When messy is good?

I read an article today on CBC’s Tapestry show website  that took me a little by surprise, it was entitled Don’t be a neat freak: Why messiness is good for the soul. For quite some time now I’ve been trying to organize things at home, trying hard to clean up my office, workshop, etc… in hopes of also clearing my mind and then along comes with article which seems to suggest that having a mess around one’s environment might actually be beneficial for the mind and increase creativity. It goes on to say that having a messy and disorderly place might actually make one more creative as it forces us to circumvent obstacles, either visual and/or physical. I started thinking of this and how some of my best ideas and solutions are often found when I have to scavenge through an old parts bin, or perhaps going through my small containers in my workshop looking for a doohickey or thingamabob to fix or make something. The article ends with mentioning how in 1975 Keith Jarret, famous Jazz pianist was invited to play in Köln, Germany and upon arriving there found that the piano on stage was not in best condition. However, rather than quit or find another piano at the last minute, he decided to go ahead with the concert. Facing an out-of-tune piano with sticking keys, Mr. Jarret, always the consummate professional decided to change and play around this piano’s foibles, the result, which I’m listening to as I type this post, is an absolute feast for the ears. Jarret had to play things differently when faced with such a mess, much like we all have to become more creative to deal with what can sometimes be very chaotic environments around us. So, I leave you with Mr. Jarret’s stirring piano concert from 1975, enjoy.

Chevrolet VOLT will have to wait :(

I had written several weeks ago that I was thinking of a Volt some time in 2018, but reality is sometimes cruel and after much thought and having to sink $2K in needed repairs and regular maintenance on the Hyundai Tucson, I honestly need to drive it for a few years to recoup the money AND give me time to save up some for an eventual down-payment on perhaps a 2014 Volt. One thing for sure is that the car does intrigue me, the fact that it has electric drive most of the time and gets up to 50Km autonomy before having to rely on the on-board internal combustion engine to drive a generator to recharge the batteries and power the vehicle, fascinates me.  My daily commute is just a little over 50Km both ways, so the Volt would be a perfect fit, allowing me to go on longer trips when required. The only hiccup is the lifetime of the battery pack and the fact that the car is not designed to pull a trailer, supposedly of any type at all, which is a problem as I have a small utility trailer that I’ve used for many many years now and is really indispensable. In any case I remain curious and will read up as much as I can on the good points and bad points of the Chevrotlet Volt.

As always, stay-tuned, I’ll have more on the Volt and other madness in the coming weeks.

Montreal Auto Show

It was an extremely emotional day today, a bit on that in another post, perhaps tomorrow.

I attended the Montreal Auto Show today with a friend, his son and my daughter. We decided to go in early, as soon as the show opened its doors in hopes of beating the crowds and apparently some 300 to 400 people decided they would do the same thing and we were stuck in a pretty long line-up for tickets. Thankfully the line went relatively quickly, we got our tickets and made our way into the show. We were greeted at the bottom of the escalator by a trio of Nissan Nismo cars, basically these are regular Nissan cars that have been given a performance and aesthetic make over by Nissan themselves.

Nissan GT-R NisMo

Then we made our way up to the first of what would be three different ascensions to different levels of the exhibit hall with different car companies on each level. There was the usually array of sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs, sports cars from each of the major car companies. Conspicuously absent was Tesla, even though they were featured in the show’s small magazine, which prominently featured a Swedish supercar from Koenigsegg, that apparently was also a no-show at this year’s show, much to the dismay of my friend’s son who was hoping to get a glimpse of the Swedish mechanical marvel, and you thought they only had ABBA and IKEA, shame on you.

