Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Taupo 1000, a few more pictures

New Zealand Taupo 1000 2011

Okay, after not posting anything for ages i thought I better post somethng about the Taupo 1000 race we just had over here in NZ.

Here's a Few pictures i took over the weekend

The two day race was won overall by Australian Brad Prout in his 6L chevy jimco buggy, Local boy Rana Horan gave him a run for his money, qualifying 1st overall, and leading the start of the race.

However Rana had trouble when he smashed a rim which went onto do damage to the shocks and brakes, he wasn't able to recover enough time in the end and finished 3rd overall.

Monday, August 29, 2011

F1 Update: Belgian Grand Prix

As the eleventh round of 17 races in the 2011 F1 season the Red Bull/Infiniti teams of Sebastian Vettel and Marc Webber looked to get back on top after what had been a bit of a mid-year downturn for the team.

Yes they were still #1 and #2 in the overall standings and had dominated the series thus far but other teams (Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso) had been clawing their way back.

This weekend's results slammed that door shut with Vettel and Webber finishing first and second at the Spa-Francorchamps track.  It was another dominating performance by Vettel who never looked pressured at any point while the Red Bull pit crews continued to get their vehicles in and out in series best times.

Infiniti must be doing cartwheels over getting on board this unstoppable train in the most exclusive and high profile motorsport in the world.

A full recap is here: Autoblog Belgian Grand Prix recap...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lots of Rally Nissans For Sale!

Lets look at a bunch of Rally (Stage and Raid) cars/trucks that are currently for sale shall we?  Of course these are all over in Europe, but if you've got the cash to buy one maybe you have the cash to have it shipped over here.  There are certainly some interesting vehicles here!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back in 2003 There was a Storm Called Isabel...

And it was big.  Real big.  It reached maximum sustained winds of 165 mph.  And it was VERY predictable in its path with all computer models pointing to the same track and landfall location some 4 to 5 days in advance of its predicted landfall.

So it was that I turned to my wife and said "I'm going to go drive into that Hurricane to see what its like".

In retrospect it probly wasn't the brightest idea but I had spent numerous vacations on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and had been evacuated a number of times before for hurricanes.  This time I wanted to go there and stay and experience it myself.

I bring this up as the Hurricane Irene is projected to at least skirt the Outer Banks if not hit them directly and is now seen as making landfall along the RI/CT border on a day of astrologically high tides.

My trip to Isabel was successful.  I drove down in a single day watching thousands of cars stream in the opposite direction I was heading, crashed at a (concrete structure) hotel.  As the waves got bigger, the sky got darker and the wind stronger I headed out to a bar/restaurant where all the TV people who had flooded the area were hanging out and wandered around piers, streets and houses that would soon be turned to piles of sticks and stones.

I would survive the hurricane and witness the damage done and end up being separated from all my belongings (left in my hotel room as I was cut off by police and flooding) and have to have them mailed back to me in NH a few weeks later.  I waited in line for gas for my truck for an hour at the only gas station in 70+ miles that I could find that was operating.  My truck (still my truck to this day, a '00 Nissan Xterra) waded through saltwater flooding up to the windshield (no lie) without an issue.  I saw a dead sea turtle larger that the hood of my vehicle and houses floated out to sea.  It was truly an experience I will never forget and glad that I had.

I am looking forward to this Hurricane Irene as it heads towards where I live in New Hampshire.  From the safety of my own home.

Nissan Kicks Toyota's Ass...at Twitter...

Nissan just showed Toyota how far behind the curve they might be in terms of knowing how to operate in the social media world we now find ourselves in.

Toyota was unveiling its newly remodeled Camry this week and announced that it would be revealing this new model via Twitter.  What they didn't bother to do was to lock up the term "Camry" on Twitter.  So what does Nissan do?  It goes out and buys the search term "Camry" on Twitter so that every time someone punches in the word "Camry" to search for in Twitter, what comes up?  A bunch of Nissan info and tweets that Nissan wants you to see and NOT the newly remodeled Camry.

Brilliant...simply brilliant...
Nissan outmaneuvers Toyota on Twitter...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Film Review: The Social Network

I have loved virtually everything David Fincher has put his mind to over the years.  Specifically his movies.  Lets list them shall we?

