Picture - No more blowouts - even if you run over a spike strip. The looks and ability to defy law enforcement gives this a lot of bling value.
Picture - Obviously, since tires are an essential part of your car's suspension system and affects the ride of the car, the spokes inside the tire have to be strong enough to hold up thousands of pounds of car, and flexible enough to handle bumps in the road.
Picture - In addition, tires are the biggest factor in a car's overall grip and handling. With the correct engineering, it looks like these tires can eliminate a lot of the problems of sidewall roll and keep the tread flat against the road in a wide contact patch in extreme handling situations.
Tuesday, 29th of August, 2006
Friday, 25th of August, 2006
Thursday, 24th of August, 2006
Wednesday, 23rd of August, 2006
But there's more. Apparently it's so easy for 507 hp to get out of control on those 2 wheels it drives that AMG put in two reverse gears, so you can start in a taller gear in low traction situations. This brings the total gear-count, including reverses, to nine. From this point forward in my life I'm going to refer to this transmission as the Mercedes 9-speed transmission, just to reiterate how much excess is involved in this vehicle. I'm still looking for some mechanical diagram/picture of this beast of a transmission.
Of course, we can only begin to guess what sort of fuel economy that thing gets - Road and Track tested the 5.5L E55 AMG Wagon from last year to get 12.1 mpg. It can only get worse from there. Probably close to half the gas mileage I get from my car.
And speaking about my car, I often feel a bit guilty as the gas station when I work out my gas mileage to being only 18-19 mpg in the summer. Now I do realize that I have a bit of a rat-rod engine running on engine management that involves a piggyback fuel computer, and really, even when the engine is tuned properly in the production WRX and Legacy GT, Road and Track is turning out a pretty solid 20.0 mpg. Never mind the data R&T has on the Spec.B, they experienced 15.9 mpg while bashing it around the cones. So I can't be that far off of the ideal.
I suppose I'm still doing better than most SUVs, so I can set aside any guilt I might have of driving a gas-guzzler. Even outside of the Subaru world, 4-cylinder turbocharged cars don't get a lot better than what I'm getting for the most part - the A4 gets 18.8. In addition, it no longer seems like a turbo-4 is more efficient than a modern V6 engine - advances in variable-valve timing and electronics seem to have allowed many V6s to push well into the 200+ hp range, towing cars almost 1000 pounds heavier, and still get just as good gas mileage, or better, than your 2.0L A4. The heavier V6 Audi A6 gets 19.3 mpg. Or you can try the Camry V6's astonishing 26 mpg.
The Swedish seem to have something figured out as far as fuel economy goes, too. The Saab 9-5, pushing 250 mph out of a turbo I-4, was observed to get 24.4 mpg, and the similar output Volvo S60 with a turbo I-5 got 24.5 mpg. So as long as I don't pull up next to a V70 at the gas pump I'm doing fine.
Sunday, 20th of August, 2006
"If you thought the speculative climate died in the 2000-02 bear market and 2001 recession, you should take another look. It survived on massive Federal Reserve easing, huge tax cuts and leaps in military and homeland security spending. Speculation simply jumped from stocks to real estate, emerging markets and commodities."
"Oil in particular. Investors became convinced that growing global demand for energy, the industrialization of China and India and the lack of spare production capacity would keep crude prices surging ever upward. They have bought oil for delivery many months hence in the futures market, pushing those prices above spot levels. Institutions have sunk a net $80 billion into oil futures funds since 2004. The futures price for December 2006 is now $4 a barrel higher than the price for immediate delivery." It's true, how many times have you heard in the news that the reason oil prices are so high is because people are afraid of "growing worldwide demand" for oil in China.
"This condition, colorfully called "contango," isn't how the futures market usually works for oil--and it won't last. Normally, when oil prices are rising, futures contracts for crude cost less than spot prices, a phenomenon called backwardation. That's because oil further out is typically seen as less valuable than oil that's available today. But now oil producers can lock in a profit by selling future production (or selling what they now hold in inventory) in the futures market. They have become hoarders."
"What we have now, then, is the reverse of backwardation. The consequence of that contango has been a completely logical, if highly unusual, climb in crude oil inventories occurring at the same time that prices skyrocketed. The surges in crude inventories started in 2004 when the leap in prices commenced. Inventories are now back to the peak levels of 1998, just before oil prices collapsed to $11 a barrel in December of that year from $18 in December 1997." I remember that time. I was 16, and gas prices were $.69 a gallon.
"Abroad, there's talk that Iran has chartered 20 huge tankers to store excess oil that would total 40 million barrels, or half a day's global demand. That's a lot. And you can bet that old tankers on their way to the scrap yard are getting reprieves to serve as floating storage."
"Futures contract holders are very vulnerable. Prices have to rise $4 per barrel between now and Nov. 17, when the December contract expires, just for owners of December crude oil futures to break even, more for them to make money. It will take a lot more Mideast turmoil for that to happen."
