Monday, April 27, 2009

BC-STV Proportional Representation--Vote YES for Fair Results!

We have a chance to change the electoral system in BC on May 12 by voting YES for proportional representation. It is far superior than the traditional "First Past the Post" system where it's possible for a political party to win a majority government even without a majority of the popular vote.

With BC-STV Proportional Representation, people won't have to feel that their votes are "wasted" like it is now with the current system. May 12--Vote YES for fair election results!

Check out for more information.

Friday, April 24, 2009

ANZAC Day: April 25

It's been almost two years since I first uploaded this video, The Band Played Walzting Matilda by Eric Bogle. I have to admit that I didn't know very much about the Battle of Gallipoli at that time. I've learned more since then especially after reading people's comments about it I've grown an even deeper appreciation for the sacrifices made by everyone.

Monday, April 20, 2009

420 Day: April 20

Originally uploaded by istargazer.
I took this picture almost 2 years ago shortly after I had the RCE Sport springs installed on my 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. The location is a Park and Ride station and I thought it was an interesting spot. I had no idea the significance of "420" until someone posted a comment.

I had to google it to find the meaning to educate myself--LOL!

Anyway, there was a huge crowd in downtown Vancouver today commemorating the occasion.

2009 Lincoln MKZ - Shiny Toy Guns - Major Tom (Coming Home)

This song, a cover of Major Tom by a group called Shiny Toy Guns is played on a commercial for the 2009 Lincoln MKZ which you can see here.

This is the latest song to make it into my collection, but my iPod Touch went wonky this afternoon and became unreadable by iTunes. I had to restore the factory settings and am currently waiting while everything gets gets transferred from the backup. I don't know why what happened but I did notice the last couple of days that more apps were crashing on it. Hopefully, this will cure the symptoms, but right now I'm going through a little withdrawal from the iPhone apps :-P

Now playing: Shiny Toy Guns - Major Tom (coming home)
via FoxyTunes

VW R32: Importing a vehicle into Canada from the U.S.

I've posted previously that I imported my 2004 VW Golf R32 to Canada from the U.S. when I relocated to the Land of Tim Hortons; here I want to provide some of the details on an initially daunting but ultimately straight-forward process. It goes without saying (though I'm still saying it) that I'm describing my own experience with importing my R32 -- and my memory is already hazy -- and anyone planning on importing a vehicle in to Canada from the U.S. is advised to visit the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) and the U.S. Border Protection Agency (BPA) websites for the latest information.

Read more beneath the fold....

First things first: visit the RIV website for the link to the latest list of admissible vehicles, hosted by Transport Canada. The list will tell you what if any modifications to a stock vehicle are required for importation, and whether it can be imported at all. This list does get updated. For the first few years a 2004 R32 wasn't admissible, but now it is.

It's not necessary to make any modifications prior to importation but once you import the vehicle you have roughly 30-45 days to pass all inspections; hence depending on what's needed you might consider having everything done prior to importing the vehicle into Canada. Caveat: a stock R, despite what RIV computers say, does not require any modifications.

Assuming the vehicle is admissible, then find out which land crossing near you handles exporting/importing vehicles. Not all crossings do. You need to know this ahead of time because the U.S. BPA requires that when exporting a vehicle from the U.S. you need to fax them at least 72h prior (weekends and holidays don't count) a copy of the title. You can also ask for a fax confirmation receipt, which I didn't need but others have found handy. I went via the Queenston-Lewiston border crossing in Ontario.

Before crossing you will also need a Recall Clearance letter from the vehicle manufacturer dated not more than 30 days prior to the importation date. I ended up having to request two letters because my schedule was delayed. VW of America takes 5-7 business days to mail the letter. Also make sure you have the original title. If there are any liens then you will need letters from each lien holder stating that you can export the vehicle. Have the bill of sale and any related receipts ready in case they ask for them at the border.

So... now you have all the documentation you need. In addition, it might be nice to have an idea of what the resale value of the vehicle (eg. from KBB or similar) is in case the particular model is not in the CBSA computer system. My R was not.

