Zoom Zoom Live!

Saturday, Chris and I went to the Mazda Zoom Zoom Live! Event in the suburbs of Chicago. What is a Zoom Zoom Live! Event? Mazda provides cars (MAZDA3, MAZDA5, MAZDA6, MX-5 Miata, RX-8) from the current model year for event participants to Test Drive.

The test drives are unique in that they are full challenge courses. The MX-5 Miata was featured in two courses the Jinba Ittai challenge and the Performance challenge. Jinba Ittai translates to "Rider and Horse as One", this course was a slow-speed precision driving test. A mechanism is attached to the hood of the vehicle consisting of a deep bowl and a shallow bowl with three golf balls in the shallow bowl. The goal being to complete the course as quickly as possible while avoiding the penalty incurred by losing the golf balls out of the shallow bowl.

The performance challenge, as you might guess, is an all out autocross course designed to put the Miata through it's paces. The target time was 37.5. Chris turned the faster time between the two of us at 38.3 but hit a cone nearly equaling my time of 39.425. The rematch although an option never happened because of the one hour wait. We got to meet Stu Hayner (pictured here in glasses) although I had know idea who he was Chris recognized him from the SpeedWorld challenge series as well as many other series.

The gymkhana challenge is a skills test, race the course and match the target time exactly. This event also offered the largest variet of cars in the MAZDA3, MAZDA5, and MAZDA6. Using Chris' stopwatch we got close and each earned 25 prize points by getting within a half second of the target 26 seconds. It was a fun challenge but, the one and a half hour plus wait was ridiculous.

Our first event and the final I'll describe was the School of Zoom. This event wasn't timed nor were points awarded simply take a 2006 RX-8 and enjoy it on a large autocross course after listening to a 5 minute lecture about proper braking, accelerating, and apexing. It was over in a flash but, it was fun.

At the end of the day we left with some Mazda propaganda and some give-aways (Hat, pen, t-shirts etc). And the price tag on this day of driving sports cars? Nada. That's one way to make fans.


Sulu comes out of the closet.

George Takei, Sulu of Star Trek fame, announced in Frontiers a bi-weekly (heh) magazine covering the gay and lesbian community that he is gay.

I've read posts today in the blogosphere suggesting he should have come out in a more relavant time in his career. Fuck that! He spent four years in a U.S. internment camp. He went on to a great career in television on one of the more diverse shows of the time. The message of the show was exploration and befriending those who accept you. Sure it's just Star Trek but, he likely has done more in three seasons to teach tolerance than you have in a comparable period of time.

As Mawopi says You go girl.



We had dinner and saw off the last of the out-of-town relatives last night.

One thing about funerals: They are incredibly draining.

There is all the emotion in losing a loved one. Seeing relatives from near and far. The drama involved in getting a large family together. The outlaws, inlaws, and castaways and the strange faces of newcomers.

A couple bright spots from the whole experience.

Family portrait style pictures were arranged at the visitation with a star photographer, me. We grabbed folks before they went into to say goodbye, trying to avoid the red and puffy crowd coming out of the visitation room. Uncle Jim and his father got their picture taken. They didn't have a current, if ever, photo of themselves together. Using Walgreens' online photo application I had 4" x 6" prints of the photos available at the funeral the next day. Emails were collected and directions sent allowing family members to order bigger prints or duplicates.

Speaking of my Uncle Jim being around all this family reminded me how un-creative my family is with names. Here's one example:

James (Jim) Patrick Conway [Grandfather]
James (Jim) Allen Conway [Uncle]
James (Jim) Patrick Conway [Cousin]
James (Jim) Richard Remsik [Father]
James (Jim) Richard Remsik Jr [Me]

Of course when it comes to nicknames:

Jim Conway [Grandfather] = Scotty
Jim Conway [Uncle] = (Dammit?) Jim
Jim Conway [Cousin] = Bones

Now if Dad and I were nicknamed "Sulu" and "Spock" we'd be on to something.


Later, Lu

My grandmother passed away on Thursday.

The aneurysm on her aorta began to seep. Thankfully, my parents made it up from Florida in time to say goodbye.

She spent three days at St. Mary's hospital here in Madison. She had been surrounded by family and after a sudden loss of blood pressure earlier in the day she seemed to improve.

Enough so, she regained her color.

