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Showing posts from 2007

VW R32: Deja vu - missing wheel center cap

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What is it with these caps?! This is the third wheel center cap I've lost this year. Strangely, all three instances have occurred on the rear wheels. ::sigh::.

Last time it took two weeks for the replacement cap (1J0-601-171) to come in. I think this time I'll order a couple of them and stock up. Wangos.

Anywhoo, more information and pictures are over here.




The Amazing World of High-Definition Television

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I've seen the High-Definition displays in the stores and to be honest, I thought the HD television channels looked great, but not awesome--at least not awesome like the examples shown in high-definition DVD format.

I was always worried that maybe spending extra money on an HD PVR to watch just a few shows in HD wouldn't be worth it. We already have a PVR that's been great for us. I didn't think we needed a duplicate.

That changed. I am now converted. I am a true believer....

I bought a Motorola 3416 HD PVR (160 gig) on the weekend and installed it on our 37" LG LCD TV. Connected through HDMI, the picture is really, really good on the standard definition channels. That was the biggest surprise. Reading on the forums, a lot of people complained about how bad SD shows were. I found the opposite. The regular channels are actually improved and sharper looking with the new Motorola.

And the high-definition channels? Just amazing. It looks so real that it seems "unrea…

Nothing is more lonely than empty space

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We had a problem with our brand new 52" Sony KDL-52W3000 LCD TV yesterday and it was a doozy: the picture just died. There was no video displayed from any of the inputs: TV (cable), Video1 (STB), or Component (DVD). Sound came in no problem and the menu showed up fine, but the screen was all black.

I did a factory reset and the initial setup, but the problem was catastrophic....

Actually the only way that I could get a live picture was to turn on "Picture & Picture" and watch it on one side of the screen.

In the picture above, the live image is the large one behind the frozen, garbled image. When the P&P size was increased or decreased past the mid-size point, it would freeze and show the corrupted image. The only way to get rid of it was to turn the TV off and on again. At least, the P&P screen was still bigger than our old CRT TV.

It not all bad news, though. I went into Best Buy last night to arrange an exchange and had it scheduled for this Thursday. After…

Size is Important

A couple of weeks ago we retired our old cathode ray tube television, a 27" Sony KV-2781R that was built over 21 years ago in May 1986. It was still running strong (much better than our old Panasonic) but because this year was my big "four-oh", my wife decided to mark the occasion with a new flat-panel TV....

I went through a very thorough decision process choosing a new TV. I already have a 37" LCD in the bedroom and was looking for a 50"+ for our living room. I was sure that I wanted a plasma, until I did more thinking about what my actual needs were.

Reasons why I wanted Plasma first:
- deep black levels
- vibrant colours
- wide viewing angle
- cheaper than flat panel LCD

Reasons why I changed my mind about Plasma:
- 50" was too small, 58" was too big--nothing in between
- potential reflections on screen (lots of lights in our great room/kitchen)
- going to connect Wii: possible burn-in risk (minimal, but don't want risk)
- not as bright as LCD (lots of…

What's that I see?

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Yes, it's true. Old has been dumped for new!

Our Duty Done

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Lest We Forget.

Remembrance Day 2007: And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

I made this video today for Remembrance Day next week. For those of you who don't know, "Waltzing Matilda" is a famous Australian folk song and a “Matilda” was the name given to the pack that Australian farm workers carried on their backs. To "Waltz Matilda" meant to travel the bush with the pack on your back.

The song “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” by Eric Bogle is about 50,000 Australian soldiers who fought against Turkish troops and died in the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I.

The pictures are of Australian soldiers from Gallipoli and of Canadian troops, past and present.

VW R32: Vandalized

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A little over a week ago my R was vandalized. Needless to say, I was and am still not happy. The pictures are self-explanatory.



There's more below the fold.



No need to spell it out, though. The point was made when the vandal(s) carved the R in the first place, unless it's proof of literacy.

First Watch Worn on the Moon

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Omega Speedmaster Professional
Originally uploaded by istargazer. I've always had a thing for wristwatches and the Apollo Space program, so this year I indulged and I bought an Omega Speedmaster Professional as a birthday present to myself.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Speedmaster's introduction and it has had a long history. Click the link below for more information.

The back of the watch is engraved with the Speedmaster mascot and the words:

FLIGHT QUALIFIED BY NASA FOR ALL
MANNED SPACED MISSIONS

FIRST WATCH
WORN ON THE MOON




Apollo Lunar Surface Journal - NASA
The Right Stuff: Inside the Omega Speedmaster Professional - Part 1
The Right Stuff: Inside the Omega Speedmaster Professional - Part 2

VW R32: Key fob badge

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One of the reasons I stop by VWvortex is to get Volkswagen and R32-related news, in addition to seeing what other people are doing with their R32s. I saw a thread about customizing key fobs which I thought was a neat idea.