Alien 3, Seven, The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Not a stinker in the bunch.  No, not even Alien 3 which I find to be highly underrated.  He may be, along with Ridley Scott, one of my favorite directors working today.

So I was very excited to see The Social Network which has received the best critical acclaim of any of Fincher's films to date.

With the screenplay done by Aaron Sorkin the dialogue is quick and witty, though not to the point of being confusing and carries many similarities to Sorkin's work on Sports Night (still a favorite of mine) and A Few Good Men.

Jesse Eisenberg takes the role of Mark Zuckerberg and plays it well.  Eisenberg was likely born to play this role as he has a way with playing Jewish nerds with little social skills.  I really can't stand Eisenberg in anything else I've seen him in but here, he is both detestable and pathetic.  A perfect mix for playing Zuckerberg.

Which gets me to my primary point about this film.  If you're over 50 you likely won't have much interest in this film.  Actually, I should rephrase that.  If you're not up on the developments within social media, Facebook in particular and the amazing story that is behind Facebook, you likely won't have much interest in this film.

The Social Network is a film about and created by a particular generation of America.  25 years from now people will look at this film and story and likely care less.  Zuckerberg, his friends, his enemies and his investors are, for the most part, self indulgent douchebags.  They're either so focused on coding and computers during the creation of their product or they are so self-deluded into thinking they've changed the world they they have no connection with what's really important.  Yup, Zuckerberg created Facebook which has some ungodly number of members.  Whooopeee...He took the "Partyline" telephone service and moved it to the Internet.  Great...Let me know when this cures cancer, creates world peace or figures out how to travel faster than light.

All that being said, this is still a very good film.  Fincher's directing is top notch, the pacing fantastic, and the editing between the two lawsuits and actions they resulted from are beautifully spliced together.  The film retains Fincher's typical high contrast lighting style with lots of blacks and shadows and nighttime scenes.

Justin Timberlake continues to reform himself in my mind after his stint as a Mickey Mouse Club member, boyfriend of Britney Spears and singer (?) in NSYNC.  Timberlake has continued to keep out of the press and just build his resume through solid performances in good films.  As Sean Parker Timberlake is the ultimate in cool bad boy--yet Timberlake still shows his weak side when he flinches and cowers, unable to stand up for himself in a scene late in the film.  Timberlake is due for a staring role in a sci-fi film later this year and I think he will carry it well.

I'm not sure The Social Network was the best film of 2010 (as many people claimed it to be) as it simply doesn't have any real emotional resonance that stays with you.  Nor does it explore any issue or figure in any sort of in depth manner.  In the end, its much like its topic (Facebook)--a good looking diversion for a portion of time, but mostly superficial and without depth.

Logo for New NISMO Stuff Racing Tshirt...

So this is the start of the logo for my upcoming "NISMO Stuff Racing" tshirt.

The tshirt with be very simple with only this logo printed on it, a short saying and maybe the website address.

The original tshirt I did for the effort about a year and a half ago was OK, but the quality of both the tshirt and the printing was only acceptable and not quite what I wanted.

This shirt will be much simpler and cleaner.  Look forward to them being available in the next month or so.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Obama Pushes Work Permits for Illegals....What????


Despite the U.S. currently reflecting unemployment of well over 9% (actually MUCH higher as this only counts the people actually LOOKING for work and not those who have given up or run out of unemployment benefits) the Obama administration today announced that it no longer wishes to pursue deporting illegal aliens who have "not committed a crime and aren't considered a threat to public safety" to remain in the U.S. indefinitely and additionally give them the aforeto prohibited right to apply for a worker's permit!

First off, I'd like to point out that on the face of this statement there is a glaring problem.  Stating that they don't want to pursue deportations for those illegals who haven't committed a crime is impossible by its own definition.  They are illegals and have already committed a crime by setting foot on American soil illegally and therefore have committed a crime the moment they get here!  Pay that no mind though, the current administration wouldn't want to alienate (use of the word intentional) any more Hispanic voters as it knows it needs them in droves to get re-elected.

