Archive for November, 2017

John Gray is a cold-blooded manipulatist

9 November 2017 at 10:27 pm
by Jonah

It all started this morning.

Our insurance, or Berck’s employer… someone.  Wants us to get bloodwork done, and in exchange they will deposit some amount of money into our health savings account.  Free money.  The e-mail I got said it’s $75.  Berck insists it’s a grand.  All I know is that I had to either A) go to the doctor B) print out a voucher and go to LabCorp.  LabCorp opens at 7:30.  I was there at 7:25 this morning and was out at 7:45, plenty of time to get to work.

But the lining came unzipped from my jacket and wouldn’t zip back in.  I have a Chinese leather jacket.  It so stinking cool.  But none of the zippers work.  The zippers are probably made out lead.  I’ve already replaced the zipper in the front.  I’m thinking I’ll need to replace the one for the lining.  I sat on the floor in front of LabCorp for five minutes trying to zip it back up.

I blame my jacket for the reason I forgot my bag at LabCorp this morning.

Then one our firm’s three attorneys brought me coffee this morning.  I’d already made myself a double espresso, but I drank it anyway.  I love free coffee.  I shouldn’t have drunk it.

Daylight saving ended this weekend.  That means I’m not getting up in the dark and am not in need as quite as much caffeine.  Too much caffeine makes me agitated.  Maybe that’s what made me so mad.

Our receptionist has a great attitude.  I mean, utterly fantastic.  She’s very enthusiastic.

And she has zero memory.  I mean, less than a goldfish.  I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no point in telling her anything.  She’ll just forget it.  I timed it once.  45 minutes.  Nothing.  Deer in the headlights look.

So asking her to remember something from Monday is a real stretch.  My colleague Jane had told her then that, if an attorney isn’t available, tell a client calling, “He’s away from his desk.  Can I transfer you his paralegal or take a message?”

Instead, today she told a client of mine that one of my attorneys was with a client.

Now this attorney she’s referring to only comes down to the Colorado Springs office once a week.  Mostly, he works out of his Denver office.  All my clients know this.  And he wasn’t here today.  The receptionist knew this.  And she had no way of knowing whether he was seeing a client at his Denver office or not.  And, apparently, for the life of her, she couldn’t remember to say, “He’s not at his desk.”

I was agitated.  I was FURIOUS.

I didn’t say anything.  I’ll talk to my boss tomorrow.

Also, by now I realized I’d left my bag at LabCorp.  Fortunately, with nothing perishable in it.  Now I’ve got to get up early tomorrow too to pick it up on the way to work.

It snowed Tuesday.  Not enough to amount to much, but it meant one of us had to drive the Land Cruiser.  The Land Cruiser’s name is Frances.  I drove Frances to work because I had less far to drive than Berck.  I drove her again yesterday for the same reason.  I like driving Frances.  She doesn’t drive herself.  She requires planning ahead, strategy, tactics.  But she’s alright.  Here’s a picture of her.  Isn’t she beautiful?

Something very sad happened September 15.  We had left our WRX at our favorite Mexican restaurant overnight, and someone careened off the highway and smashed into it, totalling it.

So we bought me a new car. And the car we bought is a Ford Focus RS. Here’s a picture:

Now, if you haven’t heard of the RS, you might be thinking, oh, a Focus, nice sensible car, good gas mileage.


The “RS” is an extremely important distinction.  The RS stands for “really super”.  Maybe.  This is a RIDICULOUSLY fast car. It is so much fun to drive.

So I got in the car tonight after work.  Daylight saving has ended.  The caffeine has worn off.  And while driving Frances is fun, driving the RS is so stinking cool.  I was in a great mood.  There was a new episode of one of my favorite podcasts by one of my favorite radio producers from before there were podcasts.

If you have 40 minutes of driving or otherwise, I highly recommend you listen to this episode of Heavyweight by Jonathan Goldstein.  I drove home weeping while listening to it.  Also, I had the ability to go faster than anyone else, which is fantastic.

Berck had stopped by Colorado Liquor Outlet on his way home for Family Card Weekend.  I knew because I had created a calendar item for him, with two separate notifications, and I IMed him so that he would remember to go.  If you have a Family Card, which are free but have to be acquired BEFORE the monthly Family Card Weekend, and you go to Colorado Liquor Outlet (not on the weekend, as you might think the from name of event) on the second Thursday of the month, you can get the cheapest prices on wine and liquor in the Pikes Peak area.

So driving home, weeping and formerly agitated, I thought, I sure could use a drink and a neck rub.  And here’s where John Gray comes in.

As you may know, John Gray wrote an extremely popular book called Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.  (Berck would like to let you know that this is not the major league pitcher, nor the black preacher, nor the English philosopher).  I’m not sure how valuable this book might be to men, but I highly recommend that any woman in male/female relationship read it.  Here is an excellent example.

My favorite passage from the book is about how to get a man to do things you want him to do.  Spoiler alert… here’s not how to: nag.

It’s under a heading called, “How to ask for support and get it.”  There are several steps.

The first thing to do is to remember that, when you ask your man to do something, you can’t give him all the reasons why he should do it.  That just starts an argument.  First, John Gray says, you have to start asking him to do the little things he was going to do anyway and thanking him for doing them. It makes him feel like a knight in shining armour, a conquering hero.

At some point you can work up to getting him to do anything you ask.  So says John Gray.

So I started thanking my man for the little things he did, hoping to work my way up to asking him to do anything.

I’ve been on step 1 for the past 14 years.

I thanked Berck for going to the liquor store.

