25 Dec 2013

Merry Christmas/Holidays, everyone.

Due to some very abnormal weather (80 deg F!), everyone was out this afternoon walking on the beach and driving their toys along Coast Highway. Ferraris, high-end Audis, and a few Cobras were just a few. A very nice Ferrari 458 Spider came up behind me in an apparent attempt to put me in my place (what place is that, that I hadn’t bought my car at a dealer?). I let him by and he did the obligatory pass to establish the pecking order, but I ended up behind him at the next light. So he took off with me on his tail, just to see if I could. I backed off early since traffic was so heavy, but it was very rewarding to see his eyes glancing in the mirror, as if thinking “wait, that’s not supposed to keep up” – that was good enough for me.

On the list of things to do is to take a handling class. My brother did that in a BMW class, where one of the tasks was to drive a figure-8 with the back end hung out all the way around. I can’t think of a better way to establish car control at the edge. I’ve had Midlana fairly sideways, and the good news is that it doesn’t have any nasty habits. Still, I’d like to take a class to find out just where the “edge” is. Anyhow, someone posted this video on a forum, as proof that a rear-engine car can be drifted, http://www.carthrottle.com/you-know-youre-a-sick-driver-when-you-can-drift-a-turbocharged-porsche-like-this/. While I’m not into drifting (way too slow around a track and way too abusing to tires) it seems like an awesome way to find the outer edge of a car’s handling envelope. To have the knowledge of just where the edge is and what to do when it’s approached would be very valuable… and make for some good videos :).

19 Dec 2013

The local gas station just installed an E85 pump. Why they would do so is rather baffling, given that there are so few flex fuel cars in SoCal, and even fewer that actually bother using ethanol. If anything I’d have thought that they’d install a second diesel pump, given that the number of cars using that fuel is definitely increasing.

Anyway, the only reason I mention this is that it is an evil temptation to have an alternate fuel map for ethanol. Why? It’s because turbos just love ethanol since it burns cooler and has a much higher effective octane. The end result is that I could – no kidding – have around 600 hp, just like that. What’s holding me back are several things: much worse mileage, hardly any stations carry the stuff (like, about six in all of California), and, what exactly is the point on the street having that much power. If anything, it makes a lot more sense to use the stuff on-track, where it helps protect the engine from detonation. However, thankfully I’m lazy enough, and busy enough on yard things that it’s just not a big deal. While it’s fun to dream, in the end, it’s just not what the car’s about. I want to do more track events to more fully understand the limitations of the both me and the car.

Oh, and I’m finally getting into the new century and setting up an Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook account in order to better spread the word about Midlana.

15 Dec 2013

Yard work continues, retaining walls, shoveling tons of dirt, taking dozens of rotted railroad ties to the dump, only to have half of them rejected as “not rotted enough.” (Okay, so they’re still going to get them, several pieces at a time in the trash can… what did they expect?)<br>
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Anyhow, for the time being, I’m working on yard stuff (rebuilding wife points). In other news, I was into amateur radio a long time ago, then got out of it and let my license expire. As I was going through my father’s stuff, I ran across his license, and it made me want to take it up again, so that’s in the works.

A local car club has organized a Dyno Day (each car gets a couple free pulls). This should prove interesting because it’s been several years since it was last done, but more importantly, is on the far more common drum-type dyno. The numbers will be about 12% lower than on the other type, but then again, the car probably have about 10% more power, too. On the other hand, a couple people have questioned my claimed horsepower numbers, as in, why can’t I spin the tires in second gear (actually, when they’re cold, I can), and also, why wasn’t my top speed at Fontana faster? Anyhow, that’s not for another month or so.

Meanwhile, I check in often on the Midlana Forum, http://www.midlana.com/forum/, where there are currently two people building cars. Check it out.

1 Dec 2013

As promised, http://www.lulu.com/shop/kurt-bilinski/midlana/paperback/product-21323272.html

Being self-published means using a Print-On-Demand (POD) service, sort of an automated Kinko’s copy center. I use Lulu, the same POD printer used with my previous book, Kimini.  An author sends Lulu a manuscript, which they store on a server. When an order comes in, it’s printed, bound, boxed, and shipped. It’s a decent deal for authors that are unable (or unwilling) to deal with “real” publishers. Once the manuscript is uploaded to Lulu’s store front, the process is completely hands-off; Lulu handles sales, shipping, and any customer issues. The downside is that because they aren’t printing thousands of copies at a time, the cost per page is a lot higher, but for many writers, that’s an acceptable overhead to get a book to market. Also, since Lulu has printers located around the world, your book is automatically printed at a regional facility, including Europe and Australia.

The question comes up, “why can’t I buy it on Amazon?” Long story short: book stores don’t like dealing with PODs because they expect a huge discount, and expect to be able to return unsold inventory at the end of each month; neither of these conditions work well in the POD ecosystem. The question also comes up, “Can I get an eBook version?” Short answer: not at this time.

With this enormous task complete, I’m going to start on the backlog of home projects!