Archive | June 2007

NCAA College Baseball Playoffs

Since USC’s 12-time national champion baseball team hasn’t been up to par the last few years, here are two local teams I’m rooting for this year.

1) Cal State Fullerton Titans

The Titans are currently leading the UCLA Bruins 2-1 in the top of the 8th inning.  A Titan victory should send them to Omaha for the College World Series.

2) UC Irvine Anteaters

The Anteaters defeated the Wichita State Shockers 3-2 today to advance to the College World Series for the first time.

Those of you who went to or currently attend these schools, please track their progress and support them in their quest for supremacy on the diamond!

Down But Not Out

Today a band of believers from our church left for Arizona to help jump-start a “Power Plant.”  Please keep them in your prayers.  Even if the going gets tough, pray that they won’t get going, but instead trust in our sovereign God to do as He pleases so He may be glorified the most.

2 Corinthians 4 (New American Standard Bible)

2 Corinthians 4

Paul’s Apostolic Ministry

 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not reach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.

 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.

 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.


From one jump-start to another


(Actual car and battery in photo are not mine)

The original battery on “Devoted Dan” died on Thursday.  I should’ve thought it was on its last legs when I started the car for my morning commute.  I had to crank longer than usual for the car to come to life.  Instead, I thought nothing of it.  Thank God my friend and brother in Christ, Rex, who is a Senior New Vehicle Data Editor at Edmunds.com, was working late.  He carpooled in the morning and his wife Emily came to take him home after she dropped her sister off at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX for those who aren’t Los Angelenos).  Her vehicle, a Toyota Highlander, had a brand spankin’ new set of jumper cables in it they had for “just in case” situations.  I usually carry a set of cables in the trunk, but never put them back in since I went to the track (I emptied the trunk because it was something I thought I didn’t need = weight.).

Having never jump-started a vehicle myself before, but seeing others do it a few times (two handfuls or so), it was a good time to use some knowledge I got from…the Internet.  After all, if it’s on the Internet, it must be true (not!).  A few years ago, I thought it would be good for me to know how to jump-start an automobile with a dead battery.  So I searched and found an article with steps on how to jump-start a vehicle.  I made my own mnemonic “device.”  The first step in jump-starting a vehicle is to connect the cables to the red (positive, +) terminal of the dead battery.  So I thought, “Red…DEAD.  Red…DEAD.  Red…DEAD.”  “Red” rhymes with “dead.”

Here’s an article on how to jump-start a vehicle by Edmunds.com Editor-in-Chief, Karl Brauer.  There’s also a video on how to do it on that page as well.

Article – http://www.edmunds.com/ownership/howto/articles/43793/article.html
Video – http://www.edmunds.com/cgi-bin/videoed081.cgi

Quick Steps (Caution: don’t let the vehicles touch each other (duh) and don’t let the cable clamps touch each other):

  1. Red – Dead
  2. Red – Good
  3. Black – Good
  4. Black – Unpainted metal surface on the engine of the Dead vehicle (an unpainted bolt or bracket that is as far as from the dead battery as possible is ideal) – this serves as the ground

Since the OEM battery bit the dust, I figured it’s “Upgrade Time.”  The first thing I did was to search NASIOC.com (North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club).  It is believed to be the third largest Internet car forum (I don’t know what the top two are.  I’m guessing a Honda one and maybe VWVortex.com.).  The result of my search was that an OPTIMA® RedTop battery, Model 35, would be the best battery I could put into the car.  It’s quite a bit more expensive because it isn’t like a conventional lead acid battery.

The OPTIMA RedTop – Info – Cool technology stuff after the jump

(Click to enlarge image)

Now that I knew which battery to get, the next thing to do was to get the battery.  As ESPN’s College Football Analyst, “The Coach” Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend!”  I couldn’t locate one (the Model 35 with top posts only) yesterday and this morning at SEARS Auto Center, Auto Zone, or anywhere else.  At KRAGEN Auto Parts yesterday, I was introduced to the EXIDE Select Orbital battery which supposedly uses the same or similar technology.  Because it wasn’t a Group 35 top posts-only battery, I thought it wouldn’t be compatible with my vehicle.  I did a little more research last night and the KRAGEN web site said the 75 model with top and side posts would work with a 2004 Subaru Impreza.

