Thursday, October 7, 2010

F1-Geeks: Welcome!

A friend of mine and I decided there wasn't enough interesting commentary on the internet and have decided to start a blog about Formula One Racing, general geeky tech things and whatever else we find interesting.

Stop on by if you like by clicking here:
F1-Geeks: Welcome!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Uncommonly Good

Lots of stuff going on.  Too much to mention, likely none of it will pan out.   We'll see....

In the mean time.... enjoy

Monday, August 30, 2010

Richard Hammond Eats A Whopper

As I approached my USAirways departure gate in Phoenix on my way to Jacksonville yesterday afternoon I recognized Richard Hammond.   Yes, the Richard Hammond from Top Gear.  He was sterotypically polite and I (not being a believer in the philosophy that their choice to be a celebrity, is a tacit agreement allowing them no privacy whatsoever) didn't want to bother him.  He made his way from what could only be described as an entourage of Snoop Dog proportions.  Five or six large men (bodygards I assume), an assitant (on the phone the entire time), a photographer, some dude with an iPod dock w/iPod (ala Flavor Flav) in charge of music and what looked like the lead singer of Midnight Oil.

While I believe in respecting Mr. Hammond's privacy, I have no such beliefs about his entourage.

OK so it wasn't quite as elaborate I led you to believe, but there was definitely people hanging out and they know Richard Hammond.  

Either way, I said hello, expressed the immense immeasureable joy that Top Gear brings to us in the US and he expressed how incredibly kind I was and proceeded to Burger King to order a Whopper.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Round 10 of the 2010 Formula One Season Silverstone!

The Old Man of Formual One
Sixty years ago, Silverstone was the site of the first ever Formula One race.  It has history, personality and a real character about it.  Abandoned by the RAF after WWII and adopted by the RAC (Royal Automobile Club), Silverstone was converted into a race course in 1948.  It remains the only active Formula One circuit to have sacrificed an animal before it's inagural race. *

That's not what's cool though.  This is:
2009 Track Configuration

2010 Configuration.  *** 

A way too breif recap
The last two races had spectacular moments.  First, Canada had some of the best racing I've seen in a long time and surprisingly, Fox covered it very well.

Then in Valencia there was this:

And if you want to see it with some dramatic music...

How telling is it that this clip was better than all three Star Wars prequels...
So there you go.  When Mark isn't taking out his teammate, he's taking completely innocent drivers out. **

The Event
The Race is not The Event (and even though those commercials were kinda cool at first, I'm starting to think The Event won't even be The Event).
The event will have food and people and there will likely be an infant involved and perhaps some sort of music thing.  We'll see.

** OK so Mark isn't really a bad guy and this was just an accident but I can still be embittered by Turkey.
***(Yes, I know it's upside-down. That's because the goddamn Brits can't print a map the same way to save their empire. That's what lost them the American Colonies, they had the map upside down and initially tried to take back Madegascar.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Super Best Happy Grandma/Grandpa News Time Into Large Facilitating Satisfactions!

OK. So, while I have no illusions about the appeal of any baby to anyone not related (Remember the Inverse Square Baby Law?), there are some people who are related.  The grandparents!   So if your last name ends in a "Z", are over 55, and don't live in Arizona, this one goes out to you.  Can I get a "huh, what?". 

I know you are looking at the BIG words below that say "baby-cam" and thinking about clicking on it.   Don't do it.  Do not do it.  I'm telling you.  You really should read this whole message first.

Anyway, the baby-cam is now active (yes, this means to click the word "baby-cam." If it's big and you can click it, go ahead).  24x7 (mostly) coverage of something more interesting than the weather channel and less depressing than Bloomberg TV.  

If he's not there don't panic, he's either eating, getting changed, hanging out with the parents or stuyding for his SATs.  If he IS there, it would probably NOT be a good time to call. 

You can reach it from the top right link on this or any page.

A couple of things to remember.  If you are living in the 21st century and you aren't running Windows XP any more you'll probably get a small message bar at the top of your internet window telling you that this site wants to run an Active X control.   Just click on the bar and "allow the control to run" or "install this add on" or whatever it's asking you to do.   You may also get another window asking you to allow something.   This time it's OK to allow.   Normally don't allow these things.  Also, you can change the size of the image using the controls there under "Size Selection."  You can even take pictures if you like.

This camera has a limit of 4 connections.  If you get a busy message, just try later.  By the way. I don't think this works with Firefox.

OK.  Now click "baby-cam"
Enjoy, OGs!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Have classical music on XM radio right now. Will switch to The Clash about half way.
Heading home. Finally. That took longer than expected.
Stopping for food first

Homeward Bound

We're probably heading home today and as helpful as everyone has been, it will be nice to not have people coming in and waterboarding us to find out if we changed his diaper, what was in it, what time it was, did we feed him, how long, which side, how much.  

