Archive for January, 2007

Miss America 1926

January 29, 2007

Norma Smallwood was the first Native American (Cherokee) to win the Miss America crown. Featured on the frontpage of – see the photo essay about the history of Miss America at:



Cold Snap

January 14, 2007

We had a real cold snap a few days ago. Now Fairfield is as cold as a witch’s tit. Everything is covered in ice and getting around is much slower, but at least it’s not windy. I’m glad winter has finally arrived, as it is supposed to. I was wondering if winter had passed us by this year.

Thankfully, I have a pair of Get-A-Grip’s. This marvellous invention fits to the bottom of my shoes and provides perfect grip even on sheet ice. There are six little steel spikes on each foot providing sure footing for me while everyone else struggles to stand up.


Bugatti Veyron

January 3, 2007


This is an awesome car. Below is taken from Wikipedia.

According to Volkswagen, the final production Veyron engine produces between 1020 and 1040 metric hp (1006 to 1026 SAE net hp), so the car will be advertised as producing “1001 horsepower” in both the US and European markets. This makes it the most powerful production road-car engine in history. Peak torque is 1250 N·m (922 ft·lbf).

Top speed was initially promised to be 252 mph (406 km/h), but test versions were unstable at that speed, forcing a redesign of the aerodynamics. In May 2005, a prototype Veyron tested at a Volkswagen track near Wolfsburg, Germany, and recorded an electronically limited top speed of 400 km/h (249 mph). In October, 2005, Car and Driver magazine’s editor Csaba Csere test drove the final production version of the Veyron for the November 2005 issue. This test, at Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien test track, reached a top speed of 253.2 mph (407.5 km/h).

The Veyron is the quickest production car to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) with an estimated time of 2.5 seconds. It also reaches 200 and 300 km/h (124 and 186 mph) in 7.3 and 16.7 seconds respectively. This makes the Veyron the quickest-accelerating production car in history. It also consumes more fuel than any other production car, using 40.4 L/100 km (5.82 mpg) in city driving and 24.1 L/100 km (10 mpg) in combined cycle. At full-throttle, it uses more than 125 L/100 km (2.1 mpg), which would empty its 100 L fuel tank in just 12.5 minutes. The car’s everyday top speed is listed at 234 mph (377 km/h). When the car reaches 137 mph (220 km/h), hydraulics lower the car until it has a ground clearance of about 3 1/2 inches (8.9 cm). At the same time, the wing and spoiler deploy. This is the “handling” mode, in which the wing helps provide 770 pounds (3425 newtons) of downforce, holding the car to the road.[2] The driver must, using the key, toggle the lock to the left of his seat in order to use the maximum speed of 253.2 miles per hour (407.5 km/h). Theoretically it can go faster but it is electronically limited to 253.2 miles per hour (407.5 km/h) to prevent tire damage. The key functions only when the vehicle is at a stop when a checklist then establishes whether the car—and its driver—are ready to enable ‘top speed’ mode. If all systems are go, the rear spoiler retracts, the front air diffusers close and the ground clearance, normally 4.9 inches (12.4 cm), drops to 2.6 inches (6.6 cm).

The Veyrons’ brakes utilize unique cross-drilled and turbine vented carbon rotors, which draw in cooling air to reduce fade. Each caliper has eight[2] titanium pistons. Bugatti claims maximum deceleration of 1.3 g on road tires. Prototypes have been subjected to repeated 1.0 g braking from 194 to 50 mph (312 to 80 km/h) without fade. With the car’s fearsome acceleration from 50 to 194 mph (80 to 312 km/h), that test can be performed every 22 seconds. At speeds above 124 mph (200 km/h), the rear wing also acts as an airbrake, snapping to a 70-degree angle in 0.4 seconds once brakes are applied, providing 0.5 g (6 m/s²) of deceleration.[2] Bugatti claims the Veyron will brake from 252 mph (406 km/h) to a standstill in less than 10 seconds.[2] The braking is also so evenly applied that the car will not deviate from a straight path if the driver lets go of the steering wheel, even with the brakes fully applied starting from close to top speed. [1]