I went back to the KRAGEN in Alhambra this afternoon only to find the one I had seen last night was a 78 model.  Next, I drove to the KRAGEN in El Sereno because the guy (manager?) at the Alhambra store called them when I was there last night and asked if they had those.  He said they did last night, but when I went there this afternoon they didn’t.  They hadn’t had any for a while.  The parts consultant there was kind enough to check what stores might have the 75 model in stock.  The computer said the Montebello store had them in stock.  She gave them a call to confirm for me and I headed on my way.

I took the Eastern to the 710 South to the 60 West only to find our friend “traffic.”  I exited on Findlay and went East on Via Campo until I hit Vail, which I then went South on.  I find it interesting that I know the streets of Montebello a little bit better because of the convalescent home my maternal grandmother was until she passed away.  It also helped me find the batting cages two weekends ago.  I finally arrived at the KRAGEN in Montebello and they indeed had the EXIDE Orbital Select 75.  Great!

As I headed back to my uncle’s truck to retrieve the old battery I would turn in (if you don’t bring your old battery, you have to pay an $8.00 core charge – it’s not a bad charge because it helps ensure batteries are properly disposed of), an old friend from Pilgrim School, Ken Takahashi, spotted me and said, “Hey, Loren!”  He bought whatever it is he came for pretty quickly because he was leaving as I was bringing the old battery into the store.  He was kind enough to hold the door for me to since I was using both hands to carry the battery.

Exide Select Orbital – Info
 
Specs and Features (Pretty cool technology stuff)
KRAGEN part page

At $159.99 plus sales tax and a core charge (a charge you have to pay if you don’t bring your old battery in), it isn’t cheap.  Yes, I could’ve dropped a conventional battery into the car.  But I wanted what I thought was best for it and was gladly willing to pay for it.  What makes the RedTop and Select Orbital batteries so much better than conventional lead acid batteries?  Click on some of the links above and you’ll soon find out why!

I was a little concerned with how the battery would fit into the car because I already knew (thanks to NASIOC) that the battery cables in the Subaru Impreza aren’t very long.  As a result, I had to install the battery so it sat crooked.  No worries, friends.  That sucker isn’t going to go anywhere as I made sure I was securely in place by tightening the battery tie-down.

Devoted Dan’s New Power Plant

Tip of the Day: Always use gloves when working with automobile batteries.  Even though you can’t see it, there could be lead acid on the battery’s casing.


Down but not out – The San Diego Padres


Padre pitcher Jake Peavy hits an RBI double to support his own cause on Thursday night

The National League West first place San Diego Padres rallied from four runs down in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Los Angeles Dodger$ on Thursday night.  The Padres now lead this year’s season series 5-4.  Perhaps we may see Padre dominance of the Dodger$ for the second straight year as the Dodger$ started out with the lead in last year’s season series only to became the property of the San Diego Padres – they got OWNED.

The Padres also rallied from a five-run deficit against the Seattle Mariners last night to tie the game before losing the game in the 11th inning.


Thanks to and praise God we have a new physical place to worship Him at church!  Of couse that doesn’t mean our worship to Him is limited to that room in any way.

Warning: Short rant ahead

Am I the only one who thinks the stage is way too high in the new “Praise Center?”  It’s distracting to see the worship team so high up there.  They’re at the same visual level as the screens displaying the lyrics to the songs we’re singing as our worship to God.  Whoever’s preaching that’s normal to tall in stature (fyi: 5’9″ is considered average for an adult male) is almost at the same height of the cross.  That’s not cool in my opinion.


