(part of brett's logjam.)
26 July 2008
I must have totally lost my gourd to even be considering letting her onto the internet, but: after years of asking for it, my car finally has a blog.
She is very pleased.
13 October 2007
My Mark IV Jetta, YAH, parked at a pumpkin patch across the James river in Surry, VA.
The sky was overcast — it would later spit rain — but my son really enjoyed tromping around the fields, occasionally examining a pumpkin but often more interested in the gestalt of the field. (I quite enjoyed it, too.)
Good memories are imprecise; details fade into the blur of an event.
(Sometimes, one must throw Realism out for Impressionism.)
21 September 2007
My car YAH is on the shop again. This is a fairly normal state of affairs for my VW Jetta; on my way for routine maintenance she’ll throw a CEL and decide to spend a few days at the ‘spa’.
In this case, she was going in for her 90k mile service and a headlight upgrade. Apparently a breather hose failed, causing a variable-speed fan to stay on max until it burned out, and several other parts of her engine need fixing. I am admittedly hazy on the details.
I just know that the repair bill will have four digits left of the decimal.
With that in mind, I am somewhat less excited about the headlight upgrade that I decided to treat myself and my car to. See, the Mark IV Jettas have headlights that scratch and cloud over, rendering them less bright than one might like. I watch the new cars pass me on I64 and wonder if that many people really drive with their brights on.
There is also this unshakeable guilt that we might have seen that deer coming last year with brighter lights in a wider dispersal pattern.
So when the headlight polishing had worn off, instead of dropping in the same OEM lamps for the GL/GLS model, I opted for the very cool GLX/GLI style, with integrated fog lights for better peripheral vision.
Yes. I pimped my ride, and all I did was add fogs. No smoked glass, no Angel Eye reflectors, no HID/Xenon upgrade kit.
I think I’d rather have an engine that runs instead of 19” wheels, anyway.
12 September 2007
YAHzie turned 90k this past Monday.
(I have the actual 90k shot, but it’s very blurry. My carsickness returns just looking at it.)
21 April 2007
I am really quite pleased to have YAH back from the shop.
This time, I took her to Ebby’s Auto Painting & Collision Repair (757-220-0695) and they did a great job with her. Their good reputation in town is justly deserved.
Best of all? She was clean when I picked her up.
It’s the little things that matter.
29 March 2007
YAH is back in the shop, this time for a month or more.
I was driving south in the middle lane of I-95 on the evening of February 26th in moderately heavy traffic when I hit an object in the road. This time, instead of deer flesh and bone, it was a sizable hunk of metal, bouncing from where it had fallen off a truck.
There was no swerving, no where to move; I plowed straight over it with a sickening THUNK and a tremendous jolt which nearly wrenched the wheel out of my hand.
It looked like the center part of a truck axle, but that couldn’t be possible, could it? A semi pulled over ahead of us, so perhaps it was. I pulled over and tried to see if there was any damage, but cell phones do not make good flashlights. Merrystar suggested that we go to a gas station and check for fluid leaks, which was a very good idea. We didn’t find anything, so we nervously resumed our journey home.
Here’s what I didn’t see that night:
- The front bumper valence took a direct hit from whatever the hunk was, tearing it up.
- It then slammed into the engine sling, seriously denting it.
- Bouncing right along, it mangled the exhaust heat shield and gashed a hole straight through the floor, exposing carpet.
- Back up into the exhaust system, denting the muffler and gouging a support strut.
- Then it went for the kill, gashing a hole 2cm to the right of the gas tank.
- Foiled, it contented itself with poking a hole through the floor of YAH’s trunk.
The sad thing is that it took two visits to the dealer (Casey Volkswagen, Newport News) to find this out. On the first visit I was assured that everything was fine under there, some scratches, nothing more. It was only after the mangled heat shield started rattling that I took it back and was shown some of the problem, though they omitted the fuel tank and holes in the floor.
It was only by taking it to the local body shop (Ebby’s) and filing a claim did I see the whole extent of the damage. YAH was declared undrivable (fumes from the exhaust could enter the cabin) so I’m now in a rental car.
I’m really disappointed in Casey Volkswagen right now. They had an opportunity to gain my trust, and instead they blew it in the worst way possible.
(Well, love … and dead dinosaur. Mmmm, tasty dead dinosaur.)
23 March 2007
Two of the three family Jettas parked for a picnic. JML (‘jay’mull’) is on the left, YAH (‘yaah’) is on the right.
These are fourth generation Jettas. The black one is mine, with the 1.8T turbocharged engine and 17" Long Beach wheels. The silver TDI (my parents in-law’s) is a late model Mark IV diesel.
