Pokémon Go…or something, whatever

A lot of things have happened since I’ve last updated my blog, but each time I think about writing a post, I realize I’m not entirely sure what I want to share here anymore.  Twitter is the best resource to keep up with what’s going on my life right now, to be honest.  My blog has turned into more of a place for me to dump long-form thoughts.

That said, time to dump some thoughts. :D

I’ve been playing a lot of Pokémon Go, and despite its tumultuous rollout, I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.  There’s a gym down the street from where I live, and three more within reasonable walking distance, where I can also hit 9 Pokéstops along the way.  It’s a long walk, but I enjoy it.

A lot of the game mechanics are sort of…broken, or “unbalanced” is a better word, I guess.  Stardust doesn’t scale very well, evolved Pokémon trade in for the same amount of candy as their unevolved counterparts, Pokéstops have seemingly recently all but stopped dropping hyper potions…the list goes on.  Niantic has had, and continues to have, their heads in the sand for the most part, especially with the tracking issue, which was made even worse by their complete lack of communication for weeks.

I think a lot of people quit the game, but even with certain things still broken or very unbalanced, I continue to play.  I won’t spend any real money on the game until they address the issues, but the game is still very much playable (which is not something I could say with much confidence for the first few weeks).  Right now, what’s fun for me is collecting Pokémon and specifically focusing on keeping the gym down the street.

Oh, and I guess I should mention that I’m dumb and didn’t realize the teams were based on the legendary birds.  I chose Team Valor (red team) for a completely dumb reason (didn’t understand how gyms worked), and totally didn’t realize I should’ve been on Team Instinct.  (Anyone that knew me back in the day knows Zapdos was my favorite Pokémon).  Valor is the last team I would’ve picked if I had understood gyms, because Moltres is my least favorite legendary bird and red is my least favorite color of the three.  Sigh.  At this point though, even if they introduce a mechanic to switch teams, I’m not sure that I would.

In non-Pokémon-related news, I bought a new car about a month and a half ago.  It’s been at the point for a long time now that with my back/nerve problem, driving a sports compact with a manual was making less and less sense.  This is one of the few things I haven’t posted about on social media, mostly because it almost feels like bragging, when in reality I liked my BRZ a lot and had planned to keep it for a long time otherwise, and now I just want to be comfortable.  My new car has Apple CarPlay, by the way, which I will say is awesome and I don’t think I’d buy another car that didn’t either come with it or couldn’t be upgraded to it via an aftermarket unit.

Also, I think it goes without saying here that this election is ridiculous.  Anyone that knows me probably knows who I’m voting for, but I will say it is nice to have Bernie out of the picture.  To me, he’s been the most frustrating politician to emerge out of the woodwork this season, demagoguing his way into relevancy in a near-Trumpian fashion, only to sell out in the end to the very establishment he claimed to be so separate from.  What a joke.  He honestly cannot fade back into obscurity quickly enough.

So that’s that for a while.  Happy Pokémon hunting.  :)

An Observation on Car Culture

Over the course of owning an American muscle car and two Japanese driver’s cars, I’ve noticed very distinct subcultures within the car culture.  These are some generalizations about them that hold a substantial amount of truth when compared to the attitudes portrayed by these subcultures on their respective forums.

American muscle car subculture:
• Neutral: Very, very focused on fast cars and horsepower. 0-60 and quarter mile times are the end-all-be-all.
• Negative: Promotes the idea that all Japanese cars are ricers.
• Interesting: Chevy owners hate Fords but are receptive of Dodge.

Japanese driver’s car subculture:
• Positive: Much more receptive of other types of cars, but still has obvious preferences.
• Negative: Promotes the idea that if your car isn’t lowered with aftermarket coilovers, your car looks like a 4 x 4.  This includes cars that are low at stock configuration and look nothing like a 4 x 4.
• Neutral: Very focused on handling and much less concerned with horsepower and straight-line times.

Shared traits:
• Negative: Both are extremely apologetic about their cars’ faults and/or shortcomings.  The entire culture seems to make really bad excuses about things their car could have but doesn’t, and it’s kind of pathetic.
• Negative: Both can be super circle-jerky about how much they love their cars, to the cringeworthy point.

I thought the differences were pretty interesting.

Nexus 7 Dash Install

The Nexus 7 car install is complete.  Total cost was about $550 (including hardware and about $25 of software), though you could do it for $150 less with a 16 GB non-LTE Nexus 7 and even less with a cheaper head unit (mine was $120), though you would need to have Bluetooth/USB input/aux and a remote to do it right.  I’m really digging it; definitely a pretty clean look.

Hobbies

I’ve been examining my hobbies lately and realized they’ve gotten less diverse.  If you’d asked me in 2010 what my hobbies were, I probably would’ve said, “computers, cars, writing, and anime.”  Since then, I’ve only really added “fashion” to that list.  Anime has remained true, and my interest in cars has grown exponentially, but my writing bug has all but died.  And the most I’ve done computer-related in my spare time anytime recently was priced out a budget media PC build that would potentially fit inside of an NES shell.

