29 December 2006

Customer loyalty

Sometimes I wonder if I'm stubborn. I guess like most things it's more gray than black and white. There's one McDonald's location I refuse to go to any longer because I wasn't happy with their service, once. I must have taken my car to at least 4-5 different Volkswagen service departments--the best of them lasting 3 visits--before something happened at each that crossed them off my satisfactory list. None of the incidents were major, I suppose, but at the minimum they all annoyed and disappointed me--there are only so many dealerships in my area, after all.

No matter how many spam mails I receive from Geico, State Farm, Progressive et cetera telling me how much money I can save, I'll only leave Erie Insurance if Erie themselves kick me out. I don't even want to know how much money I might save by switching. Why? Because Erie was the sole company that was willing to consider my Canadian driving record when I first relocated to the United States.

On the other hand, I've flipped back and forth between T-Mobile and Cingular as soon my contracts were up. The limited number of GSM carriers makes my flip-flopping the only way I can express my dissatisfaction. I've returned to a particular Burger King despite knowing they only give out minuscule amounts of fries. When I want something cheap my first thought is still Walmart even though I once vowed to myself, never again. That's probably more of a credit to their advertising department than anything else, though. Target is my choice for inexpensive goods whenever my mind gets a respite from Walmart's advertising.

These days I don't even bother complaining at bad service unless it's truly horrendous. It just wastes too much of my time and energy. And what does it actually accomplish? How much does the loss of a single consumer's business really affect a company? It just seems so futile, sometimes. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Big business is big business, and the little guy gets the short end of the stick.

"Democracy is the worst form of Government except all those others that have been tried from time to time." Ugh. I guess I agree with Churchill--but it sure as heck doesn't make me feel any better.

24 December 2006

Merry Christmas!

One day early, but who's counting? ;o)

Sampras still No. 1?

Well, obviously Pete Sampras is retired--and the current No. 1 is Roger Federer--but Sampras is and has always been my all-time favourite men's singles player ever since I watched him win his first major at the U.S. Open in 1990. Anywhoo, I read this article by Justin Gemelstob talking about Sampras and decided to post a link to the story, here.

23 December 2006

Site update

The Blogger update finally moved out of beta and I spent a large part of this afternoon updating everything. Wangos. Well, obviously I changed the template, but the most time consuming part was tagging all my posts. I hope I didn't go overboard. I still can't figure out how to delete a specific tag altogether. Oh well. I'll see how this goes.

16 December 2006

R32 fuel consumption

The other day I updated my R32 fuel consumption data. It looks like I'll be able to keep this year's gasoline expenses below $2000 USD, but above the VW estimated annual cost ($1142 USD). So far I've paid about 51% more for gasoline this year than in 2005. Wangos.

Hmmm... but now that I take a closer look, I can see that the distance I drove increased by about 40% over last year. Wow. I guess the longer commute I had this year added up. Furthermore, as time passes my willingness and desire to push the R (within safety and legal limits, of course) has only grown. I guess this has all contributed to my higher fuel costs... and I've enjoyed every bit of it. :o)

Anywhoo, I've uploaded my fuel consumption information for previous years on my R32 website.

John Edwards in 2008?

Living in the United States I can't help but pay attention to American politics. My interest began because of the influence U.S. policy has on Canada and with time my interest only increased--partially because I started living in the U.S. (where I can't help but be inundated with American news) and partially because of world events. It's not like I go digging around for the latest political gossip, but I do try to pay attention to happenings as reported by various reputable news sources.

Anywhoo, in 2004 I was disappointed former Senator John Edwards failed to win the Democratic nomination and somewhat mollified when John Kerry asked Edwards to be Kerry's running mate. Since the mid-term elections last month, the buzz has already turned to the 2008 presidential elections. For all the will-they-won't-they hype about Sens. Hillary Clinton and now Barack Obama I'd been waiting and hoping for something from Edwards.

So... there is now a report that Edwards will seek the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination (see here), with the official announcement later this month. I hope this report turns out to be accurate.

09 December 2006

A pleasant morning

This morning turned out nice despite having to work. It was cool (a few degrees below zero Celsius), sunny with clouds and traffic was light enough to allow me to motor along at a relaxing pace.

On the way home a large black Ford pick-up truck sped up on to my rear as we approached a freeway on-ramp. This particular freeway entrance is a sweeping 270 degree turn with a posted limit of 30 mph (maybe 35?) and is one of my favourites--as long as no one is in front of me--so I enjoyed the sound of my R and left him behind. I know it was only a truck, but it was satisfying, nonetheless. :o) Afterwards on the freeway the truck zoomed past--he must have been going at least 100 mph!

Closer to home I was stopped at a light and heard the revving of a familiar exhaust (or is that revving the engine, sound of the exhaust?). Behind me was a BMP R32. Nice! He must have been a vortexer because we exchanged "V"s.

All in all just little things, but things that contributed to a pleasant morning.

06 December 2006

Blogshares update

Interesting, a Blogshares press release:
Press Release

R32Argent suffered a huge setback with several analysts urging their clients to ditch the stock as it suffered a public relations disaster. The exact nature of customer dissatisfaction was not known but Soraya Dione was rumoured to have had a hand in it. Industry insiders suspect a Star Spangled Banner (artefact) was involved. R32Argent share price dropped from B$170.36 to B$80.07

Soraya Dione declined to comment on the recent speculation.

Soraya Dione: http://blogshares.com/user.php?id=34991

PRID# 1600275 / Posted: 07:10 05 Dec 2006

Anywhoo, I'm happy to note that my share price has bounced back to B$326.91 :o)

05 December 2006

Power and torque and math, oh my!

Lurking around on vwvortex occasionally I would see some discussion about a particular mod and its associated power gain. As proof of said improvement often a dyno sheet would be posted. Beyond acknowledging its existence, however, I didn't take much notice of the dyno itself. From my personal newbie point of view I was more concerned with enhancing the R's fun factor rather than absolute numbers.

Recently, a couple people have asked me about my R32 and I was chagrined to realize that I had no idea what gains my performance mods had given me. I remembered that the flapper mod was reported to give + 5 hp, but that was it. I still place more importance on the fun factor rather than numbers, but it's still information I decided I should know.

Anywhoo, I found some dyno sheets EIP had posted on their website and elsewhere comparing their ECU upgrade and cold air intake to stock, which I've uploaded (EIP Stage I ECU upgrade dynos; EIP cold air intake dynos), and for the first time I took a closer look at them.

To make a long story short, with both the chip and intake, EIP says an R should have gains of around 14-15 wheel hp and 21 torque at the wheels. All very well and good, except this led me to another question: given that the VW specs on the R32 are in bhp, how do I convert the numbers?

