Inconvenient convenience?

Oscar GambleI’ve always thought that Japan, on the whole, make the best cars. Yeah, yeah… Italian and German supercars notwithstanding, but who can afford those? My first car was a Datsun, my second a Mazda. Our current family car is a Toyota.

Since moving to our current address we’ve found the need to buy a second car, because Suzanne and the kids are simply too selfish and lazy to get out of bed before 6am and take me to the train station in the mornings. Because I’m not in the demographic of buying European supercars I could not afford much. All I wanted was a little shitbox to get me from home the the train station in the morning and back again in the afternoon.

Coincidentally, a friend was looking to offload a car of his for cheap so I offered to buy it. It’s a Hyundai, which is a Korean make. The friend assured me it was very well looked after and maintained, and ran well. It does, and knock on wood I hope it keeps going. But there’s one little difference between our Toyota and my Hyundai which bugs me.

See, our Toyota doesn’t require you to turn the headlights off when you turn the car off. As soon as you turn the key to “off”, the headlights go out and the parking lights remain on. It’s not until you open the door that the parking lights turn off. This is pretty convenient for me because it’s just one more little thing I don’t need to remember to do. If I happen to turn the car on the next day in daylight hours and the headlights are on, no problem.

But, this behaviour gets me into trouble in my Hyundai, especially now that we’re in winter. When I leave home, it’s mostly dark. Well, dark enough that driving without headlights would be a bad idea. But when I get to the train station, it’s light enough that you can drive quite safely and legally without headlights. After I’ve parked my Hyundai and turned the key off, my instinct from years of Toyota driving leads me to grab my stuff and go, paying no attention to my headlights which are still on. I can’t tell that they’re on because the sun has already risen and I can’t see the lights reflecting off anything, and the instrumentation lights aren’t bright enough to see in daylight either. And, probably most critically, there is no friendly audible alarm found in other cars, which conveniently tells you that the boolean condition of lighted headlights and an open driver door has been met.

I’ve caught myself a couple times when I look back at my car to see that it’s parked straight, and I see an almost imperceptible red glow from the rear parking lights. D-oh! But on other occasions when I don’t second guess my parking abilities and simply lock-n-leave my car it’s not until I’m actually on the train that the doubts come: “Did I actually turn my headlights off or not?” Usually I can think back and identify that I actually did flip the switch, but one time last week I had to get Suzanne to swing by the train station car park and verify it.

So, who can I blame if I leave my lights on? Certainly not myself! But I can’t decide if I should lay blame at the feet of Toyota (and Mazda and Datsun) for making me the way I am, or blame Hyundai for not adding a feature which any other decent car manufacturer includes in any 20th century car?

Sports weekend

The winding Monaco streetraceSo, the poor Dockers didn’t win which drops them from second to third on the Premiership Ladder, equal second with Geelong but behind on percentage. They stayed competitive for about 2 thirds of the game but eventually were handed a reality check to their fairytale start to 2o1o.

On a more positive note, Mark Webber is starting at pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix, which means that he is likely to win since passing in Monaco is very hard. Webber squeaked ahead of Kubica’s 1m 14.120s qualifying time with 1m 14.104s, but then slammed in the only sub-1m 14s lap of the weekend with 1m 13.826s to throw the issue beyond doubt. It was his second consecutive pole and his third of the season, and Red Bull’s sixth. It starts in half an hour, but I dunno if I’ll stay up to the end as it’s probably the most boring single auto race outside America. They really need to take out the chicane after the tunnel

A note to my future self on replacing my Toyota headlight bulbs

So, dude. You need to change your headlight bulb because it burnt out. Sucks to be you. Anyhow, here’s some tips and tricks to make life easier next time.

  1. You need an H220 H4 from eXelite. Costs about $10. If you don’t already have a spare in the glove box, then go buy one now. But having a spare on hand will save a lot of time.
  2. Don’t try and go in through the front. It’s much easier to open the hood and go in through the back.
  3. If you need to change the passenger side bulb then, yeah, you’re going to need to remove the battery. Sorry dude.
  4. See that big, black rubber seal about the size of a CD? That’s what keeps the water and dust and crap out of the headlight assembly. After you have unclipped the cable from the back of the bulb, you need to remove this so you can take the bulb out. Be careful. Don’t tear it.
  5. There’s a little clip setup which keeps the bulb in place. Unclip the top part first, then flip it down.
  6. Now you can take the bulb out.
  7. Do not touch the new bulb
  8. Do not touch the new bulb
  9. Do not touch the new bulb
  10. Put the new bulb in, flip the clip back up, put the black rubber seal back in place, clip the cable back in place and you’re almost done.
  11. Since you’re an uncoordinated dipshit, you’ve already dropped the nuts which keep the battery in place into some inaccessible part of the engine bay. Best way to recover these is to tape one of your Rare Earth Magnets onto a knitting needle and fish for them.
  12. Since you’re a forgetful moron, here’s the code to unlock the anti-theft feature on the radio: 064. It’s the last three digits in the VIN.