Head to the appropriate border. You have to first stop on the U.S. side at the BPA office to which earlier you faxed a copy of your title. All the U.S. officer does is verify that the VIN on the vehicle matches the VIN on the title. No line-ups, it took less than 5 minutes.

Enter Canada.

Stop at the CBSA customs office. Bring in all your documentation. I had to pay tax and duties on the value of my R above $10,000. They accept credit cards. You will fill out a Form 1 and make sure you don't lose it (keep it in the car until you get Canadian tags). You need a Canadian mailing address to complete Form 1. Everything here took me 15-20 minutes.

Whew. Now you're in Canada, free and clear of the border. Mail, courier, fax, or hand deliver the Recall Clearance letter to the RIV office. I went to their office in person to move things along. Once RIV confirms payment of the processing fee (I paid online) and receives the Recall Clearance letter they will issue you an inspection form (Form 2) and a letter stating what if any modifications are required. Inspections and any modifications must be completed within 45 days. You can pick up the Form 2 when you drop off the Recall Clearance letter in person, or they will e-mail, fax, or mail it to the Canadian address you provided on Form 1.

According to the RIV letter my R needed a child safety restraint system installed -- my R already had them. Anywhoo, you need both safety and emission inspections. Safety is where they also check to see whether you've made any required modifications. You need to have done so to pass. I went to Canadian Tire for both inspections with Form 2 in hand. Safety is free, emissions cost me around $100 (?), maybe more. Once you've passed both tests the inspectors are supposed to fax the completed Form 2 to RIV themselves. Make sure you retain your copy.

When RIV receives the completed Form 2 they will mail you a sticker you need to place on the driver's door or door jam.

Once I received my RIV sticker I could now go and get Ontario tags. To get Ontario tags I first needed to get an Ontario drivers license. This took me one beeping hour standing in line, more money, driving records for the past 10 years and my Maryland driving license, which they confiscated.

Next I went to a CAA (Canada Automotive Association) office with my Ontario driving license, title, completed Form 2, proof of Canadian auto insurance, virtual cash in the form of credit, and after 30 minutes in line I walked out with a pair of Ontario plates. My R was now a Canadian citizen.


I think I've written all the important points up there. Nevertheless, just as the R was first inadmissible and then not, it's certainly worthwhile to obtain the latest information from official sources.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Volkswagen Golf VI Commercial: "The Fight"

Nice moves. Catchy song.

Zinga Warriorz - The Gun

I was searching YouTube tonight for a couple of songs I heard on some TV commercials when I happened to find this song: The Gun by the Zinga Warriorz. I'd never heard of them before and this is from a live recording they did in May 2007 at down 2 earth studios in Birmingham, UK. Pretty catchy and now living on my iPod.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

VW R32: O.Z. Crono HT

The stock Aristos on my R32 have been relegated to winter wheel status. In preparation for the other three seasons I purchased 18x8 O.Z. Crono HT wheels. I haven't installed them yet as it still hasn't been consistently warm (it snowed 6 days ago) in the Land of Tim Hortons.

I went with 5-spoke wheels because no matter how much I like how they look the 15-spoke Aristos are a pain to clean. The Crono HTs are also lighter at 19.5lbs a piece, compared to the hefty Aristos' 28-29lbs.

See below the fold for a picture.

I'll post more pics once I get these wheels installed.

GMC Yukon XL Denali - 18026 km: Chrome Wheel Swap

The weather finally seemed stable enough for me to put on the all-season tires and 20" chrome wheels back on our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali. I'm glad to say that it was much less work than back in November when I switched to winter tires and swapped the wheels 10 times! (Click below for more.)

Of course, things don't always go as smoothly as I intend and this time it was trying to re-program TPMS (tire pressure monitor system). I had no problems doing that back in November, but yesterday I wasted over an hour inflating/deflating the tires numerous times and I just could not get the sensors to register. I got as far as three tires, but even doing that wasn't consistent.

At least I'm not getting any warning lights in the dash. These 20" wheels are OEM so there were originally programmed already and the system must remember the sensors. Which is good. I can look at the readings to see if all the tires are the same. Recommended tire pressure for the 20" rims is 32 PSI. Even though the tires are rotated and at different positions, it should still give me a warning if a tire is low.

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