Converting whp to bhp was simple enough--assuming a 15% drivetrain loss, my R32 should be getting around 267-276 bhp @ 6200-6400 rpm, compared to stock, which is 240 bhp (or more likely, 247 bhp) @ 6250 rpm.

Torque = [bhp*5252]/rpm

So, given this dyno and remembering to convert to bhp, then it's 270 ft-lbs torque @ 2800-3200 rpm, compared to the stock value of 236 ft-lbs @ 2800-3200 rpm.

To sum:

: 247 bhp @ 6250 rpm; 236 ft-lbs @ 2800-3200 rpm.
R32Argent: 267-276 bhp @ 6200-6400 rpm; 270 ft-lbs @ 2800-3200 rpm.

Oh my!

02 December 2006

Site visitors in November 2006

Top 5 visitors, listed by country, in November were:

1) United States,
2) Canada,
3) Australia,
4) European Union,
5) Switzerland.

The full list: visitors in November 2006.

Statistics for previous months: follow this link.

R32 review

A few days ago I found a couple reviews of the 2004 R32 that I hadn't seen, yet. You can read them by following this link. The more recent ones I uploaded are from Carsguide.com.au and Cincinnati.com, both originally published in 2004. I was hesitant about uploading the review of the Australian R32, but what the heck.

Here's an excerpt from the Cincinnati.com review:
"Whether navigating city streets or bounding up twisty roads, the R32 feels nimble, quick and composed. The steering is taut and direct, throttle response is brisk, and the low-profile (225/40 R18) tires stay married to the road."

01 December 2006

Perception versus reality

I sympathize with Kendall Myers who appears likely to be reprimanded in some manner for comments he made regarding the current U.S.-Britain relationship. Myers is a U.S. State Department senior analyst who reportedly said that Blair's attempts to influence the Bush administration policies were typically ignored and taken no notice of, despite Blair having been a close ally of Bush since 9/11 (Bush routinely ignoring Blair).

I have no idea whether Myers' role in the State Department put him in a position to know what he was talking about, or whether his words are a true reflection of reality. Nevertheless, it does match with my perception of current U.S.-British relations--an extremely lopsided relationship in favour of the United States. I often think that how a particular person or issue is perceived has much more influence in politics than whatever the reality may be--regrettable, but a disconnect politicians certainly try to take advantage of.

Anywhoo, Myers may or may not have been wrong, and have shown lack of judgment in saying what he did while still on the clock, but he didn't say anything I hadn't been thinking already. In this case, perhaps perception does reflect reality.

29 November 2006

E-mail + spam = headache

I was dismayed but not very surprised when I read this CNN article which basically says that 9 out of 10 e-mails sent worldwide are spam. For the past month or so the e-mail address I used for my website has been inundated with spam, at least 20 per day. I was finally so fed up with it I dropped that e-mail address and created another, making sure this time not to make it a hyperlink (i.e. comments AT r32argent.ca). I figure most people are savvy enough these days to know what that means.

Unfortunately, that didn't completely solve my problem. One of the e-mail addresses I use solely for personal contacts has recently been receiving spam, too. Since this particular address was never used for mailing lists, online shopping, forum sign-ups et cetera, I'm assuming someone's computer with my e-mail in their address book is now an unwilling participant in a 'zombie network'. Ugh.

Remember to keep your antivirus programs and firewalls up-to-date, please. And if you aren't using either... why the heck not!?

25 November 2006

Power Steering Fluid

Yesterday I topped up the power steering fluid in my R. It was the first time I checked it, and it has now officially joined my monthly to do list. Follow the link for additional details.

22 November 2006

Trouble with Fedex

Recently I've had to deal with some frustration caused by Fedex. Despite the occasional hiccup, I've been using Fedex exclusively (actually, now that I think about it, I use USPS, too) whenever I need to ship personal items. The most glaring hiccup being several years ago: I was waiting for some unique documents from Hong Kong to arrive in Canada and after having confirmed with the sender that the envelope had been shipped I finally called Fedex to request the status of my package. To my astonishment, Fedex informed me that they had already delivered the package several days ago. As a recipient's signature was required to accept the delivery, I felt comfortable in saying no, it had not. Anywhoo, to cut this story short--it's not even the main plot of this post--it turns out Fedex had simply left my envelope outside my front door... in the rain... this is winter weather in Vancouver that I'm talking about here. Did I mention someone was supposed to have to *sign* in order to take delivery?! Wangos.

Well, a couple years passed before I dared, or had the need, to use Fedex, again, and for a while everything has worked well. But now doubts have resurfaced.

9th November: I came home from work and discovered a 54" x 12" x 12" tall Fedex package sitting in front of my door. What the heck? I checked the delivery address, and Fedex had left this massive package in front of the wrong door... in the wrong building. At least they had the right street. My first thought was to contact the correct address via property management but no, the thought of doing for free what Fedex had been paid to do irked me.

I phoned Fedex. Very helpful, very quick to talk to a live person. They apologized, thanked me for calling, and told me someone would pick up the package the next day. Great!

10th November: Hmmm, the package is still in front of my door. I'm feeling generous and give them another day.

11th November: Nope... it's still there.

12th November: In the evening I phone Fedex. Very helpful, very quick to talk to a live person. They apologized, thanked me for calling, and told me someone would pick up the package the next day. Wonderful.

13th November: Uhhh, where are you, Fedex?

14th November: ........

15th November: In the evening I phone Fedex... again. Very helpful, very quick to talk to a live person. They apologized, thanked me for calling, and told me someone would pick up the package the next day.

I remind them how long I've been waiting, and ask what I should do if they don't pick it up tomorrow. Can I get rid of it? Fedex avoided answering and assured me they would pick it up the next day. Right.

16th November: Wangos.

17th November: I phone Fedex. This time I get bumped up to a supervisor/manager person. She apologizes profusely--talking a mile a minute--and says she doesn't understand why the package isn't being picked up. Guess what? I don't understand it, either. She says she is going to leave a message for the Fedex manager of my area and the package will definitely be picked up tomorrow. I'll believe it when I see it, or, to be accurate, when I don't see it.

18th November: I seriously reconsider my decision not to contact property management and get them to arrange for the package to be delivered to the correct address. But if the thought of doing Fedex's work irked me before, you can just imagine how I feel about it now.

19th November: I phone Fedex. It takes a while for the rep to skim through the report/past history. She tells me that according to the record the local Fedex people tried to phone me to confirm time of pick-up. But since I have no voicemail, they e-mailed me, instead.

I'm too flabbergasted to make all the rebuttals that flashed through my mind. I just mention one to her, "How would they know my e-mail address?" Her reply, after a long pause, "I don't know".

