End of an Era

All good things must come to an end (or as Jenna from this season of the Bachelor says, “All good things end badly”). Don’t worry- this post is not about me! Jim finally sold his Corvette (hereafter referred to as “the ’06 Vette). Truthfully I have very mixed feelings about the sale.  Before Jim, I owned the ’06 Vette and we had a ton of great times (cruises, upgrades, races and quiet evenings at home). As much as I loved the ’06 Vette I was dead set on getting a real z06. And I did- no regrets on that end – and Jim inherited the ’06 Vette. And for a time, life was good.

Well, good and bad. I’ll speak candidly here (hopefully no one gets any hurt feelings). On the one had I was very happy that the ’06 Vette stayed in the family, so to speak. But Jim was never really a car guy and the amount of maintenance and care required for a modified car exceeded his comfort threshold (and probably would have exceeded the threshold of most people). I often found myself stepping in to help take care of the ’06 Vette which took time away from my Z06. Then again, it was awesome to go on cruises and have my buddy in a matching Vette. At the same time though the fact that he had a matching Vette made me feel that somehow  a portion of my identity had been diminished. Suffice it to say, I’m happy to see the ’06 Vette go to a new home. And yet, at the same time, I feel like a part of me is gone and my happiness is tempered by some sadness.  I’m sure Jim feels the same way.

The last time I saw the ’06 Vette was from my office window. The new owner flew in and picked it up. He seemed like the kind of guy who would really appreciate the car and be able to take care of it. A car like this in the wrong hands could be disastrous! I wish him and the ’06 Vette the very best. She will be missed…sometimes.

Posted by Cam, January 6th, 2012

Dyno Might

When you have extra power it’s fun to know just how much you have. You can guess, but until you put your car on a dyno all you have are hopes and dreams built on educated speculation. As of now I’ve had my car on two dynos and the results were pretty close.

Right after having the car tuned (and having methanol added) Marc put my car on Joe’s DynoJet. The first few runs they did without Methanol and the car kept slipping. But they finally got a good run with the methanol and it put down 693 WHP & 660 lbs of torque (although at that point it the car’s temperature was elevated- typically later runs have reduced power).

Earlier today I went to Adam’s work to use his DynaPack (the car bolts right onto the dyno, as opposed to sitting on a roller- the different types of dynos are pretty cool). The first run was the best (since the car was still cool) and the car put down 682 WHP & 708 lbs of torque. Supposedly the readings on a DynaPack are more accurate, but as I mentioned both of these runs were really pretty close.

These runs were both done around the same time of year and both on pump gas (91 octane). There are a few differences between the setup when the car was on the DynoJet and this more recent DynaPack run but I think they are pretty negligible (a few tune tweaks, different clutch, etc). Overall, not too shabby (close to 800hp at the crank and a butt load of torque). It’s actually about what I’d get out of Lingenfelter’s $50,000 upgrade kit (although I’m sure my set up is far less bullet proof).

I can’t help but lust after 1000 WHP though. I think I might actually take the plunge this year. The warranty is up on my 2007 so I feel like I should either trade it or modify the hell out of it (or into it). Not sure what I’ll do yet. But for now I suppose I’ll have to be happy with my 680 beautiful rear wheel horses.

Posted by Cam, January 2, 2012

Winter Thunderland

This winter has been so mild over here it’s a little unsettling. Still, it’s fun to have some extra driving time.

But nothing ever comes easy or without consequence…

Last week I decided to run some errands in the Vette. I hopped in, hit the ignition button and heard the dreaded clicking. This was super annoying because I’d just charged the battery a week earlier (the drain was way too quick). I tried to jump the car- twice. No luck. Time for a new battery (after only a year and half?). Getting the right battery for the Z06 (locally) isn’t simple. In fact I’ve been using an AutoZone battery that was almost a match. This time I switched over to an O’Riley battery that was a closer match to the factory battery (one day I might break down and get the right one…). Anyway, the switch went pretty painlessly and I was back in action pretty quick. I couldn’t believe how much better the car ran with a properly working battery. Come to think of it, the more I drive my car the better it seems to run (I know, “duh”).

