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Megan and Friends

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Sluggy Freelance

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Girl Genius

The Slingshot Channel

Wall Decoration for the 21st Century
eBay Sniper

19-06-2017 Dead Lift

My deadlift just died.

Well, not my lift as such, but the rig I had set up to do them on.

I had a sweet setup. I used a wheelie bin, filled with rocks, dirt and bricks to give me 317 kg of weight. With a handle built in. And I parked it next to a concrete ledge so I could stand on top and do my lifts.

It was even under my house so I could do them in any weather, at any time of day or night. You know how you are about to go to bed at midnight and you get a sudden hankering for 3 sets of 6 heavy deadlifts? I think we've all been there.

BUT... On Saturday evening I had barely finished the first set of six when the side of the bin split open and it started to spill dirt and stones onto the floor. Well... that's not going to hold together if I do more reps. Clearly the bins were designed to hold less weight than I've been using it for, and certainly not being lifted up by the handles and dumped down on a concrete floor repeatedly. Even so it's held up for 5 years.

So now what? Well I'll need to clean up the mess. I already took out most of the bricks and sandbags. They were at the top where I used them to vary the load. But now the rest is just fine dirt and stones.

I could try to wheel the whole thing out from under the house, but it could split completely and dump out a big load of fill onto my nice store room. Though as I type that out I realize I could put some ratchet straps around it and they should hold it together until I reach a suitable dumping location at the side of the house.

And I'll have to resort to one handed, one legged deadlifts if I want to load up using the puny amount of weights I've got for my actual barbell.

30-05-2017 F40

Someone put THIS F40 Ferrari owner's manual on the web.

Not only is it cool, it's actually a really, REALLY good user manual. Much better and more detailed than the ones I've encountered for cars ranging from Lexii to BMWs to Fords.

And reading it is just full of anachronisms. One paragraph will be describing something that is still far, far beyond what you will encounter in anything you can afford, and the next mentions something that sounds only about 2 steps more advanced than using a horse and cart.

Page 82, Switch 1. And Switch 4 And warning light 18: Just like when you buy the base model Hyundai Elantra, getting the F40 means that there are switches and lights on the dashboard that aren’t used. Because they saved money by using parts from a better equipped car…

Meanwhile, page 90-91. Am I reading this right? Does the F40 put the seatbelt on for you? That’s… unexpected.

However it is good that they describe how to fit a child seat. eBay Sniper

21-05-2017 Sooo?

Any news? Well... my casual browsing of lightweight super advanced, $5000+ aero bikes took a disturbing turn when I accidentally bought one. For $70. It needed a repair (done!*) and some things...

  1. Pedals
  2. crank to put the pedals on
  3. gears
  4. chain
  5. brakes
  6. handle bars
  7. front fork to put the handle bars on
  8. gear selectors
  9. wheels

A few things like that.

So I figured that the easiest way to get all those bits would be to buy a bike with a cheap, or even better broken, frame and swap everything over. So I got an old Giant OCR. $68 because it was also missing a few things, namely seat, seatpost and wheels.

Mmmmm, the gears weren't the latest (though better than on my Cell), and the rest of the gear was OKish rather than suitable for the top end frame I now have. But worst of all the fork didn't fit. So I fitted about $50 worth of wheels and seat to it, and then pulled a sneaky trick to sell it for more than twice what it owed me.

The sneaky trick is to clean the bike of all the accumulated muck that was on it, give it a polish, and take multiple, clear, focussed, well lit photos. There are so many people trying to sell stuff where you get one or two out of focus photos, taken in the dark, that mostly shows spiderwebs and dirt. This is why I can buy stuff for $68 and sell it for $265.

Not that I'm complaining. It's annoying when I'm reading the ads, but this is how I get, for example, a $1000 set of Roval Swiss wheels for $100. Because I do the work to understand what the vague, useless, out of focus, random ad photos and 1 sentence descriptions mean. Most people don't and so there are few competing bidders.

On that subject there is another bike listed for sale, seems to have better components than the OCR, but the photos are apparently insane. There is no overall photo of the bike, just closeups of bits of the bike. But not including all the bits. I asked for more details and got no reply, so I'm going to assume that one is trying to hide something rather than merely being too incompetent to realize that someone might want to know what the item looked like.

* Repairing the frame. Carbon fiber frames are the ones that most people are the most scared of repairing. But as far as I am concerned they are the easiest to fix. You just buy a $30 kit and follow the instructions that turn up after 5 seconds of google searching. You don't need to have a PhD in the Fracture of Composite Polymeric materials or anything. I mean I DO have a PhD in the Fracture of Composite Polymeric materials, but I don't think that's relevant.

