Thursday, January 8, 2009

Baja Truck Adventures

Over the past several months I've enjoyed the use of a 1986 Toyota Pickup turned prerunner (prerunners are off road Baja 500 style trucks usually 2 wheel drive, mine was a 4x4 so it was a bit unique). I nicknamed her Maybeline and took her down to Holister and San Luis Obispo where there are sand dunes. When I told my grandpa about this adventure he explained that when he was in the service as a guard (at a detention camp for WWII soldiers who had dissobayed orders) he used to drive on the same dunes with army jeeps.

Here are the details of Maybeline: She is a custom baja style Toyota pickup, 1986 extra "extended" cab with five speeds and a manual transmission. This baja style racer is truly one of a kind and perfect for four wheeling in Hollister or cruising the sand dunes in SLO, she turns heads wherever she goes and is the real deal in terms of design and construction.

Highlights include a pressure snorkel for the rear differential, body mounted brush guard bumper integrated with engine & cage, front and rear King air shocks with reservoirs for sustained action, bucket racing seats with RJS racing harnesses, racing clutch and custom gearing for improved performance in the desert. Full details follow:
  • Custom off road Prerunner bumper with four floodlights
  • Custom louvered skid plate and push guard
  • Custom rear end with two flood lights and fifth full tire mount + locks & quick access bar
  • Built in farmers jack / 4x4 jack in rear
  • Deaver leaf springs with racing style rear differential
  • Racing clutch
  • K&N racing filter
  • King air shocks with built in reservoirs
  • Built in engine roll cage
  • Built in cab roll cage
  • Great interior, working sound system + tweeters
  • Fiberglass front and rear Fenders
  • Fiberglass pin on hood
  • RJS 3 point racing harness for passenger, 4 point for driver
  • In cab and in engine roll cage

Here are a couple of videos showing Maybeline driving around and jumping in Hollister and SLO sand dunes:

Monday, January 5, 2009

Irish music and dancing

My friend Marion from gymnastics at Gold Star (in Mountain View, CA) invited me to her Irish music concert at the Britannia Arms pub in Cupertino last month and I had a blast! Her band is called Banish the Dogs and they play down here and up in San Francisco sometimes. We did several types of dances including many Polka style four person. Marion plays a few instruments but that night she was on the drums, her violinist was amazing and her husband and friends were all great. Apparently they play once or twice a month and the concerts and events are listed at the site and usually the Irish dancing is on Wednesday nights around 7:30.

As for Gold Star Gymnastics, I work there teaching 6 to 8 year old girls and boys but Marion and I also attend the adult sessions on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 8 to 10 and it's a blast! They have a foam pit and two rectangular trampolines. If you've got a child who could benefit from the discipline and balance skills that gymnastics can provide then check out their website at

Meeting a new friend

Today I sold my Fender Passport amp to someone on Craigslist. This amp had served me pretty well doing coffee shop performances and open mic nights (as shown in the video below) but was a bit large and worth quite a bit of money so I decided to sell it. This gentleman named Rudy (short for Rutillo) who was from Italy liked it and came by to check it out. He was super friendly and told me about owning a restaurant in Alameda California called C'era Una Volta

Rudy moved to the US from Italy 8 years ago and opened this restaurant, now he's going to use my old amp to show videos and slide shows of Italy, what an awesome idea! He told me about how Italians all know their neighbors and have a great sense of community, he hopes that these new events at his restaurant will help build that kind of community here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Solar Power in the news

As I've seen solar energy and solar panels becoming more advanced, flexible, and popular it's been exciting to watch the corporate world respond. Earlier this week Google announced that it will be exploring the industry as a competitor. Earlier this year they actually installed panels on their main building in Mountain View, where I used to work. That's not to say other industry giants were missing out. Solar panels on Microsoft at Silicon Valley have been in place since April 2006 and Hewlett Packard just announced plans to add them to cut ~$600K in costs from their San Diego campus.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Beer Pong Site

I have a friend who is starting a new beer pong website. While I'm not a big fan of drinking games or beer pong, I admire his ambition and excitement! I'm helping him set up featuring some pictures of people enjoying the custom tables he designs. The name of the company is interesting, on fire beer pong, it's got the key description and I guess if you're playing beer pong you want to be on fire or you just end up really drunk...