I saw the 2008 Mercury Mariner commercial featuring the “OK Go” song again.  I’m pretty sure it was filmed at VKC on campus at USC.  I’m surprised that commercial isn’t on YouTube, but the 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid “Tree” commercial with Jill Wagner is. :shrug:

Rock ‘n’ Rule

What did the rock say to the ruler?


QUACK ATTACK!

Congratulations to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks!  Quack!  Quack!  Quack!


This afternoon, I got an update on the Vehicle Testing Assistant position I applied for.  I was told that there are outside candidates that will be interviewed over the course of the next week.  I should know by the end of next week what the future holds.  God is in control!  Thank you all for your prayers and support!  We’ll see if this small dream will come true.  I say “small” because it pales in comparison to what God has in store for all of His people.

Rally Time!

What time is it?  Not game time.  Not tool time.  Not time to get a watch.  Not daytime or nighttime.  Tonight (Monday night) was rally time!

Brandon, this photo’s for you!

The Team Edmunds co-ed softball team rallied in the bottom of the 7th inning from three runs down to pull out the victory.  We are now 3-3!  I don’t think I’ve ever looked so forward to a softball game as I did tonight.  I wanted to make up for the crummy performance I had two weeks ago.  It felt like such a long time!  I was reunited with my old baseball/softball-playing self (I was going to say old self, but that would kind of sound like how I was before Christ became my Lord and Savior) and it felt so good!  I didn’t make any errors defensively.  Then again I only had two or three ground balls hit to me in right field.

I didn’t make any outs offensively.  I was “4-for-4” from the pentagonal dish tonight.  I use the quotes because I consider the first hit an error on a tough play the right-center fielder tried to make as he was running back for the ball I hit.  Some would call it a base hit for a 2-run home run though.  In my second at-bat, I hit a ground ball to the second baseman and beat the throw to first easily.  For at-bat #3, I lined a single by the pitcher into center which brought in a run if I remember correctly.

My fourth at-bat was during our last inning rally with one out and a baserunner at second base.  I swung at the first pitch and missed it.  I got a little worried fearing the previous game’s disappointment might be relived.  I swung at the next pitch and barely made contact with the ball which produced a dribbler in front of the plate.  Since both the catcher and pitcher were either caught off guard by it or hoping it would go foul, I easily beat the throw to first (more so than the infield single I got earlier).  The runner who was at second base advanced to third base.

Here’s how the rest of our rally played out.  The batter after me hit a ground ball to the second baseman and beat the play at first.  I slid into second base even though no throw was made there.  I just wanted to make sure any possible double play attempt would be as difficult as possible for the shortstop (baseball/softball is always more fun when you get dirty–something that can’t be done on a basketball court!).  The runner behind me and I scored when the next batter hit a double to tie the game.  He advanced to third base on the throw home and represented the go-ahead run at that time.  The next batter hit a bloop single that barely dropped in front of the left-center fielder and the rest is history!

Not only did it feel good to get over the mental hurdle of being in a funk, but the team rallied to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat!  I’m already looking forward to next week.  Hopefully, a rally won’t be necessary for our team to win the game!

True Worship


John 4:23-24 – True Worship
AWESOME message from God’s Word I heard Thursday morning!

Filled with the Spirit + Filled with the Word = Become a worshiper

All Spirit + No Word = You blow up
All Word + No Spirit = You dry up
Spirit + Word = You grow up

How I Met the Cookie Monster



I had the Edmunds.com Long-Term 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4WD for the afternoon of March 28th and the morning of March 29th.  I took it home from California Speedway after the editorial folks completed performance testing of other vehicles and back to the office in the morning.  Here are some of my thoughts of it based on my experience with it.