27-03-2017 Rebound

Well that didn't last long. I was back in Australia for 1 week and then it is back to China.

At least I got to finish all of the West World series one on the plane.

What a brilliant series! It's like Jurassic Park was set in Blade Runner, on Groundhog Day, written by George R.R. Martin. Once again I am reminded that a good TV show in the second decade of the 21st century is as good as a blockbuster movie from when I was in highschool. And you get 12 or 13 blockbuster movies per season.

On the downside... well there is probably something that isn't as good as the '80s. The trend with the cool kids to have piercings and ridiculous hairstyles is even uglier than the worse 80s fashion. But I don't care about that. Can't think of much else. I had more hair in those days, but less muscle.

Nup. In retrospect the 1980s were just not as good.


The research lab I'm working at here in China isn't bad, but it's TOO COLD.

I mean I know it is too cold when in the dining hall you realise that everyone is eating with one hand because the other hand is in their pocket to keep warm. That's a give away.

More Bikestuff

So... last time I was in China (a week ago), I was seduced by a lovely sweet little thing whose petite body was irresistably responsive to anything I did. Much better than the old bike I have at home. Pity she was about $6000 more than my toy budget at the moment (ie. $6025)

Hence I was checking out what ebay had to say on the matter. And on the way home my ebay showed up what was an interesting twist to the story.

Meanwhile I am restricted to purchases that my wife wont notice in the bank statements, or else she will declare her own shopping restrictions to be lifted.

A brief look around and the only thing that looks special in my price bracket is a Bosevski handmade thing. Steel not carbon, but hand made in modern times so it was designed to compete with carbon, from the direction that steel should be sprung to be far more comfortable while not being much more heavy. The web has a few people drooling over this builder but it's hardly a 58 gram carbon fiber, spider silk and moonbeams wisp that can't be left outside on a windy day.

Like buying an Aston Martin because I wanted a Lotus.

And... after my test drive I've lost interest.

Yes, it was maybe a tiny bit lighter than my old alloy bike, by maybe 1/2 kg at most. New set of wheels would make that much difference.

Comfort? Nah. I made it a point to go over road repairs, expansion joints, even up and down driveway gutters. It was probably better than my alloy bike stock, but not better if I put on my proper padded shorts for the bum, and now I've got my nice thick lizard skin tape on my bars.

So, it was top condition, great looks (if you like that sort of thing) but when I got home and did a quick 8k on my bike it seems I'd be paying (a small amount of money) for something that really doesn't give me any advantages over an old cell with a couple of small mods that I've already done to it.

Now the guy selling it seemed like a good bloke, letting me try it out, even adjusting the bike so I could have a good test. The bike doesn't suit me, but it might be fine for someone else. I could find nothing wrong with it, except a bit of wear on the tyres and chain. Just not my cup of tea.

But I'm glad I tried it out. Now I've tried a light weight Emonda SLR and a hand built steely and it's really clear which one got the juices flowing. The one I couldn't afford OBVIOUSLY....

10-03-2017 More cars

Back in another car, this was a GM product so you know it's going to be classy. Yeah, my head was literally jammed against the roof. As in it bottomed out the headlining and was pressed against the metal. Fortunately the metal was thin enough to give a bit. The driver was terrible. I mean that by the standards of Chinese drivers he was terrible. I would not be surprised if this was his first week behind the wheel.

He had that learning-to-drive issue of turning the wheel to go through a corner, then partway through he realizes that the angle is wrong, changes it, and then after more of the corner is achieved he realizes he is still wrong and has to adjust again.

And he always started the car as though the clutch had about 2 real starts left in it before it died completely and he was trying to nurse it through one final shift.

In fact at the start of the journey that's what I thought was going on: He was trying to drive around some serious mechanical problem. But as it went on the number of bad things kept increasing until the only factor left in common was the driver.

08-03-2017 China cars

Went in a ride in a new honda. I couldn't tell if it was some sort of long wheel base accord or a legend, but it was rubbish. Compared with the similar sized german stuff it was light and tinny. It was on 60 profile tyres but it still crashed over road bumps worse than my falcon ute. It was as though a lwb mid range limo was set up with racing suspension.

The next day, driving the same route in a Kia, the same bumps were much better controlled.and damped out. Honda has a problem.

Day after that, a Renault-Nissan maxima. Also smooth and damped.

I stand corrected. Another honda accord and this one was as good as the other cars. Not a honda problem then, just that particular car.

Day 5, another honda accord, another rock hard shudderfest. Maybe it was an option they offered. $2000 optional removal of your suspension. Also called the nurburgring pack. I wouldn't be surprised.