So there you have it. Job done. Go wash your hands and bask in your own glory. You deserve it, dude.

Buemi escapes 200mph Shanghai crash unhurt

The funny thing is he is still trying to steer after the wheels have come off.

Toro Rosso said the crash had been caused by a failure of the front-right upright, which caused an immediate failure of the same part on the left.

The crash happened with 10 minutes remaining of the first session while Buemi was on only his sixth lap after sitting out the majority of the 90-minute session because of a brake-system leak.

Brilliant car paintjob

We saw this car at the Vasse Primary School Fete last weekend. From the outside it’s a regular Ford Falcon station wagon. It’s not until you get up close that you can appreciate the great art which has been applied to it. It’s in the aboriginal style (I’m sure it has a name) where images are created from dots of paint. Every inside surface has been painted, including the engine bay, the engine itself, the interior ceiling, the door handles… every part is covered in brightly coloured dots. It was pretty amazing.

Brian loves lightning storms

Ride the Lightning, YEAH!So, we had an early family home evening tonight. The kids got off school early, and we needed to go to a meeting tonight for their new school they’ll be going to next year. So in between I planned a popcorn and movie night. We watched “Up” by Pixar, which was actually really entertaining. After the movie ended we hurriedly got ready for the meeting and jumped into the car. We noticed that it started raining a little bit, and the radio was talking about severe weather warnings. By the time we got to Mandurah from the rain heavy enough to restrict vision to about 20m and force us to slow down to about 20 km/h.

So we got to the school for the meeting. It was an information night, so we expected a few cars in the car park and a few people to be milling around but there was nobody. Suzanne checked her email again from her phone and worked out she can’t count; the meeting is tomorrow night.

We came home braving flooded roads and broken down cars on the side of the road and for the last hour I’ve been entertained by the most awesome thunder and lightning show I’ve seen in ages, so the night hasn’t been a total bust. I love the sound of thunder, too. It’s so powerful. I  love sitting out the front and watching and hearing the show.

Old technology

So we caught a ride to a family do from Suzanne’s brother who lives around the corner. He drives a crew cab Toyota ute. I rode shotgun, and the kids ride in the back with Suzanne. Part of the way though our journey, Ashton asks, “What is this? There’s one on the other door too.”

“They, my dear, are window winders. You use them to wind the windows up and down.”

“You mean without a button? Using your muscles?”

How quaint that this is the first time my daughter has seen windows which aren’t raised and lowered with a button, but manually.

A Day’s Fishin’

So we took the kids fishing down at the inlet again on the weekend. We didn’t really expect to catch anything. It was more an exercise in keeping the kids occupied and killing time until dinner. Jett managed to catch a nice sized fish of some description. Ashton felt a bit inadequate with her Blowfish. Those little buggers have strong mouths and jaws; they just don’t want to let go of a hook.

There’s also a picture of a Cat Haven vehicle which took my fancy. We saw this at the Mandurah Crab Festival we visited earlier in the day.

My fortieth birthday present: a limo ride

I’ve always loved Hummers, especially the first 1992 civilian release of the original military model. It was big, boofy, chunky and said “Don’t mess with me”. I’m not that much of a fan of the H2, and the H3 not cool at all; I would rather push my Toyota than drive an H3. I’ve bought a small collection of Hot Wheels Hummer which Jett has taken over, and I realise that this is the closest I will ever get to owning the real thing.

From the first time I saw it I thought that it’d make a killer limousine. I started seeing them on TV in around 1995, and I thought that if I could get one out here to Perth it’d make a great business and make me oodles of money. Unfortunately I was never in a position to get the idea off the ground. Still I think it took to about 2004 before I first saw a stretch Hummer limo on Perth roads.

Suzanne made me  insanely jealous a few weeks ago when her school-mum friends got together as a going-away party night activity when ours and another family left our old suburb. She lauded it over me, too. “Guess where I am?” she texted. And every time we’d see a Hummer on the road after that she’d casually mention “I’ve ridden in one of those, you know”.

But, this ride of hers planted the seed of an idea in her mind. This would make a great 40th birthday present for me. I have an aversion to parties and such, especially those in my honour, so this would be a good low-key affair. It took a few weeks of meticulous planning in secret to pull this off without me knowing. And I am so impressed that neither of our kids divulged the secret. I knew something was up about a week ago, but Suzanne made me promise not to pump them for information. I’m pretty sure I could have made them crack, but I was a good sport and didn’t really apply myself.

So we turned up at her parents place and I find a bunch of family there too. OK, good. I knew this much already. Actually, a few things were going through my mind on the way there… perhaps it was a bungy jump; I even thought she might have somehow gotten me onto the show “Wipeout“, but they probably don’t film in Perth.

Anyhow, the limo pulled up and I must say I was really surprised and happy we drove around Fremantle and Perth eating sushi and listening to cheesy rock music videos. See the photos below