Saturday, December 31, 2005

Detailed Visitor Stats by Country

Cigarette Lighter Flashlight


This is another item that I've had for awhile. Ironically, I bought it after I sold the Passat. It's the VW Touareg LED flashlight that fits in the cigarette lighter socket. It's very bright and handy.

Additional Links

  • BurgmanUSA - International Community of Burgman Owners

  • MPVclub.com - The Ultimate Mazda MPV and Mazda5 Community

  • Passat World - ClubB5 started in the early days when Passat owners went into withdrawal after the Vortex went down. This is a great site for info.

  • VWVortex - The Volkswagen Enthusiasts Site. My obsession was born here.

  • TundraSolutions.com - A good site with great people. I've chosen not to hot-link it because it is ultimately the only forum I've encountered that charges a subscription fee for information.

  • Wikipedia: USS Stargazer NCC-2893 - The USS Stargazer was Captain Jean-Luc Picard's first command ship and the inspiration for my username.
  • Friday, December 30, 2005

    2006 STI - Break-in Period Complete

    Woo, hoo! I passed the 1600km mark today so I am officially done the break-in period. I set the shift light to 5500 rpm and am now driving it the way I normally drive. It's so much nicer without the shift light beeping so soon--it seems less busy and frantic. Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to be shifting at 5500 rpm all the time. I just set the alarm there to let me know when I'm reaching the upper limits. Under regular driving I'll probably be shifting much earlier.

    Click the link below the picture to watch a video clip of the startup sequence on the STI guages when you start the engine. (The beeping sound is the Valentine1.)


    STI Engine Start

    2006 STI - Auto Taser


    I setup the Auto Taser for the STI. I haven't bothered to take new pictures or video since I already did that when I had the Sequoia. Visit the link below for information about the Auto Taser. There are pictures and a video clip of it in action.

    Stargazer's Auto Taser Information

    2006 STI - ODO: 1650 km - V1 Install


    I installed the Valentine 1 today. Since I already had the hardwire kit, it was really easy to put in. In the fuse box, I removed the fuse for the rear wiper (why is that there anyway?) and inserted the piggy-back fuse. This position is only powered when the key is turned. There was a screw nearby for easy grounding. I love the piggy-back fuse connector because it's non-permanent and has allowed me to transfer the V1 into four different vehicles....

    The hardest part was just figuring out where to mount the remote display. My usual location on top of the steering column was not feasible since it would have blocked some of the warning lights. I tried by the A-pillar but it just looked to "tacked-on" and cheap. I settled for under the left vent, right above the switches for the fog lights, intercooler, headlight level, and heated seat. It's not in my direct line of sight, but if the radar goes off all I have to do is look down to check it. Once that was mounted in place, I just tidied up the wires and tucked everything behind the plastic panel in the foot well.


    In the picture above you can see the wire going to the V1 radar unit along the bottom of the A-pillar before I tucked it in and hid it away. Here is the remote display from another angle:

    Huper Optik Tint Update

    I haven't been saying much about the tint because I was doing some research. Subaru has their amplified radio antenna embedded in the rear glass above the defroster wires just like Audi. Unfortunately, since adding the tint, I've pretty much lost all AM reception. In my research, I've found a few other people with the same problem but most of the responses say that any metallic tint will affect radio reception. But that's why I went for the more expensive, ceramic-based Huper Optik. I went back to the shop to confirm that Huper Optik was used and they're going to see if they can find any info about radio reception, too. They said they only had one similar problem and that was also with a Subaru. Out of all the posts I've read, only one said any tint that covers the rear window will affect radio reception. There was one site that had some solutions to try, but they all involve cutting the tint into pieces. The strange thing is the tint doesn't even cover the entire anntenna and if I touch it or the I touch the defroster lines, reception comes back. Actually reception comes back even if I just wave my hand nearby.

    As for the actual installation, it was 100% top notch. They did a really good job with the side windows that you almost can't tell that it's aftermarket. The back window looks good, too, but I'll need to go back for a bit of touch-up in a couple weeks.

