Sunday, November 7, 2010

Year 3 Audi Numbers

(a cool picture Jeff took this spring to add some value to an otherwise dry post)

Year 3 cost of ownership numbers...
Total miles: 235,401 (58,152 of them mine)
Year 1 miles: 20,195
Year 2 miles: 25,304
Year 3 miles: 12,653

Total gallons of fuel: 2703
Year 1 gallons: 930
Year 2 gallons: 1155
Year 3 gallons: 618

Average miles per gallon
Year 1 mpg: 21.7
Year 2 mpg: 22.0
Year 3 mpg: 20.8

Fuel cost total: $7989
Est year 1 fuel cost: $3022
year 2 fuel cost: $3056 (cheaper gas this year, 5k miles for 'free' avg $2.64/gal)
Year 3 fuel cost: $1911 (avg $3.24/gal)

Insurance total: $1533
Year 1: $380
Year 2: $486 (rates went up and I didn't notice?)
Year 3: $667 (added collision coverage)

Maintenance total: $3598
Year 1: $1730 (all sorts of random junk, some murkiness of what to 'count')
Year 2: $1442 (big timing belt and hose repair job and oil changes only)
Year 3: $426 (heater core, hatch struts, O2 sensor, oil changes)

Accident repair: $1695

Total everything cost of ownership: $19,763 (!)
Year 1 total: $11,608 (includes$4200 purchase)
Year 2 total: $5069
Year 3 total: $3086

Running $/mile
Year 1: $11,608/20,195 = $0.57
Year 2: $16,677/45,498 = $0.37
Year 3: $19,763/58,152 = $0.34

*some known errors and inconsistencies in this. But mostly correct ... ish.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tilt shift again

Cool collection of tilt shift photography: here

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Neat physics demonstration I had not seen before:


via: reddit

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Less annoying

If you've ridden in my car recently you've no doubt been annoyed by the head liner coming down in the back and the low oil pressure alarm going off periodically.

The oil pressure sensor was changed and it looks like the new one has a lower pressure setting so perhaps it will be happier in my high miles engine than the old one was.

And for the head liner, well ... I once heard something about how "The good enough solution often becomes the permanent one." Oh well, meh.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Playful Porcupine

Does this mean that all other porcupines are lonely and misunderstood?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Skiing on waves

Another skiing post - amusing!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wow smoking is boss!

Where can I get a pack, I want to have those kinds of good times!

Friday, June 25, 2010


I had never heard of Ratatat before last night when Pandora thought to give them a spin for me. Enjoyable!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


62" DLP, thanks Craigslist!
From forweb

Thursday, June 17, 2010


To all of you who patiently listened while I explained how the rear hatch on my car had become heavy because water was leaking into it. I was wrong. So wrong that I drilled a small hole in the bottom of it and no water poured out wrong. So wrong I pulled the trunk trim off and had to take a look wrong. My Dad told me the gas struts on the hatch were blown a month or two ago at least. He was right, good job Dad. A pair of replacement gas struts on the way at a cost of $32 each. A hatch that stays up all by itself in my very near future.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

X-ray pin-ups

Haha, link pretty silly

Flying with Chase

This evening Chase invited me to ride along for some flying over Ventura County! Fun stuff, it had been about 8 years or so since the last time I was up in a small airplane. We checked the airplane out, took off from Camarillo and went a short distance over to Santa Paula. There we did a few landing and take offs with 3-4 other people doing the same. And then we flew over to the coast just west of Magu Rock. And then back to Camarillo for a few more landing and take offs. Here's the pics!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

PhD's bum deal

You knew you didn't want to become a grad student for 7 years, but you couldn't quite put your finger on it...

You laughed at The Simpson's jokes perhaps.

This _lengthy_ article lays out why PhD study is a bad deal for American grad students.

tl;dr summary: There is not shortage of scientifically trained persons in the USA, there is a shortage of research positions and adequately paying jobs. This is why American students are shunning the technical fields: it's a bad deal.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cool flight tool

Let's you see how far you can get for given dollar amount.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Seaside Florida

I spent the last week at a beach house a few miles east of Seaside Florida. I had a great time. It only rained when we first arrived, and only that night, and not during any of the days. The temperature was near ideal most of the week with it starting to warm up on Friday and Saturday. We thought we might get some oil from the big spill, but Louisiana is taking the brunt of that, not Florida at all. Coming home took close to 12 hours, and I guess my only complaint is that for traveling for 12 hours perhaps a more exotic local than Florida could be reached?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

1949 Harley 45

I got to ride the old Harley this weekend! This bike was my uncle's way back when, and my Dad recently brought it back to road worthy status. Really interesting to ride with the foot operated clutch and 3 speed hand shifter!

