Thursday, June 27, 2013

Is Gum Biodegradable?

So I was spitting out my gum on the way home from work today and my son asks me if I was littering.  I never thought of discarding my gum in this way as littering.  Inside a building?  Sure.  On the underside of a desk?  Completely gross and definitely littering of one kind or another.

But down the road?  I always figured my gum would degrade over time and disappear.  Looking on the Internet it appears I am correct...correct over the very long term...but correct nonetheless.  Many sources claim that gum isn't biodegradable but they are making a short time period based observation.  Gum is certainly not biodegradable like a banana peel is.  The latex, plastic and/or gum in your gum degrade over very long periods of time and some reports even have it being compostable.  It will take decades or longer for gum, left alone in an outdoor environment. to degrade...but it will eventually do so...

Cities and countries spend millions and millions every year cleaning up sidewalks and subways and such from carelessly disposed gum so don't just spit it out anywhere but if you happen to spit it out on the highway don't feel too guilty about it.  The number of tires that run over it and reduce it to smaller and smaller particles should actually accelerate the degrading process...but the environment will be better off if you dispose of it in a landfill and there will be less of a chance of your
Think Green Live Clean...
Hot Bin Composting...

NISMO Juke RS Confirmed For 2014

Multiple sources are reporting that evidently Nissan is not content to leave the Juke alone.  Nissan has confirmed that it will offer a Nissan NISMO Juke RS in 2014.  This will be in addition to your base Juke, the NISMO Juke and the ultra expenssive Juke R.

The NISMO RS will fall somewhere short of the Juke R and its GT-R driveline but will reportedly see a substantial boost in power over the 215 hp present in the NISMO Juke and may even see a different engine entirely than the 1.6L turbo seen in the lower two models.  Additionally the RS will see a more extensive aero kit than the regular NISMO version possesses.

While this won't get you to full Juke-R status it certainly will be one of the most radical autos out there and would just be SO begging to be flogged in the dirt.

NISMO Juke RS confirmed for '14

Sunday, June 23, 2013

NISMO Stuff Racing Frontier--ON THE DYNO!!

Well now here is something unexpected.

As a team we always believe that the more information we have the better off we are.  So the opportunity to get hard data on the performance of our engine for a relatively low cost could not be passed up.

Kinetic Motor Works in Hampstead, NH, some 15 minutes away from our home, had an open house that included access to their dyno and a deal for $50 for three pulls on their dyno vs. the standard $125 for the hour or so it takes from setup to exit.

Kinetic specializes in Subarus, Hondas and Mitsus for the most part and most of cars on hand were certainly of the road/drag variety though they did have on Ford Focus shell that had been caged and is moving towards a stage rally life.

Following a 490 hp (at the wheels) Toyota Supra and a 300+ hp Audi S4 the NISMO Stuff Frontier was not of interest for its potential results on the fact it was likely one of the lowest hp vehicles ever to be measured on their machine--but at least its height made strapping it down a breeze!!

My biggest concern going into the test was that some 1200+ hard driven stage miles might have caused some sort of internal damage to the engine and reduced its already meager horsepower and left me facing large bill for an engine rebuild. Post dyno test my only concern surrounds how to eek some additional power out of the engine.

As a starting point, Nissan reports that the 2.5L 4 cyl should produce 152 hp at 5,200 rpm and 171 ft. lb. of torque at 4,400 rpm--at the crank.  Over the three pulls the engine produced very consistent results all within 1.5 hp of each other and averaged 132 hp at the wheels at 5100 rpm.  Assuming the "standard" (yes I know this is an inexact method but I'm not pulling the engine to put it on an engine dyno and 15% appears to be the typical rule of thumb) 15% loss of power for a manual between the crank and the wheels this puts the vehicle at 151.8 hp--pretty damn close its original numbers.

Torque is more of an estimate as the only torque readout is done at the same point as the peak hp.  That being said, peak torque appears to be about 148 ft. lb. at the wheel at about 4150 rpm.  With the 15% loss applied this brings the torque number back to 170.2 ft. lbs.  Its scary how using the 15% figure brings both the torque and hp #s right back to near EXACTLY where they were from the factory.