See over the fold for pictures and information.

This '.:R' badge is constructed of aluminum and fits directly on top of the VW emblem on the fob. Despite being relatively expensive ($10 USD ea.)--life's too short--I ended up buying two. :o)

Sold by NorPacvw.com

The badge has an adhesive backing.

Update 26OCT2007: The adhesive backing is not as sticky as I would like -- I've noticed that my 'perfectly' aligned badge is now askew.

VW R32: Freebies

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In what I think was a nice touch, every new 2004 VW Golf R32 came with a R32 ballpoint pen and leather key chain. I was particularly happy to receive mine (although the United States--unlike Europe--didn't get the R32 umbrella ::cry::) because I'd heard some owners finding one or the other 'missing'.

See beneath the fold for more information and pictures.

I received a leather R32 key chain, extra key ring, and carabiner in a nice box. The key chain is marked up because I've been using it since day one. Well, maybe day two.

Part No. 1J0 860 357

Included with the owner's manual was a R32 ballpoint pen, which I promptly removed and use frequently at home. The 'R32' lettering (in black) is much more visible than in the picture--my oft annoying camera flash, again.



VW R32: Post-wax pictures

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Last weekend after waxing my R I decided to take additional pictures from a more holistic perspective.

More pics beneath the fold....











Follow this link for more pictures.

2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

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2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Originally uploaded by istargazer. It's been awhile since I took a picture of the STI. Here it is as of yesterday with its latest bobble: the Autospeed License Plate Trim.

VW R32: Wash and Wax

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Normally in October I'm anxiously awaiting the next dry spell so I can wash and wax my R. This year, however, it's been unusually dry and warm. I used the opportunity to wax the R despite having waxed it only 5-6 weeks earlier.

More beneath the fold....

I stuck with Einszett Glanz Wax which while not as long-lasting as sealants is a breeze to apply and looks great.

Using my camera's flash bled out any pictures so I was forced to do without, which bought its own set of problems. Out of 15 pictures these two are the only ones that didn't turn out too fuzzy. ::sigh:: Maybe I shouldn't have had that cup of coffee....




Sirius Satellite Radio: Starmate 4

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One of the best things I did to prepare for our road trip across the United States this summer was to subscribe to satellite radio. It was really nice to be able to listen to clear, high-quality sound no matter where we were. Also, the variety of stations available to us meant that we never were short of something to listen to.

So imagine my concern when our Stratus radio stopped working altogether half-way through our trip....

I started noticing problems when we reached Thunder Bay, Ontario. After we had made the border crossing, the radio reset itself: presets erased, no subscription registration. After a few minutes, it re-registered itself and I was able to listen to music again. While we were in Thunder Bay, I was also observing strange behavior with our GPS so I just brushed off the radio problems to some sort of "satellite Bermuda Triangle phenomenon."

As we got farther from the time zone border, the satellite radio continued to reset itself periodically. The annoying th…

Honda Odyssey: Pinnacle Formula One Tint

One of the things I really appreciated during our road trip to Washington, DC was the ceramic window tint that was installed on the Honda Odyssey just before we left. Ceramic tint has excellent heat rejection properties that made a significant difference in our comfort, especially with the 35° C and above weather.

One thing that I didn't think about was tinting the sun roof....

The way the sunroof is positioned in the Odyssey, any sunshine that came through would feel uncomfortably intense, so much so that I would have the shade closed almost all of the time--even here in Vancouver. I didn't have that problem at all in our Toyota Sequoia.

So when I took my dad in to get his 2007 Infiniti G35 to get tinted, I brought the van in to get the sunroof done also. It only cost about $30 and even though it doesn't look much darker, I can now keep the cover open and let more light in without getting uncomfortable.

Here's my original post about getting the Pinnacle Formula One cerami…

Hello? Is anyone there?

I apologize for the lack of up dates on this blog, especially since the last time I posted I was somewhere in South Dakota!

We've finished our 6-week road trip across the United States and are now back in Vancouver. It was an amazing trip and we had a really good time. So good in fact that I miss being on the road.

I don't know why I stopped posting mid-trip. I think I sensed that the end was coming and I wanted to savor each moment. Even though our evenings only consisted of trips to the hotel swimming pool and Survivor Man marathons on Discovery, I still enjoyed it. In fact, we got hooked on the Discovery Channel and the Food Network during our hotel stays and we promptly added it to our cable subscription when we got home! :LOL:

I've got lots of new pictures and I plan on uploading them, but I'm not quite ready, yet. That time will come. Hopefully, this post shows that it may be sooner than later :0)

VW R32: Potenza RE960AS

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The MkIV R32 came stock with Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3 225/40ZR18 performance summer tires which were great--good grip on dry and wet--except for the soft sidewalls. I don't have the luxury of having space to store winter and/or summer tires so I quickly replaced the F1s with ultra-high performance all-season Pirelli Pzero Nero M+S tires. Today, after almost 31k miles I replaced the Pzero Nero M+S with Bridgestone Potenza RE960AS Pole Positions.