(click to play short video clip)

Monday, May 3, 2010

LA Galaxy Game for Kevin's Birthday

Fun times were had Saturday night at the Home Depot Center to celebrate Kevin's Birthday and watch some professional soccer. (My first time to a game, and also the first time I have watched a whole game, actually the first time I've watched anything more than highlights haha!) The LA Galaxy were playing the Philadelphia Union. I learned a bit about soccer from Kevin during the game. Apparently are only 3 substitutions allowed per team through out the 90 minute game. A dude from the The Union got a red card for pulling some stupid slide tackle move when the game had already stopped. From that point on The Union played a man down, I didn't realize that they wouldn't be able to sub another guy in. 8 of the players will be on the field for the full 90 minutes. Pretty crazy endurance! A good group turned out and Kevin's birthday package deal got us great seats. Although from the looks of it, it doesn't really seem like any of the seats are that bad. The stadium seemed smaller than when I was there for a concert a few years ago. I guess the grass looks smaller than rows and rows of thousands of chairs.

The LA Galaxy scored a goal in the first minute of the game, and were up by three by the end of the first half. They didn't seem to be struggling too much to retain control. The crowd was pretty mellow with the exception of the two "fan sections" that had drums and chants going back and forth between them. It would be fun to go to a sold out Chivas USA game where I imagine that enthusiasm spreads to the rest of the Stadium.

(Yay phone camera!)

A couple clips of the game, just to give a flavor for the stadium.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Will Rogers State Park - Backbone Trail Out and Back

I dusted off the MTB for a real ride this Sunday. Mike has a fancy new bike. So he's all about the MTB these days and will be dragging me up more hills in the very near future I'm sure. We decided on Will Roger's State Park, Backbone Trail that I had done once or twice before with Justin. We did it as an out and back, but it can be done as a loop. The parking is up to $12 at the State Park, a bit much if you got in the habit of doing the ride frequently. There is parking on the side of the road into the park so you can just add a bit of mileage to your ride and save some bucks. Their parking lot was nearly full so it's kind of hard to fault them too much for the price of entry I suppose.

We rode from the parking lot at the polo field past the horse corrals and then up the dirt path to the main fire rode. The backbone trail takes off from a kiosk with a useless map to the right shortly after you get onto the fire road. Pretty much up hill for 6.8 miles to "The Hub." Mike did a good bit of waiting for me. I was huffing and puffing quite a bit and by the top was starting to get a bit 'bonky'. Thank goodness the camel back was stocked with a couple of CLIF bars and a granola bar. What seamed like an excessive 3 bars this morning really paid off after 90 minutes of climbing. Our average speed ended up being 6.0 mph. When I did this ride with Justin 11/2007, we had an average speed of 6.9 mph. Not exactly progress. 14.03 miles at 6.0 mph and 2:20 of ride time by my bike computer.

The trail conditions are pretty good for most of it. But a nontrivial portion of the trail was severely over-grown with vegetation. Most of the time the trail was still visible but your legs were displacing a good 3-9 inches of vegetation on either side. That got old pretty quickly and was even somewhat painful at times. Mike already having open wounds on his shins wasn't all that impressed with that aspect of the trail. Check out the picture below for a section of the trail that was totally obscured by the vegetation. There are some really great sections on this trail that are smooth and covered in canopy. Also the descents are fun, though well suited for a bike with suspension as it is rocky in places.

Mike saw what he figured was a gopher snake near the top. It decided to put things into a leisurely reverse after Mike almost ran over him with his front tire. There were a few hikers and some other bike traffic but certainly not over crowded. Some of the hikers were happier to see us than others. Also there were fantastic views of the Santa Monica Beach and pier today. Definitely a trail worth checking out if you mountain bike in socal!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Animals you may not have seen before

Blob fish is ridiculous, link to unusual animal pics: here

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Death Valley and the Racetrack Playa

This weekend I headed out to Death Valley with some friends from work, and a few others who thought hanging out with my coworkers sounded like a fun time. Our plan was to meet up at Wildrose campground as our schedules allowed and then head into Death Valley and hopefully on to the Racetrack Playa.

tl;dr: yes you can make it out to Racetrack Playa in your family sedan. We made it fine with a Mazda 6, Prius, and Audi A4. We also saw a few Subarus and Toyota Carolla out there. Take extra precautions and pack extra supplies but don't let the hype scare you out of driving out there. Just go slowly. We had fun.

