Archive | January 2008

Danger is my middle name

Question of the Day: What is the main difference between the photos below?



On Sunday afternoon, the mod, as in modification, bug bit me again.  I purchased a red hazard switch from Subaru Genuine Parts a few months ago, but never got around to installing it.  Late last week, I contemplated installing the switch and finally decided I would attempt to do it last weekend.  What held me back so long was the concern that I would break or scratch an interior trim piece in the process.

What’s the big deal about a red hazard switch?  It’s a JDM item.  That’s what!  JDM stands for “Japanese Domestic Market.”  If you don’t understand the JDM craze, you won’t understand why something this retrofit is cool.  The red hazard switch made its first appearance on the Japanese 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S203.  Since then, Subaru limited its use to the Japanese STi/STI models until the 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Limited was released in North America.  Because of that model’s introduction, the switch became readily available on this side of the Pacific.

To retrofit the new red hazard switch, here are the methods to the madness:

  1. Remove the upper cupholder.  On USDM (United States Domestic Market) MY2002-2004 Imprezas, the cupholder is located under the right center A/C vent.  To remove it, one must open the cupholder, unscrew and remove the two screws that secure it, and carefully extract the cupholder from the dash.
  2. Pull out the upper vent assembly.  This was the trickiest step because the lower left corner of the assembly didn’t want to come out.  I was really afraid I was going to break something.  It got to a point where I stopped what I was doing to return to the computer to make sure I was following my friend’s directions properly.  After rereading what I already knew, I was determined to get the vent assembly out!  I finally finagled the assembly out after a few more minutes.  It would be smooth sailing from that point forward.
  3. Disconnect the wiring harness from the hazard switch.  All I had to do here was unplug the wiring harness from the switch.  Doing this releases the entire assembly into one’s hand(s).
  4. Pop the hazard switch out of the vent assembly.  To free the hazard switch from the vent assembly, its top and bottom need to be unlatched from the vent assembly.  I unlatched the top with a finger and the bottom using a small flathead screwdriver.  The screwdriver isn’t absolutely necessary but made the task easier.  Once free, the hazard switch will come out from the front of the vent assembly.
  5. Press the new hazard switch into the vent assembly.  Just push the new switch into the hole where the old one was located until you hear and feel a faint “click.”
  6. Plug the wiring harness into the new hazard switch.
  7. Re-insert the vent assembly.
  8. Re-install the cupholder.

Now, I and everyone who rides in my car will clearly know which button is the “panic” button!

On Friday night and Saturday, I attended the Passion L.A. regional conference.  God really convicted me of how much I live for me instead of living for Him, His name and fame, and His glory.  There isn’t much more to say.  The song that came to my mind Friday night was “Much of You” by Steven Curtis Chapman from his All Things New album (©2004 Sparrow Records).

Much of You

How could I stand here
And watch the sun rise
Follow the mountains
Where they touch the sky
Ponder the vastness
And the depths of the sea
And think for a moment
The point of it all was to make much of me
Cause I’m just a whisper
And You are the thunder and

I want to make much of You, Jesus
I want to make much of Your love
I want to live today to give You the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of Your mercy
I want to make much of Your cross
I give You my life
Take it and let it be used
To make much of You

And how can I kneel here
And think of the cross
The thorns and the whip and the nails and the spear
The infinite cost
To purchase my pardon
And bear all my shame
To think I have anything worth boasting in except for Your name
Cause I am a sinner
And You are the Savior

I want to make much of You, Jesus
I want to make much of Your love
I want to live today to give You the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of Your mercy
I want to make much of Your cross
I give You my life
Take it and let it be used

To make much of You

This is Your love, oh God
Not to make much of me
But to send Your own son
So that we could make much of You

For all eternity

I want to make much of You, Jesus
I want to make much of Your love
I want to live today to give You the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of Your mercy
I want to make much of Your cross
I give You my life
Take it and let it be used
To make much of You

I want to make much of You
Much of You, Jesus

As seen on TV

On Monday, I took advantage of the day off provided by in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to find out if Devoted Dan had truly been cured.  I also figured it would be a good opportunity to test the effectiveness of the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) STI (Subaru Tecnica International) springs and Koni adjustable strut inserts installed in early December and the ChaseCam SM31 camcorder window mount I received right after my Laguna Seca track day (they forgot to ship my order in time for the track day even though I paid for upgraded shipping).

Back in September, I took Devoted Dan out to Little Tujunga Canyon Road for the first time.  This time, I met up with my co-worker, Jon Wahl, and his 2001 Audi S4 Avant (it’s a beast!).  Jon had never driven this road before so I led us on our first run going north.  Steve Quon (Xanga: GR81stud) met me at home and rode with me the entire time.  He also served as my cameraman, too.  All he had to do was press “Start” and “Stop” on the camcorder (Sony DCR-IP1) remote.  Knowing it was going to be wet didn’t faze Jon or me because we were confident our all-wheel drive-equipped vehicles would take care of us.

