When I finally came to motorcycling at the ripe old age of 42, it was just another line item on my bucket list, next to “expat in the EU” and “race cars”. I never imagined what it would lead to.
Quit boiling your broccoli. Quit microwave steaming it. Try braising it.
Cut up a head of broccoli (or two). Rinse it well. Put a frying pan on the stove and heat it. Add one tablespoon of butter and melt it. Toss in the broccoli florets. Add about an ounce of water. Turn the heat to high and put a lid on it. Best is a lid that fits down in the pan and sits on the broccoli. One of those silicone thingies is great.
Cook for a few minutes, until the color changes, then remove the lid. Continue cooking until the water is gone. At this point, your broccoli is ready to eat, unless you want to give it a little fry and brown it.
This is actually really similar to steaming, but with higher heat and butter.
If you are really adventurous, don’t add any water. The broccoli will cook just fine and the florets will brown in the most amazing way.
I have been looking for a throttle rest for a while, and finally found time to hit up the IronPony and check out what is available. I decided on a left-handed Throttle Rocker and fit it to my bike.
Here, I digress, sort of. I have big hands for a girl. Not just big, but long. Gloves are a total joke, and I usually end up wearing a mens’ L or XL just to have room for my fingers and thumbs. This turned out to be a problem.
I tried my favorite waterproof gloves that mostly fit – a sweet pair of Racers:
Then I tried my everyday gloves, some IXS RS200s (mens’ XL!):
You can see where this is headed. I went ahead and rode with the Throttle Rocker for about a week, during which my bike kept shutting off on me. Knowing the history of my poor old GS, I was starting to wonder if I was headed down the bad path again, but quickly realized that I was shutting off the bike myself as my gloves were hitting the kill switch when I rolled off the throttle! Yikes is not the word for it.
So, while I really do like the comfort and the function of this sort of palm rest, I don’t think it’s going to work out for me
I’m a stickler for good brakes and Constant Vigilance! Of their condition. You just never know when you will need them.
The ramp from NB Mound Road to WB I696 is a great flyover. It widens out to two lanes to accomodate slow trucks and is banked neatly. You crest it and swoop down into a five-into-two merge that is not for the faint of heart, but everyone knows it’s there, so, no big deal, right? It’s a nice example of a half-Iron Cross type interchange.
The ramp closes from two lanes to one lane about halfway down, and then that lane merges into two lanes coming in from Southbound Mound on the right. Visibility is arguably not good, but it’s also not too bad. You have a great view in your side mirror for both cars and bikes, assuming you know how to use it. Shortly after that merge, the final two into one merge onto I696 to the left completes. Again, it’s visible from a fair distance.
The merge into Southbound Mound traffic was apparently too much for the driver of an SUV on Monday. I hang back when cresting the ramp because you never know what will be on the other side, and this time, my reserve was rewarded. I came over the top to see the driver slowing down. Then really slowing down. Then… STOPPING. Yeah. Needless to say, I was praising the gods of Brembo and EBC, although I’m not sure the words I was using would qualify as traditional prayers.
I’m not sure what they have been teaching young drivers over the past few years, but I hope no one has ever said that stopping on an on-ramp is a good idea.
Found this oldie in a dark corner of the interwebs…
Go back to 1964. While GM is not thinking about much besides moving some people around at moderate speed, a few engineers at Pontiac have other ideas. Borrowing from Ferrari (more on that later), they designed an option package for the mild-mannered Tempest. Ignoring GM’s self-imposed displacement limit of 330 cubes, they pulled a 389 cubic inch V8, new steering, and a funky dual exhaust together for an option package they would call “GTO”. As the line grew and matured, a manual transmission, improved rear end, and stronger styling would be added. This first of the sleepers, the GTO would take America by storm, outselling even the wildest expectations of the engineers.
