Tuesday, August 29, 2006

One giant step for a man...

'Keeper crosses himself, attracts police warning

Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc
Celtic have asked for a meeting with police after goalkeeper Artur Boruc was cautioned for a breach of the peace during an Old Firm game at Ibrox.

Boruc was accused of making gestures during a game with Rangers in February, crossing himself.

The Crown Office said the procurator fiscal had issued the caution as an alternative to prosecution.

A spokesman explained that Boruc's actions "included a combination of behaviour before a crowd in the charged atmosphere of an Old Firm match."

The Polish goalkeeper's behaviour had "provoked alarm and crowd trouble."

The incident took place at the start of the second half of the game on 12 February.

Police investigated the complaints and submitted a report to the procurator fiscal.

The Crown Office said Boruc's behaviour had taken place before a crowd in the charged atmosphere of a match between Celtic and rivals Rangers. As such, it constituted a breach of the peace.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The "bacteria of stupidity"

A Gaza government spokesman has second thoughts
August 28, 2006

"When you walk in the streets of Gaza City, you cannot but close your eyes because of what you see there: unimaginable chaos, careless policemen, young men carrying guns and strutting with pride and families receiving condolences for their dead in the middle of the street."

This is how Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority government and a former newspaper editor, described the situation in the Gaza Strip in an article he published on Sunday on some Palestinian news Web sites.

The article, the first of its kind by a senior Hamas official, also questioned the effectiveness of the Kassam rocket attacks and noted that since Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip, the situation there has deteriorated on all levels. It holds the armed groups responsible for the crisis and calls on them to reconsider their tactics and to stop blaming Israel for their mistakes.

"Gaza is suffering under the yoke of anarchy and the swords of thugs," Hamad wrote. "I remember the day when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and closed the gates behind. Then, Palestinians across the political spectrum took to the streets to celebrate what many of us regarded as the Israeli defeat or retreat. We heard a lot about a promising future in the Gaza Strip and about turning the area into a trade and industrial zone."

Hamad said the "culture of life" that prevailed in the Strip has since been replaced with a nightmare. "Life became a nightmare and an intolerable burden," he said. "Today I ask myself a daring and frightening question: 'Why did the occupation return to Gaza?' The normal reply: 'The occupation is the reason.'"

Dismissing Israel's responsibility for the growing state of anarchy and lawlessness in the Gaza Strip, Hamad said it was time for the Palestinians to embark on a soul-searching process to see where they erred.

"We're always afraid to talk about our mistakes," he added. "We're used to blaming our mistakes on others. What is the relationship between the chaos, anarchy, lawlessness, indiscriminate murders, theft of land, family rivalries, transgression on public lands and unorganized traffic and the occupation? We are still trapped by the mentality of conspiracy theories - one that has limited our capability to think."

Hamad admitted that the Palestinians have failed in developing the Gaza Strip following the Israeli withdrawal and in imposing law and order. He said about 500 Palestinians have been killed and 3,000 wounded since the Israeli pullout, in addition to the destruction of much of the infrastructure in the area.

By comparison, he said, only three or four Israelis have been killed by the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip over the same period.

"Some will argue that it's not a matter of profit or loss, but that this has an accumulating effect" he said. "This may be true. But isn't there a possibility of decreasing the number of casualties and increasing our gains by using our brains and making the proper calculations away from demagogic statements?"

The Hamas official said that while his government was unable to change the situation, the opposition was sitting on the side and watching and PA President Mahmoud Abbas was as weak as ever.

"We have all been attacked by the bacteria of stupidity," he remarked. "We have lost our sense of direction and we don't know where we're headed."

Addressing the various armed groups in the Gaza Strip, Hamad concluded: "Please have mercy on Gaza. Have mercy on us from your demagogy, chaos, guns, thugs, infighting. Let Gaza breathe a bit. Let it live."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Where to find these

I wrote a while back about being seized by the notion that if I didn't buy THIS CAR, RIGHT NOW, there would never be another one, and I would have missed my chance forever.