Massively sleep deprived, we've resorted to telling them what they want to hear and we also gave up the secret location of the diaper "archives" (under the sink, in the corner).

Don't call us today.  We are sleepy.  The times of opportunity are randomly scattered and we could get sleep almost without notice.  A single phone call will send us into a psychosis.

We'll call you.,. I promise

Do 5 Day Olds Dream?

Something must be going off inside that little head.  Synapses forming and neurons firing.  Francisco, like all babies I am guessing, makes faces when he sleeps.  Somewhat entertaining in general but that's likely only going to remain entertaining if you are a blood relative.  (There is probably some Inverse-Squared law that governs how much mundane baby stuff is entertaining.  I'm guessing a baby's cuteness/entertainment factor has an inverse relationship relative to your genetic distance from said infant.)

So entertaining moments aside, apparently Cisco had a dream where he was being chased by formula bottles and a huge Simulac monster.  I say this because he was sleeping soundly then wakes from a dead sleep and screams like a lunatic for just long enough for Barb and I to look at each other and think, "Oh hell.  Here we go." As those thoughts are being formed and read on each other's faces, he sighs and is right back to dream land.   That was unexpected.   Granted, there are a lot of things people don't tell you or can't possibly describe when it comes to having a newborn.  You would think that this would be a great misery-loves-company moment someone would pass on.   As in "Oh yeah, wait till he has a 5 second nightmare on his 4th day of life."

If you make a sudden surprising move, his limbs stiffen up and he falls over in this position.  

OK, that's not true, this is just what he looks like when he's not having a nightmare.

Here's Barb as well with her Punisher headband.   Love that girl.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Time Warp

So the thing I continue to find strange about this experience is how time is affected.   Just a minute ago it was 5pm and I had two hours to get to the cafeteria before they close.  I head down there and when I get there it's past 7 pm.

We've been here since Monday night.  It will be two days tonight.  Seems like a week and a half.

Very odd.  

So when this guy decides to sleep, he's sleeping.   Had him sitting up to pat his back after he ate and he just decided he liked it there.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Little Guy

My father was right. At 6 pounds 11oz Francisco Sebastian Santa Cruz Chavez was born at 12:03 am today
Its a boy! He's got good hair and is crying. Cool dude.

Barb did a good job and I'm going to follow the him to the nursery.

Monday, May 17, 2010

OK I've been summoned. I'm entering the chamber of baby emancipation.
Dr just scrubbed up and went in. More Kenny G.
This is like a 24/7 Kenny G station. Isn't this music banned in most civilized countries?
They sat me in a chair outside the room and said they'll call me when they are ready. Weird experience to listen to the adult soft jazz light radio station while waiting. Is this supposed to be soothing?

Also the shoe covers are odd.

Going in now
Ok. I'm suited up. Hairnet and all.
Dr mcclusky just arrived. She will do the C-section. We will name the baby McClusky Chavez.
Nurse showed up. Tess. We will name the baby Tess.

Headband update. The headband is actually a Punisher scarf, not just a regular skull scarf.

We are watching Seinfeld. One that we actually hadn't seen before. We've decided to name the baby Jerry.
First IV bag empty. Need two in before procedure.
Wendy's number 1 combo meal. We're calling the baby Wendy.
Going to get food.
About another hour to go before anything happens.
Anesthesiologist is here. His name is William. We will name the baby William.
Her nurse is named Carmen. So we're naming the baby Carmen.
Consent forms signed. I need to eat. Barb doesn't get to but it is what it is.
Ultrasound results. Still breech.
Ultrasound lady on here now. Kinda freaked Barb out when she asked when her due date is. Barb looks at her, "Uhm well it was the 27th."

"Yeah that doesn't matter now."
"Because I'm having it today."
"Oh, is there a problem?"
"Do they not tell you what you're here for? My water broke."
"Ohm. No they just tell me where to go."

The look on Barb's face was great.

So here's the story for those who may not know.

She had ultrasound scheduled today to check the amniotic fluid. There was a concern it might be low and they would have to do a C-section. So she doesn't eat in the morning and goes in this afternoon. Fluid level good everyone good and no need for emergency C-section.

So she leaves around three and is so hungry she stops at Arbys and gets a Beef N Cheddar. C-section scheduled for friday.

Now that there will be a C-section, they want to wait until 8 hours have passed.

So now I've got at least two hours before anything happens.

Thanks Arby's

So they check things out and sure enough, water broke. Baby will be here tonight.
Ok so there is news. About six thirty Barb's water broke. Well the thought it may be.
This is going to be the best way to update everyone on the whole baby thing.