Gran turismo omologato
Go back to 1962. You will find a Ferrari that wasn’t just a track car. One of the first few supercars, nitro you could take out on a date and bring home without worrying about the aftermath. A car you could drive to work on weekdays and wring out on the track on weekends. True homologation (omologato) was a bit questionable, with only 42 of the required 100 cars (for GT qualification) actually being built. Somehow this was overlooked in the racing circles, and Ferrari went on to torture opponents at race time. The Scaglietti coupe remains one of the most beautiful automotive designs to ever find its way into traffic.
Grand touring, homologated
Homologation is the process of making a car street legal. The Ferrari was homologated to participate in the particular racing class it was destined for. While some may question the roadworthiness of any Italian cars, it is always a concern of the manufacturers to have the cars meet any safety or other regulatory guidelines for driving on public highways by lay drivers. Homologation can mean adjusting the power to weight ratio, adding emissions controls, even modifying the traction control components. Homologation also means proving that the car is a true production model, not a one-off. Hence the 100 car requirement in the case of the Ferrari GTO.
The Pontiac GTO bore little resemblance to the Ferrari GTO. Not a race car, not even race-bred, it was a glorified passenger coupe that could go very fast and do it without attracting attention. With a final production run of over 32 000 in its first year, the homologation requirements for GT class racing were surely met! The Pontiac GTO was also assembled in the opposite direction of the Ferrari – chassis first, drivetrain second. It is generally clear to car enthusiasts that Ferrari operates in the other direction.
I have recently become very interested in homologation, largely because I have only recently learned what it meant. I have also been thinking about the unfortunate and impending demise of the W8 engine in the Passat, so I got around to tracing its lineage.
The W-series program seems to have started with the Nardo, a W12-based GT car which will never see real production. The goal of the Nardo program (named after the track on which many world records for speed were set by the car) was to produce a compact engine that would produce a maximum horsepower to weight ratio. With such a compact and powerful drivetrain available, homologation was the next step for the engineers at Volkswagen.
Street legal road racer
With the largest production vehicle at the time being the Passat (the Phaeton was still on the drawing board), power-to-weight ratio and engine bay limitations were examined and four cylinders were lopped off the W12 leaving the W8. The Passat chassis had been proven out in track circles through the V8STAR series, although not fitted with the W8 motor. A six speed manual transmission was added (likely from the Nardo program considering the weak stock clutches in other Passats) with four wheel traction to handle the power. Big brakes suitable for stopping such power completed the new drivetrain package. With the conveniently 4Motion Passat chassis readily available, the new drivetrain was inserted and a performance beast was born in the form of the W8 Sport option package on the venerable Passat.
Like the Ferrari, the Passat W8 Sport started with a motor. Like the Pontiac, the choice of chassis was an unassuming, nearly invisible family sedan. Given the introduction of the Rabbit GTi some 25 years ago, one would think that VW would remember their past success in making street legal road racers. The irony is not lost on this writer.
I suppose I’m mostly disappointed about the impending demise of the W8 Sport Passat because it was a GTO in both senses – a homologated grand touring machine packed into an otherwise unassuming package. A sleeper of the grandest proportions. I’m particularly upset about losing the wagons. The Americans have never had the guts to produce such an extreme vehicle. The Dodge Magnum is their best effort so far, but there is no stick (or even SMG) option. I find that to be a serious flaw.
I’m also sad that I didn’t realize how much could have been made of the car, particularly in advertising it. The ads for the W8 Passats flat-out sucked, but a phone call to the right people with mention of ‘GTO’ could have been made. I kick myself for not seeing it sooner, not figuring out how to make the program a success in the US. Nostalgia is a powerful tool, and VW has used it wisely in the New Beetle program. Why not haul it out again for this most glorious of cars? I don’t know.
So, goodbye, Passat GTO. You never really were, but I will miss you anyway.
VO: At Volkswagen, sometimes our engineers get a little creative. This time, they took two thirds of our grand touring car’s drivetrain and one third of our award winning Passat to create the Passat W8 Sport.