The Pzero Nero M+S had good grip on dry and wet, and for the first couple winters worked great in light snow. These tires still had more than 4/32" tread depth and while they didn't stick as well as they did when new the Pzero Nero M+S still had plenty of life. So why did I replace them, now? My reasons were three-fold:

In the span of 3.5 years and 31k miles I've had at least two flats, the first caused by a nail, and the second, who knows. Recently I noticed that I had slow leaks in both my front tires: within one month I …

VW R32: wiper blades

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A short while ago I replaced my wiper blades. They were still useable but I did notice a decrease in their effectiveness.

Part Nos:
driver-side, 1J1 955 425 B;
passenger-side, 1J1 955 426 B;
rear, 1J6 955 427.


VW R32: Lexan headlight covers

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I’d decided to use Lexan headlight covers rather than adhesive-type film to protect my HIDs (Let there be light). I preferred the Lexan covers because I disliked the idea of attaching anything permanent to my HIDs, especially if there was a chance no matter how remote that it could turn yellowish in the future. As a bonus, these covers are OEM. I don’t know about now, but at the time Hillside Imports was the only place in the U.S. that sold them.


Bad news—through no fault of my own the driver-side cover was almost immediately cracked after installation. Good news—it was still useable. Despite being useable I would have replaced it if I could have found a place that sold them singly rather than pairs. I took a close look recently and I’m happy to say that although the covers are marked up, my HIDs are still in perfect condtion. The Lexan covers are well worth the cost.

Anywhoo, 29 months later someone contacted me regarding the Lexan covers. To cut the story short, we agreed to g…

Wallcome to Wall Drug

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Driving from Oacoma to Keystone yesterday was mostly a sight-seeing day with visits to the Badlands National Park and the Wall Drug store in Wall, SD.

The kids are a little distracted in that picture because we were talking to some people who were sitting on a bench outside the store.

Today will be another short-drive day so that we can spend time visiting Mount Rushmore.

On the road again....

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Sorry for the lack of posts the last few days--they've been quite busy. We are currently on the last leg of our cross-continent trip, back on the road and heading homeward to the west coast.

Here's a brief summary of what we've done. More details and pictures will follow when I get time to upload everything.

Because of the intense heat and humidity in the DC area last week, taking the Metro and walking around the National Mall all day long was not that appealing. Also, the National Museum of American History, one of the museums I really wanted to see, is currently closed for renovations and will not be re-opened until next summer....

So what we did instead was take a side trip (3 hours one-way) to Ocean City, Maryland and taking a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. We spent the rest of our time shopping at various outlet malls. I liked Potomac Mills the best because it was air conditioned and had a lot of shops. In fact, it was so big, we went again during the week. We also went to t…

Space Shuttle Enterprise

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Built in 1976, the Enterprise was the first space shuttle orbiter but never flew in space. It was used for series of atmospheric test flights including free-flights and landings to test systems and aerodynamic performance.

I have quite a few more pictures from the Air and Space Museum that I have yet to upload, and those will come. However, our time in DC is drawing to a close and we'll be getting back on the road soon.

Yesterday, to combat the 100 degree F weather, we made a 3-hour excursion to sandy beaches of Ocean City, MD and had a swim in the Atlantic Ocean!

The Face of Death: August 6, 1945 - Hiroshima, Japan

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Sixty-two years ago today, on August 6, 1945, this Martin-built B-29-MO dropped the first ever atomic weapon used in combat on Hiroshima, Japan.

Over 140,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed.

Find more information at The Official Homepage of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and take a virtual tour.

Cold Metal

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The World War II B-29 bomber, Enola Gay.

Enola Gay

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The World War II Boeing B-29 Superfortress: Enola Gay at the National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

The Rotunda

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The National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

Museum of Natural History

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The National Museum of Natural History. One of the (many) DVDs that we brought on our road trip was Night at the Museum (2006) with Ben Stiller. Visiting the Natural History museum on the National Mall here in Washington, DC was a lot of fun because (even though I think the movie set was based upon the American Museum of Natural History in New York) so many things looked like it came straight out of the movie. Things like the main rotunda, the cave man exhibit, the Mammals, the T-Rex--they even had a replica Easter Island statue, "Me no dum-dum. You dum-dum. You bring me gum-gum?"

More pictures to come.