"Why do they need to phone me?" I asked, and explain as I had all the times previously that the package was just sitting outside my door. Running through my mind is the thought that if they want my signature or anything I'm going to take the stupid thing and throw it in the trash. "I don't know," was the answer.

[The other points I wish I had made at that time were 1) I *do* have voicemail, and 2) I also have caller ID, which tells me who called and when, regardless of whether they leave a message and no, Fedex did *not* call me]

Anywhoo, she can't promise me they'll pick it up on Monday, but they'll try. But... Hallelujah! I finally, *finally* get Fedex to say that if they don't pick it up by Tuesday evening I can throw it away. Yippee!

20th November: I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow... Trash Day. I feel slightly guilty about the addressee losing their package, but I'm way too annoyed at Fedex to let that stop me.

21st November: I come home and... it's gone? I have mixed feelings. Relieved I don't have to lug it down three flights of stairs and down the street to the trash bin, but at the same time regretful that I won't be able to. I got over it. ;o)

So... this whole thing took, what, a week and a half? This latest incident wasn't even my package, so it's not like I'd been eagerly waiting for a delivery, or needed someone to receive something urgently--no tangible emotional or monetary investment on my part. But it's still made me very hesitant about using Fedex in the future. I guess next up to bat is UPS.

18 November 2006

My favourite actor

James Stewart (1908-1997) is my all-time favourite actor (though in regards to his politics I generally differ). Anywhoo, I mention this because I was pleasantly surprised to find a recent article on James Stewart on CNN. From the movies I've seen, and what I've read, I greatly admire Stewart as both actor and person.

You can find his filmography here. He's made some great movies, and some not-so-great movies, but I enjoyed watching all of them. Well, to be perfectly clear, I did think a couple of the movies were pretty poor--but Stewart's presence made those particular films bearable ;o)

17 November 2006

VW R36--it's real!

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, rumours of Volkswagen upgrading the R32 3.2L engine to a "R36" with a 3.6L engine have been resurfacing every so often only to be shot down by the common collective and those who should know. Well, just the other day VW announced the upcoming release of the R36!!!

I'm not getting too excited, though. First, it's only being released in Europe. Second, it's a Passat, not a Golf/GTI--a 3.6L Passat with 300hp, only a 20hp bump from the current 3.6L 280hp Passat. Still, I think it's encouraging that VW is expanding their R-line vehicles, especially given the success of the R32.

Anywhoo, more information on vwvortex in this article.

15 November 2006


I was ::ahem:: googling myself and discovered a link to my blog at a site called Blogshares.com. As I'd never heard of this site I took a quick look. Blogshares, at its simplest, is an online investment game where people buy and/or sell shares in blogs using virtual "Blogshare money (B$)".
"BlogShares is a fantasy stock market where weblogs are the companies. Players invest fictional dollars on shares in blogs. Blogs are valued by their incoming links and add value to other blogs by linking to them. Prices can go up or down based on trading and the underlying value of the blog. No actual ownership of blogs is transfered. BlogShares is purely a fictional marketplace."
The primary goal, of course, is to see how much money you can make. If I understood correctly, Blogshares was originally started to test the Power Law which says, in part, that 20% of the population has 80% of the wealth, or in this case, to determine whether 20% of the blogs would have 80% of the links.

Sign-up is free, you don't need to have a blog to play, and everyone is given B$500 to start. Investing in blogs can become a lot more complicated than simply buying low and selling high, and to do well enough to actually get ranked would probably take more effort and interest than I have.

Anywhoo, I thought it was a neat touch the way they reserved 1000 shares of each blog for the blog's owner, whether or not they register on Blogshares and "claim ownership".

The current value of this blog is B$6,214.82. You can follow this link to see investment data for my blog. Buy them while they're still cheap! Only B$0.91 per share! :o)

11 November 2006

Magellan Roadmate 2200T

Along with my new HTC S620 the last of the big purchases I've made recently (see: Goodbye, hard-earned cash) was a portable navigation system, the Magellan Roadmate 2200T.

In deciding on which GPS navi to buy, I wanted something that was easily portable, reliable, with maps of Canada and the United States, with text-to-voice, and at a reasonable price. In addition to Magellan, I also looked at similarly priced models from TomTom and Garmin. I chose the 2200T because of various reviews I'd read, and it met all of my criteria. It doesn't have the most POIs out there (1.5 million), and I find it a little laborious searching for some specific POIs, but overall I'm satisfied.

The 2200T has several additional features I'm not interested in, like playing music, displaying pictures, upgradeable traffic updates and more, but I couldn't find any GPS navi that was just a navi and still met all my criteria (what's up with that?!). The worst thing about the 2200T is that it didn't come with an AC charger. There was a dash mount, windshield mount, and car charger, but no AC charger. Ugh. I had to fork over extra cash to get the AC charger. Unforgivable.

Some good points: it's small, light-weight and fits easily in my pocket (I might not want it in there all the time, but as a temporary thing it's fine), the rechargeable battery is rated for 8 hours, has an auto-detour feature to get around traffic jams, auto re-routing and multi-destination routing, the option to avoid toll roads when routing, and has an address book to store destinations for future use.

Anywhoo, previously I hadn't been impressed with GPS navis I'd seen at work, but I think that was do to my unfamiliarity with the system and how it works. The more I use the 2200T the more familiar I become with the voice, how it relates directions and how much time I have before having to perform the latest instruction. The more familiar I get with the 2200T, the more I realize just how useful this little device can be.

Road-trip: Skyline Drive

With beautiful weather and a freshly waxed R, I decided to go on a cruise that ended being about 280 miles, round-trip. I drove down to Skyline Drive, the only public road through the Shenandoah National Park. The official guide says it takes about 3 hours to drive completely through, but I turned back halfway, at Big Meadows Wayside. Skyline Drive was a joy to drive--a curving, winding road with changing elevation, and beautiful scenery (though I was too late for most of the fall colours).

It felt kind of weird, though, because while other park-goers were taking pictures of nature, I was taking pictures of my R32. :o) Hey! I took some of those, too! Anywhoo, click here and also here for more pictures.

10 November 2006

Who writes this stuff?

Tonight I was watching a local news channel (WUSA9.com) and one of the anchors, Tracey Neale, reported on a story that completely blew me away--and not in a good way. It wasn't the story itself but how Tracey Neale said it and what she said that's making me vent.

Neale previews the upcoming news bit by saying "a thief doesn't get his way" after the commercial break (I'm paraphrasing, here).

Go to commercial.

Back to T. Neale: "Channel 9 reported previously on a charity that had sold used wedding dresses donated by cancer survivors/victims--with proceeds going to said charity. Unfortunately, the proceeds were stolen by a thief. In response to Channel 9's report, local bridal shops donated wedding dresses so more money could be raised."

