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Chains, shmains

Last weekend I went skiing, and for the first time I actually drove my theoretically winter-competent, 4-wheel-drive Subaru into the Sierras.

This was stupider than it sounds, because I drove up on bald summer race tires, and with autocross suspension set on full-stiff. And not only did I not bring chains, I didn't even have the option to use chains because my rear damper assemblies only clear the rear tires by about 1mm, which is not enough space for chains.

To my surprise, the car was a total champ in rain, snow, and slush, holding its own with the much more competent (at least by comparison) CRV with more season-appropriate tires.

Until, that is, we got to a neighborhood on top of some miserable mountain in Nevada. It turns out that neighborhoods are not salted or even really plowed, particularly, and I got my car stuck on a hill for over an hour and nearly crunched by marauding Pathfinders about 10 times. We eventually had to put some borrowed chains onto the front wheels to limp it out of there, and even that was quite scary on some of the steeper hills. There was a good 3 hours where I thought I'd be coming back to get my Subaru in May.

So the moral of the story is, chains are probably overkill for most conditions, but snow tires definitely aren't. So if you want me to drive you to Tahoe, I will, but it's going to cost you $500 in snow tires.

Capoeira, really

My previous Capoeira-related post sparked some questions about what learning Capoeira is actually like. Thanks to my trusty (if slightly grainy) new camera phone, I can share some crappy, low-grade pix with you.

Drill Time

70% of the class time is spent doing simple movements in pairs, usually 2 or 3 moves in combination with the other person ducking your kicks and then doing the same thing back to you.

20% of the time is spent on individual drills like "do hand-stands all the way down the hall until you're totally sick and dizzy and/or have fallen on your spine and have become permanently paralyzed."

Play Time

The remaining 10% of the time is spent "Playing Capoeira", which is when you go into a circle surrounded by the rest of the students, some of whom are playing instruments and the rest of whom are clapping. You then frantically do moves at random, trying to demonstrate that you can remember the moves you learned from the class. Or failing that, trying to demonstrate that you remember anything at all besides just cartwheeling. (I usually freeze up and just do cartwheel, spin-kick, hook-kick over and over again until they throw me out of the circle.)

Evil Time

Sometimes the instructors wax sadistic and select moves that burn up your muscles (like these lame leg-lifts), or moves that invade your partner's personal space in a super-uncomfortable way, like last night's "head-butt-the-other-person-in-the-chest-while-they-cartwheel-around-you" move--- extra fun for girls!

The hand-shake situation

As a fellow OCD-afflicted person, you need to know something important about Capoeira: During the pair exercises (which are most of the class) you have to shake hands with your partner once to select them (which itself is like a little mini-prom 20 times a night, where you get stuck with Angry Guy over and over). You then have to shake hands again a few seconds later to start the exercise, and again at the end to thank your partner. Over the course of a night you'll definitely shake hands with every person there at least twice. So if you're squeemish about shaking hands with people who have been touching the floor and each other all night, Capoeira is not for you. On the bright side, it's a good immune system builder, I guess.

Happy Valentines Day
Happy Valentines Day to everyone who didn't get any balloons, or flowers, or teddy bears, or chocolates.

Happy Valentines Day to everyone who got a filling at the dentist today instead of a hug from a friend.

Happy Valentines Day to everyone who feels lost and alone.

The rest of you can go munch on your chocolates somewhere else. You don't mind if I hate you just a little bit, do you?

(If you think that was bitter, wait until my birthday next month.)
The hazards of race cars
[21:29] J: you will likely be amused to know
[21:30] Me: ???
[21:30] J: that in trying to fix my car's horn, i managed to set it on fire.
[21:31] Me: Wow, I actually snarfed my tea a little bit when I read that.
[21:31] J: heh
[21:31] Me: Sounds like a story, what did you do???
[21:32] J: i noticed one of the horns had no power to it, so i decided to add a bridge wire. my electronics 25watt soldering iron doesnt have the power to solder larger leads, so i decided to use a propane torch. ok, the plastic is melting a little, thats fine. oh, it seems to be on fire, thats not unexpected. oh, oh, even with the torch removed, its STILL ON FIRE.
[21:32] Me: wow...
[21:32] J: so we will be getting a new horn.
[21:32] Me: Well thank goodness
[21:33] J: but it didnt sound any better after all that work.
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