Arizona Immigration Law

I don't normally discuss "Things Politic" here on Things Chavez but I am getting tired of all the misrepresentation on both sides of this issue.   The thing, however, that sickens me the most is this claim of increased racial profiling and civil rights abuses.  This argument is wholly and solely based on an offensive assumption of corrupt law enforcement.

Yes, there are bad people in all fields but the overwhelming majority of police, Sherriff’s officers, border patrol, FBI and so on, are decent regular people who will not use this as an excuse to attack Hispanics.
If you believe law enforcement is so corrupt then you should be opposed to just about any law as they can all be used unlawfully against illegal aliens, rednecks, teens, women, Asians, the sinistral, or dentists.

The hyperbolic concern with the "bad cop" who violates the law is unwarranted. Address the issue. The answer is not to object to laws that can be misused. Objecting to the law on the grounds of possible abuse is like objecting to hot dogs because someone could choke on them.

Laws are only good as far as they restrict infringement. Laws do not keep people safe, moral, healthy, or free. They punish those who endanger others, punish those who commit acts which society in general agrees are unacceptable, and punish those who endanger our health or liberty (intentionally or otherwise).

Laws are not constructive. They are punitive vehicles. Occasionally acting as a deterrent and mostly providing a way for society to rid themselves of undesirable elements whether they are child molesters, murders, chemical waste or illegal immigrants. I'm OK with that.

If you don't believe it should be illegal to enter the United States without the current processing steps, I'm OK with that as well. Get the votes. Change the law. The current Arizona law does not make it more illegal to be an illegal immigrant. It allows the state to take an active role in the enforcement of the Federal Laws that exist already. Change those laws if you like. Just stop whining about it in the meantime.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's Time My Friends... Monaco

The race in Spain stays mainly with Australian.

Last race was interesting for two reasons.
The Brawn Team redesigned their car to better fit his driving style and he out qualified his team mate for the first time this year and finished 4th.
Secondly, the combined psychic power of the spanish people forced Lewis Hamilton off the track and nearly exploded Vettel's brakes, giving Alonso second place.

Mark Webber wins.  Alonso comes second with a wounded Vettel third.   Racing goodness.


Absolutely one of my favorite tracks.  Not so much for the racing, as there is little passing and actual racing going on.
But for lack of a better word, the event itself.  They (who wrote the book of "it")** refer to the Formula One Grand Prix de Monaco as the Crown Jewel of Formula One.  A rather insightful metaphor as, much like any remaining monarchy, the track is fat with anachronism.
  • It's a street race.  Bumpy and dirty with oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid and any other number of things that might leak or be thrown out of a car.
  • It's narrow.   So narrow that most passess will be done in the pits.
  • It has the tightest radius corner of any race in the sesason.   So small that the teams build special suspensions just for this race to allow the front wheels to turn farther than normal.
  • It is technically demanding.  The cars are set with a much higher downforce than normal (some are at maximum) so they can negotiate the almost constant turning.  Drivers require 100% focus at all times.
  • Tall concrete barriers make this a lot like a torpedo run on a Death Star.  The main difference is that those guys only had to run in a straight line.  Well, that and nobody is shooting at the drivers.  Still it's pretty dangerous.  Did I mention it was narrow?
  • It's incredible demanding. Retirements come from going slightly off course or brakes failing.
  • It's an excuse for extravagance and pagentry that would normally irritate me with the attempt at significance.  Somehow they manage to make it cool.   Here is a perfect example.  (Thanks Tim for the link)

The only driver to have won this race 6 times, Ayrton Senna.
The first turn of the first lap is always a good time.

We're watching it today.   I know this is short notice but sometimes that's just how it works out.

** Atributed to Mike Gilbert expressing disdain for those who argue with only talking-point knowledge of the subject instead of actual knowledge.  At least that's my interpretation.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Some Excellent Racing Yesterday

I don't normally post non-F1 items but this is F2 which is only 1 unit of coolness away from F1.   This is some great wheel to wheel racing with a little surprise at the end.

Pretty cool.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Rain in Spain says mainly on the track at the Chinese Grand Prix (A recap of Round Four and comments on Round Five)

First a recap of round four China
Qualifying was entertaining.  Perfect weather great strategy and Vettel sneaking in at the last moment to snag pole position away from Webber.   The real excitement, however, took place on Friday's practice session.

Yeah, I've never seen anything like that either.

The race had drama from the very beginning.   It had begun to rain lightly and the question of "slicks" (the standard non-grooved tires) or intermediate (shallow grooved) tires had no clear answer.  So everyone started on slicks and the fun began when the lights went out.  Alonso jumps the start, moving from 3rd to 1st.   The interesting thing about this was seeing the exponential difference in final speed from such a small (less than a second) head start.  

He rockets ahead as the rain picks up and when people start sliding off the track at turn 4 the teams reassess the weather situation. 

