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Wheelmen - The snag. 9/30/2006

Shaolin Tiger comes over Saturday afternoon, and we sit down for a sushi lunch. Shooting the breeze I layout what Peter and I have been discussing. ST is all for it, since he sees as it as a community service, much the same way I do. If Peter blogs about it, and it helps someone in the his specific community, it’ll all be worth while.

So we get there, and Peter and Wuan give us a warm welcome. Followed immediately by cold beer. Which was very welcome because we got stuck in a traffic jam on the way, and right in the middle of it, the air conditioning in the truck gives up. On a hot day. The cursing that went on in the truck is not fit for human consumption, so I shall refrain from re-posting it here. Let’s just say we weren’t as fresh as daisies when we got to Peter’s place.

I start work on the “project”. Peter sits there in his wheels, while ST and I go through the parts involved. I go out, and start work. Where we hit the first snag, because I started wondering how the hell can the Japanese shove so much wiring and connectors and electronics into such a small space. It was impossible. Or at least I thought it was, until I lubricated my brain with more beer graciously supplied by Wuan.

I got the brackets in. ST arranged the brackets, and showed me the best way to get them in. I tried getting them in place. Not a lot of place for my ham sized hands either. This was like trying to fist a virgin. With no lube. I sweated and cursed, I skinned my knuckles, and finally got it in.

When we hit the next snag. The tie rod wouldn’t clear the panel. At this point, ST and I looked at each other, and told Peter it might have been easier if he had bought something a little older and simpler, and we would have been done by now. Peter just grinned at this, and we resumed work.

I asked Wuan how much destruction I could inflict because of the project, and she said, “ask him”, nodding in Peter’s direction. ST and I decided to call it a day at this point. I explained to Peter what had been done, and what remained to be done, and he said we shall continue next week.

Oh, by the way, ST’s new Nikon D200 rocks. A very capable camera. If I didn’t already have a kick ass digital SLR, I would be very tempted to buy one. Bugger it, I’ll buy one anyway.

Girl Friday. 9/29/2006

Wheelmen - The negotiation. 9/28/2006

Peter Tan says: half as deep on the jugular still kills

HuntingtheSnark says: yeah, you just take twice as long to bleed to death

HuntingtheSnark says: let’s see….the last time I charged someone for my day rate was $2,800 per day, excluding tax…

Peter Tan says: *faints*

HuntingtheSnark says: so pro rata is about RM400 per hour

HuntingtheSnark says: since you’re such a nice guy and I really like you, I’ll charge you for only 2 hours of my time

HuntingtheSnark says: so that comes up to $800…

HuntingtheSnark says: or 3 cans of beer…

HuntingtheSnark says: whichever is easier for you

Peter Tan says: and your 3 cans of beer… 385 mil or 50 litres per can????

HuntingtheSnark says: whatever Wuan can pick up on her way home at the 7-11

HuntingtheSnark says: Tiger for preference LOL

Peter Tan says: tiger beer????

Peter Tan says: urrrrrgh

 Peter asked for my assistance on something that he really wants to have.  Watch this space, and his, for developments.

What have I done?

The MD walks in a couple of days ago, wanting to shoot the breeze.  He was holding a mug of coffee in his hand.  I refresh my mug in the pantry, and come back in to my office.  He’s standing by the edge of my desk, looking at the papers and reports I have scattered all over the surface.  Then he picks up a brochure for holidays on a certain island.

“You thinking of going there?”

“Thinking?  I’ve already booked and paid for it.”

“When?”

“Some in the next month.”

“There are some holidays coming up?”

“Yes and no.  But I won’t be there during the set of holidays, I’m going in just after.”

“Great, anything exciting to do there?”

“Not really, but the booze is cheap, and a friend just rocked in with his 60 foot yatch.  He called me and asked me to give it a test drive.”

“Great.  Can I come along?”

This was when my brain decided to go on holiday.

“Sure.”

I spend more than 50 hours a week in this place, a lot of it in fairly close proximity with the MD.  What ever possessed me to want to invite him along on a holiday as well?

Hunting the Volvo. 9/26/2006

Volvos used to be, at one time, the bane of a motorcycle rider’s existance. Big, chunky cars, driven by drivers who didn’t seem to give two hoots about the traffic around them. As Big Ben put it, self centered assholes. But he applied it to Mercedes drivers. Which I completely agree with. But, somewhat to my surprise, I found myself, today, driving one of these things.

A Volvo V50 T5. Means nothing to you? Meant absolutely nothing to me until Paul Tan offered me a test drive in one. He had been invited by Volvo to give the new V50 T5 wagon a spin, and he kindly asked me to come along. I didn’t hesitate, mainly because I am in the market for another car. The truck, while being fine and dandy for everything I need it for, tends to be a bit of a pain, fuel wise. So I decided to take this opportunity to see if the new Volvos are everything some people said they were.

I got into the car with Paul, and the first thing I noticed was the low roof. Neither Paul nor I are small guys, and I’ve sat in supercars with more overhead space than this. Maybe it was all in the interest of aerodynamics, but I miss my old Landcruiser, which allowed me to wear a hard hat while driving when on site. The interior was rather spartan, which surprised me considering the price of this top of the line V50.

