Scooter Ride in Japan, May 2006

Back when I was still in Japan, I had a nice Yamaha Jog ZR:

Not to mention my cool helmet:

Anyway, I came across a video I took in 2006 just before I had to sell it, because Maki and I would be moving back to Canada later that summer.  This was one of my last long rides.  Unfortunately, the most enjoyable parts of the daily commute (mountain roads overlooking Osaka city, Osaka city gridlock traffic, weaving in and out of it) aren’t on film, because I didn’t feel comfortable sticking the camera out of my duffle bag in those conditions.  This part of the journey starts after I had already gone through the tunnel under a mountain separating Osaka and Nara prefectures.  I start just on the outskirts of Ikoma city, and drive into the centre of the city, to the train station and the mall, then over the tracks and halfway up Ikoma mountain, where my apartment overlooks Ikoma:

GOOGLE MAPS LOCATION (The Light Green Building in the Centre)

Here is the journey that is in the video: GOOGLE MAPS

Here is the complete journey from work to home: GOOGLE MAPS

Here is the revised route I took once I became brave enough for the mountains: GOOGLE MAPS

So, now that Youtube allows more than 10 minutes, here is the video.  I miss that little zoomer…


Busy Summer Update…

I’ll be quick.  With Erika growing like a weed, and needing my undivided attention, this summer is especially busy.  But for those that know me, summers are mostly busy due to my hobby.  More details here:

Other than that, I’ve started on a small research project, a thesis, training an assistant at work, and yearned for the days when I could just up and go see the latest blockbuster movies…

Hope your summers are just as busy!


Car Thoughts

For those that fall asleep when I talk cars, feel free to check Erika’s site for baby pics instead of reading on here 🙂

So, I finally received my letter in the mail, thanking me for paying off my Cobalt SS (early by 7 months!).  I’ve been waxing about what to do next.  Non car people will respond “nothing”, but that isn’t really an option haha.  My experience with the Cobalt has been mixed.  In 2006 when I bought it, the Supercharged engine was a rare bonus in its price range.  There was the much more expensive Mazdaspeed3, but not much else that was exciting was available.  As FWD cars go, it served us well enough.  It has tonnes of down low torque, which made it susceptible to severe axle hope, which the very slack motor mounts didn’t help.  Over the years, I’ve added a full race exhaust, supercharger pulleys, larger injectors and cooling system upgrades, not to mention better motor mounts and a much shorter-throw shifter.  I have a new supercharger sitting on the shelf with some even larger injectors, and it will be quite the beast when that gets installed.  My issues started mainly with GM, and not the car itself, initially.  GM installed my stage 2 package and did such a bad job, that they ruined the serpentine belt, and I had to wait almost a week for a new one to arrive.  Another service visit resulted in the dealer having the car for the day, not even identifying why the check engine light was on, then charging me diagnostic time, even though it was under warranty; so I paid the bill and fixed it myself.  A back and forth with GM corporate resulted in them telling me to break my car again, take it in, and have them fix it and reimburse me.  Needless to say, that didn’t happen.  I haven’t been to the dealership for a long time now, and will never voluntarily step foot into a GM dealership again.  Way to go GM, this is how a die-hard Corvette fan dies hard.  Anyway, the car has had it’s share of issues; nothing you wouldn’t expect from an economy car.  <<<In the end, that’s what bothers me the most.  Although it has great engine, the rest of the car is based on the Cobalt, aka: the car rental star.  When we got Maki’s WRX, I saw what a quality car was like.  The base Impreza is made to a much higher standard than the base Cobalt, so the WRX is just that much better overall.  Also, the WRX has full time AWD, which I have come to love, especially compared to my FWD rocket; the Cobalt might have more power now, but it can’t handle it, as anything with 200hp or more is quite useless on a FWD car, IMHO.


So, given that rant, I’ve decided that I want an AWD well-made sporty car for my next car.  The most obvious choice is the STI.  However, there are a few reasons why I don’t have a new STI in the driveway now.  One reason is that I’m not exaclty sure what to do with the Cobalt.  When you park the Cobalt and walk away, you can hear a hissing noise as the residual value leaks from it.  See, most people that buy the Cobalt SS tend to dump them when something else comes along that they like better.  Since the supply outpaces the demand, people are having a hard time getting what they owe on them (in a typical 60 month loan).  I wouldn’t be surprised if I had trouble getting 4k for mine, even though I paid just over 30k for it in 2006.  Compare this to a 2006 WRX, which runs about 16-24k used, and you can see the problem.  Likely, I will just keep the Cobalt as an extra car, so that I have something to drive when I’m working on whatever the new car is.  Having an extra car is worth far more than a few dollars off of a monthly payment for a new car, I’ve decided.  So, since the trade-in or used value isn’t enough to be really useful, I haven’t jumped on getting a new car yet.

Another reason I haven’t jumped on an STI yet, is that the interest rates are 5.9% now at Subaru, whereas they tend to dip under 3% in the summer and towards the end of the year.  So, I should really wait a few months to avoid giving “them” some more money for no good reason.  Since I have to wait, and Subaru tends to bring out its new models in August, I decided to look into the 2012 Subaru gossip.  Apparently, the Impreza will be completely updated with a new generation for 2012, including WRX and STI models.  So, now I have to wait and see what the new model will be like to see if I want to wait even longer (since the STI model likely won’t be revealed until the 2011 Toyko Auto Show in December).  I’m hopeful that the New York Auto Show at the end of April comes with some news about the next generation.  Word on the street is that there will be a new engine, which the STI hasn’t really had for the last 8 or more years.  The new engine is rumoured to incorporate direct injection increasing fuel economy and power.  There is always concern about getting the newest engine during the first year of production.  So this long winded speech brings me to my current dilemma:  Do I buy/lease an STI this summer when there are good rates, then either keep it or trade it in in the second year of the new STI, if it is immensely better?  OR do I just wait until the next model comes out?  The risk with the latter option is that the new model turns out to be not as good, and the used market would reflect that as well, making it hard to get an older model.