Gordon Murray, designer of the McLaren F1 (which at the time of creation was billed as the fastest production car ever built) said the following about the Bugatti Veyron in UK auto magazine evo during its development period:

“The most pointless exercise on the planet has got to be this four-wheel-drive 1000 horsepower Bugatti. I think it’s incredibly childish this thing people have about just one element—top speed or standing kilometre or 0-60. It’s about as narrow minded as you can get as a car designer to pick on one element. It’s like saying we’re going to beat the original Mini because we’re going to make a car 10 mph faster on its top speed—but it’s two foot longer and 200 kilos heavier. That’s not car designing—that just reeks of a company who are paranoid.”[citation needed]

However, after the car had made production, Murray went on to write an article for another UK auto magazine, Top Gear conceding a lot of his past resentment of the car.

“One really good thing, and I simply never expected this, is that it does change direction. It hardly feels its weight. Driving it on a circuit I expected a sack of cement, but you can really throw it at tight chicanes.”

He also declared in the article that: “The braking is phenomenal,” “The primary ride and body control are good too” and “It’s a huge achievement.”[citation needed]

The trend of backtracking on negative comments about the Veyron continued when prominent UK car show host Jeremy Clarkson declared on Top Gear that it was “The best car ever made” after initially saying it was ridiculous and would never exist.[2] He would later extend this by saying he would spend the night with British reality TV star Jade Goody to get his hands on one.

The Veyron was then proclaimed the Top Gear Magazine Car of the Year along with the Toyota Aygo and its Peugeot and Citroën clones.

The Veyron was also declared the Grand Award winner for the Autotech catergory of 2006 by Popular Science magazine.

*According to Jeremy Clarkson, the host of Top Gear, in a speed race, if the McLaren F1 were allowed to reach 120 mph before the Bugatti started, the Bugatti would still be the first to reach 200 mph.

*In one of Top Gear’s races, Richard Hammond and James May attempted to beat Clarkson in a race across Europe using transport other than a car, from Italy to England to transport a truffle. Clarkson used the Veyron, while Hammond and May used a variety of transport, with May flying the Cessna 182 due to his newly obtained pilot’s licence, and the use of the Eurostar, when it was revealed that May was not qualified to fly at night.[3] Apparently, so far, Bugatti has not given Top Gear approval for a Power Lap in the Veyron, an attempt at the record time, now held by the Koenigsegg CCX (with the Top Gear spoiler).

*The Veyron’s handbrake features ABS, allowing it to be used to stop the car in case the main brakes fail.[21]

*The Transformers: Cybertron character Crosswise transforms into a noticeably modified Veyron.

*According to Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear, Volkswagen’s cost per Veyron is approximately £5 million (ie VW would lose £4.25 million on each Veyron sold). However, one should note that this is not the price to produce one vehicle, but rather the cost of the entire Veyron project divided by the number of vehicles produced at that time.

*At full throttle the Veyron can empty its fuel tank in just 12 minutes.

Update on Student Status

January 2, 2007

A few days ago I was told that it was ok for me to join the fulltime MA programme. It felt like a good idea at the time, but then I gave it some serious thought and decided that I am going to stick with the part-time track that I am on and review the situation at the end of this semester.

There are a number of advantages of doing it this way. Basically, I came to the conclusion that the degree is just a title, a title that I’d like to have, but my real education is not found in the classroom – where I get straight A’s because I am so familar with the material already – but in deep meditation.

Instead of grabbing at the degree, I decided to adopt Joseph Campbell’s formula for living: ‘Follow your bliss.’ Once I started thinking that way, it became clear that going fulltime to get the degree wasn’t necessary.

It also occurred to me that if I continue on part-time until the end of this semester, then I will have nearly enough units to graduate anyway. It is even possible that I could get some previous work cross-credited. So the fulltime plan has been shelved for now.