    2006 STI - ODO: 1562 km - Fog Light Install

    I had the OEM fog lights installed at the dealership today. Unfortunately they didn't order the trim piece (as you can see in the picture) so the job is incomplete. On top of that they washed the car (which I wasn't expecting) and put about five scratches on the right rear fender :mad: !!! I'm going to have to spend some time polishing that out and putting a good coat of wax on it.

    Next time I'm going to have to be very specific and tell them NOT to wash the car.

    As for the fog lights, I DON'T recommend them for anyone with the HIDs that come on the '06 STI. The HIDs do such a great job of illuminating the area in front of the car it makes the fog lights redundant. And it seems to me, if there is glare from the HIDs, all I need to do is aim them lower with the adjustment dial. Well, maybe my opinion will change once we get some real fog. We'll see.

    Friday, December 23, 2005

    XMAS Subaru Meet

    I went to my first Subaru meet today. About 20 cars showed up; one other 2006 STI (black) came after I had taken the group shots. After getting something to eat, some of us cruised up to Cypress Mountain. Downtown traffic was really slow, but the path up Cypress was quick. Boy, do I have a lot to learn about driving the STI.... By the time we got to the top, the heavy rains had arrived and the gusting wind was bitterly cold.





    Huper Optik 30 Window Tint


    Huper Optik Ceramic Tint vs. OEM


    Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    2006 STI - Odometer: 814 km - Tint Install


    I got Huper Optik window tint installed on the STI today. It's a new ceramic-coated tint from Germany and I had the rear 3 windows done at 30%. I didn't get a chance to take any pictures but I'll try tomorrow. This is the official website: Huper Optik.

    Monday, December 19, 2005

    2006 STI - Odometer: 501 km - Winter Tires

    I got a set of Hankook W300 Ice Bear winter tires put on today. I ordered from TireTrends who were highly recommended on the VW forum. The tires seem good. I didn't drive very long (or hard) on the stock summer tires, so I can't really tell much difference. I'll have to try them in the snow :0) I picked up two pairs of tire covers from Canadian Tire so that I could bring home the OEM tires without making a mess. Two of the them fit in the trunk and the other two fit behind each of the front seats.

    Sunday, December 18, 2005

    2006 STI - Odometer: 412 km

    I filled up my first tank of gas today. When I picked up the car, the dealership only filled it up 3/4 full which I thought was kind of cheap. Every other new car I bought came with a full tank of gas--even the Toyota Tercel I bought in 1988. The salesguy did offer to pay for the first oil change which was nice.

    I cruised out to Abbotsford. I wanted to go further, but I was coming from West Van and I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. On top of that I had to drive around the gas station a few times before I could turn in because of all the center dividers. At first I pulled into the Shell station but they only had 91 octane so I had to go around the block again to go to the Chevron to get 94. It would have been hilarious :rolleyes: if I ran out of gas circling the stations.

    While I was on the highway I noticed a Jeep Cherokee driving sort of funny. He would sort of speed up and then stay behind me in the fast lane. He'd let me change lanes to pass slow cars but when I changed back, he sped up again to follow behind me. The second time that happened I noticed the passenger was putting away a camera. I let him pass and he gave me an "OK" sign.

    Speed is so deceptive in the STI. I basically see some open road, point the car in that direction, press on the gas pedal, and I'm there lickity-split. All of a sudden cars are way behind me and I can see I'm approaching vehicles very rapidly but it just doesn't feel like I'm going that fast. I think part of it is how many numbers there are squished on the speedometer. It looks quite dense. Compared with other cars like the Sequioa, when the needle is showing 40 km/h, on the STI that same needle position indicates 80 km/h. When the needle would normally show 80-100 km/h (50-60 mph), on the STI you're much closer to 140 km/h. The car feels so stable though that the only way you know how fast you're going is when you look at the speedometer....

