Goodwood Festival of Speed pictures and mini-report

Result: very cool!

Google photo album from Friday

Google photo album from Saturday

Google photo album from Sunday

Just to illustrate the ridiculous types of things you can buy there, it’s like a damn motorsports swap meet almost, but here’s the stuff I got:
F1 carbon brake disc, probably Honda, £20, gonna be a spiffin’ clock if I get around to it
Honda F1 ‘chimney top’, painted white, £5 (was going to have Button sign this, I’ll bring it next year) – they had boxes full of random carbon parts, plus wheel nuts, etc.
Super Aguri T-shirt, looks cool, huge logo wraps around the side, size M but still fits me fine, £2
2009 McLaren ‘rocket red’ ‘victory’ shirt, £15 (cheaper than exercise shirts I just got recently)
Rossi blue/yellow #46 shirt, £20
Red Bull cap, £25 – the official team stands were selling all the current season stuff at full whack, I was hoping to get this signed by Webbah

Stuff I wanted to get but didn’t have the money:
Targa Florio history book, £95 for out-of-print English
Honda F1 wheel, £50 (better examples were £95+ or £300+ for tire/wheel combo)
old mechanic’s shirts, £15 and up, pot luck on the size/team/condition
Gulf Aston Martin T-shirt
Porsche 917 T-shirt (the shop wanted £45 for it because they sell a bunch of Steve McQueen branded stuff!)
Lotus cap (but I rarely wear my caps anyways)

Also saw and kinda wanted:
‘orginal’ Renault Turbo black/gold jackets from the 70’s
Spyker team hat (to put in the back of my Saab, since Saab is owned by Spyker now)
West T-shirt (was trying to find old-school McLaren mechanic’s shirts, this was the closest I could find)

F1 drivers that were there over the weekend (probably missing a couple):
Saturday: Hakkinen*, Trulli, Senna*, Chandhok*, Button, Rosberg, Surtees, Bell, Stewart*
Sunday: Hamilton*, Heidfeld*, Kovaleinen, Gene*, Fittipaldi, Surtees, Bell, Hakkinen, Senna, Chandhok, Stewart

* means I got their autographs, cool

Other folks I got autographs from: Ken Block, Kevin Schwantz, Chris Vermuelen, Kerry Earnhardt, James Toseland, quite a few others.

Normally on Sunday the GF and I go to the hilltop area to grab autographs, but we didn’t realize that Button and Webbah were there for Saturday only. Last year Button was there both days but he’s teamed with Lewis so I guess the McLaren PR people had them there for a day each and that was it.

Meeting Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok was really cool, they aren’t as well known as the other drivers like Hakkinen and Hamilton, so they were walking around without a horde of people shoving things in their faces.  I was able to have a very short chat with Lewis, which was nice. The first time he came through, in the modern F1 car group, I gave my GF a copy of F1 Racing magazine with him on the cover, and he signed it and said, “What’s this? I haven’t seen this, I never get to read these.” I told him he should get a subscription. I should have added McLaren could set him up with one – one of those ‘stair wit’ moments.

He then came up in the next batch driving the new McLaren road car (which looks awesome, have pics of the bare frame display, saw the same car on a country road on Thursday…was awesome) and the crowds were much much less and he came through and signed more stuff. He was taking his time signing a mini helmet (the lady behind me was nearly crying with pleasure, like a tiny dog about to piss itself) and he signed the programme for me next and I told him “Keep sticking it to Alonso, Lewis, we love to read about that stuff in the press.” By ‘we’ of course I meant us goons.

He gave me a smile and said something like “I’ll keep trying” and had to move on. Everyone around us laughed, so…I think he was being diplomatic. You never know where these conversations will end up online. As last year, though, he was very cool and calm about the whole thing. His brother came up the hill with him in the McLaren, too.