I am now satisfied that the engine is in solid condition and perhaps ready for a few performance upgrades as there has been NOTHING, outside of the removal of the muffler from the truck, done to improve overall speed and power.  Additionally, I now have a great baseline from a machine and shop I hope to use going forward and gauge what the changes we implement do for the overall performance of the vehicle.  Stay tuned (all puns intended here).

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rallye Saguenay 2013, SS1, Spalinger/Dennis

This is the first external, long form video of a stage that I have captured for the team.  We have had prior video capture capabilities but I have not gotten my hands on the files or recorded them on a device I personally owned.

The video was captured on a ReplyXD 720 via a roof mounted position.  The video is available to watch in HD if you wish but is shown here in low defininition. The external microphone makes a mess of any audio in the video as you hear only the wind and such for the most part.

SS1 was a tight and rough (for the rally cars at least) stage.  We were slow due to driver caution and lack of confidence.  The truck itself performed well with no issues of any kind.  Dust was really bad if you closed with the rear of anyone which you can see we did not do here...

2014 Nissan Rogue Spotted!!

 Heavily camouflaged but still exhibiting a sleeker, lower form--much like the Infiniti crossovers, the next gen Rogue also looks a bit longer as well.  The Rogue has been a big seller for Nissan in the US and this looks to continue with this model giving consumers more of what they like about it as a small-ish, inexpensive-ish wagon without wagon looks.

In Canada and elsewhere this will likely be dubbed the "X-Trail" or "Dualis" replacing a more rugged model in those markets and streamlining another section of Nissan's product line.  These photos were taken in Death Valley during hot weather testing--thus the need for the Uhaul trailer to put additional stress on the vehicle in real world conditions.  Additionally, the next generation Rogue will reportedly have a hybrid gas/electric drive option--a first for a Nissan SUV/crossover I believe.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lego Model of Hayabusa Probe

Legos are not just kids toys.  With their architectural series covering famous buildings (Sears Tower, Frank Lloyd Wright houses, etc.) and legions of dedicated fans around the world making ever more complex projects, Legos have expanded their reach well beyond the Cartoon Network demographic.

A primary example is found with the Lego CUUSOO website where people can vote on projects that Lego may build.

The second Lego product to be produced this way is the Hayabusa Probe.  This Japanese probe was the first spacecraft to fly to an asteroid, land and return a sample of said asteroid to the Earth using an ion thruster for propulsion.

The Lego version looks like a true collectors item and includes a figure representative of the probe's project manager.  This would look great on your desk and is a great way to learn about some of our world's more overlooked space endeavors.

Buy Lego Hayabusa Probe...
Hayabusa Probe Wiki...

Which brings us to the second part of this post and what got me aware of the aforementioned to begin with.  The Lego CUUSOO program has announced that the next model to be produced will be the Curiosity Rover.  Already wandering around Mars, the Lego Rover will look similar to the one pictured here (this was the proposed model, Lego will create the final version).

It appears that geeks all over the world should rejoice and prepare to pilot their own rover around the Red Planet in the very near future!  A collection of these realworld space program related Legos would be cool to see--a great teaching tool for kids and adults as well.

Lego CUUSOO Curiosity Rover page...

Nissan Titan R/C Body

There have been a few R/C bodies out there that have kinda/sorta been Nissan related--see the Chad Hord and Carl Renezeder and Casey Currie bodies for their respective Traxxas/Team Associated vehicles but I don't believe any of them actually had the Nissan logo nor did the Nissan front grille and headlights in a proper manner.

This Nissan Titan body by JCONCEPTS which should fit almost all 1/10 size R/C short course trucks, is done perfectly here with the proper logo and design.  $43 seems a tad steep but its in the ballpark with the other bodies out there.  I might just have to get one for my Slash to keep in line with my real Nissan race truck.  The only thing I have an issue with is the "fins" on the back.  I wish they had kept it flat like the real versions.  Reality beats aero in this case.  JCONCEPTS offers two versions of this body--one being a lighter, less durable version for experienced drivers.

Nissan Patrol "Safari Edition"?

This is not a production model...but then again, in Dubai, anything goes.  Looks like someone chopped the top off the previous generation Nissan Patrol and turned it into a "Safari" style vehicle.  The work looks good but I wouldn't want that open top with all the delicate electronics and interior accouterments the way they are.  That will last about 15 minutes on a real safari.  It does look like it has come straight from the shop that did the work however as there is still plastic wrapping on the headrests.  Ahhh...the benefits of FU money...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Subaru Brumby Finishes the 2013 Finke Desert Race...