Everyone comes in to switch to intermediate rain tires.   Well, almost everyone.  The big hitters Alonso, Hamilton, Webber, and Vettel all stop for tires but Button again stays out on slicks as does Nico Rosberg.  Nico's inherits first place and Button a not too distant 2nd.

I find myself pulling for Rosberg as everyone figured Schumacher would trample him this season.  It still may happen, but for now, he's doing well. Good on you Nico.

The pit stops seemed to be going on all the time and made for a great first half.   The second half was all about Nico's tires starting to wear out, and Hamilton passing everyone trying to catch the leaders.   He did an admirable job and managed to snag second place.  Nico held on to third (Michael who??), and Button takes another victory in changing conditions.

Good times.

Next up The Formula 1 Gran Premio de Espana Telefonica 2010
Held in the homeland* at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain this race is pretty hard on tires.   It's bumpy and very abraisve.   With the new ban on refuling the first set of laps is going to really be rough on the tires.  If I were to have to pick, I'd go with Jensen on this one for his smooth driving style which is good on tires.  Does it make for an exciting race?  Likely not.

We'll see.

Not sure if it's going to be Wednesday or Thursday but we'll watch as per the ritual.

*If and one of my father's cousin's research is to be believed, we stopped in Portugal and kicked some ass on our way here. "Kicked some ass" could be interpreted as kidnapped some local women so the term "Homeland" is used losely here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Round Three: Vettel's lucky number 3 (Malaysia recap)

If qualifying was a bowl of porridge, I would have classified it as "just right".

Rain starts falling seconds before qualifying starts and the "big" teams decide to hold out in the hope the rain is going to ease up.  Everyone goes out on intermediate tires and it keeps raining; turning the track into a weird mix of dry at the start of the lap and by the time you get to turn 15 you're in a lake.

Our Polish man Kubica went out early with some of the mid to low level teams and he does a very nice lap that wasn't spectacular at that time but as the rain continues and everyone has to come in for full wet tires you start to realize that it's just going to get slower and slower.  Kubica's time stands as best for that session.

Trying hard, Alonso performs a Backside 720 that would make Shaun White proud. Fernando sticks the landing and keeps going.  Props for style but like Massa, Hamilton, and Jenson, the weather made it impossible to post times high enough to move on.  This ends up being the first time Ferrari had no cars advance out of the first session.  Ever.

The rain made qualifying great to watch.  Not so bad they couldn't do anything but wet enough that you couldn't look away.

Force India nearly took pole position and I have to admit I was really pulling for them to get it but Webber's laps were getting faster and faster even as the rain increased.  He stayed on iintermediate tires and still took pole.  It was impressive.

With a lot of the fast guys at the back the race starts and we're just waiting for the craziness to begin. Barichello has a bit of déjà vu and stalls on the grid .  Vettel takes the lead from 3rd and although there were lots of passing and repassing going on, he held on to the lead and won the race.

Vitaly Petrov fighting with Hamilton.  He passes Hamilton and Hamilton repasses him and then gets warned for "excessive weaving" when Petrov ducks in behind him to get a nice draft.  

Alonso develops some odd transmission problem very early in the race and can't downshift correctly.  This means he can't slow his car down normally as he enters each corner.   He somehow manages to adjust and begins to make up time.   Then with a lap to go the whole thing falls apart.  Again, I'm conflicted. 
  • Ferrari missing out on constructor points? Good.
  • Fernando missing out on championship points? Bad
  • Watching Alonso's driving skill, Amazing.
  • Ferrari blowing up? Excellent.

This week's best David Hobbs comment.  "There's Michael Schumacher looking fit as a butcher's dog, as usual."

Next up:  China
This is always a great event.  The track is a great example of the new generation of F1 tracks with one of the most difficult corner sequences the drivers will face all year.

The first corner starts out fairly mild and gets tighter and tighter with a progressively decreasing radius that whips you into a left hand hairpin.   It's basically the longest corner entry you can have.

An elegant mirror, turn 12 is one of my favorites.  You get to accelerate faster and faster as you gradually unwind onto a long straight.  If you you get this wrong you've lost way too much momentum and you absolutely will get passed before the hairpin.

I love this sport.

Invites going out today.  We'll cook stuff, eat it and remark knowingly about things in general.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Even better...

Many people were disapointed in Bahrain and complained about how boring it was.   I didn't find it as excruciating as many others out there but it wasn't the best race I'd ever seen.   There wasn't much complaining after the Australian race.

Collisions, passing, and drama
The start had Massa getting an excellent start moving from 4th to 2nd before the first turn and when Jenson Button bumped into Alonso** and caused him to spin, Poland's finest drove around the commotion and ended up 4th at the end of lap 1.

