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.