Category Archives: Adventure

Why I Hate Quickbooks

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I spent a recent Sunday afternoon – and I’m still not done – suffering through one of man’s worst acts of intellectual barbarism. Yes, I suffered through another bout of doing the books for the year. It was a timesink beyond belief, and I mostly have myself to blame for not putting in place better methods from the year before.

Despite bemoaning this self-inflicted predicament, I have repeated this sadistic ritual annually without fail. But I promise this year is going to be different because I just can’t take it any more.

Afflicted With Quickbooks

Having thought about this, the problem is actually twofold. First, much to the chagrin of every accountant I have worked with, I absolutely detest Quickbooks. Every version on every computer I’ve ever used has been utter garbage.

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The Other Side of Mulholland Drive

A college buddy of mine, we’ll call him B-Dogg because that was his moniker, said to me during our undergraduate days he was going to do three things:

(1)   Get his PhD
(2)   Move to Hollywood
(3)   Drive a silver Porsche

At least that was the part of the conversation I remember most. The rest of it was about some homework assignment that I may not or may not have completed satisfactorily (that’s not a typo).

Fast forward a few years and he duly accomplished the three things he had enumerated. Since then I’ve come to visit on occasion when I’m in LA.

We’ve also been to a number of other places but they usually involve nondescript rental cars (a Hyundai i10 on St. Maarten’s twisties was a real gem) driven with reckless abandon. And strip clubs. B-Dogg loves his strip clubs.

In fact, there’s this strip club somewhere outside of Miami that’s nearly the size of a CostCo, containing a larger quantity of women and stages than one’s two eyes can see in an hour. Or three. But I digress.

Even though I had known about it since I was a kid, it wasn’t until last March that I sought out Mulholland Drive, that sinewy mountain road that winds through the Hollywood Hills.

I was there again recently, and instead of thrashing a rental, we took B-Dogg’s silver 2013 Porsche Boxster S (Type 981) for a brief Sunday excursion on Mulholland Drive with the top down before afternoon plans with his wife and some friends. Continue reading “The Other Side of Mulholland Drive” »

Crossing That Fine Line

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Remember that fine line I wrote about a few months ago? It’s been crossed in my latest kart race. Here are all the gory details and lessons learned.

The day had started off like most racing Sundays. Get up early after staying up a little too late, get in the car and drive two hours to the track. Hustle to get everything together and onto the grid for practice.

Finishing the last race on tire cord really wasn’t fun so this time I had a new set of Bridgestones on and went out to break them in. In the process my GoPro camera flew off my helmet, fortunately without damage.

The second practice session went without incident but I was still breaking the tires in and not pushing it. So the stage was all set for the heat and feature race.

Starting from seventh on the grid was kind of fun because racing traffic is the only kind of traffic I like. But perhaps if I had remembered that discretion is the better part of valor, I wouldn’t have made the move I did at the start. Fortunately, there was enough room at that mystical location known as Turn One, a place where many a race has been lost, as we’ll see.

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Jalopy Racing – Part 3: The LeMonista, A Racing Series For All

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The following is the final of three guest posts by John Watts about his team’s Lemons racing experience, and the genre of “crapcan” racing. See “So These Guys Find A Bucket of Lemons” (Part 1) and “Our Road to Lemons” (Part 2) for previous entries. In John’s words…

In 24 Hours of Lemons racing, I’ve found more than just a great way to get on track. There are a growing number of budget race series. Chump Car is the best known alternative, and has been described to me as being more fun on the track but less so off of it. Each series offers something different.

Lemons doesn’t take itself too seriously, and encourages a little lunacy. Case in point, a team recently sent a photo of an Integra they wanted to buy for an upcoming race to a Lemons judge for approval. The judge sent back a craigslist ad for a 1950s Studebaker in their area. They bought that instead.

I enjoy the pageantry of Lemons and find its culture more accepting of newcomers and amateurs – failure is celebrated as long as you fail in style.

There is also a high degree of car nerdiness – many try to find rare or unusual cars to bring – and a fair degree of redneck ingenuity (I’ve seen a Holley carburetor stuck onto an E30 to keep it in the race). If you already race in SCCA or something more formal, I encourage you to try Lemons for the novelty factor.

The true benefits of Lemons racing aren’t necessarily the obvious ones. Don’t get me wrong, racing 150 other cars – none of which belong anywhere near a racetrack – is amazing.

I enjoy karting and will continue to do it as often as I can. But racing streetcars on a proper circuit against that many opponents is a completely different experience – one that is truly addictive. If you haven’t tried it, you need to.