Enough so, that those with errands to run felt comfortable leaving.

Enough so, we started giving my aunt, Wanda, a hard time about being a southern redneck (which she is).

Enough so, we were surprised when my aunt Sherri pointed out that she wasn't breathing.

I appreciate people's thoughts and if there is anything you can do I'll let you know. There isn't of course, I don't even know what I can do, but I realize the people that are reading this would offer.

It'll be a rough couple days as arrangements are made and services held. Then life will carry on as usual, only without "Grandma Lu".


Campbell's Annual Click For Cans, Feed the homeless and support your favorite NFL team.

The Packers' fans are currently leading the vote at a 3-1 margin...

Get your vote in, daily. That is of course if you are voting for the Packers. ;)



Jen and I, finally, got to take our balloon flight. It was worth the wait. Our pilot was Jerry from Gentle Breezes.


Just cool.

Up, Up and a flame.

Just after take-off we got a wonderful view of "The Oaks" golf course.

During our attempt to brush treetops.


We had an awesome night of weather for mid-October.

Guess who.

The "valve" on the inside of the balloon.

Tearing down the balloon.

Deflation.Is that Alfred Hitchcock's silhouette?

Packing up.

Sunset at the champaign toast.


For John

Toolbar tweaks

Internet Explorer's toolbars are very configurable. Entire toolbars can be moved and resized, toolbar buttons can be moved, removed and resized, and button descriptions can be turned on or off.

Before moving or resizing Internet Explorer toolbars, we first need to right-click a toolbar and make sure that the option Lock Toolbars is turned off (older browsers will not have a lock toolbar ability).

Internet Explorer toolbars have drag handles. Depending on what version of Windows you are using, the drag handles will either be a subtle vertical line of dots, or a raised vertical bar. Rest your cursor over a drag handle (it will change into a horizontal cursor with an arrow head at either end), then, hold down the left mouse button and simply drag each toolbar to where you want it to be. The same drag handles are used to resize a toolbar.

Ready to drag

Ready to drag


Still no Hot Air Balloon ride ...

Our Hot Air Balloon ride was cancelled again on Sunday morning, presumably due to weather but, we still haven't called the guy to reschedule. :(


My Mom: "Jimmy, when did you get so tall?"

This is a candid shot of my sister, Samantha.

This is my nephew Riley. We stopped over to my parents house yesterday for a birthday/going away party. My parents are going back down to Florida tomorrow morning. They wanted to have cake and ice cream for the folks that have birthdays while they are out of town.

He does not have dry skin, those are mashed potatoes. :)

A "welder's finger" from a forum post on WeldingWeb.com by wrenchit. Simple design but, really useful. This might be my first project once I get the welder up and running.


Nice poster, maybe?

When you say WIS-COS-NIN you've pretty much said it all.

Close-up of the backfield. Pre-snap.

John Stocco, Are his eyes closed?

This picture was taken for Jen. Her favorite NFL player also happened to be a Badger Alumnus and on-site, Al Toon (left) is pictured here with Randy Wright and another guy. Something about a bounce pass. ;)

Can I point out how tall the man is? Randy Wright is no slouch and Toons belt is closer to his chest than his waist. Now, I know some of you are going to point out the perspective etc. Take a look at the the knee to waist ratio. That's no illusion.

Tuba? or not Tuba?

As previously reported Gary McFall is serving 5-10 in the meduim security facility affectionately known as "The Tye-Dye Pen." Either that or he is a volunteer brat cook at Rocky's on Regent.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Our Hot Air Balloon Ride was cancelled again this morning. The winds aloft were blowing at a brisk 20 MPH. Too fast to be safe on an otherwise ideal morning. We have re-scheduled again for next Sunday morning.

Location! Location! Location!

On an average day Jen will drop me off and drive the remaining 5 miles on her own. I had seen the sunrise over Monona Bay about 10 times recently on days which I wanted/needed the car. Each time I looked in the back seat and cringed because I had left the camera at home and missed another photo opportunity.

On Friday I looked into the backseat again only this time I saw the camera.

These sunrise pictures are the result.

Running hot ...

Nicknamed: Sunrise at 20MM

... and cold.

A striking contrast at just 30 degrees away from the sunrise is this isthmus skyline. Post-processed to enhance the cool feel.