Which is really what this move is all about.  Evidently the politicos have decided that pandering to the Hispanic voters in the U.S. is more important than showing the overall American public that the administration is working to get employment down.  Afterall, if you were looking to lower unemployment for American citizens would you suddenly add a massive new number of available workers to the pool of those looking for jobs?  Not only that but this essentially gives illegals all over the world even more incentive to come here and take jobs away from Americans.  Obama is saying--Hey, as long as you don't stab anyone, you are free to enter our country illegally and then get a work permit to try and get a job!  I know if I lived in the Sudan, Bolivia or Mongolia, coming to the U.S. even without a job here I'd be better off than staying where I was--Plus...Hey!!  Free health care!!

But, then again, this is our own fault.  This is what you get when you devolve into a country of takers instead of givers.  With fully 50% of the nations population not paying a SINGLE cent of Federal Income tax, over 50 million (that's 1 out of 6) people in the country on food stamps and 1 in 3 children living in a household where NEITHER parent has a job...well...when you don't demand better, you won't get better...

US Alters Policy on Deporting Illegals 8/19....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Living Fossil Found!

This time in the waters of Palau in the Pacific. While not quite as prehistoric looking as the Ceolocanth the newly found eel (dubbed Protoanguilla palau) it carries with it traits not seen for many millions of years.

Unique characteristics heretofore only seen in the ancient fossil record that this new eel possesses include having fewer than 90 vertebrae and collar like gill openings. Again, it always fills me with hope and good feelings to know that not everything has been discovered and not everything is known. If an animal such as this can exist to this day without even have been suspected of existing, I can only imagine what else lies out there waiting to be found.

Monday, August 15, 2011

BPA Scare Is a Farce...

So the whole fiasco over BPA was a fraud.  So glad my wife just threw away about $100 worth of baby bottles and such right when we are about to have a newborn.

Turns out the human body doesn't retain BPA and it excretes it as waste almost immediately.  Unfortunately the press and (for some reason) the government don't want to tout what is being called one of the most scientifically pure and accurate studies done in recent memory.  Hell, it was even funded in part and assisted by the EPA, CDC and US Food & Drug Admin. themselves!

You can read about the study in the below linked article which is in easy to read English and not medical study jargon but to boil it down, scientists fed a group of human volunteers an extremely high level of BPA carrying food items while testing their blood and urine.  Turns out, the BPA all came out in the urine and remained at undetectable levels in the blood.  This is simplifying the study but you get the idea.  The study was double checked and passed around the scientific community to see if they could blow holes in its findings or methodology and they couldn't with some calling it a "Majestically Scientific" study.

So now that the Feds paid for in part and helped run the study that debunks the "scare" that was drummed up by a bunch of Enviro-wackos (I believe deriving from the UK) and put a number of companies out of business and filled our dumps with cast off baby and Nalgene bottles you'd think they might want to correct public perception.  Nope.  In fact I bet this is the first your hearing about this and no one you know has heard of this either.  I'll go further.  I'll bet you continue to believe BPA is harmful and won't voice an opinion otherwise publicly for fear of people looking at you strange for saying such a thing because everyone KNOWS BPA is harmful and causes baby boys to grow breasts and such.  Just a reminder of how we all get brainwashed so quickly and won't move back toward the truth even when its staring us in the face.

Federal Study on BPA...
WSJ Editorial on new BPA study...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Don't Have to Wait Long for Me in this Video...

And its in HD too!  Video of my truck is the first one in the full nine minutes here.  The NISMO Stuff Frontier doesn't appear again so if you're just looking for me, well, you can replay the first 17 seconds or so over and over again!  Can't wait to get some more video at Black River Stages...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Vampire Bat Kills Illegal Alien...

Or at least that SHOULD be the title to this story.

But its not.  Instead we have the story of a poor Mexican "migrant worker" who travelled thousands of miles with an infectious disease, crossed the border (I'm guessing illegally) and then used our medical system to receive treatment (likely well in excess of $100,000) and then dies here.


While I applaud his work ethic (god knows there are several million voluntarily unemployed Americans who could learn from his example), I would love for the media to state the facts rather than twisting the words to be politically correct.

First Vampire Bat Death on American Soil...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Toyota Tacoma Headed for Record at the South Pole...

Riding on 44" high Dick Cepek tires this heavily modified Toyota Tacoma will attempt--on the 100th anniversary of the South Pole being reached--to reach the Pole faster than any other ground based expedition has.