I guess the latter of those is to be expected since I work in IT and I deal with computers all day, but I don’t think that’s really the reason my interest has dropped.  My opinion is that it has more to do with the lack of anything really exciting happening lately in the industry, and also because even if I wanted to buy a new laptop or build a new desktop PC to replace my already completely adequate computers, I’d rather just save that money toward car stuff.  I mean, recently, the question I’d ask myself was “do you want a new MacBook Air, or do you want $1,400 toward an FR-S/BRZ?”  And now, even though I have the BRZ, I’d still rather spend that money on mods or save it toward a project car or a Z06 or something.

Writing is still a love of mine.  I fantasize about writing all of the time.  The problem is that I just don’t ever do it anymore.  I need a certain atmosphere to write, and the mood that atmosphere creates has been absent from my life for a while now.  I still get ideas and I still have the desire, but as soon as I’m staring at a blank screen, it disappears.  I’ve flirted with the idea of trying out NaNoWriMo, even though (as anyone that reads my blog knows) I am not a fan of the concept.  I’ve already written two full novels though, so I’m not really in the business of proving to myself that I can do it anymore.

More than anything right now, I really just like the idea of doing things to cars.  I have a list of mods for the BRZ, I still plan on buying that Corvette Z06 one day, and I want a project car at some point.  I actually really like that idea a lot and look forward to having the time, space, and money to have that in my life.

The BRZ Review

I’ve had the BRZ for almost a week, and it’s been a blast.  So in true inphiltrate.com fashion, here is my 6 day review.

BRZ

First, it’s a 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited 6MT with Option Package #2C.  I didn’t order the car, so I didn’t really choose that option package, but it did have a few things in it that I wanted anyway – Homelink rearview mirror, chrome fender trim, wheel lock kit, and a rear bumper appliqué (which I didn’t particularly want, but I’m glad to have it; it’s just a clear bra for the top of the rear bumper).

The 2014s are coming out this month, but the only difference between the 2013 and the 2014 is a useless upgrade to the navigation unit and (optional?) knee pads, the latter of which I’ve already ordered to add to my 2013.  Really no reason at that point to pay MSRP for a 2014 when a 2013 can be had for a better price, so that was a pretty easy decision.

BRZ side

When I first started looking at the FT86, I’d decided to try to get the FR-S version as a second car to my Camaro.  If I’d gone that route, I would’ve gotten Firestorm (red).  When I decided that trading my Camaro was an option, I decided if I did that, I wanted the best version of the FT86 that I could get, and to me, that was a World Rally Blue Pearl Subaru BRZ Limited.  The color looks amazing in person, and I’m pretty surprised how well it hides dirt (though it is spotless in these pictures since it’s straight from the dealership).

The BRZ Limited has the following differences from the FR-S:

  • Heated seats
  • Alcantara and leather seats
  • Dual zone climate control
  • HID headlights
  • Dash is styled differently
  • Front fascia is styled differently
  • Heated side mirrors
  • Nicer trunk interior
  • Keyless access (touch the door handle/trunk button with the key in your pocket and it opens)
  • Push to start
  • Different head unit

The FR-S is offered in a limited “10 Series” edition that has some of the things above, but aside from the styling differences, it still lacks heated seats and is only offered in one color, and since I am very particular about colors, that ruled out the 10 Series.

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There is really no angle on this car that isn’t attractive.  The front and rear lights look really aggressive, and the spoiler is really sweet.  I really like the rooflines as well.  Almost makes up for the fact that the car isn’t offered with a sunroof.

Steering wheel

The steering wheel is a very satisfying combination of my old 240sx and the Camaro’s.  It has a thick, modern feel, and is very simple.  The red contrast stitching is super nice, and is common throughout the interior.  There are no buttons on it to control the stereo, which I miss, but no one is buying a BRZ because they want a super awesome stereo system.

The electric assist steering is actually really responsive.  One of the things I noticed when I had the 240sx and the Camaro was how much more responsive the 240sx’s steering was.  I think the Camaro had electric assist steering that wasn’t as helpful to the driver as the BRZ’s.

BRZ console

This is my first car with dual climate control and push to start.  The climate control system is automatic, which I actually had in my old Kia, but then the Camaro didn’t have.  I am glad to have it back, and the dual zone thing is nifty.  Push to start is so strange to get used to.  My hand immediately goes to grab the key as soon as I engage the parking brake, and that is a hard habit to break.  That aside, it’s very cool and modern, and I dig it.

BRZ nav unit

Straight up, the nav unit sucks and the stereo system in general is sub-par.  The unit doesn’t have physical buttons to change tracks and the speech recognition is awful, so selecting music is slightly challenging.  That said, the unit does look nice.

The sound the system produces pales in comparison to the Boston Acoustics system the Camaro had.  Again, no one is buying this car to listen to music, and I knew before I bought the car that I’d be upgrading the sound system.  I found a set of EQ settings online for the unit that at least make it bearable, but without those settings, the system pumps all of the bass into the door speakers, and the tweeters clip.  It just didn’t sound good.  I will probably purchase the OEM Audio Plus 400 system and install it, as I’ve heard the results are incredible.