Meanwhile, at dear wifey's bar...

Having your own chef, barista and barmaid* on tap, and regarding me as their boss-in-law is a SERIOUS threat to one's health, via over eating, over caffinating, and over drinking.

*May not actually be a maid, or at least only hetrosexually.

24-02-2017 DeDilemafied

Good news.


The Cell Victor I had an ebay $150 bid in on has been bid up to $265.

This is because, being overseas, actually winning the auction would have been a big hassle to sort out by remote control. And because, if I was to be strictly logical about it, I don't need a better bike, I need better legs. And the way to better legs is more riding and less spending.

But the one thing worse than winning the auction was to have someone else win it at $132.50 or something. That would have been terrible.

That prospect is gone now, so I can relax.

$265 is still an absolute bargain... but it's one I can live without.

23-02-2017 Dilemafied

While casually browsing the high end carbon fiber racing bikes... I saw a Cell Victor on ebay, highest bid $106.

This is not the HIGHEST end performance machine. It only went for $2600 new, though all commentry and reviews said it was a screaming bargain at that level, with most comparisons being with other models going for $3600, $4000, even up to $5000. In car terms it probably compares to something like an RS Ford Focus or a Toyota Supra Twin Turbo; something that in purely objective terms compares to the Aston Martins or Porsches... but in ownership experience is still lacking that special something.

To make the comparison with a car less clear, with bikes the engine is the same. And the transmission and brakes are all made by one of 3 companies, and the Victor rose to fame because it was using the same transmission and brakes (Shimano Ultegra) as the Aston Martin level bikes. And common wisdom is that the body (which includes the suspension (which is just the flexing of the wheel mounts)) was just copied from a European name brand racing bike of a few years earlier.

So in this case it's like a Toyota Supra had the same engine, transmission and brakes as the Aston DB7, same performance, the body and suspension was a previous year's Maseratti, and only the interior, grill and wheels were toyota. And wheels are easily upgraded too (after all I did on my Blade).

So of course I put a bid in. $150 as per the Gixen snipe tool. eBay Sniper

So now of course I'm torn. Do I want to win what should be the performance bike bargain of the year? Well yes. But then I realize I'll be in China when the auction finishes. So either I ask the guy to hold it for me, or I get someone to pick it up.

The one guy who would be happy to pick it up: well, how do I put it? I'm not 100% sure he could pick up a light weight carbon bike, put it in his car, and keep it for me without damaging it in some way. I'm not 70% sure come to think of it.

And then work decides I might spend another week or so in China. Making the prospect of asking the guy to hold it even more dicy.

But Why?

So, why was I seduced into bidding on a lightweight carbon bike anyway? Because... well because Dear Wifey's bar is next to a Trek dealership. So I went in and had a look.

You walk in, and there are the super aero Trek Madones* looking all like if you asked a 1980s me what a 21st century bike would look like. The price is a prudent and reasonable Y80 000, which calculates to be.... $16 000.... hang on, that's not prudent and reasonable! That's terribly expensive.

Oh, I am informed, that's not expensive. THIS ONE is expensive. Y130 000, so about $26 000. Errr.... yes. That would be expensive then.

This is a Trek Emonda, which doesn't look that fancy and advanced at all, at least not compared to the Madone. But it is light. "You can pick it up with one finger." OK. So I go out, stick my little finger (you can pick up any pushbike with your big or index finger, get real) and try to lift it up. I just about threw it into the roof! It was SO light it almost flew off the end of my finger. Only 4500 grams.

Paniced staff ran over to direct me towards less expensive (though still, pretty damn expensive) machines before I could smash a year's wages against the ceiling.

And because I'm a balding white man they think I'm rich and gave me a test drive.

Not of the $26k version, no there appeared to be a shop assistant specially detailled to keep me away from that one for now. But the $6k version of the same thing. With the same frame, but cheaper (heavier) seat, handle bars, brakes, gears, wheels .... it came out as 6.3 kg. Which is still half a kg too light to be allowed into a bike race. They all have a weight limit of 6.8.

Anyway, I only got to ride it up to the end of the street and back... but wow. Just wow. My previously lovely Cell Blade is an overweight and clumsy pig compared to this thing.

And THAT is why I was bidding on lightweight carbon fiber bikes on ebay.

* Trek has the Madone, which is the aerodynamic bike for flat roads. And the Emonda which is the light weight bike for hills. These are anagrams of eachother. The letters can be made into another pronouncable word: Domane. Which is their comfortable long distance bike for big (100km+) rides. All terms are anagrams.

We don't know what they are saving the name DAEMON for, but it should be pretty special.