Lincoln Memorial

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The Lincoln Memorial was built to resemble a Greek temple. It has 36 columns, one for each state at the time of Lincoln's death.








Click below for interior pictures....


The statue of Lincoln was carved from 28 interlocked blocks of crystalline white Georgia marble and is 19' high and 19' wide. The south wall of the monument is inscribed with the Gettysburg Address.






It's interesting what you can learn from the back of post cards! ;0)

Inside the memorial, the 12-24 mm wide-angle lens I got came in really handy. I didn't bother to put the circular polarizer on at all because I can't figure out an efficient way to work it.

Washington Monument

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While the Honda Odyssey was being serviced at Sport Honda (details to come), we took the Metro down to the National Mall. The new wide-angle lens I bought was perfect in this situation....


This is the view of the Washington Monument from the top of the steps at the Lincoln Memorial.

Day 21: Fremont, Ohio to Washington, DC

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Today is a "take-it-easy" day--relatively--so I'm finally catching up with some posts I missed.

The final drive into Washington, DC was relatively uneventful especially compared to the day before (Day 20: Black River Falls to Fremont). Plus, sensing that we were getting closer to our destination--we made up some time at the end.


*** Note: The summary below includes arriving at our destination and going out to have dinner at a local restaurant. Distance and average speed data will be affected.
Day's Summary: Fremont, Ohio to Gaithersburg, MD
Total distance traveled: 682.5 km
Estimated travel time (GPS): 6 hours, 21 min.
Total elapsed driving time: 6 hours, 34 min.
Average fuel consumption: 11.7 L/100 km
Average speed: 97 km/h
Highest observed outside temp: 30° C
Number of confirmed V1 bogies: 2

Click below for pictures....





Road Trip Day 21 Pictures


Tokina AT-X Pro DX 12-24 mm F4 lens

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After some careful research, I decided that a super-wide angle lens would be the next purchase for me (vs. a general purpose telephoto). The Tokina AT-X Pro DX 12-24 mm F4 lens ($500) is almost half the price of the similar wide-angle Nikon ($900) and has gotten good reviews on it's performance. Being strictly a beginner hobbyist, I thought it was a great choice.


I've had a couple of days now to try it out and learn about it's advantages and disadvantages....


...which I'll post more details about in another post--sorry for the tease!

On Monday we went to the National Zoo and I found the wide-angle lens to be very unsuited for the situation. And I got only a couple of acceptable pictures from that day. Here's one of my favorites:



The biggest advantage of the wide-angle lens is that it allows me to get the entire shot I want without have to step back so far away.

Yesterday we went to see the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial and I was much happier with my resu…

VW R32: dogbone mounts

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I replaced the EIP Tuning dogbone mount on my R with a mount from BmF Technologies. I’d been satisfied with the EIP mount for 30k miles but for multiple reasons I decided to try something new.


When I first purchased my R I wanted to get an after-market mount to reduce the very noticeable engine thunk that accompanied hard accelerations. I originally chose the EIP mount because it was relatively inexpensive and reported to have a minimal increase in vibration compared to other mounts available at the time. In that regard the EIP dogbone was completely satisfactory. You can find pictures and more information here: EIP Mk4 R32 rear transmission mount.

I wanted to try a new dogbone because recent stories I’d read about EIP made me wonder whether there was something better that would fit my budget. I decided on a dogbone mount from BmF Technologies, a performance tuning shop located in Maryland, because the price was right and I felt it was better constructed.

The BmF dogbone causes mor…

VW R32: Broken brake light

Short and sweet: I had to replace my driver’s side brake light. The brake lights use a P21W (1156 or 7506) light bulb (light bulb replacement list for the Mk4 R32). You can follow the link to see a previous post on how to access the rear light bulbs (VW R32: Broken tail light).

Day 20: Black River Falls to Fremont, Ohio

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If you notice the date of this post, it's obvious that I'm several days behind and I apologize. We arrived in the Washington, DC area Friday night and have been busy with a number of things so I'm just now trying to catch up.

The drive from Black River Falls to Fremont, Ohio (just east of Toledo) on Thursday was a long one because we made a couple of extra stops in Madison, WI and Chicago, IL. Also, reaching more populated areas meant the speed limits dropped and traffic increased. Oh, yeah, we also had to drive through a couple of thunder storms.
Day's Summary: Black River Falls to Fremont, Ohio
Total distance traveled: 881.2 km
Estimated travel time (GPS): 7 hours, 44 min.
Total elapsed driving time: 9 hours, 6 min.
Average fuel consumption: 11.5 L/100 km
Average speed: 97 km/h
Highest observed outside temp: 28° C
Number of confirmed V1 bogies: 3

Click below for more details of the day....

Our first big stop was to find a Circuit City store somewhere along our route. I wanted …