2008-05-19

Ancient fridge problem finally solved. Sort of.


Earlier today the existence of the LG LSC27990 was brought to my attention. For those of you who are not following the fridge scene closely, this is a side by side fridge with a built in HD ready LCD TV.

While reading the specs I realized something: this fridge makes it possible to finally solve the ancient problem of men and fridges: the fact that we go over to the fridge, open the door and then proceed to stare at the contents for a prolonged period of time with the door open.

Which obviously annoys the lady of the residence to no end.

Now, the only modification this fridge would need is 2-3 wide-angle cameras inside the fridge to make it possible to have a prolonged stare at its contents without keeping the door open.

Ha! Brilliant! Problem solved.

And, as a bonus, HTA pointed out that now we have a way to determine whether the light is on or off inside the fridge when the door is closed. No more lying sleepless at night wondering.

Come to think of it, better give it a wireless connection as well, so I can hook it up to the net and keep an eye on things while I am at work. Better yet: so I can use my PDA to check, from bed, whether or not it is even worth getting up to raid the fridge during the night.

2008-05-17

The inevitable remake.

A terrible thought struck me while I was reading the reviews of Stieg Larsson's crime novels.

They are filming the novels right now, with swedish actors. I had a look at the cast and it seems like a good cast. It'll make an interesting series of films I am sure. People who loved the books will be upset because things won't turn out exactly as they had pictured it, but that is to be expected.

The terrible thought that occurred to me was that they will do a remake of the films in the US. And as usual, they'll strip the movies of all the character and flavor of the story. The books have a very swedish tone to them. They take place in Sweden and are about swedish people. I've seen Hollywood remakes of scandinavian films. They all come out unbearably mediocre and bland. Hollywood doesn't do scandinavian well.

They'll probably cast some neurotic-yet-bubblegum-pretty Helena Bonham Carter-lookalike as Salander, and some slippery Hollywood clown with a tan and a sixpack as Blomquist. Then dumb the story down to the point where it is just like any other cheap action movie.

And that's just too bad.

I really hope I am wrong.

2008-05-16

Nordschleife, part five.

Got back from our fifth excursion to The Green Hell -- all in one piece. This year we drove a car with the full RSR suspension setup and slick tyres. The interior was even more stripped down that previous cars I've driven on the Nordschleife and the seat was so low I could that on the pictures I've seen of myself driving, I look like a kid who driving dad's car; I can just barely see over the steering wheel. All in the name of keeping the weight of the car down and the center of gravity low. The only gauge that worked was the fuel gauge, and on such a long track it was probably the one gauge I would rather not be without.

(No, I didn't drive the LM3000 in the picture on the left. It was just standing in the garage.)

I would have liked a speedo and a rev counter as well, but you don't really need them. I don't really use the speedo for anything and I shift by ear and feel -- except at Breidscheid, where the entry tends to get a bit busy and you'd like to make a note of how low you can go on the revs on entry while still maintaining enough momentum for Ex-Muhle. It is one of those corners where you don't want to screw up since the outer wall is concrete and there's a entry to the track on the right, so you want to do it with lots of margin for error. Unless compromised, Breidscheid is a fourth gear corner in the Alfa 75. If the revs drop below ~4000 rpm up Ex-Muhle you know it'll be painfully slow.
I also got to feel what it is like to lose the tail on this setup. I went into T13 a bit quick on cold tyres and probably lifted slightly before the apex, losing the rear. (Someone suggested there might have been an oil spill there, but I doubt it. I think this one was all my fault). The car slid, then spun when the rear wheels made contact with either concrete or grass and ended up spinning 180 degrees. No real drama, but I wouldn't want to do that again.

Physically, this trip was a bit more demanding than previous trips. For one, driving a car with a setup that offers a lot more grip is hard work; we were in fifth gear at the top of the rev range for much of the lap so things happen a lot faster. Also, it was hot, we drove with the windows shut and you could feel the heat from the engine through the firewall. I was soaked in sweat after each lap and had to drink lots of water not to get dehydrated.

We also went to Kerpen the day before the track day, and the day after. Schumacher's family has a gokart facility there, so all in all we drove 6 heats on both the indoor and the outdoor track. I really liked the tracks. They were long, fairly interesting and well kept. The gokarts were in good shape, although I would have liked them to have a bit more grunt; there was enough grip on the outdoor track to drive tighter lines, but not enough grunt to overcome the additional friction. Apparently germans have no idea what the blue flag means, so most passes of lapped karts turn into a contact sport and then both lose with regard to lap times.

Had a great time though. Hopefully there will be another trip to the Ring this fall.

2008-05-04

Venti Miglia

Yesterday was the annual "Venti Miglia" trip around the Trondheim fjord. Kenneth from the local Alfa Romeo owners club organized the event and about a dozen or so cars took part this year. The weather wasn't the best this year, but that really didn't matter that much since hanging out with the Alfa crowd and having fun driving is the main theme.

It was also a chance to put the new tyres I got late last year to the test. I have to say that I was a bit impressed. The roads were narrow, bumpy and wet but there was still amazing amounts of grip. Kudos to Pirelli for PZero Nero; you've made some really good tyres. I would have thought that they would slip a lot more in the wet, but they stayed planted.

After driving Ståle's 147 a bit the last few days the suspension on my 156 feels a bit wishy-washy (and my 156 isn' exactly what you'd think of as "soft"). Ståle's 147 has a really nice, stiff setup done by Knut Engdal. There's absolutely no body-roll. None. And for a rodent (front wheel drive) it has sharp turn-in without being nervous in a straight line. Of course, this comes at a price. It'll eat through suspension parts and your passengers will inhale sharply and hold their breath whenever they see a bump in the road ahead, but if you like to feel connected to the car it is a real fun car to drive. Oh, and the recent upgrade to Brembo Max grooved brake discs: lovely. It adds another dimension to braking. If you wear thin-soled driving shoes you can feel the grooves on the brake discs through your foot. Absolute braking bliss.