21-02-2017 Sometimes you DO get what you pay for

We've all heard the old saying "You get what you pay for"

This saying is usually trotted out whenever anyone mentions paying less for something, and of course the obvious rejoinder is that "That's what they said selling Enron for $80 per share".

But just occasionally it's true, and so it is with my recent coffee purchases. Following the failure of the (free, from the hotel.... Mmmmm maybe you DO get what you pay for?) coffee filter, I went back to my coffee bags that I'd brought from home.

I had Jed's coffee bags, which were about $4.50 for a pack of 10, and Robert Timms which were about $4.50 for a pack of 24. The specs claimed to be the same... but Jeds are definitely 2.4 times as good. Sadly I've run out of Jed's, with my last cup now empty sitting in front of me. Jed's is comparable to a GOOD black coffee made in a nice clean manual espresso machine. That's pretty awesome given the convenience, speed, price and that you can take it to China with you.

Timm's isn't that good. If you were served that in a coffee shop you wouldn't send it back, but you probably wouldn't go to that shop again. However it's still about 1003.7 times better than no coffee at all, or instant, which is much the same thing.

20-02-2017 Pleasant walk and then disaster

Yesterday, being Sunday, I didn't go to work. Instead I, and another engineer, went for a walk around some interesting bits of Ningbo.

The PLAN was to go to a large lake outside of town, rent some bikes, and crank up some Strava numbers. In practice it was cold and windy and so we decided to spend the morning in a historic library and hope it warmed up by lunch time.

The library was actually some guys private house library, that he kept in his family for 400 years until it become open to public when China went communist. As such it was a glimse into what a seriously wealthy family mansion was like, as opposed to the palaces that are usual tourist fare.

It was not THAT comfortable looking, but very pretty. Clearly you'd need a bunch of servants to keep the place up, but it seems the family had enough money to keep the servants employed and were still making beautiful additions to the house as late as the 1920s.

And there were some art galleries, including one that had Q. openmouthed in shock.

"THAT is the most famous Chinese caligraphy ever!" She says reverently. It's like finding that some guy had the Mona Lisa in his house. I read the signs...

"It says it's a copy" I point out.

"No you don't understand" I am corrected. It seems that the copy is by a guy just as famous as the original. Like a copy of the Mona Lisa, done by Rembrandt.

And this over here is a copy of the Mona Lisa, done by Picasso. And this is a copy of the Mona Lisa by Monet...

The whole art gallery was the same piece, done again and again by different famous (to Chinese caligraphy enthusiasts) artists.


And the original was lost/destroyed/assumed-into-heaven about 1500 years ago, so this copy-by-another-master is the best that remains.

Then, we had lunch, and went for a walk around a nice lake in the center of town. And she went off to buy fine Bai Ju for her husband ("The best cheap brand I can find.") As I went to the old drum tower markets and wandered through them for an hour before going back to the hotel.

So all was good? Well... then I got to find out what happens when you are making filter coffee and the filter breaks through. AND I was at work without any spare coffee, so I didn't have a choice but to accept a cup full of coffee grounds and strain them out with my teeth. Despite a thorough brushing that night I was still finding some grounds in my mouth the next day.

18-02-2017 China Again

Off to China again. So... if you aren't supposed to join the mile high club on a commercial airliner, then why do the departure lounge toilets have condom vending machines?

Talk about mixed messages.

Or is it acceptable to have "a holiday encounter" somewhere in the departure lounge itself? Is that what all those Qantas clubs are about? Maybe Qantas really is pronounced the way it is spelled?

The movie selection on the flight was terrible. Miss Perigrine's home for peculiar children was quite good. Doctor Strange was acceptable, but not great. I started watching the newest remake of the Magnificent Seven... turned it off after 10 minutes. Lasted a bit longer on Keanu the Kitten. Lasted a bit shorter on some other thing that I cant even remember. Gave up and turned to TV.

2 Broke girls is mindless laughing at sexy girls making rude jokes, so that worked for a while.

And then I tried West World. Oh. Wow. How come I've never heard of this? Like Jurrasic Park set in Blade Runner, written by George R R Martin. Only with more lesbian sex.

Going to have to follow it up when I get home.

Downsides? Well it did clearly feature a revolver being loaded with cartridges, only to turn into a cap and ball model as soon as the process was finished. However... it is not 100% certain that this is an error... we know that the revolver in question isn't completely real per se...

Meanwhile... as I try to sublimate my thwarted desire to purchase a high performance car by looking instead at a high performance bike, which is much cheaper and easier to hide from my wife...