Hopefully that counts as ‘chatted with’…it’s easier to say “I met Mika Hakkinen” than have to explain I had to get in a paparazzi scrum surrounding him as he walked to the paddock with a press lady saying “He’ll be back! He’ll be coming back!” as some old duffer gets almost knocked off his feet and he PUSHES the wrong dude back as he’s yelling “Watch where you’re going!” – then Mika made a fist and said something like “now we have to fight for autograph!”…then he signed my programme and said “And now I must go”. *sigh*

The ‘go bag’

No I’m not a survivalist, I don’t live in Idaho and I don’t hate ‘the gub-mint’. I just take my Boy Scout ‘be prepared’ motto a bit too far sometimes…maybe. But when the zombie hordes come for me, I want to be ready.

So what the hell is a ‘go bag’? Some call it an ‘apocalypse bag’, others may call it a ‘GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) bag’ or a ’72-hr bag’, but basically it’s a short-term supply of stuff that can keep you warm, fed and watered. People who live in tornado-, hurricane- or flood-prone areas may have these (and should), I think it’s become more common after 9/11 and maybe the recent recession has prompted more folks to consider it.

Anyway, this is what I have, and stuff I’m getting to complete the supply. Feel free to suggest things I may be missing. I usually carry a shoulder bag so I keep a couple things in there, plus I have a small Swiss Army knife on my keychain, etc. I keep some water and a thick wool blanket in my car already, and I also have a backpack for walking in my car, where I keep a Moira bushcraft knife, flashlight, Mylar emergency blankets, survival and edible plant books, etc. – basically, what you might need if you get lost for a night or two while backpacking. The bulkiest stuff will be kept in a bag at home.

in the MAN BAG
small mirror
refillable lighter
solar flashlight
duct tape (wrapped around a short pencil)

in the CAR
wind-up/solar flashlight
emergency sleeping bags (basically thick huge garbage bags)
wind-up radio
warm waterproof jacket
large scale atlas – UK (substitute your state, province or country)
folding map – county
full street map – city

in the CAR (backpack)
wind-up flashlight
long knife
fire rod starter/sparker
glow sticks
Mylar emergency bags
water bag (Platypus)
book – SAS survival guide
book – edible wild plant guide
refillable lighters (2)
survival cards

water filter
fuel tabs
shredded paper (for tinder)
Kelly Kettle
refillable lighters (3)
hard plastic or metal canteens (Sigg bottles)
bandage wrap
light sleeping bag
flask of whisky
warm clothing: thermal underwear, gloves
water bags (Platypus)
waterproof bivy
book – Ray Mears bushcraft
Trekker tarp
water purifier tablets
covered metal pot
plastic bowls
plastic utensils

shortband wind-up radio
freeze-dried meals
£££ and €€€ (I live in the UK)

You might notice the total lack of guns and ammo, which many survivalist types have in their go bags, this is because I live in the UK and also I think a complete collapse of society won’t be happening any time soon. At the moment I have a distinct lack of food as well, I’m slowly stocking up on stuff online. MRE’s are pretty damn expensive, so a few freeze-dried backpacking meals and maybe some tins of Spam-type meat will have to do until I can get a few MRE’s.

The books are a somewhat poor substitute for the knowledge required of what to do in a real emergency. I’m no bushcraft or survival expert, but reading through the books once or twice and storing them where they’ll be most useful is maybe the next best thing.

So, for anyone who thinks this is a bit mental, is it? Not necessarily, there have been stories even in the UK (which doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of ‘wild’ places as North America) of people stranded on motorways for many hours and even overnight. Having a car crash in the middle of a rural area could mean you’re miles from help with no cell phone reception. In the US, there used to be frequent power outages in rural areas, and I’ve already mentioned tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding, plus I remember the story of a woman who drove off the road in a massive blizzard, emergency crews had to track her down over a few days by her cell phone signal. An even more extreme but recent example was the story of CNET’s James Kim and his family missing in late 2006. So it isn’t entirely unreasonable to think you might need emergency supplies in your car or backpack.

I don’t stockpile food, which is kind of an extension of this preparedness mindset, but it’s not that hard to store up a supply of rice, beans, water, powdered milk and powdered drinks.

Second meditation class tonight

So tonight was the second class in meditation from the nearby Buddhist centre. It didn’t go as well as the first class because a guy’s phone went off during the first meditation, then another guy was super fidgety and scratchy and coughy and…well to make it simple he was really distracting.

