve suddenly gotten yourself into a maddening tangle of rope that wouldn’t seem out of place at a BDSM festival. (Note: Best self set-up for an image search…EVER)
(Move over sweetie, you’re blocking the TV and Futurama is on)
The game is certainly beautiful with its wonderfully textured wood sculpture models that you must manipulate atop a semi-blurred background that occasionally distorts pleasantly and non-invasively. The music is even relaxing and does a good job of being relaxing without being “shhhhhh, shhhhhh, it’s ok, I’m relaxing music, shhhhhhh.”
(Nothing like a relaxing duckie)
Suddenly I look up and realize that I’ve now been wrapping computer generated string around stupid little figurines sculpted into Yoga poses for two hours now. How do I know it’s a good game? I want to play it. Like right now, fuck this post. I’m gonna go play with some string.
– Steve uses his time effectively, plays string puzzle games all day
Here in the Seattle area, the WSDOT has installed a wonderfully expensive looking set of computer controlled LED signs as part of their “Smarter Highways” project. As far as I can tell it’s “smarter” because it’s a way of having an adjustable sign base so that information can be distributed across the local highways while people are theoretically hurtling their 2+ ton vehicles down the road at high rates of speed.
(Smartest distractions I’ve ever seen…)
While it was amusing for the few months that these signs were installed, but not fully operational, to see the “TEST MSG: xxx” message appear on these signs with varying letters in the ‘xxx’ slot…it was slightly distracting trying to discern the cryptic meaning of those three letter messages. Every so often the signs would change from something like ‘KLR’ to ‘ SVM’ and it would leave the passing drivers with some interesting distractions as they drove their metal and rubber death missiles forward.
(I searched “death missile” and got this tattooed woman. I approve)
Now that the signs are actually up and running as intended, they have started to show variable speed limits. Now as far as I’m concerned the ability to adjust a speed limit in only one direction – down – is relatively worthless. Traffic is a self-regulating system as the roads have a pretty set capacity to flow traffic at a certain rates so reducing a speed limit in an area that people can’t even achieve said limit is a bit silly. Because traffic systems are so complex and technically “alive” there is in fact a pretty detailed set of theory and formulas surrounding the study of traffic and it’s important enough that certain people even get their doctorates in the field.
(Not political humor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – Iran’s leader – really has a PhD in traffic management)
It disturbs me greatly then when I’m driving along at maybe 5mph due to the natural flow of traffic and I come across one of these variable speed limit signs that is happily reporting to me that instead of the normal 60mph limit, the current allowed speed limit is only 40mph. Looking down to my 5mph current speed and then back up to the 40mph limit I wonder exactly who it is in the WSDOT who thinks that anyone is going even remotely close to 40mph in this zone during rush hour. Hopefully someone who is not being paid to think that hard about what they do.
(Not the exact WSDOT signs, but similar in design and intent)
I could be wrong and I could just be jaded, but so far I’ve not seen any improvement in any traffic strictly because of a variable speed limit sign. Understanding traffic flows, eliminating forced bottlenecks, and increasing speed limits in certain areas has a far greater impact on traffic than a sign that changes from 60mph to 40mph in a time and location that is almost impossible for cars to even come close to breaching the new limit. I won’t even talk about how to enforce the variable limits in this post, but you can be sure that I have thoughts about the shortcomings of this system in that respect as well.
– Steve wrote a new post? Weird…
The human body and mind can only take so much abuse and punishment before they have to sit down to take a break and recuperate their strength for the next challenge. Burning; the midnight oil, the candle from both ends, and bridges behind you all equate to a level of exhaustion that starts to take its toll on everything you do. Your writing gets crappy, you start neglecting even simple car repairs, and you become slightly more cranky than usual…or at least that’s what I’ve noticed has been happening to me recently.
(Steve’s average crankiness levels compared to average people’s average crankiness levels)
As I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’ve been checking the site, I’ve been slacking a little on getting fresh new posts up to Mediocre recently. Now I know I’ve taken a vacation and given you guys pre-heads up and warnings that some of the weeks will be a little light on posts, but I feel like I needed to let you all know why everything is slow right now.
(This is what happens when you try to punt a parking barrier with your splitter. Haven’t fixed it yet)
Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not quitting Mediocre or anything. I just wanted to let you know that the posts are going to likely be once per week only and as we get further and further into the winter months (yes, it’s winter in Seattle already) the car related posts will slow down and the “Beer” and “Random” posts will start to pick back up.
What will I be doing with all my “free” time now? Well, my girlfriend and I just got a brand new 7 week old Boston Terrier puppy (named Mila) that we are loving to death and spending a lot of time with right now. In addition to that I’m trying to get the car prepped for a track day sometime in mid-September before the rain and gloom gets too oppressive to race.
(Just look at how cute she is!! Screw Seattle’s winter, this little puppers is all I need)
What’s the moral of this post? Well I suppose it’s a two fold ending for you guys.
Number 1: Everyone gets burned out. Every single person can burn out when they work too hard and don’t stop to take care of themselves. This is true for cars, for drivers, for wrenchers, for puppies, for clowns, even for hookers (even though they don’t technically count as people). Take some time and get yourself straight before you start resenting doing the things you love, when you’re ready to come back it’ll all feel brand new again.
Number 2: Mediocre ain’t dead…just slower than usual. I’ve got a few posts that are half-written and picture searched so I’ve got some fodder for future posts. Stick around and see what’s next!
-Steve is suffering cute overload from his new puppy, also sleep deprivation…