Going off the shiabike series of youtube videos, the difference between a $200 aluminium frame (such as what I have ) and a $4000 Titanium or $2000 Carbon frame is just the vibrations getting through to the hands and seating area. Which you can replicate with about $3 worth of double taping the handlebars, and getting a carbon seat post and seat rails (about $35 on ebay from what I can see.)

And getting the light weight response of a $4000 6kg carbon bike is just a matter of lighter wheels and light, low friction tyres. Lighter wheels were $50 on ebay and I know a guy who knows a guy at a bike shop so I got super high end GP4000 tyres and Lizardskin bar tape for free. The result? Yes, I can see what he is talking about. I still dont have a ride on a really expensive bike to compare it to though.

And the real enthusiasts, the ones who ride (or sell) $5, 8, 12000 hand built titanium or even steel frames, argue that there is a difference between vibration and "buzz" that a carbon bike absorbs, and big bumps and jolts that only titanium or steel can deal with. The point being that the linear elastic steel or titanium will just flex more under a bigger hit, while carbon is nice and flexy at very small deflections (the plastic matrix takes those loads) but stiffens right up when the fibers are being loaded at larger deflections.

Meanwhile, aluminium is stiff and nonabsorbant everywhere. So it is uncomfortable, but cheap. Until you put on bouncy tyres and double bar tape, maybe with an absorbant seat post (carbon? Titanium? Steel? Actual suspension???)

Carbon is still lighter though. And a bike that's feather light is just pure sex, regardless of how little it actually means in terms of strava times.

And... I dont think ive been pumping my tyres up enough when I compare how hard they are to other road bikes at the company bike rack. Could explain why I get so many flats. Maybe I should lash out and buy a tyre gauge? But they are like $6-7. You can get a whole bottle of vodka for that. Or at least I can get a bottle of vodka for that. I know a girl who knows a guy in this industry too.

Not that I have that option at the moment, being in the wrong part of China. But I did get another bottle of Tequila last night for about AU$13.

See I was in a shop when I was here last time and they had Whisky (made in China) for $8 a bottle, and Tequila (made in Mexico, (apparently)) for $13. And I figured they were both going to be somewhat harsh and of less than amazing quality. But cheap and nasty whisky is just nasty, but cheap and nasty tequila is often OK. After all, traditionally in the anglophone countries, we only got cheap and nasty tequila, so our tequila drinking is optimized for that sort of thing. Shots. With lemon and salt. Designed to cover up the cheap taste.

It was called something like Tequila la Morta which my American movie and tv level spanish tells me means Tequila of Death.

So I bought it.

Then I found it was actually pretty good. At least above the base line of tequila in Australia. So this trip I bought another bottle.

08-02-2017 My Own Performance Vehicle

Owing to extreme poverty, or perhaps me spending too much money on frivolities such as real estate, I am not even in a position to buy a hot little turbo car (though there are some screaming baragins around as my previous tests of MR2s reveal.)

Hence, my performance vehicle options are limited to push bikes.

Here, dearest wifey has taken the lead and for my birthday a number of years ago got me a Cell Blade.

So where does a Cell Blade fit on the performance spectrum? Well it's about at the level of a base model Japanese turbo car actually. Sort of a Celica GT4 or a Subaru Imprezza WRX. Which is the sort of car I'd probably be looking at, so that is in keeping with my personality.

This is not an obvious conclusion, so I have some reasoning that goes here.

All that is very well, and shows that the original purchase was spot on. But, you know... it would be nice to have something better...

21-01-2017 New Girlytruck

I think the title is clear, but I'll spell it out.

Friend has a nopix (wife in the language of normal people), she wants a new girlytruck (you know, those urban 4wd small trucks that women love). The Audi Q5 3.0tdi is nearly 4 years old and so needs to be updated before she's too embarrassed to drive in public.

Requirements - MUST not have the stupid brainfart idiocies that are driving her crazy with the Audi

- No smart stop that can't be permanently turned off without going aftermarket

- No DSG gearbox that does stuff like roll backwards at the traffic lights.

The Auto-Hold should have been in the Q5 she already had. It didn't actually auto-hold unless you turned on a special hillstart button. If you did that then the thing would do a hillstart every time you came to a stop, so you have it brakes on....then jump forward, even when you are trying to park.

Of course she could just turn the button on and off as needed when she came to a stop, but in that case she would have bought a manual like a real car and wouldn't need any of this automatic stuff.

- No suspension that needs a rebuild after 6 months of ownership

- Be at least as impressive a badge as her friends Porsche

Should also

- Be easier to squeeze into tight underground car parks than the Q5

- While still being a big high truck so she can forget she is only 145 cm tall in real life

- Be at least as impressive a badge as her friends Porsche (yes, a repeat, because )

- Not cost much more than about $100k

So my friend and I both came up with Porsche Macan, which we are off to test drive soon.