First let me say that Neale's delivery was so... stilted with... long silent... pauses in... the middle... of sentences... pausing... after every... three to... four... words... was extremely... painful... for... me to... listen to. Enough... said....

Here's the kicker--T. Neale ends the story by saying something like, "due to the shops' generosity the thief's intentions were foiled". What the heck is Neale saying?! The thief is still at large with the money--how exactly were his/her intentions foiled? Oh, I see... the thief didn't *really* want the money, the thief just has some sort of vendetta against the charity. Or hates weddings. And dresses. And don't forget the colour white.

All possible, I guess, but I'm still betting on the money.

This forced and inappropriate slant--and Neale's horrid delivery--turned what was a typical feel-good story (generosity of shops) in to one of the worst reports I've ever had the misfortune to listen to. Whoever wrote this terrible piece should be drawn and quartered. Who writes this stuff, and where was the editor?

08 November 2006

Candy trumps Democracy

Driving home last night I noticed something funny. Judging by the amount of traffic, more people were interested in getting home in time for Hallowe'en last week than in getting home in time to vote in the midterm elections. My commute home on Hallowe'en evening took me a little more than an hour. Last night it took a mere 32 minutes.

I wonder what the voter turnout was. According to the data tabulated by IDEA (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance), voter turnout (all elections from 1945-1998) for the United States is 48.3% of eligible voters, placing the U.S. at 114 in the world, just squeaking by Mexico (48.1%), but falling behind countries such as Burma/Myanmar (50.0%) and... Canada (68.4%). Ha ha, take that! Great participation in Italy, which came out number one at 92.5%.

I think the dismal voter turnout--which trends lower every year--is indicative of the inordinate influence special interests and corporations have on politics. Politicians, seemingly willing to do almost anything to stay in power, are more beholden to their donors than their voters. A lot of people just don't feel their vote has any effect, so why bother? Money talks... and I don't have any. :o(

01 November 2006

Site visitors in October 2006

The top 5 visitors, listed by country, in October were:

1) United States
2) Canada
3) European Union
4) Germany
5) Great Britain

The full list of visitors for October 2006 can be found here.

Statistics for previous months can be found by following this link.

28 October 2006

HTC S620 Excalibur

Introducing... the HTC S620 Excalibur. I was fed up with my previous mobile and tired of carrying around a PDA to keep track of all my appointments, contacts, and notes. I thought it would be more convenient to only have to carry one device around so I started looking into smartphones.

I wanted something that could comfortably fit in my pocket, with a full QWERTY keyboard, quad-band GSM, MP camera, and could easily synchronize with Microsoft Outlook. Treos are nice, but they're big with an external antenna (though it looks like that will soon change). I'd basically given up on finding something because everything I saw failed my 'size' requirement. Then... the Motorola Q arrived. I would have snapped this up if it had been GSM--but no... it's with Verizon.

I started paying attention to technology sites/blogs like CNET and Brighthand to keep up to date on soon-to-be released models. I read about the Blackberry Pearl carried by T-Mobile. However, it didn't have a full QWERTY, and I had reservations about the trackball. That's when I read about the T-Mobile Dash. It met all of my requirements, in particular reviews described the call-quality as very good--an important consideration as that would be its primary function. Unfortunately, right now it's only at T-Mobile, and I'm still under contract with Cingular.

I looked into what T-Mobile was asking, and whether it was unlocked. It wasn't. T-Mobile would only unlock the Dash after 3-months of a contract, or if I bought the phone full-price without a contract. Hmmm... I thought about the latter option, but it peeved me that even if I bought a Dash without contract it would still have T-Mobile branding and whatever software/alterations they put on it.

Never say never. I searched various places on-line to see if any unlocked Dashes were being offered. It turns out the T-Mobile Dash is a modified HTC S620 Excalibur. Retailers were offering the Excalibur (unlocked) at a significantly higher price than T-Mobile, but after much thought I decided this was the way I would go. I ordered an Excalibur last week and it arrived a few days ago.

Wow! Simply amazing! First, I had read about the physical dimensions (S620 specifications) but it didn't really sink in how small it is until I held it in my hands. Here's a picture of the S620 beside a AAA battery.

I should note that in the picture at the top of this post, the display is much brighter and vibrant in person (my camera flash kind of bled out the screen). The HTC S620 met all of my major requirements: good call quality, GSM, MP camera, QWERTY keyboard, small size, and synchronized with Outlook--with one caveat. Despite what it says on the T-Mobile website, this device does *not* synch with Outlook Notes. The way I worked around this was to convert my Notes into Contacts, which does synch.

Today I tried connecting the S620 to my computer using a USB-Bluetooth adapter, but eventually I gave up. I'm blaming this on my lack of experience with Bluetooth rather than on the S620. Regardless, Bluetooth and WiFi were never on my 'must have' list.

It's only been a few days but so far I'm extremely pleased with my purchase. Now I'm just waiting for someone to come out with a good case for the S620. I picked up one from T-Mobile as a stop-gap measure, but I prefer a horizontal holster rather than a vertical one.

Canucks 3, Capitals 2 (SO)

Great game! If it hadn't been for the Capitals' two-man advantage late in the 2nd the Canucks would have ran away with this one. I have a little sympathy for the Capitals, though. The way Morrison's goal in the shoot-out squeezed through the goalie's pads must have been heart-breaking. Ha ha! :o)

I'm especially glad the Canucks won and that Luongo was playing, and that I had a chance to see a shoot-out. Why am I glad? Because this is their only contest in the regular season, last night's game was probably my only chance to watch the Canucks on television. :o( I hope I'm wrong--maybe Comcast will televise other games when the Canucks play other Eastern Conference teams, but I'm not optimistic.

Anywhoo, if this turns out to be the only Canuck game I see this season... at least we won!

22 October 2006

And then there was one

It was only a matter of time, unfortunately, but recently two of my valve stem caps were stolen--both from the rear. This wasn't the first time, either. Let's see, over two years ago I started with four .:R-line valve stem caps from the .:R accessories kit. Roughly one year later I was down to two, joined by two VW valve stem caps I purchased at a local dealership. Now I'm down to one .:R-line cap remaining. At first I thought the thief had taken both of them, but no, he/she took one .:R-line and one VW cap. Oh well. I guess I'll see how long they last this time. :o(

21 October 2006

Handys and upgrading

For reasons I can no longer fathom, when I last purchased a handy I stuck myself with a two-year contract with Cingular. So I was understandably excited when I learned of a thing called "upgrading". What's this, I can upgrade my handy before my contract expires? Great! I actually marked down the date I was eligible for an upgrade on my Outlook Tasks.