CG: Nardo drives through a Passat and turns into a W8 Sport variant.
VO: With eight cylinders, six gears, and our superior 4Motion all-wheel drive system, we like to think of it as the German GTO.
video: PW8S drifts to position on screen.
VO: The Passat W8 Sport. A milk run doesn’t always mean groceries.
offstage VO: Did you tell them it seats five?
I love Diesel engines for the stump-pulling torque, but about once a year, I have to face the reality that even clean Diesel still makes particulates.
That day is “washing the conspicuity vests” day.
These are two older vests that I had in the closet from my time in Germany. Front to back, inside to ouside, it’s not really pretty.
It’s on the bike! A few notes….
One. The plastic bit that comes up at the back is a bit annoying. My butt is going to have to acclimate to that.
Two. I sit closer to the “tank” than on the other seats. This is ergonomically weird, but kind of cool. I can see the top of my windshield for the first time ever.
Three. The height is perfect. My feet graze the ground nicely. I can get them down plenty, all the way, actually. One foot down is super comfy.
Last week, I posted a photo of an IKEA Lyster curtain rod end. This morning, battling an epic headache of no known origin, I remembered to take some more pics and a video to explain the whole thing. Remember, this was done at least twelve years ago (likely closer to fifteen), and that I have no shame whatsoever.
I wanted a glass doorknob for a shifter in the B5. Kind of boring, but functional. I didn’t like the shifter on the car as it was delivered. It was even more boring. I never did find a cool glass doorknob, but wandering through IKEA, I found the Lyster bit, and a short call to my dad later netted me a threaded-to-fit stainless steel adapter. This happened.
Then, because nothing entertains me like a bunch of glowing LEDs, this happened.
Yup, I wired it into the dash dimmer properly. Unfortunately, the acrylic Lyster bits are a bit fragile and I get about a year out of each one before the base cracks off. Now, I run the rubber shifter knob out of my old Rabbit Convertible. It’s a bit more cold-weather friendly. Reverse is in the wrong place, but that is a topic for another post.
The whole shebang kept the denizens of ClubB5.com entertained for a while, because no car is sacred and this was good for April Fool’s if nothing else.
Anyway, about four or five years later, I was wandering around a Murray’s looking for something, and discovered that my utterly fabulous knob was now a thing. Battery LEDs, but a thing.
I get it, TDIgate is a big deal. We have an affected TDI. But truthfully, cars that aren’t EPA-compliant have always existed, and more than a few made it into the US with nary an issue. Here’s the story of the other EPA-non-complaint Volkswagen we have owned.
It was time to buy a second car – we’d both scored good jobs in opposite directions from the house, and one car wasn’t going to work. The old Integra was still running great. I was sure I’d wiped all of those dirty EU thoughts out of my spouse’s head, but he wanted a Golf. Ok, Golf it was. We must have test drove fifteen of them. It was the third generation Golf, not really the high point of the Golf franchise, so I was really disappointed. Soggy suspension, flat seats, plastic everywhere. And that autotragic. Yuck. Every single one of them was a disappointment. Then, one day, we drove a dark green five-door. It was different.
Side note: There was a Nugget Yellow G60 on the lot, too. I was actually in love, but was pretty confident that it would mean the end of my marriage. I didn’t even know anything about G60s back then. Ah, I still dream about that thing….. Black leather interior…. 5MT…. But I digress.
The green five-door was stiffer. It was quicker off the line. The autotragic was less tragic and almost magic. It was super close ratio, very odd in the US. Everything about the car was far closer to what I expected from Volkswagen than any of the other Golfs we drove. Ok, I’ll accept it. But I hemmed and hawed about that yellow G60…. And signed on the Golf.
It was easy to speak well of the car. It delivered like my ’88 Integra did. Everything worked, and what didn’t was repaired or replaced by the dealer. All was well.