Friday night good times were had around the Campfire-In-A-Can. We were the most obnoxious group at the campground with our outbursts of laughter, but nobody actually yelled at us though so we must not have been that bad. Topics covered included how the tent 50 feet away looked like a Storm-Trooper, and that it would be cool if it sprouted mechanical spider legs and started moving around. Also for some reason unsavory internet memes from 3 years ago received unwarranted discussion. Anyway you get the idea, lots of laughs.

The Racetrack Playa, and specifically the drive out to the Racetrack Playa were debated ad nauseam. The road is rumored to be littered with razor rocks that will surely shred your tires.(tires were fine) Numerous web resources, and people within the park warn that you must have a high clearance 4x4,(not true) and that the washboard will break your suspension,(it didn't) and that the tow out is quite expensive due to AAA not covering you when you're off road. This discussion went around in circles for quite sometime. After making a compromise to leave some of our excess gear at Wildrose campground we headed out.

Link to map of our in park travels: google maps route

Video clip of the drive to Mosaic Canyon from wildrose (click to play):
From DeathValleyDrive

We hiked Mosiac Canyon and checked out some of the neat geology. We ate our picnic lunch at Stovepipe Wells and then went on to Scotty's Castle. We didn't take the tour at Scotty's Castle as we wanted to get on the road to the Playa before any more time passed. Doing it over again I wouldn't have hiked as far into Mosaic canyon and would have spent that time with an earlier start up to Scotty's Castle and the Racetrack. After one final debate about the road conditions we finally set out for the Racetrack Playa...

...and everything turned out better than expected. We took it slow, 5-25 mph averaging about 13mph. It took us a bit over 2 hours to cover the 27 miles on the way out. We were something of a motley crew as our carvan consisted of a Mazda 6 sedan, Prius, and my Audi A4 wagon. We were passed by several faster moving SUVs and jeeps, and Subaru WRX that wasn't concerned about taking it slow. But we plodded along at an even pace, and avoided the troublesome looking spots. The road is not that bad, really. Yes, if you go speeding along at 40mph you'll probably get a flat or break your suspension on the washboard sections. But if you can take your time you can even get a lowered Audi out there with just a few scraps along the floor boards as you pass over the higher rocks. I felt pretty comfortable about the drive esp after the first few miles, knowing that I had a full size spare, donut spare, full set of tools, and a tow strap helped as well. I also had the memories of what we did with our Oldsmobile station wagon in Baja back in the day, and the more recent memories of abusing Subaru's in the Walla Walla and Montana hills with cousin Brian. Normal cars can accomplish a lot if you're just a little bit careful with them.

Link to map of our in park travels: google maps route

We got to the Racetrack Playa and we all spread out in search of rocks with tracks. On the first attempt we didn't find anything too impressive. We had fun, walking around the lake bed, soaking in the setting, and then climbing on "the grandstand" rock formation in the middle of the playa. We drove to the south end of the playa and a guy there to do some serious photography told us that the rocks were way at the south end of the playa. By this time it was dark, and I only got a not so great picture of one of the rocks with a good trail with my flash on the point and shoot. Hopefully the others captured some good shots with their real cameras. We left a business card and granola bar for the photographer in hopes that he will email us some of his pics or maybe a link to his flickr profile. I was a little bit let down that I didn't get to see the rocks with good tracks in the light, but really just being out there and running around on the playa at night with all the stars out is a really fun time. Kevin and Missy cooked up an excellent spaghetti and broccoli dinner for all of us at the south end of the playa. Kevin has the foresight to bring a little extra food for dinner, and even after I foolishly attempted to talk him into cooking less of the spaghetti no body went hungry! Thanks again for handling the food Kevin!

We drove the 2 hours on the gravel road back out to Stovepipe Wells for gas, and then finally back to Wildrose Campground around 1:15am. Jeff and Mary split off to try a new campground out and then head to Badwater the next day. Thankfully the trip remained free of mechanical problems and everyone seemed to have a good time.

On Sunday morning we made some breakfast and my car headed home, while the others went on to hike Wildrose peak. Hopefully they had fun with that. It was a really fun trip, thanks to Jeff setting it in motion!

Frisbee on the Grandstand clip: here

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hard landing

When the airplane is flying really terribly probably good to just call it a day instead of trying to fly anyway. Oops.