Do they avoid the worst of the VAG design choices?

I think we in the colonies only get the diesel Evoque...OK, found it. The landrover Australia website hides it but if you play around with the options you find Si4 Petrol (9-Speed Automatic) 177 kW

The size thing is a bit vague to me. She was saying it was more that the Q5 was very square so the corners poked out into walls that fail to give way.

More on the hill start

OK. Here's the story, (as told to me), and it's probably the real reason the Audi is going and some non-Audi (TBD) is being bought.

Pull up at the lights, there is a slight slope, something you wouldn't even notice. The engine turns off because it does that whenever you stop. DSG Gearbox goes into neutral. She puts her foot on the brake (because duh).

Lights change, she takes foot off the brake and (with non agressive driver speed) goes to put it on the accelerator, but not quite fast enough to stop the car rolling back a handswidth.

DSG gearbox goes into panic mode. The CAR IS MOVING BACKWARDS. WTF!!! Decides to shut down the auto restart because you don't restart in drive if the car is going backwards.

So now the car is in neutral, with engine off, and her foot on the accelerator isn't making it go forward. If your car is supposed to be on, and you don't understand what's happening, you accelerate to go forward. So she puts foot down to make car go forward and stop rolling backwards. Keep rolling backwards until car behind provides a gentle landing pad.

Now like I said the slope was really mild so the roll back into the car behind only scratched paintwork. But it freaked her out. Audi dealer says this is normal behaviour and you should put the handbrake or hillstart assist on every time you come to a stop. Audi dealer may be retarded. Audi product designers clearly retarded. Female drivers....?

In a way it's like the Audi issue with unintended acceleration. There you have retarded (that word comes up a lot with Audi) American drivers who thought they had the foot on the brake when they were on the accelerator. If the car starts moving you push the pedal you think will stop you. If the car keeps moving you push it harder. Result: Car accelerates.

This is like the exact opposite. She had her foot on the right pedal (accelerator), but the computer decided that something was up so it changed the way the pedal works. Now the accelerator doesn't get the car moving and she actually needed the brake.

- It's possible that Audi's panic stricken DSG gearbox computer is because they are over reacting to the unintended acceleration thing and really, REALLY don't want the car to accelerate if anything indicates that the driver is not doing everything exactly by the book.

- If the auto stop/start could be permanently turned off, this wouldn't be a problem. But it turns on every time you start the car.

- If it had a normal autobox this wouldn't be a problem, but no they developed a gearbox for supercars and then stuck it into diesel girlytrux.

- If the driver was faster to react it wouldn't be a problem. Probably heaps of Audi owners never have this happen because they go from brake to throttle faster. But it's a high end luxury 4wd. The intended market is mature women. Not that she is particularly unco with her feet either. She was professional ballet for years.

BMW X6 is too big. We might check out the X3 to see if it's gotten better since the last time we went through this exact process.

We are going to see what Mercedes can offer.

The VW offering is probably a bit too similar to Audi for her liking. As well as downmarket badge.

And I knew a guy with a VW Jetta which had EXACTLY THE SAME hillstart issue. (This was years before he came out as gay. No sarcasm.)

OK. Despite male argument, Mercedes was ruled out of contention for reasons. Important vital reasons. Whatever they were. BMW was out for a reason we did understand: they are apparently ugly. This also ruled out Volvo. My mention of Mazda was not even responded to. Lexus, well she doesn't want a 5th Lexus. Because the other 4 were reliable and nice?? Alfa was rejected because they are months away and will probably catch fire. Maserati and Tesla are too many $

Anyway, on to the ones we actually drove.

The Audi feels fairly solid and the 3.0tdi engine is torquey, powerful, and very good on fuel. (Better on all three points than say the six in my coon ute.) But, dodgy gearbox and stop-start behaviour is why she wants out of it. It is also rough on the bumps. Over Sydney roads it's much rougher than any luxury spec vehicle should be. In actual bush roads it would be ridiculous.

The Jaguar Fpace was better than the Q5 in every way that we could see.

- Suspension was softer over bumps and rough roads, but gave better handling. Win to Jag

- Engine was much the same. Tie

- Gearbox was not SMG but acted more like a normal auto. Win to Jag

- Audi stops the engine when you stop the car, and then starts the engine when you put your foot on the accelerator again, allowing for the possibility of rolling back as we have discussed upthread. This also means you have an extra half second delay in taking off from the lights as the engine has to start again. And then you have automatic transmission delay. And then you have turbo lag...