We got through it OK, basically you have to accept that not every meditation session will be quiet and peaceful and all that, some people are just fidgety and, well,  annoying.

But like any distraction or thought during meditation, you let it pass, gently bring your focus back to your breathing or whatever you’re meant to be meditating about, and you move on. Like someone replied on a forum thread I started, you treat the distraction or thought like a puppy that wants to play: you acknowledge it and then let it go on its way. I really liked that way of putting it.

Still, I found it difficult to meditate properly, but that is part of it anyway.

Today’s teaching was on giving, and how much happier you can be if you give as much as you can. It was a good talk, and afterwards in the discussion I brought up Freecycle, which I participate in, and of course the amount of ‘stuff’ I’ve ended up getting from it as well.

Apart from the distractions it went fine, but I have to work on the whole focus thing. And giving more stuff away!

Meditation class tonight

I went to an evening meditation class organized by the local Buddhist center, it was very mellow, instructive and quite nice.

I guess this is kind of long but maybe it will help some folks to google ‘(local area) meditation class’ like I did:
There were just 3 other people plus a helper from the Buddhist center and an actual monk (in robes, etc.). After initial greetings from the helper everyone sat down and the lady went through some of the courses and things the center is doing soon, then the monk came in. A young woman, probably 30 or younger, which was a little surprising since ‘every Buddhist monk is Tibetan, of course’. She said hello and we went almost right into a nice breathing meditation which I want to write down because it was very useful. Basically we sat in our chairs (which were kind of uncomfortable, I’d rather sit on the ground) and she talked us through focusing on the room, then seeing ourselves in the room, then seeing ourselves floating and relaxing all the muscles from the top of your head to your toes. Then breathing out our bad thoughts and worries as black smoke, which dissipates to nothing. Then breathing in white light, then maybe doing both (light/smoke) at the same time instead of concentrating on just one or the other.

After this there was a talk from the monk. I was still getting used to the idea of the whole thing so I didn’t absorb it all and just checked out her shaved head, hand-knit robes, etc., but she used a book called The New Meditation Handbook, written by a Tibetan monk who’d moved to the UK some 30+ years ago, and read some passages from it to us between just talking about the feeling and purpose of meditation.

There wasn’t any evangelical ‘join Buddha’ talk but there were many references, but it certainly wasn’t a sermon in any way (I was raised Roman Catholic). There were some concepts such as meditation can cure or fix anything, and stuff like that (I may be remembering it wrong, forgive me). There were points I was thinking ‘if this person were older I’d feel more confident in this advice’ but basically I felt that was skepticism and tried to ignore it.

After the talk we had a focused meditation, I forget what she called it but it was about feeling love for everyone: we were told to concentrate on the breath coming into our nostrils and the breath going out, and then concentrated on someone who’d given us love and affection. After we concentrated on them we also concentrated on someone else and then tried to spread that love to everyone. I guess this is a ‘basic’ meditation but I got the idea. It was nice.

Afterwards we had tea & coffee and shared what we were trying to get out of meditation. One woman was trying it for the very first time and has an autistic teen son. Another woman is a stressed IT pro who’s tried all sorts of things from Daoism (sp?) to who knows what. The last guy had been to several classes previously and works as a home carer for autistic and sick people and was the most ‘experienced’ of us there, other than the monk. We all agreed that CDs and books are good but a ‘formal’ meditation with an actual person was great, and this one in particular. I think the main reason was because you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get with a meditation CD, whereas I was pretty sure with a Buddhist monk leading the way I wasn’t going to get some strange crap thrown at me.

Anyway, I quite liked it, will be going again next week.

If you’re feeling stressed or want to focus on something or anything like that, I’d recommend giving meditation a try!