I had to make my own drink.

I think I’ll go ask for  a neck rub.  Goodnight.





New York Photos

6 November 2017 at 9:10 pm
by Jonah

My photos of our New York trip are in the gallery.  They are also here. Berck is slowly printing his film. Here’s a photo he took of me:


Focus RS Track Day

4 November 2017 at 8:09 pm
by Berck

At work yesterday, a message from the front range Miata club hit my inbox mentioning that there was a cheap last-minute track day at Pueblo. I get these all the time, but for the last 5 years or so all the tracks in the area have decided to not allow Miatas on the track without a rollbar. I’m not putting a rollbar in my street Miata because I’m not going to wear a helmet on the street, which means a rear-end collision might kill me. Then I remembered we have a new Ford Focus. Jonah said she wanted to do it with me, so I signed up.

Since I’d decided to do the track day with about 24 hours notice, I did exactly zero preparation and the car is completely stock. After all, Ford says it’s good on the track for 30 minutes as-is, right? Showed up with about 2,300 miles miles on it (still the factory fill oil, even), and the OEM Cup 2 tires with 42/39 PSI cold. Figured I’d err on the high side with pressures on these tires hoping that would prevent them from chunking apart. Ambient temps were in the mid-60s, the track is a 2.2 mile road course with a dozen corners. 91 octane fuel, since that’s all we can get out here in Colorado.

I spent most of the first 30 minute session coming to grips with the fact that it had been 8 years since I’ve been on a track and my mediocre skills were quite rusty. 25 minutes into the session, I got the AWD Off message, and drive mode went back to normal. If the oil temp gauge can be believed, the oil temps were up to about 280F. Since I’d never previously seen it climb over halfway, I was surprised how quickly it got up there. Figuring that 25 minutes was nearly Ford’s 30 minutes, and about time for a cooldown lap anyway, I wasn’t too upset with the performance. Checked tire pressures and they’d climbed to about 56PSI. No pyrometer or anything fancy, so I bled them off to about 44PSI all around, figuring that was probably still slightly higher than I’d want for maximum grip, but would keep me from sidewall roll.

Jonah drove the next 30-minute session, and as she’s a complete track novice who took it pretty easy, the oil temps stayed around 3/4 and the AWD didn’t disconnect. The next session, things got a lot more interesting. I was finally getting back in the groove and pushing the car to the limit. I had a blast discovering that it while it completely understeers off the throttle, I can, instead, get on the gas and the AWD system will work its magic and the car goes around the corner like I actually had some skill. I drove in track mode both with ESC in “sport” and completely disabled. I almost never got the tail to hang out, partly because it wants to understeer, partly because even when I’d think I was at the limit, full throttle at the apex wouldn’t upset it at all. There were dozens of situations where my (sometimes-intentional) gorilla-like driving absolutely would have spun my Miata, but didn’t phase the RS and its magical computers at all. Sadly, 19 minutes into that third session, AWD off appeared, and I wasn’t having any fun in FWD.

I pulled into the pits, restarted, and the message went away. Selected track mode and headed back out. Managed another half-dozen laps before I ran out of fuel.

I felt silly, but fortunately I was able to coast to a convenient place to pull off. The fuel gauge read 1/2 when I started the session, so I was sure that I’d be able to get through the session just fine, since I’d managed two in the first half tank. Sadly, that gauge isn’t even close to linear. When the warnings came up that I had 0 miles to empty, I ignored it figuring that like my Miata, the fuel gauge was completely inaccurate on the track. The miata will read empty even with well more than 1/4 tank because the fuel is getting sloshed around so much. The RS, it turns out, reads bang on. I managed another lap after “0 miles to empty” before it quit. Thinking maybe the inlet had simply come unported, I tried to restart after coming to a stop. Nope, nothing. So, the good news is that the fuel gauge works on the track, and that it won’t quit before it actually runs out, but boy does it suck down fuel.

A fellow track rat came to my rescue with a couple gallons of fuel and it started right up. Ran another 2 sessions with stupid-expensive 104 octane race fuel from the track (I’ll come prepared next time). Didn’t notice any extra power compared to the 91. I kept getting faster and the AWD system kept disconnecting.

Also: the stock brakes did a lot better than one might expect stock brakes to do, but were not at all up to the task. I was averaging about 110mph at the end of the straight, but eventually had to quit doing that because I couldn’t count on the brakes. Pretty significant fade after about 15 minutes, and then pedal would start to go squishy. I’m guessing Ford fills it with pretty mediocre fluid that starts to boil pretty easily. When I got to the track, the brake pedal was rock solid, but it’s pretty squishy now, which is typical after fluid boils even a little. I’ll be flushing it out and replacing with ATE Type 200 tomorrow.

I definitely won’t go back to the track with stock brakes. The Cup 2 tires actually did really well. They were thoroughly melted, but no signs of chunking or delamination, and held up really well. They were a lot noisier than I like out of track tires, but it was rather communicative. You definitely know there’s a lot more they have to give if they’re not screaming. I’d definitely be fine using them on another track day. Sadly, the requirement for 18″+ tires makes this way more expensive than it needs to be. I like $100/tire R-compounds.

In a lot of ways it’s a great car for a track novice. Jonah did everything wrong on her first session from completely missing the line, missing braking points, DEEP trail braking, and the car just let her do it. I was initially terrified, but eventually started laughing. It’s nice to have the confidence that it’s not going to kill you, on the other hand it’s a bit harder to explain to a newbie what she’s doing wrong when the car covers for her so well!