Taking a stock Tacoma and sending it off to Iceland for some modifications the Thomson Reuters Eikon team now has a truck with solar panels a wind turbine, thick insulation and numerous other goodies set to tackle Antarctica this December.

Given batteries substantial performance decline in cold weather, it will be a long time before we see an "electric vehicle" record likely to match the one to be put up by this one.

Popular Mechanics article on South Pole bound Toyota Tacoma...

Couple Videos of NISMO Stuff Racing Frontier in Action...

Its only a couple and not very long and not very exciting...but I'll take what I can get--especially given how few runs I got in this past weekend before wrecking out...First video is very short and just of the NISMO Stuff Frontier going around a corner up the hill and the second is long and shows lots of other vehicles with the NISMO Stuff Frontier showing up at 1:05 of the video and displaying what I believe was my second and final launch of the day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Okemo II Hillclimb Event--The Results...

Well, what is the saying??

I think it goes "Racers fall into one of two categories.  Those who HAVE crashed and those who WILL crash."

While I can't exactly claim to have "crashed" this weekend, I did have what rally drivers like to refer to as an "off".

The pictures found here are of one of my two runs up the mountain that I was able to make on Saturday.  In truth my two runs were quite decent and virtually identical to one another and extremely similar (all within 1 second) to my three runs made on the Sunday of the Okemo I event.  I realistically don't know how much more time I can get out of the vehicle and my current skill set.  Somewhere around the 3:25 mark is the near the best I can do at the moment.

Unfortunately I never made it to Sunday's race as on what was my third and final Saturday practice run (and it is practice in name only, I was running full out and actually running my fastest attempt of the day per the timing breakdowns) I made a poor decision which cost me the rest of the weekend and has put the NISMO Stuff Frontier in my garage awaiting parts.

Approaching the second to last corner of the hillclimb I felt that I was having a really solid run and decided to get greedy.  Seeing some grass and a mass of low weeds on the inside of the fast right hand turn my mind to all of a fraction of a second to decide that--yes, I can cut that corner about a foot or two tighter than I usually would as my truck would just breeze through the grass and weeds and I'd gain a few tenths of a second in time.

I hit my line at about 45 mph and cut into the grass and tall weeds right where I intended and my foot on the floor.  Then...WHAM...CRUNCH...

What I discovered after the NISMO Stuff Frontier ground to a halt some 50 yards later and 100 yards from the finish, was that my passenger side front wheel had clipped a large boulder that had been disguised within the tall weeds.  Upon impact with said boulder my wheel and tire had been snapped violently sideways and in the process ripped my tierod out of its steering rack, snapped the 7/8 hardened steel shaft of my front coilover shock like a twig and shattered the lower eye of the identical shock.  Once this occurred there ceased to be a "carrier" for the coils that hold up the front of the vehicle which lurched to the right and downward on top of the tire (which somehow still holds air to this moment despite the impact to itself and the rim of the forged wheel currently exhibiting a large gouge in its edge) and brought the truck to a rapid halt.

My first thought was that I had hit something and the tire had gone down to the rim.  That would have been an easy fix.  Unfortunately the truck was not repairable at the event.  I and the Frontier were towed unceremoniously down the mountain where I proceeded to call every NAPA, Pep Boys, AutoZone, etc. in the VT/NH area looking for an inner tierod in the hopes that I could replace it, get my steering back, put the passenger side suspension up on some urethane blocks and limp her home.  It was not to be.  No one it seems, stocks INNER tierod ends for Frontiers/Xterras/Pathfinders etc.  Live and learn right?  Next event I'll have a spare.

So a fellow competitor by the name of Anthony Burden with whom I am attending Black River Stages rally in late September kindly allowed me to use his AAA card in order to get 100 miles of free towing and get darn close to home without paying a dime on a flatbed.  The NISMO Stuff Frontier currently is stripped of all her broken parts and all replacement parts are on their way only two days later.  I hope to turn her around rather quickly and get some testing in on gravel roads in the near future.

Photos are courtesy of Steve at Vermont Racing.com and more can be found here:  http://vermontracing.com/1/index.php?album=hill%2F2011_okemo_2