In the background, I had been considering other cars as well, instead of the STI.  Contenders include these sporty wagons:  an older S6 Avant, Mercedes R Class, BMW 3 series tourer, or perhaps bite the GM bullet and go for a CTS-V wagon (unlikely).  A non-wagon contender, and the option that weighs heaviest in my mind when pondering other options, is the G37 AWD sedan.  The G37 by Infiniti, has a good 330hp, legendary Nissan AWD system, excellent looks and luxury, and Stillen performance offers a 500hp supercharger kit, which would likely find its way on there.  The thing that keeps me from pulling the trigger on the G37, is that it isn’t a hatch or wagon, and therefore is less useful.  Also, the engine isn’t built for boost, so modifying it is much more dangerous than modifying the Cobalt SS or STI.

It also doesn’t help that we live in a world with 500+ HP Mustangs, Camaros and Caddys.  I’ll have to pass on those though…..sigh….

Anyway, I’d appreciate fellow car guy thoughts!  Google has most info, but to be sure you find the right stuff, I’d look at using my postal code if needed S0K2T0, Saskatchewan.  I’ve got my eyes on the STI hatch Sport Tech, and the G37X Sedan, or G37X Sedan Sport.




Some Philosophy for You:

Well, I’ll take a break from one of my assignments to review some interesting metaphysical arguments with you. (Not mine, just interesting historical examples)

Argument For God #1:

  • By definition, God is the most perfect being (yes, even more than Bieber).
  • If God didn’t exist in reality, but only exists as an idea, then there are other things more perfect than God, because they exist (you, me, Bieber).
  • It’s absurd that we are more perfect than the most perfect being.
  • Therefore, God exists, necessarily.

Argument For God #2:

  • Suppose you were walking on a seemingly uninhabited island, and found a wrist watch in the sand.
  • You have two options: 1) The watch was created randomly through waves on the beach over time 2) The watch was in fact designed and created by an intelligent being.
  • Option #2 is obviously more likely, and is to be taken as true by sane people unless proven otherwise.
  • The Universe is extremely complex, and we are just starting to uncover its inner workings.
  • Therefore, Sane people should consider the Universe to have a designer, unless proven otherwise.
  • Therefore, The possibility of God existing is not absurd.

Argument for God #3:

  • Either God exists or He doesn’t.
  • Either you believe God exists or you don’t.
  • Therefore, There are only 4 possible outcomes:
  • If God exists and you believe, then you will receive eternal bliss.
  • If God exists and you don’t believe, then you will receive eternal torment.
  • If God doesn’t exist and you believe, then you gain little (a virtuous life) and lose little (some time and money wasted looking after your church, for example).
  • If God doesn’t exist and you don’t believe, then you have gained little (more free time) and lost nothing.
  • Therefore, The best option is to believe in God as the trade-off is such that being wrong is trivial but being right has a great reward.  Not believing would result in a possible horrible outcome or a trivial outcome, so believing is clearly the best bet.

I’ve been reading student papers discussing these arguments and their strengths and flaws.  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.  Currently, I fall into the hopeful agnostic camp, and find arguments 2 and 3 compelling, but not convincing.

A couple things…

Nothing too intense today.  Just a few thoughts.

1)  Updated the daughter’s web site, and there are some cute pictures from bath time.

2) My professor thinks that adding “either” to an “or” sentence does nothing to make the “or” stronger.  How do you disagree with something that seems like an obvious truth to me.  Your thoughts?  Does “You may have coffee or tea” differ in any way from “You may have either coffee or tea”?  In my mind adding “either” makes it an exclusive choice explicitly, whereas without “either”, the “or” is a bit ambiguous, albeit assumed to be exclusive due to the convention of restaurant choices.

3)  For Canadians, we can dontate to the Japanese disaster relief easily through the Canadian Red Cross here:



Modern Life

I had an AWESOME birthday, thanks to my lady.  The seven million facebook messages helped keep me away from doing any real work at work, so thanks for that too!  Rather than the traditional going-out-for steak supper, we stayed home.  There is NOTHING better than eating a sirloin steak as big as a pizza cooked to perfection, wearing pajamas, with your wife, some wine, a friend, and your cat at your feet.  Maki gave me a PS3, yet more proof that she is the best wife ever, and I found myself chuckling this morning as I looked at the arm of the couch.  We have certainly come a long way in these 31 years that I’ve been around!  So this is how the modern man of 2010 watches TV on a Saturday:

Some random photos from my new phone.

I find that with a smartphone, particularly i really good one like the Galaxy S Vibrant, I am using my Twitter and Facebook accounts more.  Also, I’m using the camera more too.  Here are some random shots, serving as my October update 🙂

These are the accessories I got for my Galaxy S in one auction on eBay for $40.  I love that fact that these things are getting so cheap and attainable.  One bonus to this phone as opposed to iPhones, is that the battery is serviceable, and this auction included 2 spares!  Sweet.

The end of a straw from KFC.  Someone somewhere is laughing at me.  This was one of those straws you take home and then unwrap from the white paper packaging.  Nice surprise!

Here is a beautiful shot of the University of Saskatchewan campus I took the other day.  The weather here the last few weeks has been wonderful.  It’s been a great way to dive into school again.

Last but not least is a lo-res (digital zoom) picture of Chi enjoying the loveseat.

Hope you are all doing well! Until next time,