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.