For anyone who doesn't know what beer pong is you can see the wikipedia entry that outlines the sport. You can see that the OnFire Beer Pong tables that Russel sells are way nicer than the ones shown in Wikipedia. My favorite part is the way they fold up so nicely...

Not that I'm endorsing the sport, but the tables are interesting and Russel is a good guy! I'm wishing him good luck for sure :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Second Life and PS3

I just learned all about Second Life, an online Video Game world that is supported by companies and academia!

Second Life is an online MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game Experience) sort of like Everquest except there is less of a "questing and killing" focus. You can buy property and produce goods to sell and basically build a "second life" for yourself online. It was created by it's users and since the "game world" honors property rights people can sell their stuff for real life money. It's like a virtual world... Very cool, I think you can sign up for free so check out the link below.

Sony is doing something very similar to Second Life with the new PlayStation 3 "Home" project. They have created a virtual world for anyone with a PS3 who is online where people can create their own house with rooms and upload files and share them with friends. It is a very similar concept but a lot more limited in scope. Also, there is another project you might like with the PS3 where you can download a program that will allow the processing power from the gaming unit to go to curing cancer when you are not playing! It is being done in conjunction with Stanford University.

PS3 "Home" Virtual World
PS3 Folding@home Cancer Cure
About Second Life
Video on Second Life

Monday, January 29, 2007

Have you ever played fish ball?

Growing up in Loveland Colorado, I was exposed to a lot of golfing... In fact, my high school even had a golf team. My Dad told me that Loveland High used to also have a water skiing team but then the lake was sold back to the residents living on it (which was a sweat deal for them) and it became private. So these days golfing is the outdoor activity of choice for the young and old of L-town (aside from skiing the Rockies, Hiking Devil's Backbone, and ice skating on the ditches).

My good friend Max lived right off of Cattail Creek Golf Course and we spent a lot of time either exploring the course, practicing our golf swing, or sledding and snowboarding on it's hills. Sometimes we would trudge through the swampy "cattail" areas of the course and collect golf balls. My favorite times were spent at the driving range or the time we dragged a rail to the it would snow we would go sledding and snowboarding there. You can catch a bit of video from Cattail in the first part of Hidden where Dave falls on the rail, that is at Cattail Creek...

So anyways, one day it was raining extremely hard outside. The weather in Colorado is all over the map and this was truly a torrential downpour. It was raining so hard that the pond on the East end of the course began to overflow a bit. The course was set up to handle these sorts of things, in fact, Lake Loveland is just across the street so most of the water is sent over there via flood grates.

On this day in particular the flood gates were functioning at full capacity and something unfortunate was happening. The lakes on Loveland golf courses are stocked with fish to keep them clean and healthy and those fish were beginning to spill out of the pond and get stuck to the flood grate near the seventh hole! Max and I spotted this and decided to don our rain ponchos and save the fish.

We probably spent a good pulling fish off of the grate and hucking them back into the pond. Even as hard as we were trying, many of the fish were just too tired or beat up from being piled on by other fish to make it. When we first got there the fish were probably two and a half layers thick... We decided to make a pile of the dead fish so they wouldn't keep floating back to the grate.

Well, the sun finally came back out and we were left with a pile of rotting dead fish. We felt great for saving so many and it had been quite the adventure, but there was still time for one more activity. We ran back to Max's house and grabbed a bat (he used to pitch on the LHS baseball team but I think this happened before that time). We took the bat and practiced our swing on the fish.

Let me tell you, this is not as easy done as is said! Fish are super slippery and there were only a few good hits. It was a lot of fun and really stands out in my mind of crazy adventures from childhood. I don't condone fish torture or anything, these were dead fish, and we had just saved dozens of other fish that would have died. It was just good old fashioned fun :)