Photo totally used without permision from a great site.
  Excellent coverage.  Go visit them to assuage my guilt.
(**Warning**  They already know who won Malaysia)

Moments later Kobayashi's Sauber, who's front wing had already been replaced at least twice before the race, dropped the front wing in the braking zone for turn 6.   As the wing fell off it wedged itself under the front right tire effectively turning it into a ski plate.   The lack of downforce which would normally help the tires with their mechanical grip and the loss of braking and steering at one wheel caused the Sauber to head straight through the left right combo and drive over Nico Hulkenburg's Williams.   Sebastian Buemi was also caught up in the crash.

Generally likeable good dude Vettel was again leading from pole and easily pulling away when his front left brake exploded and his Red Bull, after careful consideration of its options, decided it liked the option "straight" and there was no point in going on about it.   Again, reliability problems plague Vettel. 

The wet track meant the race was started on intermediate tires and when Jenson Button decided he should come in to change to slicks (the soft version), we thought he made a mistake.  He slid off the track a bit later but managed to keep it together and continue.   This was lap 6.   There are some that would call this genius.   This was not genius, it was carefully calculated risk that could have gone disasterously wrong.    What is genious is Jenson's mastery of tire conservation because nobody expected soft high-wear tires mounted 10 minutes into an hour and a half event to last.  This really was amazing stuff and is why Jenson won.   Changing to slicks got him the lead.  His driving won the race.

And let's not take anything away from our lanky Polish friend (who was single handedly responsible for my father in-law watching a formula one race).  Kubica also managed to drive on a single tire change early in the race and although he wanted to pit, he kept it out and drove a great race.

Alonso from 2nd to last to 4th.  Massa 3rd. Kubica 2nd and Button takes the win.

**Yes, I know how unsportsmanlike it was for Jenson to have the audacity to stay on track. He could clearly see that Alonso's car was moving into the space he occupied.  He should have just driven off into the grass as per a little known rule in the F1 Sporting Regulations, Section 4 Sub 3.1 "Face Ferme"
"Drivers must shave cleanly no sooner than Parc Ferme and no later than the Formation Lap. Although drivers are not subject to sanctions for violation, "Recently Shipwrecked" is not a look that we, The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, can really get behind. As such, any driver found in violation shall yeild position to Fernando Alonso."
This rule is known as the "You can't make up for your girly eyebrows with that mange-riddled scruff you call a 'beard' rule" or more commonly, "The Groucho Marx Clause".

Next up the Petronas Maylasian Grand Prix.
This 3.4 mile track has the lads racing for a total of 193 miles and is shaped in the sacred form of the humpbacked dove.

OK so I made up that sacred dove thing but it does kind of look like that.

This circuit has two long straight sections seperated by a hairpin turn.   This is what makes the car set up a challenge.   Set your car up to favor those straights and you are going to have trouble everywhere else.  Set it up to handle the curves well and you will be super slow in the straights.  The track is very wide and with the new car configurations we may see some great passing.

Last year Button won on a race that was delayed due to rain and then halted because it was too dark to continue.   While it was cool to see the "half-points" rule, it did not make for a very entertaining race.

I'm not sure when we'll be watching it but the invites will go out shortly.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sparks and such

Bahrain was an excellent opener and I'm glad to say the new rules, drivers, and teams made for a very entertaining race. Pit stops were very fast, lots to talk about and good action.

Sebastian Vettel took Pole Position and dominated the race. As we generally view Sebastian as a "good dude" we were OK with this. He had built up a sizeable and very comfortable lead when, on lap 33 of 49, he starts going much much slower than before. Is he conserving fuel? Is he saving his tires? What's going on?

Turns out 3rd place is what was going on. a spark plug failed and he was lucky to finish.  Bummer for him.

The race also provided my first emotional conflict.
To sum up:
Fernando Alonso wins = Yeah!   
In a Ferrari = BOO!

Going to be a complicated season.

The new scoring system gives the winner 25 points instead of 18 and drivers out to 10th place get points (as opposed to 8th last year). This was cool. and really seems to emphasize consistent top place finishes but even 10th place gets 1 point.

Kubica finished 11th.

On to Melbourne
Initially first on the calendar, the first race, held 15 years ago, was won by Damon Hill as Williams took a 1-2 victory in a race that saw Schumacher retire with Brake problems.

The Qantas Australian Grand Prix track has lots of cool elements and is a pretty well rounded track. First turn is quick and should be a good spot for overtaking at 90 MPH.  Decent corners throughout with speeds upwards of 190MPH and sections of over 4.5 Gs.