Meanwhile the Jag starts the engine again when you take your foot off the brake, NOT when you put your foot on the accelerator. About 0.25 to 0.5 seconds faster. No chance to roll back even if the tranny allowed it. Far superior. - Strong Win to Jag

- Interiors? Meh. They all have a lot of plastic looking leather and leather look plastic. If you changed the badges around I couldn't pick the brand except for the moderately sweet Jag gear selector. Tie

- Steering. Jag is clearly more of a driving car, but if you really cared about that you wouldn't get a girlytrux anyway, but for what it's worth: Win to Jag

- Parking. Both feel the same size moving into and out of tight spaces. Tie

- Feeling of quality. The Jag wins on that one. Compared to my coon ute, the Q5 feels really solid and heavy. But compared to the Jag the Audi feels... just a bit less solid. A little bit more flexy? No, flex isn't the right word, but the Audi feels like it is thinking about flexing. It might one day actually flex. The Jag was tight as a drum.

So the Jag was tops eh? Yes. Until you drove the Porsche Macan.

- Macca Suspension was softer and quieter than the Jag or the Audi, but gave better handling than either. Win to Porsche

- Engine was much the same in all three cars. If you really got up to the screaming 5 grand redline the Porsche was a bit quicker maybe, but if you drove like that you'd get a petrol engine. Tie

-Jag engine was louder with an audible turbo spool. Good in a sports car, bad in a girly truck. But not really much there. Win to Porsche

- Gearbox in the Porsche was SMG but acted more like a normal auto. Tie with Jag

- Porsche has the same basic approach to stopstart as Audi, but has clearly revised the software a lot and fixed all the bits that Audi did wrong. I still kind of liked the Jag starting from the brake signal, but it was now a very marginal thing compared to the Porsche, instead of a big deal when compared to the Audi - Slight Win to Jag

- Interiors? Meh. They still have a lot of plastic looking leather and leather look plastic. Jag has a nifty gear selector. Porsche has a more interesting, sports car like instrument panel. Porsche has a LOT of buttons, which are arranged sort of logically. There is a chance you could find what you want, and that you could learn where they are so you can use them while driving. Jag looked simpler but was probably more difficult to use once you got used to it. Tie

- Steering. Jag might be 5% better on this one. But we were running the Porsche in comfort mode: Tentative Win to Jag

- Parking. Porsche was just a size smaller than the Audi or Jag. Parking instrumentation was good in the Porsche. Visibility a bit better too. Important Porsche win.

- Feeling of quality. Compared to the Audi, the Jag was tight as a drum. The Porsche was tight as an all steel drum with added angle iron bracing. It was maybe an effect from being a little shorter and and little narrower, but it felt more solid than the other cars. It was also noticeably quieter. Win Porsche.

- Colour. Yeah what? Apparently this is a thing women do, where they take colour into account when choosing a car. Porsche had Black, White, Dark Blue, and a couple of other colours that don't matter because they aren't in stock. Jag has a huge pallet of really nice options. Stock TBD. Win Jag

Now I don't want to give the wrong idea here. All three cars were clearly in the same class. And the Audi was 4 years old that might have affected how tight and quiet it was. In many ways it was clear that the Porsche was really just the Audi with 4 years of careful development work and fixing a couple of brain fart ideas.

But end of the day the Porsche was the winner.

There is still the possibility of a late charge by Jag depending on pricing and offers and discounts. But we'll have to see.

16-01-2017 Christmas Dinner Leftovers

Ooh! Look at this. I've just found my notes from the company christmas party. Completely unedited. I think they speak for themselves.

Teeth buzzing at 11:15,. '$uppoised to be 10:15 but some vpcalled a meetimg with ten minutlrs notice

Itsa kardonay you chunt.


I'm going to stop dri.king alcohol until my eyebrows stop buzzing.

Wwhat about beer?

That doesn't count.

Consrtructing trebuchets out of cutlery. I may or may not have lauched a fork that smashed a glass.

You know yoyr companu chrisrtmad part is going well when t b e vp rings the ceo and uses the words bitch and clogwog (dutch)

10-01-2017 The wheels on the bike go round and round

Reading more and more about good bikes, the things that cost over $2-3 thousand dollars, if not more. There seems to be a couple of things that stand out when people talk about what's good.

Smooth changing good gears are good. Apparently. And never, ever use the electronic gears because then you'll never be happy with the stone age mechanical stuff and be forced to pay $1000 to get an electronic system.

Lighter bikes feel better, but aren't necessarily faster. Except up steep hills when the person riding them is sufficiently tiny themselves for the bike mass to count.

More aero bikes are measurably faster, but your helmet, shirt and position make more difference than the bike.