Silly me, I'd erroneously assumed that "upgrading" was a special feature Cingular offered to current customers to entice them to remain in the fold. Well, upgrade day arrived and I went to a local outlet only to have my hopes and expectations crushed. Turns out that upgrading is not so special.

Sure, I could get a new phone before my current contract expires--except that I'd need to have a new contract. It was naive of me to expect otherwise, I guess, but hope springs eternal. Oh yeah, and the price I'd pay--with contract--is exactly the same price I'd pay if I had been a completely new customer. So, as I said... not so special. What's the advantage of upgrading? I'd get a new phone, save about $18 dollars on an activation fee... and get stuck with another contract.

I see this as just another example of big business milking their consumer herd until dessication. Rather than reward customers for staying, they encourage them to extend their contract. This is not establishing customer loyalty... it's nothing but a cruel facsimile. It's more like establishing indentured consumers. Caveat Emptor.

20 October 2006

Goodbye, hard-earned cash

Impulse buying? I hope not. Although I made my decisions in short order, I think the intensity of my research prior to purchasing outweighed the relatively limited time scale. Anywhoo, more info when my orders arrive. :o)

Rhetorical question: why would anyone actually want to buy anything at an actual store? Online stores have never charged me sales tax.

09 October 2006

My mild mortification (aka dead battery update)

Hmmm, see something out of place in this picture?

I took the above picture after having had to replace my R's battery due to a dead fuel cell (you can read in detail about my lost day here) back in mid-August. At the time I'd noted that my battery cover no longer sat correctly despite it being a VW OEM replacement, but after an already frustrating day I left it at that.

If you need a clue, it's in the top right corner of the picture. See it, yet? :o) I can't believe I missed it. It's had to have been sitting above the CAI since mid-August. I only discovered it yesterday, and it's not like I haven't popped the hood--several times--since replacing the battery to check on various fluid levels. Talk about embarrassing! I'd say I need new glasses, but I recently bought a new pair so that's not a viable excuse. Wangos!

Here's a full picture of what I was blind to:

Here's a picture of it installed...

... and with the battery cover properly in place:

Ugh. Anywhoo, more pics and information here. I thought Pepboys (Booooo!) could handle something as simple as replacing a battery, but they certainly proved me wrong. I should have suspected something when Pepboys informed me there was no alternative to getting a VW OEM battery for the R.

08 October 2006

Oblivious, or inconsiderate?

This morning I intentionally woke up early. It being the Columbus Day long weekend, I was in a particularly fine fettle, looking forward to a relaxing day, and a pleasant cruise in the R after washing and waxing it. My positive mood was shattered when I discovered *two* decrepit vehicles parked *on* the community water hose. Not, one, but *two* separate vehicles. Wangos!

With my sunny outlook rapidly changing to match the pre-dawn light, I stepped out of the R for a closer look. Whew! The hose was merely wrapped around a tire of one car. Gentle tugging freed it. Not so with the rusting blue minivan--its passenger front tire sat squarely on the hose. No amount of tugging would do (believe me, I tried). Wangos!!

Were my neighbours ignorant of what they'd done? Not only the drivers of the cursed vehicles, but whoever had left the hose laying on the pavement? Or did the drivers see that they had parked on the hose, but just didn't care?

Anywhoo, I decided to take the R to a DIY carwash (Ugh. What a rip-off. I'd forgotten how expensive it was to purchase barely enough water to wash a hatchback) rather than wait for the driver of said minivan--did I mention it was rusting, decrepit, and cursed?--to wake up and move the stupid thing.

Driving away, I congratulated myself on managing to leave a polite post-it note (Please and thank-you!) requesting the driver avoid parking on the hose in the future.

06 October 2006

Captain Kirk nostalgia

Er, no, not Captain James T. Kirk, but Kirk McLean of the Vancouver Canucks. I still have fond memories of watching the Canucks' playoff run in 1994, backstopped by McLean, who played a significant role in taking the team to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals. I miss those good old days. A lot of changes have occured since then (though Linden is still here!), but ever since McLean's heydays in Vancouver I've always felt that the Canucks' goaltending has been shaky, particularly in the playoffs (if they even made it past the regular season). Hopefully Luongo will change that.

Anywhoo, what bought this on? I was reading an article on CNN.com in which the writer's opinion of McLean resembled my own. Who'd of thunk it? McLean is currently number 12 on the 50 Greatest Canucks: Hall of Fame list. Kirk McLean is the "Canucks’ all time career leader among goalies in virtually all netminding categories, including shutouts (20) and wins (211)." Not bad, eh?

Site visitors in September 2006

Top 5 visitors in September 2006, listed by country:

1) United States,
2) Great Britain,
3) Canada,
4) Australia,
5) Netherlands.

The full list for September 2006 is here. Data for previous months can be found by clicking on this link.

17 September 2006

Concerns with e-voting

I've always been leary with regards to the increasing use of e-voting. In theory, I think it's a great idea whose time has come. Practically, I've been concerned with the concept mainly because it seems to me the vast majority of e-voting machines lack a verifiable paper trail.

I'm far from expert in the technology, but I think of it like the unending "competition" between anti-virus software and viruses (including trojans, worms, adware/malware/spyware, what have you)--a new virus is detected, a counter-measure is developed, and another virus crops up. I'm worried that the same thing could happen with e-voting technology--and do we really want to deal with something like that with something as vital as voting? Software companies are on constant watch for potential and emerging attacks. I don't get the impression that e-voting machine companies are doing the same thing--whether because they don't think they need to, or because they don't have to, or they need a new publicist.

Anywhoo, what brought this up was an article I saw on cnet talking about a study where investigators were able to tamper with an e-voting machine. As written in the cnet blog:
"... a pretend presidential election in which George Washington receives four votes to Benedict Arnold's one. Yet, when the voting machine is queried at the end of the day, its paper printout states that Arnold received three votes to Washington's two. Even the memory card, designed as a backup, reports the same fraudulent result. There is no way for an observer after the fact to disprove that voters did not give Arnold three votes to Washington's two--except that we saw in the video that the voters did in fact vote differently. The researchers at Princeton exploited well-known software flaws with the Diebold Accu-vote-TS voting to construct their malicious code..."

Here are links to the cnet original post and to the study itself (pdf).

Hallowe'en alert

Ugh. At Home Depot this morning they were selling Hallowe'en decorations. Big orange inflatable pumpkins. Double ugh. Can't they at least wait until October?! Stores seem to insist on selling holiday/special day items earlier and earlier, and every year it annoys me. Consumers revolt! Refuse to buy Hallowe'en items until October!