Only the driver’s seat was electrically operated, with memory pre-sets for 3 positions. Which is pretty good, if you’re sharing the driving duties with someone else. The seats were nicely firm, if biased more towards being comfortable, rather than sporting. Now, I wouldn’t use the word sporting, especially with a V50, but this car did have a little bit of get up and go. Well, the get up part was just fine, first gear giving us a reasonable kick in the butt, but the 2.5 liter turbocharged engine ran out of grunt rather quickly thereafter. She would go, but it would take a fair amount of dedication to do so. Paul and I discussed this, and I reminded him, and myself, that this car is being targetted to a specific market, i.e. the executive professional, who needed a car to haul him and his family around, safely.

There, I’ve used the “s” word. Volvos are, first and foremost in my experience, safe cars. I personally know someone who rolled his 240 Volvo into a ravine, and walked away with only a scratch on his elbow. Think I’m kidding? I visited the accident site, and walked down to where the car was lying. I looked up at the top of the ravine and it was an easy 130 feet to the top. Volvo are really trying hard to move away from the stodgy, boxy image of the 80s and 90s. I’m sorry to say they haven’t yet made a car that made my blood boil, and would consider a chick magnet. Well, the P1800 was it, but nothing else from Volvo since then. Sorry guys, but that’s the way it is.

Dual airbags, 6 disc CD changer, cruise control, dual climate controls, steering controls for cruise and volume, a trip and fuel computer in the instrument cluster, and a rather mysterious something that told me I had no messages when I pressed the button. Everything was there really. Certainly it was well thought out, with the instruments in clear view. One thing I have to give the Volvo engineers credit for is that the instruments on the stalks fell to hand easily, even though you couldn’t see them from my specific driving position. Someone had obviously sat down in the driver’s seat, and designed everything from a driver’s point of view.

The rest of the car has followed on from Volvo’s styling cues for their V and S cars. Some people like it, some don’t. A bit like Ducati’s change from the 916 to the 999. I could live with it, I think. This car wasn’t bad, certainly. Wasn’t good either, and I do not mean that in a negative way. What I’m trying to say is this. The Volvo V50 T5 is a competent car, designed to be a general purpose family vehicle. It’s designed to be safe and comfortable. You could carry a reasonable amount of junk in the booth.

Split seats, tonneau cover, cargo divider in the rear booth space. There were even a pair of tie down hooks in the rear wheel wells. Like I said, competent. You would find very little to complain about with the Volvo V50. Is a biker praising a Volvo? Yes, if what you want is a Volvo. Unfortunately, this car faces some stiff competition in this price range. The choices are fairly wide, for the amount of money you are going to dish out.

In parting, I would like to ask a question. Could someone in Volvo please tell me why their logo contains the symbol for masculinity, when I read somewhere that the purchase decision on family Volvos are made by the female component of the family unit?

Verging on the ridiculous. 9/25/2006

This was the view from my office at 1800 hours today. What do you see? Rows of cars stuck in a traffic jam?

I see millions of dollars of infrastructure under utilised, or wasted. I see thousands of dollars worth of fuel going to waste. I see hundreds of man hours sitting still, doing nothing productive. Well, unless you would call holding in the contents of your bladder productive.

Is this city going to go the way of other developed nations, where we become slaves to the automobile? I look at the acres of space devoted to car parks. I see mile upon mile of road constructed just to bring cars from one point to another. And in all of this, where is the motorcycle? You won’t see any on that elevated highway. They’re banned from using the highway. Because they don’t pay any tolls.

So you can drive a car, and be stuck in a jam for hours, paying for the privilege. Or you can do what I do, and ride a motorcycle. Having fun in the process.

I’m such a slut.

I’ve never had a lot of respect for the mainstream media. I have seen, first hand, the way stories get twisted, and negative spin put on situations. I’ve always had the feeling that whatever story it takes to sell the papers, that’s what becomes the news.

I have friends currently working in the mainstream media, or who have recently left. I used to do some work for them myself, once upon a whenever. And I suddenly find myself being invited to blog at Monsterblog. It is a conglomerate blog, made up of local bloggers who have achieved a certain amount of fame and notoreity. A couple of the contributors are buddies. a couple of others I know well. And some I know in passing.

So what ever possessed me to take up a contributing position to something I would see as having an agenda behind it? Don’t get me wrong, thus far, the contributors have posted whatever they have wanted, but I am always suspicious of something organised under the auspices of organised business. But since I was very kindly invited by Suanie, and Shaolin Tiger, whom I happen to trust, gave me a password I could not refuse, I’ve joined in.

I shall be contributing postings on motorcycles. Suanie asked that I do it on a very basic level, sort of like “motorcycles for dummies”, but I would like to think that the collective blog readership in this country is a little more intelligent than that, aside from the majority of them being non-riding readers.

So I’ll be contributing there, as well as continuing with the stuff here. May be something good will come out of all of this.

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