You can see some of the subtle styling cues introduced at the end of the model run by VW in this picture; note the different trunk lip and rear light clusters. A chrome strip was also added around the newer model to make it look more upscale, though it’s difficult to see in bright sunlight.
The major redesign of the fifth (current) generation Jettas left me cold. I don’t like it at all. Even without the move to the Audi A5 platform, I would not purchase one based solely on the looks alone. It’s now too big, visibility is reduced, and it looks like every other car on the road. I’ll stick with the Mark IVs as the car for me.
(Yeah, I like my car. You’re just now noticing that?)
3 January 2007
Autoblog Green: VW to start UK sales of Polo BlueMotion in mid 2007:
VW’s cleanest, greenest model - the Polo BlueMotion - will be launched in Britain in the middle of this year. The BlueMotion model is a special variant of the mini Polo model that has a range of over 700 miles from a mere 11.9 gallon fuel tank thanks to fuel economy of 60 mpg. The 1.4L three cylinder diesel cranks out only 78 hp but still manages a 0-62 mph run of 12.8 sec. The five seater has been tweaked with goodies like low rolling resistance tires, taller gear rations and smaller rear-view mirrors. The down stream side of the engine is equipped with exhaust gas recirculation, a particulate filter and oxidation catalyst. Most impressively it has lower CO2 emissions than a Toyota Prius at only 102g/km, 2g less than the Japanese hybrid.
Looks good, too:
1 January 2007
The Virginian-Pilot notes that the problem of drivers hitting deer is getting worse.
Glad we’re not alone in this, then.
22 December 2006
Hoopty Rides: Everything but Horsepower —
Every car is good at something. The body roll and loosey-goosey suspension of the massive Hoopty Country Squire is so striking that all but the most brazen opponents will concede the line in every turn. My Mazda pickup truck was so stiff and predictable, you could dump if completely sideways and that little four cylinder would really roar as you powered out of a slide in 1st gear at 6000 RPM. A champion, that little truck.
29 November 2006
15 November 2006
I need to stop brooding over my car.
- Mileage log is updated. I’ll count these as spa days for now, even though they’re really not her fault. (Spa days are really a reliability indicator, not an accident one. Hmmm. Will have to consider a different metric next time.)
- Calamity has been discussed on the ‘tex.
- Pictures have been tagged, reviewed, and discussed, leaving me glad that both of us walked away.
However, I need to stop brooding over my car.
14 November 2006
In the light of day, the damage isn’t as bad as we feared.
I mean, every body piece on the driver’s side will need to be either replaced or repainted, and the hood, windshield and roof too, but YAH is structurally just fine. State Farm has been good to deal with so far, and everything looks to be covered under Comprehensive.
Now, on to the important matter of the evening. I have to find a deer kill sticker for my car. Four more, and she’s an ace. Any ideas where I can get them?
13 November 2006
- Two weeks ago Monday, Merrystar had a backup accident that erased 4 years of data. Poof.
- Last Monday, I was pulled over for violating certain state traffic laws.
- Today, I thought we’d escaped with nothing more than some bad days at work. Foolish me! Troubles come in threes!
- Tonight Merrystar hit a deer on the way home this evening on US Rt. 60. We are both okay, and very, very lucky.
My car? Well…
Let’s just say that YAH was carried off on the wrecker yelling “I got him!”
(Merrystar’s only comment was, “what will I tell Trip? I killed Bambi?”)
6 November 2006
Anyone know a good traffic lawyer in Spotsylvania county, VA? I’ve got a traffic summons I need to fight.
(And I may have a turbo VW to sell shortly.)
15 October 2006
YAH is back in her driveway, running well again. The new tires (Avon Tech M550 225/45WR-17s A/S) have dramatically changed her cornering (for the better) and no repeat of any flashing alarms of any ilk.
Of course, Merrystar and Trip are both sick this weekend, so our trips have been short and to the point. But still, it’s good to have Yahzie back.
So, I’ll celebrate YAH’s spa-free weekend with a friendly reminder that VW — usually, with some glaring exceptions — has very good commercials.
Pity their cars smell like crayons.
13 October 2006
Spoke too soon. Yahzie flashed her coolant light at me again this morning.
So, back to the spa she goes…
Yah is back from the spa with new shoes and a new sense of rhythm.
To celebrate, I updated her spreadsheet with the last few years of repair data.
18 September 2006
Omninerd offers up a good dose of statistical reality: Gas Prices in Perspective
8 September 2006
I’ve spent some time cleaning up my car spreadsheet tonight. I still have some issues with my methodology on calculating MPG, but I’m pretty comfortable with my $/gallon numbers.
And oh, what a story they tell:
The above graph depicts the rising cost of gas in the Washington, D.C. area (specifically in Alexandria, VA.). The data is entirely from logs kept in my car since April 2002.