Some of you more astute readers (that would probably all 1 of you) may notice that this post is post race.   We haven't seen the race yet but I promise to try to post them earlier.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Opening Round Of the 2010 Formula 1 Race Season

We're having a gathering of like-minded souls at our place. Below is the invite I sent out to those who I thought would give a damn.
Well friends, the time is here. Our version of the Daytona 500. Except the men have more teeth and the women have hairy legs.,
There have been some changes in the off season. Let's review:
  • Brawn GP. One year old. Won it all. Bought by Mercedes.
  • Toyota. Now that was an expensive recall.
  • BMW. May still be a sponsor but is not making the engines and does not own the team.
  • Refueling: Banned. Fuel tanks now about triple the size they were. Pit stops are fast and still exciting even without Massa dragging his fuel rig down the pit lane like newlyweds drag shoes and cans.
  • 10 Point point system. Now the top ten drivers get points with the winner getting 25, second gets 18, third with 15. Trulli and Kubica still get 0.
  • Jensen Button: Current reigning world champion is gone (well, gone from the former Brawn team). He's now paired with Lewis Hamilton and fully expected to return to his root strengths (crying like a jilted schoolgirl because his team doesn't kiss his ass) As much as I respected his earnest passion to win in F1, I don't think this is going to be a good move for him.
  • Mercedes GP: The first Mercedes full constructor/engine F1 effort since 1955. Nico Rosberg gets to play apprentice to Michael Shumacher.
  • Team Lotus. Jarno Trulli has a new team to blame and different livery to scatter across the gravel traps. Heiki Kovalainen here as well.
  • HRT. Spanish team Used to be Campos.
  • Virgin Racing. Funded, designed,and driven by mega-mogul Sir Richard Branson. When asked the inevitable "Who do you think you are?" Branson replied, "Didn't they tell you, baby? I'm Richard Branson." Very Beeblebrox, man, very Beeblebrox. Ok so Branson isn't actually driving, It's Glock and Luca di Grassi... but you know how cool that would have been.
  • Vitaly Petrov new at Renault. "In Soviet Union, car drive you!"
  • Bruno Senna. The nephew of the greatest driver of all time will likely not live up to his family reputation but at least we'll get to reminisce about Ayrton during the inevitable flashback/comparison spots.
  • Nico Hulkenberg. Don't know anything about him but how cool would it be if he changed colors when he lost races. "Nico SMASH!"

Notable Changes
  • Fernando "I cut you with my eyebrows" Alonso is now with Ferrari. (Causing both Mike and I much strife. He hates Alonso, I hate Ferrari ). So two short latin crybabies on the same team. This is going to be good.
Now on to the festivities.
  • 12 noon to 1 PM ish...
    Rockband/Beatles Rock Band... some sort of banding of rocking and such. Maybe some three part harmony, even. Snacks
  • 3-4 we transition to watching qualifying. Snacks
  • 5 PM
    Rock Band/General whatever and grilling of Sausages, Hidden Valley Ranch Burgers, and Hot dogs.
  • 6 PM ish Start the race. Snacks
At some point there will be brownies with vanilla ice cream and crazy aged balsamic vinegar.
That's about it. Hope to see you guys there.
So this season is going to be pretty damn cool.
As much as I have come to loathe those crimson ninjas, I have to admit that they make a fine automobile and are relentless in their passion for winning. With Alonso's skill and Ferrari's muscle, this could be another good year for Alonso. There is a lot of decent competition this year. Will Mercedes be able to continue what Brawn started? The other teams were really catching up toward the end of last season.
I'm hoping Kubica will get a decent shot. He had some nice drives but got way screwed with BMW's program.
I love the idea of starting the race with the fuel you are going to use for the entire race. That's drama waiting to happen. They'll never bring back a no speed-limit pit lane, but that was cool to see as well.
Let's see how it unfolds.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Been a while...

It has been a crazy hectic month. We've been working on unpacking and deciding on furniture and all kinds of stuff.

This post is just to let you know we are still alive.

I'll post more this week.

Two sets of parents in three weeks. Got to clean.

Now playing: Jonathan Coulton - Kenesaw Mountain Landis
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The keys are ours

So here it is. We have the keys, the loan is funded, Fulton sold a house and all is well.

We are going to try to set up a webcam for those of you unfortunate enough to live in colder climates.

Click here for it.

I don't think it will work until around noonish on Wednesday.

It still hasn't sunk in.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Almost there.....

Here are some highlights from the last 11 months.

You can click on this to view the slideshow larger.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Closer and closer (April 19)

This week the saw a lot of action. Sinks, faucets, more lights.

The tile that we were so stressed about came out great. The pattern was good but not overwhelming. They must put the lame tiles at the top of the stacks.
One less thing to worry about.

The tile was grouted and covered with protective paper and the backsplash was done. The kitchen is really coming together and we can't wait to see the appliances.

The master bath was almost complete and it was nice to see the shower wall completed.