Better materials, like carbon or titanium, make a bike more comfy to ride, but not as much difference as getting the tyre selection and pressure spot on.

Better wheels (lightness and aero) make more of a difference than anything else.

Lighter wheels don't actually help your time, but they make the bike feel more alive and faster and more responsive and more betterer in every way.

The conclusion is obvious, get lighter, more aero wheels with better tyres and forget upgrading the rest of the bike.

So.... I got a pair of $350 Shimano WH-RS30 wheels (2nd hand on Ebay for $50) and tried them on.


Not that impressed. The weights are a fair bit less, my bike's overall weight has gone from 9.7 kg to 9.0 kg. And it definitely seems lighter and more responsive as I go up hills. But it's at the point where it could still be placebo. I'm not noticing my strava times being slashed or anything. (Which is in keeping with the advice that light wheels feel better but don't actually make you faster).

More impressive is that the front wheel came with a light weight racing tyre. A Schwalbe Ultremo which is rated fairly highly. This is clearly VERY different from the tyres I've been running up till now.

And it feels better, lighter, smoother and more comfortable than the heavy cheap stuff.

And I've had two punctures so far in 4 rides. I've given up at the moment and have reverted to a cheap, heavy, thick, puncture resistant one for the nonce.

06-01-2017 Back in Black Fluoro

6 days rest, then back in the saddle for 2017, my first ride for the year. I woke up, sunny but not hot, ideal. I put on my skintight, barely transparent, fluorescent green and red, lycra, drank a soy cap, and opened the door: pouring rain. D'Oh!

Back inside I check the radar. Seems to be one little concentrated storm moving to the SW, then no more beyond that. 5 minutes later the rain stops.

So outside again. There are threatening clouds in the sky... wait, those are to the SW. That's the rain that just passed us. Look to the NE... more threatening clouds.


Then I thought about Rule 5. And I got on the bike and set off.

The road was wet, so I got some spray from the wheels. And a very light sprinkle a couple of times, but it wasn't until I was safely inside at work that the heavy stuff started. So one more point for Rule 5.

Meanwhile, Strava gave me this little movie about 2016.

31-12-2016 Strava Rapha Festive 500

Strava Rapha 500 total as of 9:40 this morning: 527 km

Current Rank 3,706/66,413 (which is nearly top 5%, which is stunning considering the longest ride I had ever done before this was about 20 km)

I was very surprised at how painful and grinding it wasn't. I feel much better now than I did after my first "long" ride, which was shorter than the little warm down I just did to get me over the 500 total.

I'm convinced that these 8 days have done WONDERS for my riding ability, and that when I go back to my 17 km each way commute I'll find that it seems like I haven't even warmed up properly before I get to work. Meaning I'll have to start doing interval training on the commute I guess.

Issues? Well I have been getting more and more pain in the palms of my hands, especially once I get over 2 hours on the bike. My thinking on this is:

1. I could go for better bar tape and or gloves, which is probably a good idea, but may be just covering up the symptoms

2. I probably have too much weight on my hands, indicating my seat is too far back forward and tilted too far forward.

3. My seat is in that position for testicular comfort reasons

4. Therefore I need a better seat, which means trying out 11ty different designs until I get the perfect fit.

Also, yesterday I started to get pain in my left knee. Now I did manage to get this dislocated once in Jujitsu, so it is a risk, but it has been behaving itself for about 5 years now (front squats FTW) so I was a bit surprised.

THEN when I came to a stop... I couldn't unclip my left foot. Now I was giving myself a safety margin, so I could unclip my other foot and not fall, but when I looked at my cleat it seems it had come loose and was rotated about 10 degrees anticlockwise. So now when I rotated my foot the shoe hit the pedal before the cleat came out. This was almost certainly holding my foot at a slight angel, hence the knee pain.

Today, with corrected cleat position, it felt much better, but I was still getting discomfort in the knee at the end of only 2.5 hours. Hopefully this is just lingering from yesterday and a few days off the bike will fix him up.

28-12-2016 Strava Rapha Festive 500

Over halfway there, at 312 km.

26-12-2016 Strava Rapha Festive 500

Well this Festive500 isn't quite as bad as I feared.

Previous ever longest ride: 20 km

Today: 80 km for a Rapha500 total of 203 so far. It's easier than I thought.


Next post to be from Hornsby Hospital, Cardio Pulmonary Unit

24-12-2016 Strava Rapha Festive 500

And it seems that the guys at work talked me into this 500km bike ride thing.

Only 63 km so far, then I had to go to a Christmas lunch. Then it started to bucket down.


Anywhere else around the Hills District that is really flat and easy?

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