Sunday, December 31, 2006

Full throttle into 2007....

The problem on New Year's Eve when you are a father of 3 young girls with no child-care (because the nanny is off for a 2-week holiday) is that you really can't go out like you used to and since you are the only male in a household with 5 females (MIL lives with us) you tend to over-compensate just a little....

My wife bought me Need for Speed: Carbon for Christmas so I hope to be doing more of this tonight.... Happy New Year, everyone!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Monkey Personals


Monkey Personals- Online personals for monkeys
It's nice to see that monkeys, too, can use the incredible power of the Internet to find their true love.

Shopping on-line for Boxing Day 2006

I'm not sure what's more exciting: opening up presents Christmas morning or the Boxing Day sale the next day.

Boxing Day is a big deal in Canada and stores offer massive discounts. Most places now try to extend the frenzy to "Boxing Week" but the truth is, in order for you to get the best deals you'll need to set that alarm extra early and line up for the door crashers.

The last time I did that was a couple of years ago. And it wasn't really by choice. The week before Christmas I had bought myself a Panasonic 60 gig HDD/DVD recorder that was on sale at Future Shop. Best Buy forced my hand by advertising the exact same machine in their Boxing Day flyer. When it came to sleeping-in or saving another $100, the choice was made and on the morning of December 26, I got up at 4 am and drove down to Best Buy to line up with the rest of the freaks/geeks. There were probably at least 30-50 people in front of me, and I was kicking my own butt thinking: I should have got up earlier!

Once again this year, I got sucked into the shopping fray only because I was determined to get a good deal on something--I just didn't know what it would be at the time. The week before I commanded: "Do NOT throw away any Boxing Day flyers. I want to see them." To my disappointment, our local newspaper carrier decided to take a holiday and did not deliver any to our door. Un-fazed, I went online and scoured the screen for something to buy--which wasn't hard to do.

The online Boxing Day sale offered several advantages:
  1. Start shopping before everyone else.
  2. Don't have to wake up early to stand in the cold and line up for several hours before the door opens.
  3. Don't have to run through the store to find desired goods.
  4. Don't have to line-up at the cashier for an hour to pay for said goods.
  5. Plus, if online shopping fails, then I can always fall-back and do it the traditional way.
Well, it took me two hours of clicking "Refresh" on my web browser to actually make it far enough the see my shopping cart and check out, but now I have to wait for delivery because one of the items was back-ordered and they won't ship until next week. Which means I probably won't get my toys until after my holidays are over.

I hate delayed gratification....

Friday, December 29, 2006

Possible jumper on Burrard Street Bridge?

Kat Kam

I first discovered the Kat Kam web site when I was using Google Earth to explore downtown Vancouver.

It's usually pointed at the Burrard Street Bridge on the West Side and sometimes there are some spectacular sunsets. Right behind the bridge you can see the H.R. MacMillan Space Center and in the distance you can see the UBC Endowment Lands and the Spanish Banks. Here's a great animation of one day from sunrise to sunset created from images captured by the web cam.

After I updated to the new Blogger template last night, I decided to add a link to Kat Kam on the side bar. This morning I checked it out and just happened to see one of the infamous "police incidents" that occurs occasionally on our city's bridges. It was a strange feeling looking at the picture and knowing that it was taken only minutes before.


From then on, I just at the computer pressing "Refresh" until the next shot uploaded. Thankfully, it looks like it was resolved without any serious harm.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Welcome to the new Blogger!


I've completed the switch and I can say that I'm really happy with the new Blogger templates. You'll notice that I've made some changes:
  1. The large custom banner at the top is removed. I thought it just took up too much space.
  2. I've added R32Argent as a contributor to this blog (Behind the Wheel).
  3. There are more links on the side bar (Logbooks) to the information from my old web site. Some of that content is searched very often (like the VW Climatronic Codes and Dixie Air Horns) so I'll gradually migrate it over to the new site.
  4. In addition to my Blog Roll, I've also included a link to my del.icio.us bookmarks.
  5. Tags (Road Markers): I like this feature the best. It should make it easier to find specific information.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The moon as seen by me


The moon as seen by me
Originally uploaded by istargazer.
...from our front porch in Vancouver, Canada on the 27th of December in the year 2006.

We bought a 10" Dobsonian telescope for Christmas and this was the first night that the skies were clear. The sun was just setting and after letting the kids have a look, I tried taking some hand-held shots through the eyepiece. The biggest surprise for me? How quickly the moon moves because every couple of minutes I'd have to re-aim the telescope to take some more shots. I now understand why astrophotography will be beyond my grasp without some serious (meaning expensive) equipment.

This picture pales in comparison to what the eye actually sees through telescope.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Home for Christmas

It seems appropriate that as I'm visiting family during the holidays I'm also 'visiting' my brother's blog. Anywhoo, it took several minutes for me to type the previous sentence, so I'm about tapped out for inspiration. Begone, vile writer's block!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Lens

I received the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D lens I ordered from B&H Photo when my brother arrived from Washington, DC. I've read a lot of good things about this lens, mostly about it's sharpness and low light capability along with it's great price. It will be fun using it, but I'll have to buy some new filters because lens diameter is smaller than the kit lens that I have (52 mm vs. 55 mm). I really love my circular polarizer so I don't think I could live without it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hankook W300 Ice Bear performance winter tire - tread wear bars

I mentioned in an earlier post that there were two different tread-wear bars on the Hankook W300 Ice bear winter tires I bought. You can see them in the picture above. The one on the lower left is presumably for minimum winter traction and the other wear bars on the right are for minimum "legal" traction.