They had started patching and texturing the various holes and dents in the walls and our Central Vac unit was in.

We drove up this Saturday to see some strange fabric type stuff on the driveway. We weren't expecting carpet until next week so this was exciting.

This seemed to match. How could this be? We thought for sure it was going to clash.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Terror Of Tundra (April 12th)

With the outside of the house complete (aside from some touch up) we drove up to the same old thing. We are so over it that we didn't even take pictures of the outside.

We aren't over it but we really didn't take any pictures.

The day before we had stopped to look at the house and there was this crazy red substance on the floor. This had to be some sort of sealant for the concrete or permanent Passover protection.

Either way it went from the front door to the back. I assume they applied to the rest of the kitchen area but at this time it was only as wide as the entryway.

We were able to look through one of the bedroom windows to see they had started installing the entertainment cabinet. When we were at the design center we almost passed on this option, the cabinets in the model were really nice but it seemed an unnecessary extravagance. After seeing it installed we had no remorse.

The tile all looked exactly the same as we really only saw the top of the stacks.

You'll remember it's been months since the design center, the tile we picked is only a fading shadow of an image. We really didn't remember it but we knew it had some decent variation.

When we looked at the tiles they looked way too uniform.


"Oh crap, did we pick that?"
"No way, ours had variation."
"Yeah, I know. This doesn't."
"Our tile is cooler than that."
"Well that's nice. Too bad they are installing this lame stuff."

". . . We've got to stop them."

So off to the Design Center we flew. We really like the project manager Paul and we agonized about calling him on a Saturday.

He'd want to know if the wrong tile was shipped.
What if it's not the wrong tile?
What if it is?
Check the paperwork!

"Do you have the paperwork for the tile?"
"No it's at home"

"Hello Paul, It's Fred. Listen, man, I'm sorry to bother you on the weekend... What's that? You're in the line for Magic Mountain??"

That's right. He was on vacation and had taken his family to Disneyland.

Paul was totally cool about the whole thing, and after he heard our concern he called the tile people and had them stop working while we went to confirm the choice. We knew we had picked tundra terrain. We knew the boxes said "TD TERR". This all seemed right but the color was just so wrong.

The reason we were heading into Tempe was to sign some new paperwork they had drawn up with the adjusted pricing. On the way there we saw these people moving their brand new furniture to their home. The delivery charges must have been incredible for them to go through this.

We got to the design center, saw the tile we picked was definitely called Tundra Terrain. That was what was being installed in our home. This didn't really make us feel better because they must have changed Tundra Terrain in the last 11 months. Our tile didn't look like what was in the design center. We could just hear the conversation from the manufacturer:

"You know this Tundra Terrain is so cool it just isn't selling!"
"Yeah people are stupid."
"I know what we should do!"
"Let's make it dull and boring."

We'll have to live with it.

Some other highlights this week:

We had some of this installed in the house.

Our friends Mark and Mary got an incredible deal on granite counter tops and they had finally been installed. They looked really good. The backsplash up against the new hood came out great. This is their actual counter top up close.


kraP oN (April 5th)

This week, we drove up to find the house colors had changed. You can see from this picture compared with this one.

They had used the same paint for the whole house and it was supposed to be two-toned. I had no idea it was supposed to be different and would have been happy with the color the way it was but I really like the addition.

The big news this week? Lights!

In case you can't tell where the light is in this picture, Barb is touching it.

In all seriousness, the lights are cool, but words can't express how much Barb liked them. The best light ever.

The cabinet guys had to remove the wall plates so they could install the cabinets. This gave me an opportunity to see if I could reach the wiring that we had installed earlier. I was able to reach in and pull it out. You can see the yellow cable here.

Even though I knew it would work it was cool to pull the cable through and see it. It was like seeing an old friend.... who was bright yellow.... and had been buried inside a wall for a couple of months.

The cabinets in the basement were up and they looked cool. There was a counter and a hole for a sink. Coolness.

Finally, we couldn't let our brick remain upside down. This is much better now.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Heat Heart Chill (March 29th)

As we drove up this week, we could see more of the house had been painted and the house was comfortably ensconced inside the wall.

Take careful note of the paint over the entryway to the right. You'll need this for future refrence.

The inside was appearing less and less perforated as we got more lights and covers over the HVAC vents.

There really is supposed to be an "R" added to the end of that as in HVACR for Heating, Ventalation, Air Conditioning, and Refridgeration but acronyms longer than four letters are just not acceptable in a civilized society.

The refridgeration part is the coolest (That pun is unfortunately unavoidable and absolutely not intentional. But, since it's already out there...) but we just discard it as if to convince ourselves we don't really need it. but, oh my friends and loved ones, we do... we really do...