What you have here is a Subaru Brumby.  I honestly have no idea what a Subaru Brumby is.  Some kind of Subaru Brat for Australia?

It is listed as having a 2000cc Subaru engine so it appears they have kept it true to the original though I don't know if that bull bar or extra large tires are "stock" accessories.

This Brumby, #811, ran in and finished the very recent, two day, 2013 Finke Desert Race.  For those not in the know, the Finke is the Baja 1000 of Australia and sees the best of the best in offroad racing gear up for it.

Piloting #811 is Stuart Zlotkowski of Settlement Creek Racing (Facebook page with lots of more pics of the Brumby here:  The astonishing thing is this vehicle not only finished the race but finished in 43rd position out of 99 entries with vehicles like $200K+ Geiser Trophy Trucks and $100K+ Jimco buggies DNFing and not making it to the end.

Finke Desert Race...

Monday, June 10, 2013

1.5 Million Pounds of Thrust...

That's what this video is of.  Well, actually its video of the Falcon F9-R (R for "reusable") and its first long duration test (some 2 minutes or so).  While on the ground (at sea level) it produces a million pounds of thrust in the vacuum of space this increases to 1.5MM.  While this is well short of NASA's Saturn rockets (+/-7.7MM pounds) and Russia's N1 (+/- 10MM pounds though never successfully launched) it is an impressive feat for a commercial company and will be used in tandem at a later date for SpaceX's missions.  The reusable distinction will also greatly bring down the costs of SpaceX programs and allow for an even further undercut of current space delivery costs.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Food Review: Dunkin Donuts Bacon, Egg & Cheese on a Glazed Donut

I knew this was a joke of a sandwich going in.  While D&D has test marketed it in the Boston area for some time before going national with it today it always seemed more like a PR stunt than an actual long term product offering.

On the face of it the idea of an egg and cheese on a glazed donut sandwich sounds like it might be a good idea.  Heck, my "go to" order at D&D is a bacon egg and cheese on a plain bagel, a glazed donut and a medium black French Vanilla.  So why not just cut some costs and time and slap the donut in place of the bagel?!?!?

Cause the flavors don't add up to a better experience when mashed together.  Mashed together might be OK in my stomach but not on my tongue.

First of all the sandwich doesn't look like that nice one in the picture above.  Its far more like the one in the picture below.  The process of cutting the glazed donut in half crumbles up the glaze and smooshes the whole donut.  The bacon is not exactly plentiful and the egg is all the whites of the egg, minimal to no yolk in mine.

The taste? first it was odd.  The mix of the SUPER sweet donut with the salty and slimy almost rubbery egg was almost shocking to the tongue.  The sugar seemed to overpower all the rest and did not go well with the overall texture.  Little of the egg or bacon taste came through.  After the oddity of it all wears off with the first bite or two the taste becomes downright unpleasant.  I didn't hate the sandwich but I definitely won't be ordering it again.  The cost savings of going from two items to a single one doesn't outweigh the benefit of keeping these tastes separate.  This sandwich gets an "avoid" rating from me.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Review: Into the Silence by Wade Davis

I've read a good deal of non-fiction over the past few years, a lot of it revolving around military history and another good portion of it around outdoor adventures.  Into the Silence covers both topics and covers them in a manner better than any work I've come across.

Truly a staggering achievement, Davis' book was seemingly marketed toward the Into Thin Air crowd--not that there is anything wrong with that--but this book covers so much more than just Mallory and Irvine's ill fated attempt at Everest in 1924.

It covers not only the 1924 expedition but the series of exploratory expeditions and attempts in the years leading up to the 1924 edition as well as the participants upbringings and particularly their experiences in WWI.  Its hard to describe just how comprehensive Davis' work is.  Davis goes through all the members of all the expeditions amounting to several dozen individuals and doesn't skimp on the information provided on any of them.  Details are pulled from personal diaries, military documentation, interviews with descendants, films, photography and a seemingly endless list of other sources.  Everything is detailed in the copious appendixes though the work is not simply a regurgitation of other peoples facts and figures.