"What's clear is that the oil price spiral will end. Maybe the market will run out of buyers, leaving nothing but potential sellers. Maybe energy prices will get so high that demand is curtailed. If nothing else, the ongoing collapse in housing prices ( see my June 19 column) and the global recession to follow will slash energy demand as well as stocks."
"Speculators will bail out, and distant futures prices will collapse. That in turn will kill the desire to hold inventories. The contango will revert to backwardation. Producers and refiners will dump inventories on the market. Crude oil price declines of $30 to $40 per barrel from the current $75 can be expected. True, that would carry them below equilibrium levels, but markets overshoot on the downside just as the oil market has done on the upside...."
Friday, 18th of August, 2006
Leave it up to the City Museum to do most of the crazy and controversial things in St. Louis - "The World Aquarium at the City Museum in St. Louis has announced it will launch an exhibit of 10 two-headed reptiles. Aquarium President Leonard Sonnenschein said the aquarium's albino two-headed black rat snake, named We, will be joined by nine two-headed snakes and turtles owned by Fred Lally of West Fork, Ark., the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday. Sonnenschein said he has been working to secure an 11th reptile owned by a local dealer for the exhibit, which is scheduled to run through Sept. 5. 'It should be a huge two-headed party,' Sonnenschein told the newspaper. The president said the aquarium's staff hopes to mate We with another two-headed albino black rat snake named Golden Girls. However, the mating may be complicated, as the attraction has been unable to conclusively determine We's gender. 'There are no guarantees,' he said, 'but it's very likely these two could mate and have babies.' Museum officials have raised the possibility that the attraction could create a Guinness Book record for a gathering of two-headed reptiles."
Thursday, 17th of August, 2006
The proposed definition has two requirements for a planet: It can't be a star and it must be large enough for its own gravity to pull it into a spherical shape of diameter 800 km or larger. This proposal would currently give us 12 planets - the original 9 plus Ceres, Charon, and a planet currently called 2003UB313. Of course, this opens a whole can of worms, as there are probably another dozen planets that meet these requirements, so in our lifetime we can expect to start learning about 30 planets.
However, do not fear. They are going to place planets that take longer than 200 years to complete a solar orbit into a subcategory of planets called Plutons, which will basically include all "planets" Pluto/Charon and beyond. This leaves us again with 9 Non-Plutonic Planets.
Some protest that it's ridiculous that Charon is counted as a planet when much larger bodies such as Jupiter's moon Ganymede are not counted. However, Jupiter/Ganymede's center of gravity is practically inside Jupiter, while Charon/Pluton's center of gravity is way out in space between the two, making a pretty clear distinction between the forces involved in Ganymede's roundness.
Monday, 14th of August, 2006
Sunday, 13th of August, 2006
1.3 MB Audio Clip (64-kbps MP4) - We sang Lift Now Your Voice and Sing this morning at church (and other denominations know different words to this hymn tune) and I was inspired to improv a solo violin arrangement of it and record it. Captured on the electric violin with basic acoustic tone.
Went downtown to do the Moonlight Ramble at midnight and into the early morning hours. Basically what we have here is a midnight bike ride of about 15,000 people through the streets of the City of St. Louis. This year's long, 18.5 mile route actually took people into downtown Clayton. However, for some, including my brother, confusion ensued in Forest Park and their short "long" route got cut even shorter when they bypassed Forest Park.
I, on the other hand, kept it nice and steady on the short 10 mile route, which still took us from Union Station down Lindell, and then through the newly completed Forest Park Parkway. The route turned around through Forest Park and came back the way we went out. Forest Park Parkway was quite enjoyable, and the route had some steady, long, hills that weren't too steep. I did it in just over an hour which is not bad considering I have biked a total of 3 times this summer.
Friday, 11th of August, 2006
A change this time around is that Shyamalan himself actually played a significant character in the movie. But that doesn't represent any change in his usual excellent choice of actors and actresses. Another cinematographic element that he continues to use well are the choice of uncomfortable and suspenseful camera angles. The story was pretty neat too, and it does leave you with some things to think about as usual. Even though it's among a bunch of blockbuster hits this summer, I think it would have been a loss to have missed it, I really enjoyed it.
Tuesday, 8th of August, 2006
Monday, 7th of August, 2006
It is especially moving because these photos highlight those in the group who are leaving us this summer....
Of course this prompted me to create an entire album of strolling photos in Facebook and tag them - some of them with pictures from quite a while ago. Hopefully everyone that got tagged will get a pleasant little treat tomorrow morning when they check their Facebook.
Saturday, 5th of August, 2006
In other musical news, it really made my weekend when I heard that Ladue is doing Music Man for their musical next year.
Wednesday, 2nd of August, 2006