16 September 2006

Beetles in Nepal

Wow, I saw this very brief article on the BBC news website. It has pictures of the An-Bug (The Association of Nepal Beetle Users Group) 6th rally in Katmandu. For a link to the site for the rest of the pictures, click here. According to the captions, there are 84 listed Beetle owners in Nepal, including the German Ambassador, Franz Ring.

Ummm... in the interests of clarity, a FYI: the above picture is of the An-Bug president, not Ambassador Ring. :o)

13 September 2006

Canucks re-sign Linden

This is probably old news, now, but since Trevor Linden is one of my favourite NHL players I thought it deserved a mention. Linden has been re-signed for a $600,000 one-year contract with the Canucks. At 36-yrs old, I'd been wondering how much longer Linden would be playing, and whether or not he'd be staying.

"Linden had seven goals and nine assists in 82 games with the Canucks last season, his 17th in the NHL and 14th with the Canucks. He has 356 goals and 474 assists in 1,243 regular-season games."

One curious thing is that I found this news not on the Canucks official site, but on CNN. Eh?

10 September 2006

2006 U.S. Open

Congratulations to Roger Federer, who won his 9th major title, today, defeating Andy Roddick 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. I was hoping Roddick would pull through, but it didn't happen. After the first set, I thought Roddick was done. Second set, Roddick stepped up, and I was hopeful for an upset. Third set, 3-3, Roddick had 3 break points at love-40, but Federer pulled it out and eventually won the set. After that, Roddick was really done.

What I want to see is someone able to force Federer to play his best tennis for the entire match. Nadal is capable of this on clay, but I'd like someone--anyone--to be able to do the same on grass and hard courts.

Anywhoo, Federer only needs to win six more to beat Pete Sampras' record of 14 major singles titles. That's still quite a few more to go, but Federer has reached the finals of the past six majors--this year winning them all except for the French Open. At only 25 years of age, Federer has plenty of time to claim this record all for his own.

One of the major things ;o) that really annoys me about tennis reporting is how they've started calling the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open "Grand Slams". I find that very disconcerting. I've always thought of a "Grand Slam" as winning all four major events in the same calendar year. These days, however, I read/hear writers and reporters saying "Sharapova has won her second grand slam" or "Roger Federer has won his ninth grand slam title". Eh? When did they change majors into grand slams? Why did they change majors into grand slams? Confuuuuusing.

Martina Narvratilova

Martina Narvratilova ended her career on a high note by winning the 2006 U.S. Open mixed doubles (with partner Bob Bryan), 6-2, 6-3. This was Navratilova's 59th major title. Over a professional career spanning 33 years (1973-2006), Navratilova has won 18 major singles titles, 31 major women's doubles titles, and 10 major mixed doubles titles. Unbelievable.

There's no way I can recite all of Navratilova's accomplishments here, but you can take a look at Martina Navratilova's official site or her page on Wikipedia for indepth information.

09 September 2006

2006 U.S. Open Women's Champion

Maria Sharapova defeated Justine Henin-Hardenne, 6-4, 6-4 to win the 2006 U.S. Open--Sharapova's second major title. I particularly enjoyed this year's final because these two are my favourite women players that are currently active--so from my point of view either of them winning was a bonus. :o)

Sharapova looked a little nervous at the start of the first set, but if I recall correctly that was the only time she was broken. Despite some great points and winners, my favourite part of the match was watching Sharapova's reaction after winning match point--she just looked so ecstatic and over-joyed. :o)

One thing that continues to annoy me, however, is how some people insist on screaming endearments/encouragement to their favourite player *in the middle of their serve*. What the heck is up with that?! One particular moment in this match stuck out--some guy screamed his love for Sharapova in the middle of her toss. I know the players are professionals and being used to it they should be able to ignore it... but do the overly enthusiastic fans really want to risk it being that one time when it *does* affect their concentration? Show a little consideration, please.

Update: I just noticed--the above picture looks like Sharapova is missing some teeth, lol. At least, it does on my computer. :o) Anywhoo, click on the picture to see that Sharapova doesn't *really* need a new dentist.

06 September 2006

Site visitors in August 2006

The top 5 visitors in August 2006, listed by country:

1) United States,
2) Australia,
3) Canada,
4) Great Britain,
5) Argentina.

The full list of visitors for August 2006 is here.

FYI, follow the link for statistics for previous months.

04 September 2006

To boldly go....

I used this long weekend to finally fulfill one of my long-held desires... to see the Space Shuttle Enterprise in person. I figure this is actually the closest I'll ever get to being in space myself. :o) The Enterprise is kept at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center which is the companion facility to the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall.

There were a lot of other interesting exhibits at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, but as you might have guessed the Enterprise was the primary attraction for me. There's an IMAX Theater as well as a couple simulator rides ($7.00 each), one of which took you up in a space shuttle to see the International Space Station. I thought it was expensive for how short the ride was--but I did find the lift-off and landing parts highly enjoyable. Just getting a feel for what it might be like to take off and land was great. :o) The Canadian in me was gratified at the mention and cameo of the "Canada Hand" but annoyed when it referred to the "Canadarm" as the "robot arm".

Anyhoo, here are some pictures, and I might post some more later, but a lot of the pictures I took ended up being too dark--I guess my camera needs a more powerful flash. :o(

Main entrance:

These are the voyages....

Hmmm, somehow one of those pictures seems a little premature....

26 August 2006

Unpimp your auto

I just discovered that Volkswagen has uploaded their recent commercials on their website--including the "my Fast", "unpimp your auto" series, Jetta, NB, Passat and Rabbit commercials. My favourite is the Wrecking Ball for the new GTI. I think it has the funniest joke of them all:

"What does this do?"
"It sucks air."
"It's definitely sucking."

Heee! I wish I knew of a way to save that commercial before they take it off-line.

21 August 2006

US Open 2006 and Agassiz

I was watching the Western & Southern Masters on the weekend and was shocked by what a couple of the commentators (one of whom was Patrick McEnroe) said.

They were commenting on the fact that the 2006 US Open is starting in a week or so, and that this would be Andre Agassiz's last tournament due to his impending retirement. Apparently unseeded Agassiz's draw is at the 'random' whim of a computer program. I can't recall their exact words, but commentator number one suggested to Patrick McEnroe-- McEnroe being somehow involved with the US Open draw at the United Nations in New York, NY--that he do his best to ensure that Agassiz doesn't get a match with someone like Roger Federer in the first round. After a brief pause, McEnroe replied that he would do his best. Props to Agassiz for an amazing career and it would be wonderful (for both Agassiz and fans) if Agassiz has a great final run like Pete Sampras had, but the idea that favouritism like that might occur shocked and dismayed me.

My whole attitude towards the US Open has been soured. I'll still watch it when I can, but I won't be able to enjoy it as much as I have in the past--especially any of Agassiz's matches.