All Show, No Go?
The FJ Cruiser is put in motion by a 4.0-liter V6 similar to the one in the Toyota Tacoma and previous generation Toyota Tundra.  To get its 239 hp (@ 5,200 RPM) and 278 lb.-ft. (@ 3,700 RPM) to the ground, Toyota mated the FJ’s powerplant to a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission.  Our long-term FJ is equipped with the latter.  Despite its 4,295 lb. curb weight, the FJ’s powertrain has the right stuff to motivate it and keep it motivated when necessary.  I thought the automatic transmission was quite responsive whenever I would hit the accelerator which would in turn, prompt for a downshift.  Our Senior Content Editor however, says it would be nice if the FJ’s automatic transmission was a little quicker with downshifts.  Throttle response was great and the amount of torque generated by the V6 allowed the vehicle to get going without any extraordinary amount of effort.  I was never left wanting a V8 under the hood.  Note the FJ does recommend premium fuel; something one of the editors mentioned as “criminal.”  Like many things in this world (but not beyond it ), you’ve got to pay to play.

When one decides to open it up, it’s capable of cutting a 7.8 second 0-60 mph time and running through the 1/4-mile in 15.64 seconds @ 86.91 mph.  For an SUV, these are definitely respectable numbers.  That proves the FJ does not only look fun to drive, but has the stuff it takes to back it up.

Our FJ is also equipped with the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) exhaust, which has not been a hit with the editorial staff.  Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton, actually gave me an advance notice on the drone the exhaust produced before I grabbed the FJ’s reins.  Anytime I was on the throttle, I could definitely hear the engine growl and exhaust note which definitely did evoke any thoughts of a symphony being played.  It got a little annoying, but I don’t think it’s something a dedicated FJ owner wouldn’t be able to live with.

Cookie Crazy – Yes, Corner Crazy – No

Do you all remember how the Cookie Monster gets all worked up when he’s eating cookies?  Nothing can stop him!  The same can’t be said for the FJ.  It came to a stop from 60 mph in 126.6 ft, which is good compared to most SUVs its size.  With over 23,500 miles on the clock, the brake pedal did seem a little spongy when initially depressed (perhaps there was some air in the system?), but the brakes worked fine as pedal pressure was increased.  I also thought I heard some sort of compression in the brake system whenever the brake pedal was depressed.  When things get turning however, the FJ was only capable of a 56.4 mph slalom speed and 0.69 g on the skidpad.  These numbers can probably be best attributed to the P265/70R17 Bridgestone Dueler H/T tires that enable it to travel just about anywhere its active owner would be headed.

Because of its well-suited powertrain, I wanted to find out how well the rest of the FJ’s on-the-road manners compared.  The first turn I tried to take in a moderately spirited manner, a tight freeway off-ramp, the tires howled in protest yet the vehicle didn’t exhibit any concerning amount of understeer at the moderate speed I was going.  At a higher speed, it probably would have wanted to plow through the turn.  Here, I blame the tires, suspension, and high center of gravity for the vehicle’s lack of handling prowess.  To its credit, I will say the vehicle didn’t feel as big as it physically is when it is being driven.

Inside the Belly of the Monster

Like most SUVs, the FJ driver is placed in a high seating position.  Visibility out the front windshield is good.  I found myself wanting larger side bolsters on the driver’s seat, but it probably is not something most FJ drivers would clamor for–they probably wouldn’t be driving it the same way I sometimes did.  Rear seat legroom is not something I honestly looked much at.  From a glance, it seemed to be a little more than that offered by the Subaru Impreza and Forester.  The suicide doors make ingress fairly easy and the rear seats quite accessible from the outside.  One of our editors mentioned egress out of the rear seats can be difficult because there isn’t anything to grab on to as one is exiting the confines of the FJ’s rear seat.

You may have heard or read the FJ has tremendous blind spots.  It does.  I’m not going to dispute that here.  The FJ’s blind spots didn’t present me with any difficulties on my morning commute from Monterey Park to Santa Monica (60 West to 10 West).  By using the side mirrors properly and checking over the appropriate shoulder before making any lane change attempt, I was able to maneuver the Cookie Monster through typical Southern California traffic without a hitch.  I take that back.  Our FJ has a towing hitch.  It was included in the Convenience Package #2 option bundle on the vehicle.  Back to the issue of looking into what we can’t see, the FJ’s blind spots should be a conscious concession its buyer makes once his or her decision has been made to get the vehicle.  I will also mention the only driving I did in reverse was backing out of my driveway on to an uncrowded residential street.