Laptop Fan

Tonight I decided was a good night for unclogging my laptop fan. It had been increasingly apparent that the fan on my laptop was not at all effective. The fan would run and little to no air would come out the heat sink. Also the laptop was getting really hot. And no one likes hot keyboard sweaty palms. Tonight the do-something-productive-while-you-procrastinate program involved tearing into my laptop at 1AM. 70 minutes start to finish, not too bad and it still works when I put it back together. It runs cooler and the fan is only running when needed now!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

Leaks and sparks

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The above shows a hose barely holding on to the water pump inlet. The hose clamps work better on the ends of the hose than the middle. It's no wonder it was leaking coolant (98% water by this point). This car keeps trying to teach me that one shouldn't put off fixes to nagging problems. I drove around for about 2 months with the hose barely hanging on. Granted I was keeping the driving in town for the most part because I knew there was a problem. But I got lucky that this didn't let lose on the freeway or somewhere inconvenient. Fix it right when you know something is wrong! The car is back together this time hopefully with all hose clamps in place and with the additional piece of mind that the radiator flanges are not cracked as I was lead to believe is common with the plastic radiator tanks. Perhaps the coolant leak gremlin has finally been slain?

Now I'm on to the intermittent missing problem. Occasionally, the Audi will misfire badly while driving under light to moderate load. Occasionally is once every 7-10 days or so. Going up a gentle hill, or even slowly accelerating on a flat stretch the engine misses with applied accelerator, and the check engine light blinks, indicating a misfire. I'm 90% certain that it is electrical, likely this means that it is a clogged fuel filter. It has some goofy 3 pronged spark plugs installed, that the previous owner was bragging about installing 2.5 years and 50k miles ago. (said previous owner is a rather ham-fisted mechanic however, and installed them 'real tight' with no anti-sieze, I was afraid the first one was going to come out with the treads attached ... not that I have much room to talk now that I go around leaving hose clamps off). I can't tell if these plugs are worn out or what. The gap isn't adjustable, but the gap seams very large, well over 0.032". Not sure how long they were supposed to last. The safe first step seems like replacing the spark plugs. Before replacing the $200 coil/pack ignition module combo. I went to Kragen with a spark plug part number from the audiforums scribbled down, and he told me that it was a $1.99 plug and 'not for my car' He said the recommended plugs were the Bosch Platinums that are $8.99 each. I should have just purchased them and been done with it. Now I'm being cheap. But. He got all "salesy" on me, and if there's one thing I hate it is a patronizing sales pitch. I have an irrational revulsion to being 'sold' anything, and he attempted to 'sell me' on the plugs. Proceeding to tell me how "These Audi engines aren't are your normal engine and that they need a hotter spark and a high performance plug and that you shouldn't just put cheap junk in there because it was a blah blah blah." He had to work on Easter and has to put up with jokers like me not wanting to pay and extra $20 for the spark plugs because they read some nonsense on a forum posted by some know-it-all college kid. That being said a poorly executed sales pitch keeps my wallet firmly in pocket, and apparently drives me to the internet to talk about it. Anyhow, moving on, I didn't buy any thing and now I need to figure out what spark plugs I really want / need. Again I'm sure the $8.99 would have been fine and I could have moved on to replacing the other components before I get around to changing that fuel filter that is likely the cause of these electrical problems.

At least one of the online suppliers shows that the installed plugs are same as what they sell as replacement plugs for my car. So maybe they really are the correct plug for the car. Ham-fisted or not the previous owner probably at a minimum purchased one of the recommended plugs and didn't just pick something at random.

Cylinder 1 picture below is what is reported by the computer as missing most frequently.

Cylinder 4 actually looks worse?

Friday, April 2, 2010

I'm Debt Free!

I paid off my student loan that I started accumulating approximately 11 years ago. Dave Ramsey would be so proud! I used to make the argument that I was doing better by putting the money in the savings account with a higher interest rate than the loan that only had a 1.85% rate. I think it has been well over a year since the savings accounts had anything near that 'high' of a return. Time to just pay it off and be done with it. Feels good I guess?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sci-fi super fan reference chart

amusing chart here

Inside a 4-stroke engine

A peak inside the combustion chamber. I expected more advance on the spark...

link from here

Content aware fill

This is rather amazing.

And then the internet pranksters got a hold of it

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

OK Go, Rube Goldberg!

The name of the song is "This too shall pass" but that is pretty much irrelevant.They actually made two video for it appears... Marching Band in this link here, and the sweet Rube Goldberg machine below.

A-pod robot

Two scoops of servos and a dash of creepy with the fluid movements!