And sometimes I think the universe is out to  get my Corvette.  Lately I’ve been doing some body repairs that I don’t think I should be dealing with. I was cleaning rocks out of my body panels (a consequence of Utah roads, I guess) and I noticed that part of fiberglass body underneath the car was cracked (around a bolt). After careful consideration I have two theories: 1) Someone (not me!) tried to jack the car up in the wrong location and broke part of the body. I don’t know who would have done this or when it could have occurred (especially since I do most of my own work). 2) The time I rolled over the exhaust tip and heard what sounded like an explosion may have caused this damage (I looked around under the car right after it happened but didn’t notice anything). Anyway-  I had to remove the cracked portion of the body and I used a large metal washer in it’s place. It’s effective and no one will ever see it… but geez! That probably added an ounce or two of weight!

And then the other day I noticed that my chin splitter (under spoiler) was hanging off the car a bit. I jacked it up and discovered that the bolt that holds the tip of the spolier on had been ripped out from the body (literally took a piece of the body out with the clip).  I’ve bumped the nose of my car before and I know when I do it. Ripping this bolt out would have take force that I think I would have noticed. Again, a washer to the rescue (I use them to fix everything, but it’ another ounce). I remounted the spolier and it’s nice and secure. Although it’s pretty scuffed up- probably the result of the car being lowered.  And while I was under the car I also noticed that I was missing about four hex screws (the ones in the background of the center image below) in various locations. No idea where they went, but I put in replacements (you can get them at any Lowe’s) and felt much better.

Speaking of stuff I need to get in the coming months- I need a  transmission overhaul. The synchros in my transmission are having some issues. I’m a little surprised I’m having this problem given the infrequency of abuse my car sees (and the fact that it only has about 15,000 miles on it). Once the trans warms up there are really no driveability issues at all, but when it’s cold it can be sticky and occasionally grinds when shifting. I have some fun money so it’s very possible that I might simply pull the trans and put in something a bit tougher. No idea what kind yet, but it needs to handle the power of my new  built 427 engine (one day 😉 !).

I’ve got some other fun winter projects coming up though . I have some incoming interior trim in red because I want my car to look like the pic below (although I’ll have my red shifter- after all that trouble I can’t give it up).

Anyway, now that work has let up a bit I hope I’ll have more time to blog.  In addition to the pain and suffering I suppose there is also a ton of fun car stuff going on this winter. Pain and pleasure thy name is Corvette.

Posted by Cam, January 1, 2012

Movies Watched in 2011

My goal this year was to watch 50 movies (from 2011) and I managed to watch 47. So close! I’m going to keep my goal the same this coming year shoot for 50 movies again. Here’s my list in all it’s amazing glory (yes, this is documented evidence of what I did with nearly 78 hours of my life in 2011).

Kung Fu Panda 2, 6.5/10 (DVD) – Although I felt like the sequel wasn’t as strong as the first movie, I think this is still a perfect entertaining way to pass an hour and a half. Although I found the message (despite a painful past you can find inner peace) uplifting there was something annoying about the presentation. Po is a difficult character to connect with (possibly because he’s slightly annoying..). The comical moments in Panda 2 were alright, but I wish there had been more. Overall, not bad.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, 8/10 (Theater) – Another really good movie. You can’t help but like Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock. Shadow’s plot was very engaging and I love the reveal that comes near the end. Plus the whole movie is just very fulfilling on  action, intellectual and even emotional levels. Additionally I enjoy the slow motion moments in the film (although that may be, in part, because we’re experimenting with slow motion video at work). I can easily recommend this movie and would say that I enjoyed it even more than the first.

Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol, 8/10 (Theater) – I was pretty excited about his Movie for two reasons. First, it was Brad Bird’s (The Incredibles)live action debut. Second the prop guys for this movie actually called up my company earlier this year and bought some Microtech knives for the movie. Brad did a great job on the movie- very watchable, incredible (and almost believable) action, and an excellent story line. Tom Cruise is starting to show his age, but I think he’s still a great action star. Super fun movie!