The bike list

So a post on a bike thread over at the Something Awful forums asked how many bikes the regular posters have. I have three at the moment:

  1. a circa 1998  Giant hard tail mtb with good components that I got off eBay which I ride few times a year at the moment;
  2. an older steel frame Raliegh hybrid (I think) from Freecycle that is the exclusive commuter;
  3. an even older Criterium brand (I think) road bike from Freecycle that I want to do up as a road bike but it needs some tune-up work and tires. To give you an idea, it’s old enough it has double brake levers up front… Supposedly it’s a French bike but there are a ton of bike brands and models called ‘Criterium’, plus it doesn’t help that a criterium is a type of bike race!

I’m hoping to get a new road bike (for exercising) through a gov’t cycle commuting plan but that’ll probably take a while to work out. This would be one of those serious ‘starter’ road bikes that’s about $800 or £650.

I’ve had a couple other bikes off Freecycle that I’ve nicked parts off of (forks for truing mainly) or just looked at, and then given away again. There’s just not enough room to have more than one ‘project’ bike, so at the moment that will be the road bike (mainly just to get it rolling reliably) and any bikes I get will either be whole or used for parts.

My next project – the Barbour jacket

So I got this classic Barbour Border jacket from Freecycle and instead of paying £70 or more for repairs to a few tears on the sleeves and other fixes, I want to see about doing the repairs on my own and saving a bundle.

The style of the jacket is ‘vintage English country gentleman’ and comes from the Barbour ‘shooting’ range of clothing – it’s meant to be something you go out walking the countryside with, a shotgun under one arm and your sheepdog (or a selection of your well-heeled aristocratic mates) at your side.

This is an example of a waxed cotton jacket (just happens to be the same one I got), you can see it’s a fairly expensive jacket, they run from £160 to £200 new! Waxed cotton jackets have been popular since at least WW2, many retro motorcyclists use them for riding.

This is the official price list for patches, repairs and reproofing from the original company…£10 for a patch, damn

So there are two stages of things to deal with…

The first thing to deal with is a bunch of tears, this jacket has been well-used inside and out:

  • multiple tears on the lower sleeves (there is a full-length sleeve patch where it’s been repaired before, it must have been sent in at some point)
  • the lining has big tears in a few places
  • one of the handwarmer pocket flaps is starting to come off (there is another patch on the other handwarmer pocket)
  • the hang tab is torn
  • a few small holes elsewhere on the outer fabric
  • fraying around the sleeve cuffs

A few evenings of hand-sewing will take care of these I think, except for the cuffs, I’m not sure how to deal with those. If you send the jacket to the company they give you the option of adding cotton cuffs to cover up the fraying/holes, I don’t know how to add these at this point. The first step here is to get some matching fabric (tight-knit dark green cotton) and thread.

The other issue I have is reproofing the cotton with wax. As I understand it, each company that offers waxed cotton clothing uses their own blend of wax, so you’re meant to use their own. (If you’re just waxing a bag or pair of jeans, I understand beeswax works pretty well, although it might not be as long-wearing.) I’ve got my eye on an eBay auction of some Barbour ‘Thornproof Dressing’ so I hope I get them, then I can try reproofing the jacket after I’m done patching it up. Apparently reproofing involves warming up the jacket, heating up the tin of wax and using tightly rolled-up rags to apply the wax, then using a hair dryer to melt the wax in and let the cotton absorb it. With daily use you’re meant to reproof approximately once a year.

So, I’m not sure how long this project will take, but it’s something that can be done while watching TV or listening to music, which is pretty cool.

Latest & current hobbies

I change hobbies like other people change shoes or jackets, so I’m just curious with the weather/time change what hobbies people do regularly. I could list backpacking, writing and a whole host of things that I don’t actually have time for, but what I actually make time for are:

  • computer games (Fallout 3 at the moment, but also Call of Duty 5 online)
  • Formula 1 and Moto GP watching and discussing on the web
  • role-playing games (yep, Dungeons & Dragons, been doing it since I was 13)
  • just getting into gardening again with the warm weather, want to keep it up this year
  • reading

what I want to make time for include:

  • cycling
  • sewing projects (with that sewing machine I got last year)
  • trekking (multi-day walks like when I did Hadrian’s Wall)
  • writing (this is a very long-term goal)

I’ve tried to pare down the number of things I try to do because there’s not 36 hours in a day and I need to keep my job