- Before the Katrina spike of August/September 2005, most of the spikes were caused by travel to different areas. The overall trends stand out amidst the noise, though: each year, the summer rise is greater than the previous year’s fall. And so prices go up.
- Starting in August 2006, I began travelling to the Virginia Pennisula, where gas prices were cheaper than in D.C. (usually by about $0.20/gallon). This is why the recent data shows an interesting wave pattern as I would alternate fillups. The really low price last weekend was near Orange, VA, at $2.64/gallon for premium.
- Prices have begun to fall somewhat as autumn approaches, though prices remain above $3/gallon at the local station.
I find the data endlessly fascinating.
- To date, I have purchased 2,675 gallons of gas at a cost of $5,558.88. That’s an average of $2.08/gallon.
- If I had purchased it in bulk in 2002 (when I bought the car), I would have paid $3,766 for it. (That’s $1.41 a gallon).
- In 2005, I bought 543 gallons for $1,317.21, or $2.42/gallon.
- For 2006 year to date, I’ve bought 505.1 gallons for $1,450.76, at $2.87/gallon. I’ve also already driven 12,866 miles, or 65 more miles than in all of 2005.
I originally started keeping track of my mileage because I wanted to calculate total cost of ownership of my car. The historical data, though, is proving far more interesting.
15 August 2006
2 August 2006
Hoopty Rides: Can-Am Eraser Racers.
31 July 2006
Via SVN, the Ariel Atom, with 600hp/ton.
12 July 2006
How could I have missed the Traffic.com source for the Yahoo! Widgets Traffic Map?
7 May 2006
Oooo! The X-1 kicks serious electric ass. 0-60 in 3 seconds.
3 seconds! And it’s totally electric!
21 April 2006
From OmniNerd — Beating Traffic:
Whether or not the local school district was in session proved to be the greatest measured variable in explaining the morning commute time variation (y1 vs. x6).
While the day of the week proved to have a significant impact on the morning commute, the evening commute showed no such relationship (y2 vs. x1).
Another change from the morning results, the month of the year proved to have a significant effect, with February, April and November showing the longest evening commute times (y2 vs. x3).
Given the above data and analysis, what can be done to improve my commute times? Changing my morning or evening departure time looks promising. The best bet appears to be moving my schedule out a half-hour to 8:30AM and 6:00PM, bringing significant savings (about 7.5 minutes of commute time per day) without getting too far from normal business hours. Spread out over 50 work weeks, that results in a total savings of over 30 hours a year - the equivalent of about a 38% boost to my existing 80 hours of vacation.
Departure time isn’t the say-all, however, and making this shift won’t always result in a smooth and fast commute. The day of the week in the morning and the month of the year in the evening both have significant impacts, and whether or not school is in session affects both. I could possibly squeeze out a few more minutes of savings by scheduling my vacation days to align with the potentially longest commutes (e.g., non-Friday school days in the months of November, February and April), but the data shows significant variation up and above that described by the measured variables - much likely due to factors outside of the control of the commuter (e.g., weather, wrecks, breakdowns, response to traffic predictions, etc.).
6 March 2006
22 December 2005
6 December 2005
Zen Master Steve reminds me that the Audi RS6 has zoom.
“Oh yeah, RS6. Hi.” Indeed.
10 November 2005
Garbage truck! PIGEONS! PEDESTIRAN! RED LIGHT! PIGEONS! DEAR GOD! HANG ON!
On an August morning in 1978, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch mounted a gyro-stabilized camera to the bumper of a Ferrari 275 GTB and had a friend, a professional Formula 1 racer, drive at breakneck speed through the heart of Paris. The film was limited for technical reasons to 10 minutes; the course was from Porte Dauphine, through the Louvre, to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur.
No streets were closed, for Lelouch was unable to obtain a permit.
The driver completed the course in about 9 minutes, reaching nearly 140 MPH in some stretches. The footage reveals him running real red lights, nearly hitting real pedestrians, and driving the wrong way up real one-way streets.
Upon showing the film in public for the first time, Lelouch was arrested. He has never revealed the identity of the driver, and the film went underground until a DVD release a few years ago.
6 June 2005
Updated: my car mileage spreadsheet, wherein I discover that after spending $3,250.71 on 1838.4 gallons of fuel, I’ve achieved an average MPG of 24.82.
Have I mentioned recently how much I love data?
26 May 2005
That’s it. I’ve finally had it with this city. Today’s drive home was the last straw.
The roadways of Washington D.C. and northern Virginia are now officially my enemies. We hates them, we hates them forever, gollum.
23 December 2004
This is going to be the ultimate system for inter-vehicle gaming and sending inflammatory IMs to the guy who just cut you off.