2006 Honda Odyssey - Hankook W300 Ice Bear new tread

I picked up the wheels yesterday from the Honda dealership after the tires were mounted. You can see how much tread there is compared to the old ones.

Friday, December 15, 2006

2006 Suburu STI - Hankook W300 Ice Bear performance winter tire - 9100 km

I was taking a closer look at the new Hankook Ice Bears I bought for our Honda Odyssey and compared them to the ones that I had on our Subaru Impreza WRX STI from last year and I have to retract the things that I said about tread wear.

I had to keep the winter tires on the STI through to hot weather because my summer rims didn't arrive until late June. I always thought despite that, the tread wear was very minimal even with the hard driving I'm known to enjoy. But upon closer inspection, I noticed that there were two tread-wear bars: one regular for normal (legal) traction, and one for winter traction. Obviously, the winter tread-wear bar is much higher because you need that to get traction in snow. After over 9100 km of driving, I'm very close to that bar right now and I can only forecast about 1 or 2 more winter seasons of use. Hopefully it will be longer because there's no need for me to ride on them through the spring.

For that reason, I'm reluctant to put the new winters on the Honda since the weather has been quite warm lately. I'm trying to hold off until some time during the Christmas holidays, but temperatures are predicted to drop again with some snow flurries in the forecast for this weekend.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

2005 Suzuki Burgman Type S - Vandalized

My Suzuki Burgman was vandalized a few months ago while I was at work but I forgot to mention it. I left the glove-box unlocked and my rain pants were stolen. They also removed a rear plastic body panel probably because they wanted to get into the storage area under the seat. They must have known that the helmets were kept there. Luckily, they didn't get in. So they either knew about mega-scooters, or perhaps were watching me as I put my gear away?

I actually didn't realize the back panel was missing until I got home because even though I did a walk around, I was scanning the ground and not paying attention to the scooter itself. I went back to the parking lot to do another scan to see if they had just tossed the panel to the side somewhere, but did not not find anything.

It took a few weeks for the new panel to come in, but luckily it only cost about $30 to replace. Also, Coast Mountain Sports had one more pair of exactly the same pants I had before and I replaced that, too.

The skies above....


The skies above....
Originally uploaded by istargazer.
There are moments sometimes when I get caught up in the chores of every day life and I forget to look up and see the beauty that encompasses us all.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2006 Honda Odyssey - Steel Wheel Nuts

A few days after the early arctic blast that left us with over 2 ft of snow, I decided that maybe it would be best to get some winter tires for the Honda Odyssey just in case. The roads were already clear at the time, but because I'm a lazy bum, getting stuck in 5 inches of snow that I refused to shovel on our flat driveway 15 ft from the garage entrance sealed the deal.

I bought another set of Hankook W300 Ice Bears from Tiretrends-- you just can't beat the peformance for the price of these winter performance tires. I love the way they handle on our Subaru STI. The steel wheels that were back-ordered from the Honda dealership finally arrived today and I'm getting the tires mounted and balanced for about $48. I picked up the wheel nuts for the steel wheels. They are slightly different than the ones used for the alloy wheels in two ways: 1. The taper is slightly different; 2. They are designed to accept Honda wheel covers. Howver, I didn't expect all 20 nuts to be individually packaged and sealed!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My favorites on Flickr


I orginally signed up on Flickr simply because my web host was filled and I needed a place to store pictures online. Flickr also allowed me to control who could and could not see my pictures. There are a lot--and I mean a lot--of pictures shared on Flickr that range from the mundane to the truly inspirational. Sometimes I try not to look at too many of the really spectacular shots because I get an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. It's like the photo thread at NASIOC which is populated by a lot of professional photographers.

Despite that, I want to share some amazing photos that I've saved as a "Favorite." I've seen a lot of great pictures, but in order for me to click the "Add to Faves" button, a picture not only has to look great but it also to take a hold of me. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but these shots also speak to my heart. There is something in each of these pictures that draws me in and makes it difficult to turn my eyes away. Click the link below to see a slideshow of my faves.

A slideshow of istargazer's favorites on Flickr

Monday, December 04, 2006

Snow at dawn


Snow at dawn
Originally uploaded by istargazer.
The biggest problem with all this wonderful snow around is that I had to work all day and didn't get a chance to take many pictures. I took this shot one morning last week just as the sun was rising above the horizon.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Our Festive Odyssey

This is another twist in my quest to make our 2006 Honda Odyssey "not like the others"--the other countless minivans filling the roads out there. The first was back in October with some bats for a little Halloween Spirit. Now it's Christmas lights :lol:

This is something that I've been doing for about 3 years starting with our 2003 Toyota Seqouia. It actually started because I had an extra string of lights and I was trying to think of a way to use them. What was nice about the Sequoia was that the 2-prong outlet was at the front and there was a power switch on the dash so I could turn it on and off.

Since on the Odyssey's electrical outlet is in the rear and there was no power switch to control it, I had to buy an extension cord with a switch on it so that I could control when the lights were on or off. It cost me about $10 CAD from Canadian Tire.

Anyway, it's become sort of a tradition and my kids look forward to it. They help me string the lights around the interior of the vehicle. Oh yeah, today I loaded the 6-disc with Christmas tunes, too :^D.

Some shots of our festive Sequoia in the snow can be seen on this page: Cypress Mountain 2003 (night).

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