Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Under Pressure

This is mostly driven by recent observations with my car, but since starting out with that would likely have most readers moving on elsewhere, I'll leave that for later. If all you're here for is the car porn, you want the last paragraph with the associated picture.

Summer has been busy as usual. Even with taking off the week of the Fourth of July, another week in August, and another day or two, there's just more to get done than there is time, at least when you include entertaining the kids. They're getting better about self-entertainment, but every so often, the go into a phase of wanting to do some particular thing that requires help. Moira still asks to play Toy Store 3 on the PS3. Davis asks more for Beatles Rock Band (thanks to Caspar Babypants), where he attempts to play the drums. Davis likes board games in general, and is asking to play one every day. One of the pieces for Mouse Trap got broken, so that hasn't been in the rotation for a while, and I think he's mostly forgotten about it for now. Moira asks about Robot Turtles on a regular basis, which I take as a good sign, but it is something that needs adult help.

During our August vacation, I finally found a place that has two seat go-karts that would let me take Moira out with me. We did a session of that, and talked about it a bit, and it sounds like she isn't so interested in driving on her own. Meanwhile, whenever I'm taking the kids somewhere in the car, Davis asks to take the Porsche, so maybe there's hope. On today's trip, he told me the engine is really big. On the last trip, I tried to explain, at two year-old level, how the engine works, because he kept sticking his arm into the air intake while I was putting in the car seat. We'll see what sticks. The next concrete step will be the Traxx Racing in Mukilteo when he turns 3.

When we first gave Moira an allowance, she was pretty good about saving it up. I remember being quite happy when she decided she wanted a stuffed jellyfish from the Seattle Aquarium (pink, of course), and saved up her allowance over about 6 weeks to buy it. Since then, she's mostly tried to spend money whenever she could. Before turning 5, she mentioned she wanted an aquarium. A small one came up for sale at work, so I bought it and told her that we could set it up when she saved up enough money for fish. She did that earlier this year, so we spent a month or so looking at fish, doing the initial setup with the water and no fish, and finally went to get real fish at the beginning of August. I've kept a 20 gallon tank before, and I don't remember it being a large amount of work. The 5 gallon aquarium was a big challenge. Algae and nearly opaque green water within a week or so. I struggled a lot with it, and finally broke down about two weeks ago and got a 20 gallon, on the assumption it'd be more stable. It was beautiful for the first week, and then after the first water change, we were back to dark green water and various algae colonies. I've added an extra filter, restocked with algae eating fish (I tried with the smaller tank, and they didn't make it more than two days), and we'll see if a less invasive approach from here on out works better.

So, back to pressure. Tires have been a challenge recently. My road bike got a flat tire shortly before I got the electric bike, so it sat neglected for a few weeks. I decided to go on a social bike ride with a few people I didn't know, and figured it'd be better to show up with a regular bike rather than the other crazy contraption. Turns out, the flat on the road bike was due to tire underinflation, which wasn't a surprise, but it was surprising that I ran out of patches before I managed to get the tube to hold air.

One interesting side effect of using the electric bike is it has changed my pacing. With the electric, going uphill is mostly a rest break, so I tend to push harder when I'm getting close to a climb. Getting back on the regular bike, I noticed myself doing that, but caught it before I got to the bottom of the hill. I suppose I could skip using the motor when going uphill and save it for hauling the kids around, but I noticed from my Kirkland bike commute that, after the first couple weeks, there weren't appreciable gains in how quickly I was able to go. I think right now, I'm close to breaking even on how long it takes to commute home with changing clothes and showering on each end vs. sitting in traffic, so while I'd get more exercise per ride, I'm pretty sure the better approach for me is the consistent exercise. When I did start biking to work in Kirkland, I think it was September. I learned fairly quickly what I needed for gear to get through the rain and cold, so I suspect there won't be an issue with being gung ho about biking to work now and abandoning the bike once the rain starts coming down, although I do have to finish getting the front fender installed.

Twenty years ago, I bought my first yellow car, and my first Porsche. That doesn't quite mean I've been a Porsche owner or yellow car owner for 20 years, but it's been close. Twenty years ago, if you were taking the car out autocrossing or to the track, a reasonable place to start was taking factory recommended pressure and adding about 5 lbs. psi. With the new car, I was given the recommendation of 36 lbs. in front and 40 lbs. in back, which is 5 to 12 lbs. lower than factory recommendations. The car has been okay, I've been struggling for grip. There have been enough events where other people have complained about grip that I figured it was affecting everyone. This past event, after actually talking to some people about it, it turns out even that was too high. Getting down into the correct pressure range does help, but not enough given the current state of the tires. You'd think the speed holes that have developed here would help out. Sadly, nearly a year into the car's existence, there aren't any additional options for tires that are legal in my class.
Speed holes!