Our FJ is equipped with an AM/FM stereo with an in-dash 6-disc CD changer, XM Satellite Radio, and a 9-speaker (including the subwoofer) sound setup.  We also installed an aftermarket Parrot Bluetooth device to provide our staff with Bluetooth functionality.  Sound quality seemed alright to me.  Please remember I’m not anything close to an audiophile (here’s a professional assessment of its capabilities – 8 out of 10).  An issue I knew about before getting into the FJ thanks to our Long-Term Road Test Blog was that the radio’s LCD display was extremely dim.  This may have be an effect of the Parrot device installation.  I don’t think there have been any updates to the blog regarding any diagnosis or repair of this issue.  What troubled me was trying to make out the text on the radio display took my attention away from driving the vehicle far more than making simple adjustments to the radio or HVAC (heating, ventilation, A/C) controls would.



An interesting “feature” of the FJ is that its exterior body color spills into the interior as well.  The FJ’s “Voodoo Blue” color can be seen around the radio and HVAC controls and also on the doors.  There are also a few other features that have caught our editors’ eyes such as having a third front windshield wiper (yes, we know there’s a huge crack in the windshield), a map compartment on top of the dash above the instrument cluster that our Chief Road Test Editor used as a lower sunvisor, and a conventional sunvisor that could use an extension to say the least.

Would You Feed Its Need?

With an as-tested price of $32,102, our fully-loaded FJ Cruiser is a pretty expensive toy.  Its retro looks aren’t a example of Toyota jumping on the retro bandwagon.  The FJ Cruiser has a look that isn’t a far cry from the original Toyota FJ40.  The FJ probably isn’t worth your average city dweller’s money much less cookies.  But if you’re an active outdoorsman or -woman, it may fit the bill quite nicely.  Our FJ proved to be very capable on trips to Yosemite, Mammoth, and Joshua Tree National Park among other places.  Beware of the options and how an option often can’t be purchased outside of a package probably containing unwanted options (e.g., Convenience Package #2 has an inclinometer as a component of the gauge pack featuring a compass and outside temperature display–we primarily wanted the towing hitch when we purchased that package–the roof rack can also make vehicle clearance dicey in certain places as well).  For an active single person or one with a young family, the FJ Cruiser may be the beast you need to get any and all jobs done.

Edmunds.com Inside Line Full Test:
http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/FullTests/articleId=108557

Edmunds.com Inside Line Long-Term Road Test Blog:
http://blogs.edmunds.com/roadtests/category/cat.2007ToyotaFJCruiser

Video Review

(Play clip) 3:10 long
Video Comparison Test – 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser vs. 2006 Nissan Xterra Off-Road

Photos

Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $23,300

Options on Test Vehicle: Upgrade Package #2 ($2,620 — includes 17-inch aluminum wheels, Vehicle Stability Control with Active Traction, rear differential locks, AM/FM stereo, in-dash 6-disc CD changer and 9 speakers including subwoofer); Convenience Package ($1,840 — includes remote keyless entry system, power aluminum outside rearview mirror with illuminated lamp, cruise control, daytime running lights, rear clearance sonar and rear privacy glass); Convenience Package #2 ($1,167 — includes roof rack, tow hitch receiver, spare tire cover); TRD Performance Exhaust ($550); Security System With Proximity Sensor ($479); XM Satellite Radio ($449); Preferred Accessory Package ($442 — includes carpeted floor mats, rear door storage, first aid kit, center armrest).

MSRP of Test Vehicle: $32,102


I gladly welcome any feedback you all may be able to provide me regarding my writing.  Thanks!

Interesting vehicles in the Edmunds.com garage recently:
2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe

2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid (it seems pretty huge)

In other news, I think my interview Thursday went well!  We’ll see what happens probably sometime next week.  Praise God either way it pans out!  Blessed be the name of the Lord.