Davis tells this story with a flair.  He sets the groundwork and background of the period in which these individuals grew up in and where they came from.  He details the affect being brought up in privileged, private, all boys schools had on them, how their war experiences changed their world views, how they interacted with the Tibetans they encountered on the expeditions.  Everything is here.

And its anything but boring.  Davis includes absolutely horrific experiences of the trenches and covers a great deal of WWI history (you could do worse in learning about WWI than reading this non-military history book) and wonderful scenes of exploration across Tibet.  Which is also an integral part of this work--the history of England and the Raj and their interactions with Tibet.  Again, the coverage of England's relationships with Russia and China and others are covered here as well as English politics of the time.  Really there is so much that is covered here its insane and the fact that it is so entertaining makes it the best piece of non-fiction I have perhaps ever read.  If you have any interest in WWI, England, Tibet, Everest, Mallory, etc. then you owe it to yourself to read this book.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Comic Review: Fall of the House of Usher #1

I'm not a hardcore follower of comics, illustration or popular art so I didn't know Richard Corben from anyone. I was more interested in a comic retelling of Poe's tale.

Richard Corben ends up being a fairly well known (famous?) illustrator known initially for his work in Heavy Metal magazine but working prolifically in many arenas since the 70's.  Turns out his style fits quite well for this story.  His human creations are bulbous and odd.  His backgrounds are detailed and sharp.  His style wouldn't be called realistic but a strange tale such as Fall doesn't necessarily call for pure reality.

The story itself is slightly "adapted" from Poe's version though the basics remain, an old friend asks for a visit to his strange mansion buried deep in the heart of some strange woods.  As they get reacquainted the homeowner becomes increasingly unhinged and his relationship with his sister is odd to say the least.

I'll be interested in seeing the conclusion in issue #2 as issue #1 really just sets the scene while the true craziness and "fall" occur at the very end of the story.  How Corben portrays this ending will be very interesting to see.  I would recommend reading the actual Edgar Allen Poe story in full before reading the comic as it allowed me to understand a lot of the nuances and background that perhaps aren't able to be conveyed in a short form comic like this.  I felt like I enjoyed the comic a lot more becuase I knew the story beforehand.

Its an interesting comic and a solid, short feature crafted by an famous artist based on and even more famous short story.  The comic is produced by Dark Horse and was released on May 15.

Nissan Leaf vs. Datsun 240Z Drag Race...

Here's a matchup that no one has been asking for!!  But then again...any opportunity to watch a 240Z is a good opportunity.  I won't surprise you with the ending but hearing that the 240Z went from 0-60 in some 9.4 seconds makes me feel a whole lot better about schlepping around in my 4cyl Camry every day!  Now if the Camry was about 1500 pounds lighter and ditched the grandma styling I might be getting somewhere!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Film Review: The Debt

This film had been sitting in our house for about three months during which we did not get a chance to watch it.  I'm quite glad we finally did.

A remake of an Israeli film, The Debt revolves around two Israeli men and one Israeli woman who, as part of their country's intelligence service are sent to East Germany in the 60's to identify and hopefully kidnap a former Nazi doctor known to have conducted heinous experiments on Jews during WWII.

The film moves back and forth between these characters during the 60's and their modern counterparts who are still attempting to resolve the issues their prior actions have set in motion some 40 years earlier.  The pairing of Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain as the older and younger versions of Rachel Singer is perfect and Chastain is better here than she was in Zero Dark Thirty.  The other supporting actors in both their younger and older versions are also excellent.

Evidently the most common complaint regarding the film is the confusing nature of the narrative which moves back and forth in time on a number of occasions.  I didn't find these changes to be the least bit distracting or confusing and neither did my wife who is usually quite susceptible to "complex" story structures.  I'd say if you're confused watching this film, you might be better off at the megaplex watching Fast and Furious 6.

A quite literal film the story is a straightforward one of a broken mission, an unintended love triangle, lies told to cover up the failed mission, guilt and an attempt to fix past wrongs.  New ground is not broken in terms of storylines but it is well done.  The Nazi is appropriately evil and there is just enough ambivalence and questioning of the Israeli's methods and reasoning that the film is not a work of hero worship.

This is a very good thriller that is worth your time that shouldn't be overlooked for one of the more enjoyable films of 2011.