BRZ seats

This isn’t a great picture and doesn’t do the seats justice, but the Alcantara (basically synthetic suede) and leather seats look really great, and the Alcantara actually feels more comfortable to sit on (and doesn’t get as hot, and supposedly also doesn’t get as cold as leather).  I’m sure it was just a cost-saving decision to not make the seats entirely leather, but strangely enough, I think I prefer these to completely leather seats.

BRZ pedals

BRZ entry

The pedals are really cool-looking, and they’re neatly matched to the protective panel at the top of the rocker panel.  I will note that the clutch pedal grabs a little high, which I’m not used to.  It’s taking some relearning to shift properly without incurring too much accidental engine braking.

BRZ engine

This is, of course, my first Boxer engine, and it’s totally badass.  In fact, you can’t even see it in this picture because it’s mounted so low.  Everything in the engine bay is so neatly and thoughtfully laid out.  For example, the battery and the master brake cylinder sit opposite each other to maintain weight balance.

The sound the Boxer makes is really cool.  It’s pretty grunty for a 4 cylinder, and though it’s “only” got 200 HP, the power-to-weight ratio is better than the Camaro’s, so it’s just slightly slower 0-60, but would destroy the 312 HP and 3700 pound beast on a track.

This car is all about the handling, and it lives up to every ounce of hype.  There is absolutely zero body roll.  When you turn, the car turns.  And you may be asking yourself, “Well duh, that’s what’s supposed to happen.  What’s special about that?”  But really, until you’ve sat behind the wheel of a driver’s car, it’s hard to explain the feeling.  To put it bluntly, this car could be butt ugly – it could look like a group of 1990s Linux UI designer rejects had shit this car out – and people would buy it if it handled the same.  It is a joy, a pleasure, an extreme privilege to drive.  I find myself gleefully going into twists in the road instead of trying to cut across them.  It’s just a blast.  I’m so incredibly happy that an affordable driver’s car is finally being produced again, and that I am fortunate enough to have one.

The hype was real

The BRZ handles so well. Like, ridiculously well. It hugs corners with zero body roll; it’s so freaking crazy, even better than the 240sx. With the Camaro (or most cars), you can tell the car wants to keep going straight when you corner it, but this car just shrugs and does whatever you want without complaining. Hard corner? Sure! Want to quickly dodge a pothole while going 50 MPH? No prob! It is amazing how nimble it is.

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Her name is probably Miku. Unapologetically weeaboo; deal with it.

Nissan, Evey, BRZ

Anyone that reads or has read my blog knows that I love my car. I say “car” because I sold my Nissan 240sx about a month ago, otherwise that would’ve been a plural “cars.” I sold the Nissan because I was putting the money aside to save for a used Scion FR-S to own alongside Evey one day, because the thought of selling Evey makes me sad, and I wanted to get some money for the Nissan while it was worth something. It wasn’t a super easy decision because I loved that little car, but it was a decision that I think was the correct one.

Evey is the car that made me like cars. When I bought her, I didn’t know too much about anything regarding cars; I just really liked the way the 5th gen Camaros looked as soon as I saw the concept, and I knew I had to have one. I didn’t know anything about handling or weight or how to drive a manual.

Buying that Nissan changed all of that. Suddenly I was in a driver’s car that did not apologize for having 155 HP when it was hugging turns. The handling was like nothing I’d ever driven. Going out of the Nissan into Evey made Evey feel like a tank. Every corner I took was and is laborious for the car as it shifts 1,000 extra pounds toward the outside of the turn.

I had never seen Evey as anything other than perfect until I had the Nissan. People told me I’d regret getting the V6 instead of the V8, but I didn’t. I did, however, quickly come to regret paying an extra $1,000 for the automatic transmission. In fact, it’s very possible that if I hadn’t done that, I’d be telling you a different story today.

The last post I made about dream cars included quite a few high-end cars, and there on the end of the list was the Subaru BRZ – a car jointly developed with Toyota (who sells the car as the Scion FR-S here in the states). It is basically the modern day 240sx, and is constantly ranked as one of the best sports cars to enter the market in recent history. Though I had planned on going the more cost efficient route and getting the FR-S used in a year or so, I realized that I really wanted the BRZ, and I knew that at that point, having two new-ish cars was a waste of money (besides just the fact that you have to buy both of the cars: insurance, license fees, upkeep, etc) in my current financial situation (read: not rich), so I realized what I needed to do if I ever wanted the car I really wanted, and that was to sell Evey.

So, it is with a bit of sadness that I will be trading Evey in next week for a Subaru BRZ. That’s of course not to downplay the fact that I’ll be getting a freaking sweet car, but I know that it will be a little bittersweet as I drive off without Evey.

I just needed to write this as I thought about all of the great times I had taking care of Evey, learning about cars, proudly driving her around in late 2009 and 2010 when there were very few 5th gen Camaros around, and proudly driving her around up until now. She’s been great to me, and I hope she’s great to whoever gets the pleasure of owning her next.

Project

I think one day, when I have the money and space, and if I have the time, I’d like to get a project car. Actually, I would really like if that project car was a 240sx, because I know by then I won’t have mine anymore, and it’s just such a good car. I think it would just be super fun, if not also frustrating and rewarding. :)