And you don’t need to start a team to do it. Many of the teams rent out spare places on their team for around $500 a weekend, which is a great way to try it out and get a taste.

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Jalopy Racing – Part 2: Our Road to Lemons [w/ Video]

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The following is part two in a series of three guest posts by John Watts about his team’s Lemons racing experience, and the genre of “crapcan” racing. See “So These Guys Find A Bucket of Lemons” for Part 1. In John’s words…

The idea to enter a 24 Hours of Lemons race was first raised in January 2011 on the F1 Meetup page. There was a race at Summit Point in June, so we decided to aim for that.

At that point we really didn’t know each other and had virtually no experience in racing. We decided to buy a previously raced car to make it easier, and found a Suzuki X-90 with a 1.8 liter Mazda Miata engine for sale.

The car had raced in several guises, including one as pop-up camper. When we got it, it had a blown head gasket from the last race, but had a roll cage, race seat and other safety equipment. As we started taking the engine apart, we realized it was in bad shape and decided to buy another one from a junk yard.

To understand just how amateur we were at this point, consider that the first couple of weekends we struggled to figure out how to remove the engine and replace the water pump. But we eventually managed to revamp the whole car, upgrade the brakes and suspension, clean up and repaint it, and somehow managed to turn up at Summit Point in June ready to race.
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Create Your Sports Car Bucket List

They're all neatly sorted in magazine boxes and I try not to look at them when I'm supposed to be doing other things. But often I find myself thumbing through a bit of nostalgia, marveling at how long ago things that still seem fresh in my mind were.

The raw materials to inspire a Sports Car Bucket List

A disturbingly large portion of my youth was spent poring over car magazines. There was always a stack of them lying around, and to this day I have kept all of them. In fact, I have a whole wall of them in my house.

They’re all neatly sorted in magazine boxes and I try not to look at them when I’m supposed to be doing other things. But often I find myself thumbing through a bit of nostalgia, marveling at how long ago things that still seem fresh in my mind were.
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Ohio’s Triple Nickel and Other Epic Back Roads

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The road started off straight as an arrow as I made my way from rural Michigan to Columbus, Ohio to visit a college buddy, his wife and their four young children on my way home.

Somewhere between realizing the march of time had turned us into college kids masquerading as grownups and test driving his new Subaru BR-Z, I told him of my intent of hitting the back roads on the way home, specifically Route 26 through Wayne National Forest.
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Racing and the Fine Line Between Courage and Foolishness

It’s been 14 years since I raced a racing kart. This past weekend I stepped back into it again, this time in the popular TaG (Touch and Go) class – a class I had never raced in before. I don’t know why I ever stopped.

What’s it like? You have to experience it for yourself to get the full effect. But the video (my new GoPro camera worked great) above can provide a bit of the flavor, and I’ll elaborate below.
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Three Secrets of Speed

Three Secrets of Speed. A racing kart is the best tool for discovering the secrets of speed, learning hot to race, and driving fast well.

A racing kart is the best tool to discover the secrets of speed.

Many guys would never admit or don’t even realize they aren’t good drivers. They let ego and a lack of awareness prevent them from actually becoming more skilled. Often they attempt to compensate for this lack of ability by buying faster cars or making excuses.

  • That guy bragging about how fast he was going on the freeway “racing” other cars?
  • That guy pulling up next to you at the light and gunning his engine?
  • That guy with the lowered econobox bouncing down the road with 10 degrees of negative camber?

All of them were cut from the same cloth. While some people seem to equate the two, the ability to buy something is entirely divorced from the ability to use it well. Don’t be that guy (see video).
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Petersen Automotive Museum: Worth a Visit?

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Last time I was in Los Angeles I happened upon the famed Petersen Automotive Museum on a Sunday afternoon. The museum was founded by the late Robert Petersen, founder of the company that originally published magazines such as Motor Trend, Hot Rod, and Motorcyclist – all staples of my teenage diet. It was hard not to notice the car mounted on the front wall, so I decided to check it out.

Right in the middle of the lobby was a 1953 Bosley, one of two cars built by a Mr. Richard Bosley. He reportedly had a Jaguar XK120 and an Oldsmobile Rocket 88 Coupe, and apparently decided he would design and build a world class sports car just because. At the time he was a 21 year old horticulturist and… well, have a look at the photos for the result of his amazing feat.

The variety of vehicles on display included antiques, vintage sports cars, pickup trucks, hot rods, motorcycles, and movie cars such as Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters. Old Bugattis also continue to impress. It’s amazing what artisans were able to accomplish with the technology of their day.

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