somewhat daily mutterings

/Toys Car Detail Day

I had the day off today, so I decided to finally follow through on my promise to myself to detail my car. I'd been wanting to try a clay bar treatment, and so I did. A claybar treatment is where you take, well, a bar of special finish clay and rub it over the car's finish after applying a lubricant (I used a detailing spray that was included with the kit). You don't really apply any pressure - you just rub the clay around in a circular motion over the car's finish. After rubbing a section, you polish it off with a rag. After polishing a section, you fold the clay a couple of times and move on to the next. It's amazing how much gunk the clay picks up.

My regime was as follows:

  • Hand wash with Meguiar's soap
  • Smooth the finish with Meguiar's "Smooth Finish" clay bar kit
  • Hand wax with Zymol
  • Treat tires with armor all
  • Clean wheels with elbow grease (and not too well)
  • Clean windows with clay bar

My car is silver grey, which really doesn't show up a nice wax job like black, dark blue, or red, but it still looks pretty darn good. See for yourself:

Reflections on hood/windshield

Three-quarter view

I doubt I'll do this more than once a year, since it took about four hours, maybe more. I'm sore from all the rubbing! Oh, and naturally, It's supposed to rain tomorrow.

Posted: Mon Apr 17 20:50:20 -0700 2006

/Toys I Have a New Car, Finally

After months of on-and-off searching for a new car to replace my ten-year-old Mazda Millenia, I've taken the plunge: I bought a certified pre-owned 2004 BMW 325xiT. The 'x' is for all wheel drive and the 'T' means wagon, essentially. Along the way, I considered the Volvo V50, Audi A4 Avant, Infiniti G35x and the BMW X3.

My "new" car, a BMW 325xiT [more pix]

I spent a long time considering several X3s in several trim levels, which, after looking at all the other vehicles, is what I thought I wanted. I wrestled over whether to buy new or pre-owned. Finally, I went so far as to borrow a 2.5 liter X3 for a weekend, which actually led me to my final decision not to get an X3. The 2.5 liter just doesn't make enough power for a vehicle that heavy, and it would "only" do 80mph up one of the big hills on I-70 with just MB and me inside. On top of that, the gas mileage, which I knew wouldn't be great, was abysmal for that trip. As has been written and said many times, the 3.0 liter is the must-have engine in that vehicle, but I didn't want to spend the extra bucks, nor could I live with even worse gas mileage.

So, I loved the utility of the X3, but ruled it out based on cost and gas consumption. That left the 325xiT in the running. Problem is, BMW doesn't import very many of them, and thus low-mile, recent vintage ones are rare on the certified pre-owned market. However, after a few weeks of watching the BMW site, I found one at Co's BMW in Loveland, and made the 60+ mile trip to check it out. Long story short, I bought it, and got what I think was a decent deal (I got the out-the-door price that I'd decided upon that day). I'm looking forward to my first snowy drive to see how the AWD works out.

Posted: Wed Nov 23 09:53:47 -0800 2005

/Toys Ready to Rumble

I just added an SVS PB12-ISD Subwoofer to my home theater, and what a difference! After I did some "tuning", we watched The Day After Tomorrow (goofy movie, but what a bass soundtrack!), and we were amazed. Even MB, who is not really very impressed by the home theater commented "Wow Hun, your home theater is really rocking!".

The sub is located behind the couch, where it can act as a bass "shaker". That was my intention, anyway, but the Velodyne never really did any shaking. The SVS, however, had the cushions vibrating in an almost startling manner, and most of the energy was directed at the section that we were not sitting on.

Dorm fridge-sized SVS PS12-ISD really delivers!

The SVS is a 12" downward firing, rear-ported design, and is a relative behemoth, compared to my old Velodyne VA-810XII (8" active, 10" passive) sub. The box it came in was marked as weighing 88lbs, and it felt like every bit of that. I slid it downstairs on an old towel -- there was really no way to carry it. The SVS really dwarfs my Velodyne in both size and output. In volume, the old Velodyne was around 3,395in2, whereas the SVS is around 7560in2 -- about double.