About a year into ownership, we got the dreaded red envelope in the mail. The first of two, actually. It mentioned that the transmission in the car was not intended for the US market, instead it was a Swiss market transmission. For mountain climbing. Well, we lived on a small mountain in Philly, so no wonder we liked it. We didn’t have to exchange it, but if we wanted to, the dealer would put in the proper US-spec transmission and we would get better mileage. I laughed, because now I knew for sure that we had a close-ratio automatic as I suspected. It was a substantial upgrade over the normal 4sp box.
A few weeks later, we got the second red envelope, this one with a bit more forceful language in it: the engine was recalled. We were to take it back to the dealer for a new motor. The one we had might not pass US emissions testing, and VW could not guarantee the emission system would work in accordance with US laws. We would only get the full emissions system guarantee if we had the engine replaced, and they would do the entire powertrain for us to be safe. If for any reason, the emissions failed testing at a dealership, the car would have to have the entire powertrain replaced with a US-legal unit at no charge. That letter went into the same file. I learned that at that time, EPA could not force us to do a darn thing. Only safety recalls could be enforced.
The suspension that did not conform to whatever the FMVSS for suspension is was not recalled, although it probably should have been.
It took me several years to ferret out exactly what had happened with the car. It wasn’t until we started hearing the same line from the dealer during service visits: “Sorry Mrs H, but we have to air-freight parts from Germany. Your part numbers aren’t in the US system.” It finally clicked. I queried the parts counter and discovered the parts were indeed Swiss market. What else is wrong with this thing?
Back in the day before VW figured out that the Toyota Production System (TPS or Just-in-Time) really did work, they built cars at Puebla using the campaign model. This was the standard since the time of Henry Ford, so it’s hardly that bad of a model. It’s very efficient. Four hundred cars for the US market in silver with black interiors and 4-speed automatics mated to 2.sl0s. One hundred cars for the German market in Tornado Red with beige interiors and 5MTs mated to 1.8s. And so on. We caught a campaign-switch car, where a few powertrains and running gear assemblies were leftover from a Swiss campaign. This happens when a body is too damaged for use, the paint is bad, any number of problems that force the body off the line after the VIN is stamped on. They were mistakenly married to bodies with VINs designated for US delivery, which got proper US interiors during final assembly, making the problem nearly impossible to spot. This offset affected less than ten cars – I believe about four total.
When the transmission eventually failed (a VW thing), our good relationship with the dealer service and parts team paid off – they were able to source and obtain the exact same transmission. Of course, it took a week to air-freight it from Germany, but who’s counting?
We eventually traded the car in on our first TDI, which has its own interesting tales, too. We did not discuss the outstanding emissions recall.
And that’s the story of the other EPA non-compliant Volkswagen we owned.
I just read another useless listicle about how to survive high heels. Urgh.
There is one and only one “secret” to a comfortable pair of heels (other than the “secrets” that apply to all shoewear selection) and that is heel pitch.
It’s not even a secret, you can see it right there in front of you. Just look at your shoe and find the top line of the heel where it meets the body of the shoe. I put a pink line on the image to show you where it is.
Now that you know what heel pitch is, you can use it. See how the pink line intersects the forward sole of the shoe between the ball of the foot and the toe? That is good. That means that some of your weight will be borne by the heel. Lower heel pitch allows for a more even weight split between the heel and ball of the foot. When the line is steeper, you bear more weight on the ball of your foot. That is not good for all-day comfort. It is also not good for walking – as the heel bears little weight in a steep shoe, it is difficult to walk normally. If the shoe is designed for the heel to bear weight, you will be able to walk more normally and plunk that heel down with confidence.
The only thing you need to check the heel pitch before buying a pair of shoes is a straight line to hold the shoe up to – the edge of the shoe box works great. Line it up with the top of the heel and see where it intersects the sole. Forward of the ball of the foot is better – you will be more comfortable and wear and enjoy your new shoes more.