A quick note:
For some reason I start talking about how Refrigeration works below. If you are not interested in an odd but conceptually accurate explanation of the process, skip to the first picture of someone you recognize.

The whole things works on the second law of thermodynamics which states "Heat hate hot Heat heart chill".

Ok it doesn't really say that but it does say a lot of stuff about entropy and equilibrium in a system and that's all just crazy talk.

Simply put:
Heat pretty much hates other heat. It can't stand to be around itself. It will always try to get away from itself. Forever.

Imagine heat as fussy, cranky, lunatic people with big spikey hair.

Heat is really just looking to get enough space so that nobody messes up its hair. Heat NEEDS it's hair looking good, man.

We'll call this HairSpace and it's constant (this is the entropy equilibrium part).

Heat hates bad hair so much that when given an opportunity, it will gladly leave whatever area it is hanging out in and move into whatever it can touch that has less heat in it. Less crowded, more "hairspace", better hair.

So how do we use this behavior to get cold air in our house? We play mean games with heat. We make heat go on a long trip with all of its family, it's friends, it's friend's family, their friends and their friend's families. We put them in a HUGE triple decker bus. Plenty of "hairspace" on that bus.

Then, when that bus is outside, suddenly, we shrink the bus down to the size of a VW Beetle. Much less "hairspace" now. As you might imagine, Heat starts freaking out. Pouring out of every opening it can find. Screaming about hair and stinky cousins. Heat comes out so fast that if you put your hand near that area, you would feel heat jumping across into your skin.

After a short time, enough heat has left the car so that the heat still inside has calmed down and is pretty much ok with the hair situation. It would still like to go somewhere else if it could find less heat, but the heat outside is about the same as the heat inside the VW Beetle and there really wouldn't be any benefit to going outside.

Then, as the little VW is heading inside, we suddenly make it as big as a triple decker bus again. Check it out!! All kinds of empty seats and room for spikey hair.

For a brief moment, the heat inside the bus is happy. It doesn't need to go anywhere. It doesn't have to worry about it's hairdo. Plenty of space for heat. As a matter of fact, there's more space for heat than the amount of heat on this bus!

Guess what? Heat goes nuts. This bus has WAY less heat in it than the air around it.

Like crazed zombies determined to reach the brains, the heat from inside the house starts pouring into the bus. (We help by blowing a fan over the bus as it goes by so as much heat as possible sees the seats on the bus. When the air passes the bus, the heat in the air jumps off the air and gets on the bus.)

When there is less heat in the air there is space for heat in it. When it touches our skin, our heat jumps off of us and goes into the air. We feel cooler as we warm the air. Hooray for us.

We then take that big busload of heat and drive it outside. Squeeze the heck out of it and start the process all over.

It really looks like this.

In our case the "car/bus" is some non-toxic material like Freon (Which was invented around 1930 specifically to keep people from dying because their refrigerator was leaking. Prior to Freon we used to use ammonia and chlorine gas.)

This is where all the magic shrinking of the bus happens. We have three of these things.

Inside the house we had cabinets. This was good to see, more definition of space. More house-like. The color was good and we have stuff to put in them.

How's that for coincidence?

Guardian had to come and finished the wiring with their various plugs and jacks. I am sure something isn't connected correctly but I won't know until sometime past the 20th of May.

Remember the floor boxes we installed at the beginning of this saga? We had to put the brass covers on these because the tile was coming.

Here you can see all of the necessary tools for attaching brass covers to floorboxes. Pay particular attention to the donuts.

Never forget the donuts.

They also needed to grind down the concrete to make it smooth. There were a few sections that were marked for grinding. It would seem that the guy who grinds concrete uses special flourescent lighting to see where to grind.

Boxes covered, we are very excited for the tile to come in.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pirates and Paints

This has nothing to do with the house.

I've never seen a motorcycle pirate before.


Mark had bought a new range hood and asked for some help installing it. This was going to be a good time. New stuff, power tools, ham and candy. The unmentioned unseen scale that all friends have was tipped far onto his side so this was my chance to not be a total leech.

I like doing this kind of stuff and it sounded pretty easy. Little did I know...

When we got there they had dyed some eggs for Easter. I thought they looked kinda cool and took some pictures.

On the way there we stopped at the house and things were progressing. The roof tiles were set. The exterior was half painted and the inside had its first coat of paint.

The kitchen has a lot of holes for stuff. Way cool. Our last kitchen had one outlet and a triceratops we would use to get orange juice.

But our new view is the best...

The hood install took about 15 minutes.

Getting the duct work right took at least 5 hours. The last hood install guy decided to use the cabinet above the hood as some sort of pre-exhaust chamber. Strange set up but we fixed it and their hood rocks.

Ham was good. Cool eggs. Hood worked. Not a bad day at all...