Koenigsegg CCX supercar

In any case, as if the missing cars weren’t enough, I, and this is just personal opinion, thought the line up of cars somewhat resembled each other, so much so that my friend even commented that one of the Hyundai’s from the back resembled a BMW, much to the chagrin of many luxurious Bavarian car owners I’m sure. Over all, as I walked among the many, so called mere mortal car offerings from the likes of Honda, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan, Chevrolet, Dodge, et al, I couldn’t help but take a peak at the small podiums prominently displaying the various features, specifications,  models, and prices, oh and what prices they were. My neck hurts this evening from all the head-shaking I was doing due to the sticker shock I sustained in the three+ hours we walked around the show. Now BMW, Mercedes, Porche, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Rolls Royce podiums of course never fail to make me wonder how mortals can ever afford these cars, oh wait… they can’t. However, I was starting to question if everyone around me must make a king’s salary to be able to afford the prices I was seeing on cars that apparently I should, in theory, be able to buy. In many cases the prices were inflated due to the “as shown at the show” price, often 10-12% higher than the suggested retail price of the base model due to all the added goodies.

As often happens at these shows, I’m drawn to some of the prototypes, and this show only had a handful of offerings if that, with perhaps only a few even getting my attention.

Lamborghini Countach

I’m very practical when it comes to automobiles, I wasn’t always like this mind you. I did go through my supercar phase just like my friend’s son, where I had posters of Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Corvettes, right next to my obligatory poster of Farrah Fawcett in her red swim suit.

Not a Lamborghini Countach, kidding Farrah Fawcett, who unfortunately is no longer with us. RIP.

I see cars completely different now, first of all I’m of the opinion that I should be able to eat, pay my mortgage and perhaps spend some quality entertainment time with my family, AND purchase a car, from what I saw today, this might no longer be possible with the average price of new cars, so I’m relegated to buying used cars in my short to long-term future.

One car that particularly got my attention was a couple of cute little Toyota prototype electric runabout commuter vehicles. One was outfitted with a small compartment and was being touted as a small delivery vehicle, whereas the other one would be perfect for simply going to work. Get me some doors guys, it’s cold on Montreal mornings, but kidding aside, in my case this would make perfect sense as my commute is about 25 km one way and I can take secondary streets, so it could actually be feasible.

Another car that I thought might peak my curiosity was the Chevrolet BOLT, cousin to the now well established Volt. This car, I thought, was to compete against the upcoming mid-2017, early-2018 release of the more affordable Tesla Model 3 at 32,000 US.

Tesla Model 3

I couldn’t have been more wrong, now unless Tesla’s pricing here in Canada is substantially more than that in the US, then the BOLT is priced waaaay to high at $47,000 CDN. Now, I realize that early adopters often pay for the research and development put into these cars and that eventually, much like computers did in the 90’s, prices will come down, however the BOLT is too expensive for what constitutes a car a bit larger than a Honda FIT.

Chevrolet BOLT 2017

I for one would welcome a long-range electric vehicle to compete in pricing with a small to mid-size compact car, think Toyota Yaris or Corolla, somewhere around the $16, 000 range, but until battery technology and volume production ramp up, it’s just not going to happen. I did take a good look at the Volt, well as close I could get and still like it, but not the newer generation model, I much prefer the older one with the squared off rear end, I just find it looked more like the original concept vehicle and has a more futuristic slant to it, instead of just looking like every other car.

Chevrolet Volt 2014

So, were does that leave me with the car show this year? It was alright, nothing overly exciting and I no longer buy into the whole keeping up with the Jones’ hype, not that I ever really did, but other than the aforementioned Yaris and maybe some of the other sub-compact cars offered by the major constructors, at prices I can somewhat swallow and digest, there wasn’t a car that I could easily afford, and continue feeding my family. So, although it was enjoyable to see and hear my friend’s son looking at and talking about all the cars that excited him, it was rather lackluster for me.

Next month is the Montreal Motorcycle Show, NOW THAT might be a different story, stay tuned…

 

I’m exhausted!

Earlier this week found me researching repairs on the exhaust system of my 2008 Hyundai Tucson. It has been making noise for several weeks now and seemingly getting louder. Since it’s Winter here in Montreal and getting under the truck would be quite messy, the first thing I did was researched the exact configuration of the exhaust system from online parts diagrams and using the PDF service manual I purchased several months ago. From this research I figured that the leak might have been coming from one of the following areas highlighted in red.

Diagram of Hyundai Tucson 2009 exhaust system showing possible failure points.