Here are some early WRX commercials many of you probably saw in 2002 and 2003.

These commercials came to mind as we set out.  I decided to drive at about 75-85% of my ability because of the conditions.  On most canyon runs, I’ll drive at about 80-90% of my ability.  I reserve driving at “maximum attack” (100%) for the track alone.  In the first video below, you’ll see I made mistakes around 2:35 and 7:55.  For those wondering, the car is on P215/45R17 Bridgestone Potenza RE92 all-season tires.  They definitely aren’t the ideal tires to use for the “spirited” driving depicted below.  I think I wouldn’t have made the mistakes if the road was dry.  Better tires probably wouldn’t have hurt, too.  Nonetheless, a good time was had by all!  I felt like I was driving a wet tarmac rally stage such as one that would be found as part of Rally Corsica, the French round of the World Rally Championship!

Part 1 (9:59)

Part 2 (7:22)

If you would like to see the entire video (17:59), you may watch it at the Google Video link below.


On Saturday, I took “Devoted Dan” (my car) to Mavrik Motorsports ( in Fullerton, CA to get “tuned” by Jon from HB Speed (he used to work for Harman Motive and Surgeline Tuning).  I wanted to get the car “tuned” because the engine was pinging/knocking/detonating when it was running on a Stage 1 engine map (for those unfamiliar with automotive terminology, pinging is BAD for your vehicle’s engine – sound clip here).  No, that engine map isn’t something that came with the car.  I got it when I purchased and installed a COBB ( AccessPORT for the car in April 2005.

Upon reading stock 2004 WRX engines were experiencing detonation during the closed loop to open loop transition, I wanted to make sure that issue wouldn’t ail my car.  I guess you all weren’t going to buy that anyway.  Yes, having an AccessPORT also helps the engine produce more power.  The AccessPORT allows me to “flash” different engine maps to the car’s engine control unit (ECU).  From April 2005 to mid-2007, I was able to use the Stage 1 91 octane engine map without any problems (read: pinging).  In mid-2007, pinging started to rear its ugly head and I switched to a Stage 1 91 octane California/Arizona/Nevada gasoline map.  Because the fuel in California is terrible, a more conservative map was developed.

General WRX/WRX STI Stages of Tune
Stage 1 – Stock powertrain with ECU reflash
Stage 2 – Modified turbo-back exhaust (TBE = downpipe and cat-back exhaust)
Stage 2.5 – Stage 2 plus upgraded turbo and fuel injectors

A couple months passed and I started hearing pinging from the engine again.  If you didn’t listen to the soud clip hyperlinked above, the best way to describe the sound of pinging would be to imagine the sound of a BB hitting a tin can.  Using higher octane fuel such as the 100 octane gasoline I mixed into the fuel tank before I heading up to Laguna Seca is one possible solution.  The problem with that is gas with an octane rating greater than 91 isn’t readily available.  It definitely would not be worth my time and money (100 oct is around $6/gallon) to find some on a regular basis.  I also tried using some Gumout Fuel System Cleaner to no avail.

Down to my last straw, I reverted the ECU back to the stock engine map.  As a result, I had a lot less fun with the car because there was less low-RPM torque and high-end horsepower.  Being accustomed to how the car felt in its Stage 1 state, I had to slightly alter my driving style to accomodate the loss of power (~15-20 horsepower).  Discontent with the car at stock power levels, I knew my only other option was to get a Stage 1 Protune.  Why only Stage 1?  My car’s only “power” modifications are a Prodrive silicone intercooler hose and a Prodrive muffler.  I also want to keep all three catalytic converters on the car so it would stay smog-legal.  I don’t want to bother with modifying the exhaust and reverting it to stock just for smog tests in the future.

When a person is sick, he or she goes to the doctor.  When a car is sick, it goes to a mechanic.  Given the nature of my car’s condition, it couldn’t go to any general mechanic; it needed to see a specialist.  That’s where Jon, the tuner, comes into the picture.  “Protuning” is the process of developing a custom engine map for the AccessPORT.  Jon started with COBB’s Stage 1 off-the-shelf (OTS) map which the engine was pinging on earlier as a baseline.  From there, he tweaked timing, boost, and other settings to create an engine map that would produce the optimal amount of power with a safe air-to-fuel ratio (AFR) throughout the powerband.  If I remember correctly, it took Jon six dyno, which is short for dynamometer, runs to develop a map he and the car were happy with.