    One last thing: I broke one of the Rubbermaid storage containers I bought for keeping in the trunk. The design of the trunk hinges is not like the smart design they had on the Passat. The hinges actually intrude into the storage area and take up space. If you have anything tall in that area of the trunk it can get damaged when the trunk lid is closed--or the trunk just won't close at all. I had taken one of the containers out this morning before our trip to Costco. When I was unloading the car, I pushed the other container to the side and when I tried to close the lid the hinge broke a chunk of plastic off the side of the container.

    Saturday, December 17, 2005

    2006 STI - First Daytime Pictures


    I was finally able to take some daytime pics today in between getting pictures of the kids with Santa and doing some Christmas shopping. I went up to Cypress to get the ice shots.

    This first one is my favourite--I call it the GT4 shot :0)







    Friday, December 16, 2005

    2006 STI - Odometer: 139 km

    On the first night of getting the car (Wednesday) I installed a set of 4 Michelin all-weather floor mats I bought from Costco (~$50), put the child seats in the back, and programmed the REV indicator (shift) light and buzzer (page 3-10). It had gotten very late and I was too tired to read much of the owner's manual. On Thursday, I read a bit more and learned how to set the climate control system, but with family commitments I couldn't do much more than drive from one errand to another :0) The Rubbermaid containers I used in the Sequoia were too tall to fit in the trunk so I bought two shorter clear containers ($25) that fit. This will let us load up groceries and stuff without it rolling all over the place.

    Tonight I was able to do a closer inspection of the car. The manual says don't use the intercooler water spray in cold weather so you should keep the tank half empty or less in case the water freezes (page 3-31). A full tank of frozen water could break it. I guess I'm being paranoid, but I emptied out 1.5 L which was what I thought was about half. Recommended pressure for the stock 225/45/17 tires is 36 psi front, 30 psi rear. The dealer set it at approximately 33 psi all around. I adjusted them to the correct amount. Also, when I checked the engine bay, it didn't look like there was any washer fluid so I topped it up. The last thing I adjusted was the clock since it was still set on daylight savings. It's easy to set because there are separate hour and minute buttons, but one nice feature is the "Set" button that when pressed changes the clock to the nearest hour. That's perfect for me because I like to set all my clocks to the official time clock I hear on CBC Radio.

    BTW, did you spot the VW content in one of the pictures?

    More trivia from Unabomber's Manifesto at NASIOC.COM:
    Why do some people call it a Scooby or Rex?

    In the UK, the car is affectionately known as Scooby after the cartoon character Scooby Doo, which rhymes with Subaru. The first film reference known is in the 1989 film Always in which Richard Dreyfuss is a Subaru car salesman and his friend John Goodman refers to him as selling Scooby Doos. Meanwhile, in Australia, the common nickname is Rex, which rhymes with WRX.

    Cold commute with cherry blossom skies

    This picture was of the sunset a few days ago. Guess what the colours remind me of :0).


    Yesterday morning there was a beautiful full moon setting behind the mountains. Today's temperature was -1 C and the street in front of my house has been sparkling with ice crystals the last couple of weeks. With the BFG All-Terrains gone with the Sequioa, I had to choose between riding on two inappropriate tires with the Burgman or on four inappropriate tires with the STI ;0). Given the relative newness of the STI the choice was easy. So, I've been commuting on the Burgman the last couple of days. My fingertips get numb even with the heated grips and my ride is more tense because I'm worried about black ice. I've been taking corners really slow, trying not to lean the bike too far. The tar strips on the patched up road are particularly slippery. On Monday I'll be getting winter tires put on the STI so I'll be able to drive that around with more confidence.

    Here's a bit of trivia about the STI taken from Unabomber's Manifesto at NASIOC.COM:
    What's the deal with the pink color associated with STi stuff?

    It's technically called Cherry Blossom Red. Cherry Blossoms are the national symbol as well as a symbol of spring. As well, in Japanese culture, pink is ssociated with masculine symbolism, which is in contrast to Western culture.