I might be over-reacting. Patrick McEnroe's pause before replying gives me hope that they were in fact joking and not even remotely serious. It was hard for me to tell if they were serious or not because this conversation occurred during a match so I wasn't able to see the commentators' expressions. I don't know what McEnroe's exact role is with the draw--maybe he has no practical influence at all. I just sincerely hope that no one who *does* have influence with arranging the draw seriously contemplates acting on the sentiments expressed by these commentators--regardless of whether or not they were made in jest.

19 August 2006

Hello? Anyone there?

Since last night I've been considering what exactly it was about the phone call I made to the police that made such a positive impression on me. I think a large part of it was the novelty--not the novelty of phoning the police but the novelty of having such quick, prompt service.

My call was answered on the second ring; an actual human being and *not* an automated voice system answered the call; my questions were answered immediately to my satisfaction. Wow, I'd almost forgotten what that was like!

Whenever I need to phone a utility company or bank I'm always answered by an automated voice system. Thankfully I don't need to phone often enough that I have their menus memorized, but all this means is that I have to go through the torture of listening to one or two automated menus before finally finding the option I need. Worse, when I phone a utility or the bank it's because I want/need something that can't be accomplished online... or by one of the automated choices. I *need* to talk to an actual person.

To my supreme disgust, I've recently discovered that my bank's automated phone system has placed the option to speak to a 'live representative' at the very end--only after forcing you to listen to two menus--and with a significant pause before listing said option. The pause was such that I actually thought I might have missed it in the previous menu and I was about to press the button to go back. Ugh.

I should say, though, that once I did speak to an actual person, she was friendly, professional, and helpful--she told me I should talk to someone in person at a personal banking center. ::roll eyes::

Oh yeah, my cable company. No matter what time of day, whenever I call them I get the "We are currently experiencing unusually high call volumes. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order it was received or you may wish to hang up and call again later", or words to that effect. I could be wrong, but if they receive unusually high call volumes most of the time, then... hmmm, maybe it isn't *really* unusual? Could it be, perhaps, normal?

18 August 2006

Police at work

Wow, for the past 45 minutes or so, maybe even longer, there's been a strange, loud noise outside my place--the noise fades in and out but is never totally gone--and actually it's still going on as I type this. I finally grabbed my mobile, a flashlight, and went outside to try to find the source (after first checking to make sure the R was okay, lol).

A low-flying helicoptor with red lights flew directly over me. I didn't think it sounded like a helicopter at first because the sound of the blades is accompanied by a high pitched airy whine.

Anywhoo, my first thought was that it was probably a police helicopter searching for someone and hmmmm... maybe... yeah, maybe I better go right back inside and lock my door. Which I did, after stopping to check my mail. Go figure. :o)

I phoned the police non-emergency number and was informed the police were searching for a hit-and-run driver.

I think this was the first time I've ever called the police, and I have to say I was impressed by how quickly they answered my question. It was obvious the person I spoke to didn't know initially what I was talking about, but within a few seconds she did. Oddly enough, I found it kind of comforting.

17 August 2006

Portable jump starters

My recent hassle with a dead battery made me realize that jumper cables aren't very useful without someone else around to give me a jump. I could have salvaged at least some of my day if I had a portable jump starter. This item certainly deserves further research.

Dead battery

A couple days ago, after only 24,700 miles and 28 months, the R came down with a dead battery. :o( I eventually ended up at PepBoys because I thought that with a large selection of batteries they would be sure to have one compatible with the R. Wow, was I wrong. PepBoys had to contact Congressional VW to request an OEM battery--two hours to deliver. At this point it was beginning to dawn on me that I might not make it to work at all that day so I said, "fine."

Three hours pass... still no battery. A phone call discovers that the Congressional parts person forgot to arrange for someone to deliver the battery. Wangos! Delivery will be in one hour. Yeah, sure it will. :o(

One hour later... still no battery. Somehow I'm not too surprised. Finally... FINALLY, the battery arrives, and I'm out with a new battery in 20 minutes.

Let's see... from the time I discovered my battery was dead to the time I had a new one installed... 9 hours. When I returned home I promptly e-mailed a complaint to VW Customer Care, though I'm not sure how useful that is given that I was stranded at PepBoys.

If you're interested in more details follow this link.

Anywhoo, I'd been to Congressional VW when I was shopping around for accessories, and even before that when I was looking into purchasing my GTI and later the R. I'm sincerely grateful that I never gave them an iota of my money. And I never will.

12 August 2006

Close call: he slow, me slow

This morning I was driving behind one of those pick-up trucks big enough to prevent me from seeing anything ahead of it. He was going at a reasonable speed, so all was fine with the world until he suddenly slowed down. I thought he was slowing to make a turn but then he kept going on and on and on. It was a single lane road, no chance of passing, so I was fairly irritated until we passed a police radar trap. Oops. No way he could hear me, but I apologized profusely to the pick-up driver, anyway, for all of my previous mean thoughts. :p

The pick-up must have had a radar detector, though, because it was a curvy road and he slowed down well before he could have even possibly seen the police. I've never thought I'd personally get much value from owning a detector, but today certainly made me reconsider.

What annoys me, though, is that the trap was on one of the roads I like to travel when I'm out for a drive. That particular route now has been forever tarnished by the potential presence of our friends in blue. ;o)

10 August 2006

Camber caster toe?

Back when I was debating whether or not to upgrade the R's suspension, one of the concerns I had was whether the 10mm drop I wanted would necessitate the additional expense of control arms to maintain correct alignment. Anywhoo, to make a long story short, no, control arms weren't necessary.

Why only a 10mm drop? First, my intention for installing coilovers was primarily to improve handling, not appearance, and lowering drastically would probably goof up the suspension geometry. Second, I think the stock R is already pretty low, and roads in the DC area are far from ideal. Third, stock Euro-spec 2004 R32s are 10mm lower than their stock U.S. counterparts.

So what's the point of the previous two paragraphs? To provide a proper segue for posting the 2004 VW R32 alignment specs, of course! :p

As always, this and other information on the R32 can be found on the link to the right, titled, surprise surprise, R32 information. Specific information relating to R32 maintenance can be found there, as well.

06 August 2006

Me likey

I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I liked this picture so much I just had to post it here :o) It's just a close-up of the Aristos, but what I like so much is how the Reflex silver appears. I can't really describe it, but something about it just makes it go 'pop' in my mind. Maybe I'm just weird--or I drank too much soda.

Anywhoo, this picture was taken a week ago, after a wash and re-waxing with Glanz Wax. You can see additional photos from that day by following the link.