This is just my mind being cruel. My friend Randy says that golf punishes the doubting mind, by making doubts come true immediately, on the very shot that provoked the doubts in the first place. But car buying is exactly the opposite. A rookie buyer (me! me!) falls in love with a vehicle, and has to have one. Now.

(Lord, give me patience, RIGHT NOW).

Once the purchase is made, some form of sanity returns. NOW we spend our time on forums and informative websites. NOW we start to amass a body of knowledge from others, things to know about the specific car
we just bought, things to know about the model or series that it belongs to, things to know about project cars in general.

The only thing I wish I had heard before I bought the Benz is the advice of the pre-eminent collector car guy in our office: Buy the one that has had the most spent on it, to the limit that you can afford. Makes sense, because car repairs are never recouped in the selling price. I didn't buy the cheapest one out there, but one of the cars that caught my attention is still for sale, at a price far higher than I felt like paying, but at a price that is lower than what I've committed so far, even before the engine rebuild.

Anyway, if you want to know where other 280ce models are for sale in North America, you could do worse than checking out the following links,

  1. Any Craigslist.org. Perhaps there is a global way to search all Craigslists, but I don't know how. Pick one in an area where cars last a long time, typically Arizona or California. Coastal BC is another one.
  2. http://ww2.collectorcartraderonline.com/ This and most other links are easy to set up for repeated searching. Just enter "280ce" in the keyword field in the search engine, and hit enter. Next time you visit the site, double click on the keyword field and your previously used keywords all pop up, saving you the trouble of re-entering them.
  3. Buy-sell.com and Autotrader are affiliated but the content is slightly different.
  4. The Canada.com site consolidates the Canadian newspaper ads from the Canwest chain.
  5. Cars-on-line.com always has interesting vehicles
  6. eBay often has a listing or two. I also use eBay to research actual selling prices by searching Completed Listings.
  7. Benzworld has a marketplace forum where cars come up for sale. And in the W123 forum there are occasional sightings of interesting cars for sale, with links provided by forum members.
What have I learned from all these postings? Probably that I paid a fair price for my car, that people want anything from $1000 to $11,000 for these coupes, and that had I not bought the one that I did, there would have always been another one. But you couldn't have told me that two months ago...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

They don't make movies like this anymore...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Found it

Things look different from a satellite...

Google won't frame this picture just right, so please follow these instructions: Click on this link, and when the photo loads, look for the English lettering along the bottom. Place your cursor just 'north' of the L in TECHNOLOGY and double click. It should zoom in on a parking lot with green trucks and white cars in it.

The rectangular place on a slight angle just above the parking lot, with a flat grey roof with shadows near the top and bottom edge, is actually a "gai-jin man-shon" (gaijin mansion, or foreigner's apartment building). It housed 6 families in shoe boxes on two levels, each about 8 feet wide and 20 feet long. Entry was along the alleyway up from the narrow street just above the parking lot where the green and white vehicles are parked. $1800 US per month for rent, most utilities included. Yeesh. But what a great experience.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Somewhere in here is where I used to live in Tokyo. The place wasn't actually on a street, it was in the middle of the block. I'm trying to remember the walk from the station to the apartment, so I can get it exactly.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Worsening news

Back at Frank's today after he called to say that I should come look at something. The left front fender was off the car because he was worried about what he was finding behind it. The inner fender is as rotten as the outer fender is solid. It will have to be replaced completely. Grrrr. Finding one will be hard.

It's going to be October before this car is properly on the road, I am sure. A couple more weeks with Frank, then down to the mechanic for the engine rebuild and Out of Province Inspection. More like the Out of Pocket Inspection, methinks...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My favorite book, that I've never read

The Procrastinator's Handbook
The Procrastinator's Handbook by Rita Emmett (Paperback - Oct 2 2001)

Buy new: CDN$ 17.95 CDN$ 13.64 In Stock
Used & new from CDN$ 9.99
You save: CDN$ 4.31 (24%)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Frickin putter...