Here is Dan’s clean bill of health (I hope!)!  I was hoping the car would put down 190-200 hp to the wheels.  Even though it didn’t, I’m not disappointed with the result because I know California has “crummy” (insert other choice word here if you like) gas.  I was also told that the dyno used shows corrected numbers that are more conservative than a lot of other dynos.
Dyno Sheet

But wait!  There’s more!  Here are some videos of my car puking its guts out. j/k

Here’s a video of Jon driving by after he was done with the “hard” work.  Isn’t the exhaust note wonderful?!

Where the streets have no, make that, my name

If I remember correctly, I found this little nugget in Rosemead a few months ago when I looked up an address in San Gabriel on Google Maps.  Last Sunday, I decided to visit it for the first time after washing the car.  One of the amazing things about this is the street is only 1.8 miles from home.  Like many seemingly good things in life, there was a catch…

I couldn’t get to it!

The street appears to be within a townhome complex.  Perhaps I could follow a vehicle in one of these days.  That may not be a great idea, though, as I spotted a security camera before I began snapping photos.

Do you know a street with your name?  It probably wouldn’t hurt to look for one!  I doubt anyone will find a street with their name as close as I did.

My Magnificent Obsession (Part 1 of 2)

Here’s my magnificent obsession… Inside Line‘s Comparison Test of the 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR, and 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR (Click on the image to see the article and video)


My real magnificent obsession lies in God’s call to love Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength — a humanly impossible feat.

Hanley preached from James 3:13-18 (link to James Chapter 3 – NASB) many Friday nights ago (September 7, 2007 to be exact).  God really convicted me of my selfish ambition.  I should want what God wants–not what I want.

Wisdom from Above

 13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.

 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.

 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

A few weeks later (September 23, 2007), God convicted me through Pastor Jackson’s message on the Triumphal Entry in Matthew 21.  He mentioned that Jesus Christ wasn’t who the Israelites hoped He would be as the Messiah.  He used a cross reference from Isaiah 55:8-9 which says that God’s thoughts and ways are higher (Thanks, Nick!) than people’s.  This reminded me I need to have the proper perspective of God and not try to make Him who I want Him to be.

When I went with Steve (Xanga: rice4krxst), Hanley (Xanga: randomranting), and Don (Xanga: udonoogen) to see Steven Curtis Chapman, Sanctus Real, and Bethany Dillon perform live on the evening of October 28, 2007, God convicted me that I had not been placing Him entirely first in my life when SCC and his band featuring his two sons played “Magnificent Obsession”.

Last month, I applied for an Associate Editor position in’s editorial department.  The thought of getting it would be a dream come true (since becoming a professional race car driver or fighter pilot is very unlikely at my ripe old age of 26) as I would get to write about (it’s hard work, but it’s a lot of fun, too) and evaluate automobiles for a living.  Last week, I started getting anxious that I was probably not going to get the position.  God used His Word (Philippians 4:6-7) to remove the anxiety and replaced it with a sense of contentment.  I knew His perfect will will be done.  And in that, I rejoiced!  I probably will find out in a few weeks where I am in that process.  I would appreciate your prayers for God’s will to be done, not that I would simply get the job.

With that said, I’ll post Part 2 of “My Magnificent Obsession” in His time.

In closing, here’s a clip of SCC performing “Magnificent Obsession” live along with the song’s lyrics (from


Magnificent Obsession
Written by Steven Curtis Chapman
From the recording: Declaration, Track #9.

Matt. 13:44-46; Heb. 12:2; Phil. 3:8-10

Lord, You know how much
I want to know so much
In the way of answers and explanations
I have cried and prayed
And still I seem to stay
In the middle of life’s complications
All this pursuing leaves me feeling like I’m chasing down the wind
But now it’s brought me back to You
And I can see again

This is everything I want
This is everything I need
I want this to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord, I want it all to be for You, Jesus
Be my magnificent obsession

So capture my heart again
Take me to depths I’ve never been
Into the riches of Your grace and Your mercy
Return me to the cross
And let me be completely lost
In the wonder of the love
That You’ve shown me
Cut through these chains that tie me down to so many lesser things
Let all my dreams fall to the ground
Until this one remains

You are everything I want
And You are everything I need
Lord, You are all my heart desires
You are everything to me

You are everything I want
You are everything I need
I want You to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord, I want it all to be for You
I want it all to be for You

Copyright Information
©2001 Sparrow Songs / Peach Hill Songs / BMI / Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Here are a couple of videos to ring in the new year!  This is what happens when you combine snow with a lack of traction.  Notice how there aren’t any Subarus in these videos.  And that’s a good thing!  Enjoy!