However, as I did a bit more research and brought the truck into my garage (it was a rather snug fit), I was actually able to crawl under the truck and then discovered that the damaged area was actually in what they call the flexible joint in the front exhaust pipe as noted below:

After trying for about an hour to loosen the two front bolts at the catalytic converter shown to the left of the red square above, I gave up and realizing my limitations decided to bring the truck into a service garage this morning. The pipe I bought wasn’t going to work either as the flange at the end where the rest of the exhaust system is, was not at the correct orientation to connect to the muffler/resonator, so it was a moot point at best. As I type this I’m nervously awaiting a call to find out if I get my truck back today or if I have to wait until tomorrow some time, however I do believe I may have found a good mechanic close to work, which is a good thing.

As I wrote in another article, I may be up for changing vehicles again in the short-medium term, stay tuned for more news.

Save

Crazy weather in Montreal

It’s getting very late here as I type this short post, but I wanted to just comment on the crazy weather we’ve been having here in Montreal. It is currently 5 degrees Celsius and tomorrow it is supposed to go up to 7, which is absolutely balmy for January in Montreal, where the temperature is usually around -15 degrees C. As I went out today at lunchtime at work I couldn’t help but feel like it was Spring, a cruel and unusual trick by mother nature to make me think that I’m anywhere near riding my Motorcycle, which is really something like 3 months away. However, it does give me a renewed feeling that the Winter will go away and that Spring will come again, until then, I look out and shake my head at the crazy weather outside.

Goodbye 2016, hello 2017, what’s next?

A new start?

As tradition would have it I’m starting a new blog this year, will I continue it and add relevant, exciting, poignant content? I have no friggen clue, all I do know is that I’ve been chompin’ at the bit to do something new, perhaps something exciting and to be more creative this year. If 2016 has taught me anything, it was that time is fleeting and fate can take it away in a heartbeat. Back in December I vowed I would get off Facebook, if not permanently, at least for some time so I could regroup my psyche so to speak and use my FB time for more artistic/productive endeavours, what those are still remains to be seen. I have noticed that I’m spending a little more time thinking about my new workshop, how to set it up and what I will eventually do there. My daughter took up the guitar and started taking serious lessons several months ago, so I promised myself I would finally finish the sound insulation of my office/studio that we now share, details are coming on this and several other projects as time permits. Our poor home has also be begging me for much needed renovations and last Summer I finally fixed a few things that needed repair and hope to continue that this coming Spring. Meanwhile

Music

I started thinking about music production again, or at least just playing around with my various old synth gear I have lying around. Exactly one year ago almost to the day I put the finishing touches on my new studio/office desk setup, my original idea was to create a functional area I could use for my regular computer work and also a place where all my synth, effects and music production equipment could live and be close at hand. Although not shown here as I had not received yet, my desk also houses a new Behringer multi-input USB interface, the heart of the new studio setup or so I thought. It’s a long story, but I never did get around to doing anything and mid-Summer my daughter took over the space teaching herself keyboard and then picking up the electric guitar. I’m certainly hoping on getting back into the swing of things so to speak as I also purchased a new Alesis electronic drum set with which I semi-regularly practice, again, when time permits.

Motorcycling

As I look out my window at the Wintry weather, the last thing on my mind really is motorcycling, but I sure do miss riding and look forward to April when I can once again get back on the two-wheeler, in the meantime early last year I launched a new motorcycle blogging site http://2wheeltherapy.net and I’m hoping on updating the content a bit more in 2017.

Vehicles

Last but not least, last October 2016 I decided to trade in my little Scion iQ, which I loved for a more practical family vehicle, especially since my wife and I wanted to perhaps buy a pop-up tent and maybe do a bit more weekend camping from time to time. For some reason, this 2009 Hyundai Tucson really caught my eye and a few days later I brought it home. I do need to do some maintenance work on it as it is due for a timing belt change and there seems to be a slight exhaust leak, all normal things for an almost 8 year old vehicle. For those interested I plan on posting some pictures and updates on what I’m doing to the little truck. Here is Izzy below as it sat in the dealer showroom.

Closing remarks

In closing let’s hope 2017 is a better overall year for all of us, we are facing all sorts of challenges this year and as the Chinese curse says, “We are in for interesting times.”