    The Deed is Done


    It's been 24 hrs since I picked up the STI and I still can't believe what I have. I posted these impressions on a local forum:

    I've never experienced anything like it before. I started to get an inkling of it after the salesman pointed out some of features inside. The car had been idling and when I shut the engine off and got out I saw vapours coming out of the exhaust. I thought to myself: Wow, that looks cool.

    I'm babying it now and keeping the revs under 4000 rpm during the break in period. The steering is so responsive (not like the sloppy dead zone there is in the Sequoia) that I took one hand off the wheel to turn on the defroster and almost went into the next lane :eek: ! This car and I are going to have a lot of "getting-to-know-you" time :biggrin: And turbo? Hwy #1, straight stretch, no cars, in sixth....hmm, that's a neat sound....whoa. (And that was just half throttle under 4000 rpms!) Sorry I'm babbling like a giddy school girl but I feel like a kid again with the new car. I opened my garage this morning and I still couldn't believe what I saw. I had to laugh out loud :lol:


    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    I Hate Saying Goodbye....Even to a Car

    I cleaned up the Sequoia tonight and emptied everything out to get it ready for tomorrow. It's amazing how much clutter can accumulate in the car. I had to make sure I removed all our "stuff" and restore it to its original state for the next owner. Now that I'm done, I feel sad. Even though we've only had the Sequoia for a couple of years, those years included a lot of journeys. Journeys into the back country, up mountains, down valleys, over rocks and across streams, in the snow, and in the heat of summer. Journeys to the supermarket and the mall, to birthday parties, to swimming and Tae Kwon Do lessons. Journeys with laughter and singing, and crying, and tantrums! Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that those things will never happen again. We will continue to make new memories as a family, but like a faithful steed, the Sequioa was there for some good ones. Because of the age of my children, I will especially cherish those memories.

    When we got home tonight, I asked my two older daughters to make sure they collected all their toys out of the back and clean up their stuff because I was going to pick up the new car. They actually did a really good job. My middle daughter stuffed her jacket pockets with various Polly Pocket accesories, Happy Meal toys, Barbie clothes, and paper and wrappers and other garbage so that she could bring it all in the house. My oldest daughter peeled off the numerous tiny sparkle stickers of dolphins and whales she had stuck on her window. The stickers seemed like they had been on there forever because she put them on after she got them from a long forgotten birthday party. The dolphins and whales were in a curvy row, one following the other like they were swimming in the undulating waves of the sea. At first I was annoyed that she stuck them there because it cluttered up the side window. At least she stuck it on the glass, I thought. At the time I was going to remove them, but decided not to because maybe that was just her way of marking her spot. They've been there ever since. I guess what makes me sad the most is that her act of removing the stickers tonight was like she was erasing herself from the Sequoia.


    Postcript, December 14, 2005 - 9:00 pm: My wife had recently bought the girls new winter jackets with matching mittens. After picking up the new car, I went upstairs to tuck the girls in bed and with tears in her eyes, my second daughter told me that she couldn't wear her new mittens anymore: she had put them in the bucket that was still in the old car. My eldest chimed in, "It's in the old car!" They both looked at me knowing that we would never see the old car again. I reassured them that I had taken the bucket out of the old car and in fact it was sitting in the garage. I would put her mittens by the door so she could wear them in the morning. *sigh* I feel bad that they were worried about it all day.

    Monday, December 12, 2005

    Baby, You Can Drive My Car

    I figured I should probably test drive the car I'm going to buy before I actually buy it. So tonight that's what I did. To be fair, the salesguy did offer me a test drive the first day before the deal had been done, but at that time I wasn't interested. As soon as I pulled up to the dealership tonight, I could see my STI (I have to get used to saying that!) parked under the covered area by the service desk. The salesguy met me at the door with plate and keys in hand and we got in. The seats were way more comfortable than in the base wagon. I familiarized myself with some of the controls and checked the mirrors and promptly did a double-take: "Hey, what's that blocking my view--oh, that's the spoiler!" I started the engine, the lights lit up and all systems were go. The scoop on the hood, the spoiler in the back, and the fancy startup sequence of the brightly glowing red guages all made me feel like I was in the cockpit of a space ship. OK, I think I'm going to like this car :0)