Smurfs, 6.5/10 (DVD) – This was a lot more entertaining than I thought it was going to be. If you watch it, rest assured, it won’t assault your childhood memories. I wish the Smurfs had spent more time in their village, but I suppose the New York plot-line was necessary to capture the interest of today’s ADD generation. Just fine for kids and adults will enjoy it too.

Breaking Dawn (Part 1), 6.5/10 (Theater) – I confess to liking this much that I should have (as a manly man). The honeymoon scenes were a little too much for me, but other than that I didn’t really have any issues. There’s a lot of teen angst, but if you just go with it the story is engaging. I’m looking forward to the last movie!

In Time, 7/10 (Theater) – I actually saw this twice. Not because I especially loved, it just worked out that way. However, I found it just as enjoyable the second time. There are certain elements from other movies woven throughout this film which almost makes it comfortable. The acting, effects and such are all passable, but it’s the furturistic Robin Hood story which worked for me.

Cars 2, 7/10 (DVD) – This was a fun movie. I don’t think it was as good as the first, but I liked the mystery/spy elements and it was visually gorgeous. Making Mater the main character probably wasn’t the best move, but overall the it was good. There are some moments in the movie where cars are damaged and I thought that warranted a PG rating (I’m not sure if I’m kidding).

November 8, 2011 Update: Well, my movie watching plans have been uprooted by the arrival of my beautiful daughter. Further complicating my movie watching efforts is the upcoming holiday season (I’m in retail). I don’t know if I’ll make it. It brings me a great deal of sorrow that the last movie I watched was Zookeeper. Pray for me.

Zookeeper, 5.5/10 (DVD)– I like Kevin James, but this film fell flat for me. I didn’t think the animal dialogue was particularly funny and the overall premise of the movie, while sweet, wasn’t very engaging. I think my kids enjoyed it alright, but it’s not one of those movies they will want to see over and over. Overall, there are a few funny moments (thanks to James) and the movie is tolerable.

Real Steel, 8/10 (theater) – Rocky with Robots. While totally formulaic and predictable I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I thought Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo and Evangeline Lilly were all fantastic. The special effects and cinematography were spot on too. Even though it’s clear throughout the movie what’s going to happen (before it happens) I still found it satisfying and engaging. No regrets here!

Hannah, 6.5/10 (DVD) – More info coming soon (yeah… kind of looking live never at this point). 

Contagion, 6.5/10 (theater) – This was a drama, not an action movie (I was caught off guard). Don’t bother seeing it in IMAX- that was a waste! The cast was good and the story was interesting enough (though a little monotonous).

Rio, 6/10 (DVD) – More info coming soon (or possibly never…)

Priest, 6/10 (DVD) – I had no idea what to expect going into this. I think Paul Bettany is a great actor, but I wasn’t sure he was the right choice for the lead here. The plot is interesting (with some twists you can see from a mile away), but somehow I felt uninvolved. Part of me actually hopes there’s a Priest 2, but most of me is sure there won’t be.

Just Go With It, 7/10 (DVD) – This was a fun movie. The plot is a little ridiculous, but it allows for some great moments and exchanges. Great date movie!

Season of the Witch, 5/10 (DVD) – Nicholas Cage what have they done to you!? This movie might actually be one you could skip. It’s almost hard to watch… and *spoiler alert* is should really be called “Season of the Demon,” since it’s not actually about witches. And bad endings? This is the worst- almost everyone dies (and anyone you care about even a little definitely dies). And yet, there are some good action scenes and a few mysteries to keep you guessing should you decide to have a peek.

Sucker Punch, 6.5/10 (DVD) – Visually I thought the movie stunning. I liked the action and mini missions, but the plot didn’t quite do it for me and the ending was certainly disturbing. I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but it’s worth a watch.