The construction quality of the sub is way beyond that of the Velodyne. Though the Velodyne was a "low-end" unit, I believe we still paid about $600 for it back in '97 or so. The SVS sells for that now, and just blows the Velodyne away.

From what I've experienced so far the SVS is a great addition to my home theater equipment lineup, and I can recommend SVS subs with no hesitation whatsoever.

Posted: Sat May 28 16:04:27 -0700 2005

/Toys Home Theater Projector Mounted

I finally got around to mounting my Sony projector to the ceiling, rather than having it sitting on the coffee table where it was exposed to jostling, and took up a lot of surface area. Naturally, I wrote up a detailed article on getting that done. The results are so worth the trouble! The room looks neat and clean with the projector out of the way.
Now the theater can truly be called complete.

Posted: Sat Mar 26 12:10:22 -0800 2005

/Toys Home Theater is Complete! (enough for now, anyway)

Last Sunday I put the furniture back in its place, hooked up all the audio and video components, and was able to enjoy a movie with MB that night. The inaugural movie was The Bourne Supremacy. OK, not that auspicious, but it had been sitting around waiting to be watched for a few weeks.

One thing that was very gratifying is that when I first booted up the system everything worked right away. No smoke came out of the system when I turned it on! Well, better than that, all of the speakers were working and playing the right channels (my system is 7.1), the CATV feed that I'd re-routed worked fine, and the projector and screen setup was simple as pie.

The only small challenge was getting the "Denon Link" digital feed working between the DVD player and the receiver. But that was really just a matter of reading the manuals.

For more info see my write-up.

Posted: Wed Mar 09 03:54:24 -0800 2005

/Toys Home Theater Update

The project is moving along slowly but surely:

  • Three of four walls painted.
  • All WireTracks installed.
  • Door casement reinstalled.
  • Some baseboard glued to WireTracks channel.
  • Speaker and CATV cables routed and tested.
  • Front J-box installed (where I'll have terminals for the surround speakers, CATV, etc.

Remaining work (sigh). I'll cross these off as they get done:

  • Finish baseboard cutting and gluing.
  • Pull glued baseboards and secure to front side of WireTracks channels with screws.
  • Reinstall baseboards.
  • Caulk baseboards and trim.
  • Paint baseboards and trim.
  • Paint back wall.
  • Install J-box for rear surrounds (optional).
  • Install rear speakers.
  • Re-orient furniture and clean up.
  • Set up audio components.
  • Set up screen.
  • Set up projector (on coffee table, for now).
  • Showtime!

Read more about it on my wiki.

Posted: Wed Mar 09 03:45:16 -0800 2005

/Toys Home Theater Update

Work continues on the home theater conversion of my (already finished) basement. It's actually not that big a project except that, with me, any project that takes some handiness is a big project. The challenge has been to invisibly wire the room for 7.1 surround sound. This is not so easy with a finished basement, let me tell you!

Anyway, here's a quick update:

  • Three of four walls painted.
  • All the necessary sheetrock is cut out below the baseboards, in preparation for WireTracks installation.
  • WireTracks almost completely installed (actually I was done, but I had a late realization that I could do a better job of routing cable than I'd originally planned, so I have to expand my WireTracks installation).
  • Side surround speakers wired an mounted (I'll have to re-route the right channel due to the above).

Read more about it on my wiki.

Posted: Sun Feb 13 18:34:37 -0800 2005

/Toys Home Theater Progress (sort of)

I haven't written much here lately. I've been very busy at work, and in my spare time have been obsessing over my latest project - converting my basement into a home theater. It's been a fairly lengthy process. First I spent weeks researching components and learning about home theater (mainly by reading Home Theater Hacks). Then I committed to actually installing the home theater by selling off the major components of my downstairs stereo system. Now that I'm fully committed, the real work has begun.

Read more about it on my wiki.

Posted: Sun Feb 13 18:32:41 -0800 2005

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