    And the ride? Wow! Smooth, controlled, precise, the STI felt great. The road I went on had some bumps and train tracks and the ride was not harsh. It was quiet, too. I couldn't hear the engine at all when we were stopped at a light. I was a bit rough with 1-2 shift a couple of times, but probably far better than if had I not test driven the wagon earlier this week. I didn't dare take the engine over 4000 rpms. I know the STI and I are going to have some real nice getting-to know-you time :0)

    As of tonight the non-refundable deposit has been made so I'm one step closer. The delivery date? It's been moved up--Yippee! I was holding off because I had scheduled a warranty repair on the Sequoia (the gear lever won't shift into "L") for next Tuesday, which I rescheduled for Friday. But the Subaru guys told me not to worry about it--they'll take care of it--Yippee x2! The fog lights won't be installed at the time of course, so that will be scheduled for later. In the meantime, here's a picture of one of the STI's relatives:

    Sunday, December 11, 2005

    Let's Make a Deal

    I did it. I just got off the phone and the deal is made. I've traded in the Sequoia for a 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. I checked out another dealership yesterday and they had one Word Rally Blue STI with 48 km on it in stock. I would have liked less mileage on it, but the deal includes one fog lamp and installation. I'll pay for the other fog lamp at cost. I'm going in to sign the papers tomorrow and arrange for delivery. Wow... It's still just sinking in....







    Woo, hoooo!


    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    2006 Subaru Impreza Wagon - 24hr Test Drive

    I completed a 24hr test drive with a 2006 Subaru Impreza Wagon and the whole experience was very pleasant. Arrangements were very easy to make at the dealership and after signing in a couple spots and giving a copy of my driver's license I was able to drive away with a car that had only 1420 km on it. The new front nose design is controversial, but I like it. I think it makes the car look more sporty and aggressive, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I found the wagon quite handsome.

    The 2006 Subaru Impreza has a 2.5L Single Overhead Cam (SOHC), 16-valve, horizontally-opposed, 4-cylinder engine with 173 hp and a 5-speed manual transmission. I was impressed with how peppy it was especially in 1st and 2nd gear. Maybe the "wagon" appearance caught people by surpirse, but each time I shifted into 3rd and looked in my rearview mirror, everyone had fallen far behind. Third gear was where it didn't feel as strong. Going uphill, the engine started to feel as if it were running out of breath--like a short-distance sprinter on a long-distance run. If I were a normal person, this probably wouldn't bother me. But I'm not normal so that's why I lust over the STI. I drove mostly in city traffic so I didn't get much of a chance to get into 5th gear. Everytime I did, I had to downshift to do any passing.

    The all-wheel drive traction was excellent. It was very stable and confident over a variety of slushy, gravel surfaces even when one side of the car was on clear pavement. The Impreza comes standard with 16" alloy wheels on all-season tires. At first the the 4-wheel ABS brakes felt very touchy, but once I got used to it, I liked how responsive they were. Handling was very nice, with the car reacting quickly and turning precisely in the direction that I asked. Remember, I'm coming from the other end of the spectrum driving an 8-passenger SUV, so this was nirvana. Manouvering in Christmas shoppng traffic was simple and stress-free. Parking spots that I gave up on in the Sequoia because they were too small, were gargantuan with the Impreza swallowed inside. The side mirrors however, seemed too small and the view out the back for parallel parking wasn't the best.

    The main goal of my test drive was to fit 3 child seats into the back and I'm glad to say that I was able to get them in without too much trouble :0) At least that's no longer a worry. After returning the car, I'm reminded again at how aptly named the Sequoia is. Sitting in the driver's seat I feel like I'm sitting on a comfy arm chair that would fit in my living room. In comparison the Subaru is very cozy and intimate. Driving a stick is definitely more work, but the performance and handling can be so gratifying. So, what's the next step? Should I trade in the Sequoia and get the STI?

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