Driving at night

Yesterday I used a couple minor errands as an excuse to go for a night drive. It was a nice change to see my usual cruising route in the dark and it reminded me just how glad I am that I installed OEM HIDs on my R. I don't know how I ever survived without them.

I did notice a couple things that weren't so pleasant, however. First, way too many drivers don't have their headlights properly aimed. I briefly considered flashing my high beams to indicate that they were blinding opposing traffic but quickly decided against it because there's no guarantee they'd realize why I was doing it, and there were just too many of them. I've always whimsically thought it'd be nice if cars were equipped with those LED message screens with short, preprogrammed messages for other drivers like, "reaim headlights", "your brake/turn signal light is out", "turn on lights", et cetera. You get the idea. It would probably be too distracting, though.

Anywhoo, I digress. The other thing about driving at night is that too many insects had the same idea I had. Unfortunately for them (and me), their night cruise was fatal. I pulled into a gas station to discover my front bumper covered with bug guts. All this after I had washed my car that morning. Ick.

04 August 2006

R32 @ Summit Point

Someone posted a video of himself racing a R32 at a track. It's on Google Video and about 14 minutes long.

According to his post on vwvortex, all he has is a GIAC chip, CAI, and a rear sway bar.

I'm not the best at identifying cars on the fly, but I think I saw a Ferrari, Corvette, and a Porsche among others. I thought the R32 and driver did pretty well in comparison.

I wish I could drive like that!

01 August 2006

Pain at the pump--R32 fuel consumption update

I updated my R32 fuel consumption for 2006. When I purchased the R VW's estimated annual fuel cost was $1142. Those were the good ol' days.... You can see that after seven months I've already spent more than that. :o(

I didn't buy the R to save money on gasoline, but still... at this rate I'll double VW's estimate by the end of this year.

Anywhoo, for comparison you can check how much gas the R guzzled--and how much it cost--in previous years by following this link.

Site visitors in July 2006

The top five visitors in July 2006, listed by country, are:

1) U.S.A.
2) Canada
3) Australia
4) European Union
5) Great Britain

For the full list you can click here.

Statistics for previous months: June 2006; May 2006; April 2006; March 2006.

29 July 2006

R32 = Rabbit?

I walked out of Borders this morning to discover someone waiting beside my R. He wanted to know if my car was a Rabbit (fyi, the Rabbit is VW’s latest reincarnation of the Golf on a MkV platform). I explained that no, that they're actually different, that the R32 has AWD, a bigger engine, different transmission and is based on an older platform than the MkV Rabbit. I had the the impression, however, that what I was saying wasn't quite getting through—he seemed fairly stuck on Rabbits and how much my car looked liked one, but it still isn't a Rabbit?

Even though I wanted to, I didn't disagree with him outright because strictly speaking he wasn't wrong about the similarites in appearance. The R32 is a representative of the Golf MkIV platform but nonetheless I think they look significantly different. But I suspect I'm a little biased so I'll leave it to you to make up your own mind:

Hmm... I guess they do kind of look alike, don't they? :P

He also wanted to know if I’d imported my R or purchased it domestically. Unfortunately, in the U.S. only used R32s are currently available.

Anywhoo, it's always nice when someone admires the R so this was a pleasant way to punctuate a week.

FYI, here are the standard and technical specifications for the 2006 VW Rabbit. Follow these links for the R32 standard and technical specs. They are all pdf files, so you'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader.

27 July 2006

Landis, elevated T:E

Wow. Today's confirmation that Landis' A sample tested positive for elevated testosterone:epitestosterone (T:E) caught me by surprise. I was impressed with how Landis came back in stage 17 of this year's Tour de France--ultimately winning the GC--but now the inevitable questions arise.

I hope the B sample turns out negative, but according to this article Landis himself is not optimistic despite his denial of performance enhancing drug use. One option appears to be using an endocrine test to show that Landis just has a naturally high T:E. I'm not sure how that works, though--if this is the case, wouldn't a high T:E have shown up previously? This can't be the first time Landis has been tested.

21 July 2006


Recently I've noticed that my computer has been slower than I remember, especially during start-up. To remedy this I used msconfig to limit the number of non-essential programs/processes initiated at start-up. I had to google some program names because my tech-unsavvy self had no idea what some of them were. Processes of particular note included tgcmd.exe and its brethren from SupportSoft. Most likely it was installed by my ISP (Comcast) and is used when providing customer support--but according to what I've read it can also be used to track my actions while surfing the internet. What the heck?! This sucker is gone!

Unfortunately, although everything seemed okay at first, I came back a couple hours later only to discover that I'd lost my internet connection. After I tried the usual suspects, I gave up and phoned customer support. Eventually they arranged an appointment for a technician to come to my place to look at it. Ugh. Anywhoo, with great trepidation I decided to see what would happen if I let tgcmd.exe run at start-up. Guess what? My internet connection came back :o(

So, let's see... tgcmd.exe is a process used by Comcast for customer support, but I didn't need customer support until I stopped tgcmd.exe from running... so how is this oh-so-useful process helping me other than being a drain on memory useage?

If you run a search for tgcmd.exe a lot of information comes up--here's just one of the links I followed. The information on there seemed fairly consistant with the other links I read.

19 July 2006

Sunglass holder

Last weekend I replaced the driver's side ceiling grab handle with a VW OEM sunglass holder (Part No. 1J0 857 465 Y20). Unfortunately, VW only offers the holders in beige or grey. The R's headliner is black so I was forced to paint it black myself.

Part No. 1J0 857 465 Y20:

My weapon of choice (actually, I would have preferred flat-black, but I'd been to six different stores with no luck):

For the results and details, you can click here.

Green top coolant temperature sensor

As a preventative measure I replaced the engine coolant temperature (ECT) sensor on the R. The old black top ECT sensor has a high failure rate, possibly resulting in negative effects on gas mileage and performance at cold starts. The updated ECT sensors have green tops (Part No. 059 919 501 A).

You can follow this link for further details.

Out with the old...

...and in with the new:

Coming down with the MIL

MIL: Malfunction indicator light, also known as the dreaded check engine light.

Ugh. This past Saturday under hard acceleration I heard/felt the engine "click" but didn't think anything of it. Moments later, though, I noticed the MIL had come on. In retrospect I wonder if it was my imagination, something completely unrelated, a mere coincidence, or not. ::sigh::

The MIL persisted until yesterday evening when without notice it disappeared. As I had already made an appointment at Pro-Imports, I still wanted to see what codes might have come up. They found four codes, all of them dealing with inconsiderate cylinders 1, 2 and 3. Those darn misfiring misfits! Anywhoo, Pro-Imports checked things out, cleared the codes, and recommended I drive the R for a week and then bring it back in to see if any new codes appear.