Sunday, August 16, 2009


Last weekend, Scott and I headed out of town in search of a very large race track with cars going very very fast. Why? Because that's the kind of adventure-seeking thrill junkies we are! Plus we had free tickets. And we haven't left the 1 mile radius around our apartment for the last month. But also: thrilling!

We drove and drove, and the freeway dwindled to a highway, which dwindled to a two-lane road, and still there were no signs of the race track. We were just starting to feel a wee bit concerned that we'd taken a wrong turn, when we rounded a bend in the lane and saw our destination on the horizon.
Or rather, we heard it. Those cars are LOUD! As Scott said when I pointed this out to him (you know, in case he'd missed how REALLY LOUD these cars were), "Who needs a muffler if you're not driving on real roads?" Right.
Wheee!!! This was the only Ferrari racing that day. Since it was also the only car that I could identify with reasonable consistency, I decided to cheer for it the loudest.

If you've never been to a race like this, allow me to enlighten you. The cars go really really fast around a track. The car that does the most laps within a certain time period is the winner. This track is a road course, meaning that it has left- and right-hand turns, hills, straight aways, and curves (as opposed to the oval-shaped track you see in Nascar).

The cars that look more like regular cars are regular cars, but with various modifactions to make them speedy and awesome. The cars that look like slinky spiders are prototype cars, and they are not at all like regular cars. The regular-type cars are only racing against other regular-type cars, and the prototypes are only racing against the other prototypes. But they're both racing on the same track at the same time.

"But that's silly," says Emma, "It's like if people were playing a football game and a soccer game on the same field a the same time!"

"And how awesome would that be?!" says Scott.

Ah. Right!
This was a cool swoopy part of the track. The cars are accellerating like crazy on the straight-aways, and then have to hit the brakes to make the turns. Some of them don't quite make it.

Sweet, back in the game!

About this time, I spotted this woman's shoes:
Needless to say, I was impressed. I am definitely not woman enough to wear pointy-toed faux-snake skin stilletos to a hilly, un-paved, rock-strewn fairground.

Later on, we used our Super Sweet Honda Employee Passes to get into the gated area where the teams have their trailers. We were actually able to go right up to the pit area. Each team has a little section of the pit area, and it's set up with a million computers and monitors and extra parts and tires. It was almost as impressive as that lady's shoes.

We saw this SPEED TV gear abandoned nearby, and briefly contemplated some improv broadcasting.
These guys were leaving the area because their car off-roaded in that same swoopy area from above and it couldn't get back on the track. It's racing days were OVER! Or, at least, over for this particular racing day.

Also, I thought their little jump-suited, techie-belted derriers were awfully adorable.

Speaking of adorable:

Adam, we saw this mini and thought of you.

And look, Jesse, a whole FLEET of s2000's! Zoom!And how bad-ass would you look on a Ferrari scooter?
I'll tell you: very bad-ass.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

When It Rains, It Pours

Yeah, so it's been a little while since we updated this thing. It's been a pretty full week, and somehow time got away from us and well here we are. As I said it was a full week, so this weekend we decided to try and have some fun and explore our nearby downtown area.

On Saturday night we found a local brewery. You'd think we would find tons of local breweries, since we live in the Brewery District, but actually there are tons of local bars but not as many breweries. But we found a cool one, called Elevator Brewing Co., so we headed there to check out their beers. It's about a 20 minute walk from our apartment. We thought it might rain, so we packed our raincoats in my backpack and headed over. It never rained. The bartenders were very cool, and we got ourselves a flight of all 13 of their beers (a bakers dozen of beer!). They came arranged from lightest to darkest, and we asked a bunch of questions to educate ourselves about the different styles, flavors, colors, textures, tastes, and names. We were so inspired that we finally committed to get ourselves over to the local homebrew store very soon to start our own brewing. In preparation for our upcoming sudsy entrepreneurship, we settled on a name: New Low Brewing. Then we went to GoDaddy and bought the url ( Then we reserved the blog name ( Big plans are afoot! Although nothing has actually happened yet, except for the "research" we did at the bar.

On Sunday morning we thought "Hey, what better way to treat ourselves than to walk down to our nearest Dunkin Donuts and get some good old fashioned Boston coffee!"

So we got up and headed out for another walk downtown, once again thinking that it would rain. So we packed our raincoats in my backpack and headed out to DD. It never rained. When we got there:

it was closed. I know right! Closed on a Sunday morning? What's up with that? Depressed and hungry, we headed back to our trusty standby, Cup O'Joe on 3rd Street for their massive breakfast sandwiches. Here I demonstrate the delicate dance involved in eating one.

Why the need for all this fun on the weekend? Well, as I said it was a long week, summed up by this picture.

That's my car. In the Volkswagen dealership. Because it stopped running.

Hmm, a trunk full of engine parts can't be a good sign.

Especially when coupled with an engine that is half apart. Lordy!

I was minding my business one day, on the way to work. Everything was going smoothly, until I heard an odd noise off to my right. It sounded like the right front tire blew out, and was leaking air. But I noticed that the car was driving too smoothly to have a flat tire at 70 mph, so I thought about what it could be. Could it be a coolant hose that blew? Well, maybe. But that would just be too wierd, right? Wouldn't a coolant leak cause some smoking in the engine area, and wouldn't I be able to see it? Yes, I thought so. As these thoughts were bouncing around in my head, the car lurched as if someone hit the brakes. But I didn't hit the brakes. Hmm, now I know something is pretty wrong. So I pull over to the side of the highway, and take a look. Sure enough, a coolant hose blew out. I could see a nice puddle of coolant on the road as I pulled over. Ok, so I am out of coolant. Let's see if the car will restart. Uh, no. Bad news. However, it was not raining.

In quick succession: panic and freak out, call Emma, make her freak out, have Emma get number for local VW dealer, call local VW dealer, panic, get number for towing company, call towing company, sit and wait for tow truck, panic, call boss, explain situation, freak out, get mad, continuously look at engine as if I can fix car with no tools on side of highway, watch as tow truck driver loads car onto flatbed, deal with tow truck driver's weak attempt to diagnose the problem ("Woah, is that a fuel leak?" "Um, no sir, it's antifreeze." "Oh."), hop into tow truck, freak out, head to VW dealer, deal with chatty tow truck driver tell me how he once towed a Lamborghini, drop car off at VW dealer, get VW rental car, head to work a few hours late. (panic a bit more)

The damage: Timing belt broke, which caused internal engine damage. Here you can see the damage to the pistons where the valves hit, highlighted by the thin red oval (this is cylinder 4, cylinder 1 was similar).

Cylinders 2 and 3 were not as bad:

Here's what happens to valves when they smash into the pistons at 3000 rpm; they bend.

So after a week of exploring options, freaking out, and getting mad at myself, I'm putting a used engine in the car (which comes with a 1 year warranty). I'll spare you the analysis of all the numbers and options, but it just seems like the best solution at this point.

Lesson learned.

But this is a good intro for our brewing tagline: "When your life reaches a new low, reach for a New Low beer..."

Because of that little fiasco, the apartment is still pretty much in the same shape it was a few weeks ago. Now we can move on from the car issue and get back to the other things we want to do with our lives, like get a cat and get brewing. And we can look forward to this for next weekend, complete with pit passes!

And hopefully, it won't rain.