I played golf today, for the first time in weeks. Here's some good news: check out Swing Machine Golf for a really different, simple approach to the golf swing. I bought the book last year, and the video this year, and the guy teaches a simple, reliable and powerful way to hit the golf ball straight. Even if you don't practice or play much, like Halfwise, f'rinstance. Tee to green I was pretty respectable today.

What he doesn't teach is putting. Last year I woke up from a nap right in the middle of a golf infomercial for a newfangled putter. I bought it. Name will be suppressed (for about 3 seconds), but if anyone wants to buy it for way less than the infomercial price it's one of those Guerin Rife Two Bar jobs with the adjustable weights and I'm ok with selling it. Why? It's actually better than my old putter, EXCEPT WHEN I DON'T PRACTICE. I have played a zillion rounds with the old one. I have played maybe 5 rounds with this new one. Can I putt with it when I don't practice?


Golf. What a great game.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Tolerance vs humility

Here is some provocative thinking. More can be found on Robert 'Gagdad Bob' Godwin's August 3 posting here:
In the past, I have written of religious perversions, of which Islamism is a particularly vivid example. However, political correctness, multiculturalism, victimology, and the counterfeit virtue of “tolerance” are similarly destructive spiritual perversions that cause just as much damage in the long run--perhaps even more, since the process is more subtle.

For example, the cognitively and spiritually bereft idea of multiculturalism causes Western intellectuals to honor totalitarians who embrace or condone polygamy, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, political autocracy, homosexual persecution, honor killings, female circumcision, and a host of other barbarisms.

At risk of pointing out the obvious, is it not clear that tolerance is hardly “humility” or “accurate self assessment?” Rather, it is a wildly inaccurate assessment of the obvious superiority of Western civilization over Islam and other primitive and tribal cultures. Tolerance is indeed (to paraphrase someone) “the virtue of the man with no convictions.” It is not humility but moral cowardice, and as such, opens up a free space for infrahuman bullies to operate unhindered.

Friday, August 04, 2006


...are the tiny goldmines of information to be found on the 'Net.

Want to know what color your Mercedes is officially called? And then want to order some touch-up paint in that exact color?

First go here:

This will give you the paint code. If you aren't sure, look on the hood tab. The paint code is found in the position where the digits 735 occur in this example:

Then go to the Paintscratch link, look up the year of your car, and you are there:

Thanks to Frank for starting me on this quest.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I lifted this photo from somebody else; my car looks a lot like this, but isn't around for me to photograph. How sad is that?

I had an interesting conversation on Monday.

There are two different mechanics who have been recommended for rebuilding the engine of the Benz. When I spoke with one he immediately asked whether I wanted the high-dome pistons that are found on the 185hp European spec engine, or the lower compression pistons that are standard for North American engines, ie what is in the car now that grunts out 145 hp.

All sorts of thoughts went through my head. First of course was the idea that 40 more hp was there for the asking. Then the cautious part of me took over and started wondering about the crankshaft, transmission, head gasket and other components that would have to put up with more hp, higher pressures, more torque and so forth. And the frugal part of me started wondering about whether the 91 octane gas around town would be enough, or whether I would have to start adding boosters. Heck, one of the reasons I wanted a post 1977 vehicle was so that I could be sure it ran on unleaded gasoline, so the idea of a car that knocks on premium was not that encouraging.

When I spoke with my other candidate mechanic, he figured he probably had a whole set of racing parts around somewhere, pistons, crank, camshafts and so forth, for this engine. But he wasn't sure, and he wasn't sure whether it was worth doing. He recalled raising the compression ratio on another 280 to 11:1 and it doesn't ping when using premium.

So I'm asking around about anyone who has experience rebuilding a North American spec engine to European spec. Parts would have to be bought, of course, but my fear is that something about the rebuild would leave me vulnerable to catastrophic and expensive mechanical failure, somewhere far from home.

OK, this car could turn from a hobby to a temptation to an obsession. Time to take deep cleansing breaths...