Al logs on to Chat Roulette

Al is short for Albert Einstein, Al the turtle lacks the cognitive abilities of his name sake, but he is rather successful on the internet. Late Friday night I pointed the webcam at his tank and fired up chat roulette for a little while with AMUSING RESULTS.

Within 3 connections this gentleman was thoroughly amused to be talking with a turtle.

After waiting for chatrt to respond for awhile (it seems to be having some issues with the traffic) and then clicking through some unsavory characters. Al was connected with this guy who was sitting on his couch stroking his beard looking like someone who was wanting to look like an intellectual. He actually got up off the couch to come to the keyboard and chat.

Al makes people smile.

This was pretty late night so Al started getting connected with people in Asia and Europe, not sure where this guy was but others were in the UK and France. People were willing to chat for a surprisingly long time.

This guy had the feed looped back around to just display whatever people had on their webcam back at them and then he would apply effects humorously... The fireball effect was clever I thought.

This guy is enjoying chat roulette before it becomes too popular to be cool anymore

This guy is a sociology and economics instructor in France


This is still most of what Al saw, some dude, would pop up for about a second and half, and then hit next. It was really remarkable how much the turtle breaks the ice though. People without cameras would ask about Al, others would look for a handful of seconds and give a thumbs up and then move on. But if you actually want to connect with strangers on the internet it appears that you need to be a hot chick, or be a pet turtle.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

High-frequency trading

Surprisingly this isn't about electronics. It's about the stock market, I found the article interesting and informative.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Slime Molds

This guy likes taking macro shots of slime mold. (So much so that he's possibly OFOM?)
Cool pictures! HERE!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chat Roulette Explained

In this post I attempt to keep myself and you up to date with what is going on with the internet these days.

chat roulette from Casey Neistat on Vimeo.

(the BSoD background on the Apple is a bit obnoxious in my opinion)

Kermit Art

From here

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I saw this picture linked on reddit.

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Donald Knuth programming a computer in 1958 it says. No Mt. Dew or salt and vinegar potato chips to fuel the late night programming sessions back in the day it appears. Knuth is super influential in computer science, mostly in algorithms. And he's kind of interesting character from what I gather. The wikipedia article on him has some interesting tidbits. Maybe if I ever get around to reading and wrapping my head around his books I'll also be able to say that "Knuth is my homeboy". Jason has probably earned that t-shirt by now, I think he's working his way through the books.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

For your background

Cool pics of earth from NASA: here

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Only funny on the internet

Shortening links is so 2007. 2010 is all about making them unclickably suspicious and creepy.

Mt. McCoy Stats

Logged the hike today using "My Tracks" Android app on my phone.
(data may be corrupted slightly because I forgot to shut off the logging at the bottom)

Total Distance: 3.44 km (2.1 mi)
Total Time: 34:14
Moving Time: 24:57
Average Speed: 6.05 km/h (3.8 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 8.27 km/h (5.1 mi/h)
Max Speed: 50.40 km/h (31.3 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 193 m (632 ft)
Max Elevation: 373 m (1224 ft)
Elevation Gain: 184 m (604 ft)
Max Grade: 0 %
Min Grade: -5 %
Recorded: Thu Feb 18 12:15:50 PDT 2010

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lunch time hike

Some of the guys at work are training to hike Mt. Whitney this summer. Lunchtime hikes at Mt. McCoy in Simi Valley provide some mid day exercise by climbing up the steep trails and going down the switchbacks route. Not sure why there is a gigantic concrete cross at the top? Next time I'll log the route with 'my tracks' and post the google earth image. Click pics for larger images.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Ferrari Goat

I would like to meet these people that own this Ferrari parked out in the snow with goat climbing it. And I wonder if it was the owner that snapped this picture...

Click through source for larger image:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

On feeling dumb

I saw this article: here, linked to on a reddit thread: here for the comments. It talks about feeling like a fraud when you receive praise and why one might feel that way. I think it makes a nice point, but the unimaginative use of profanity detracts a bit.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lunchtime RC

I nice day for flying at lunchtime today! I need to post a picture of "The Tiger Moth" which is the plane that is "mine" though the only part of it that I have purchased for it is the receiver. In a successful ploy by Russ, foreground left first picture, he has gifted me the plane full of his components to get me hooked, and then he will slowly retrieve parts from it for his projects eventually causing me to purchase replacements for myself along the way. Good timesQ (Click to embiggen the pics)

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Video clips by Wondermark

These 3 video clips, are worth a watch.

Pics from home

Nephews at 1/3, 2, and 4 years. 4 years was making a game of not being photographed.

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