The Help, 8/10 (theater) – I thought this was well balanced, insightful, charming and well written and acted. It deals with a sensitive topic in a delicate way. I read a harsh review that said the movie is designed to make white people happy they aren’t “that racist.” While I can see that angle I think the overall “The Help” is well intentioned.

Cowboys & Aliens, 7/10 (theater) – I really liked the mix of western & sci-fi and thought the movie was a lot of fun. It’s not epic, by any means but it’s satisfying.

The Green Hornet, 6.5/10 (DVD) – This movie was watchable, but unfulfilling Seth Rogen is awful, as usual (I don’t get him). I thought the plot was light, but the movie was well filmed and the special effects were good. Kato was the highlight.

Captain America, 6.5/10 (theater) – I found this movie a bit disappointing. Captain America is one of my favorite super heroes so maybe I had my expectations set too high. I liked Chris Evans as CA- no real issues with the cast in general. Many of the action scenes looked off to me (something off in CGI or something) and I didn’t feel like the plot went anywhere (maybe it wasn’t supposed to). Not silly, but not quite right for me. Still worth a watch though!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, 7.5/10 (theater) – Much better than it’s predecessor (which was booooring). Lots of good action, nice flow, cinematography and effects. The characters seemed a little stiff sometimes, but maybe war does that to you. Definitely a good way to cap the series off. My one beef: The ending (epilogue) is a little silly. Everyone is supposed to be in their late 30’s, but they just have some grey painted into their hair. I felt like the aging could have been done much more realistically. Call me picky.

Rango, 6.5/10 (DVD) – I thought the animation was first rate. I also thought Johnny Depp did a great job. The story was fun, but somehow flimsy. The movie’s biggest weakness was that it tried to be funny, but a lot of the humor fell flat for me.

Beastly, 6/10 (DVD) – Basically a “real life” version of the Disney movie. It has a good message, but I feel like ultimately the movie is a bit shallow.

Lincoln Lawyer, 7.5/10 (DVD) – It’s great to see Matthew McConaughy as a lawyer again. Good pace & nice twists. I like a movie that can create a nice mixture of tension and mystery without doing anything too over the top.

Horrible Bosses, 7/10 (theater)- A fun idea, but I wasn’t happy with the overall resolution. Fun strong performances all around.

Skyline, 6.5/10 (DVD)- Visually impressive, given its budget. No A-list stars here but mostly solid performances. The plot is a little simplistic (one random day aliens attack) and the ending is weird.

Sanctum, 5/10 (DVD) – Soulless, for the most part. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. Ultimately that may have been a good thing (warning: spoiler) since almost everyone dies. It’s watchable, but quite forgettable.

Bad Teacher, 6/10 (theater) – Some very funny parts, but nothing particularly memorable. It’s kind of fun to see the “bad guy” win sometimes.

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, 8/10 (theater) – I actually went and saw this twice. I enjoyed it much more the second time (Bay’s frantic pacing makes it hard to follow everything the first time around). I have a few issues with the plot, but the action & special effects are second to none. I didn’t like how they wrote out Megan, but Rosie worked okay for me. Much better than the second.

Super 8, 7.5/10 (theater) – This was a really fun throwback! It was ET meets Goonies meets Close Encounters.

Green Lantern, 5/10 – (theater) I feel like this movie had a lot of potential, but I didn’t feel like Ryan Reynolds was a good choice for Hal Jordan (I like Reynolds in other movies). Overall weak (and sometimes just weird) acting made the movie very hard to take seriously. I also felt like the CGI wasn’t up to par. Didn’t work for me.

I Am Number Four, 7/10 (DVD) – I thought overall this movie was pretty cool (I haven’t read the book). Lots of action, a little confusing a times, and an ending that leaves you a little empty.

The Tourist, 6.5/10 (DVD) – I’m not sure if I like the Depp & Jolie chemistry and Depp isn’t really an action star, but overall the movie isn’t bad. You can see the plot twist coming mid movie, but it’s still satisfying.

X-Men: First Class, 7.5/10 (theater) – Excellent overall production and very good character development. Doesn’t follow the continuity of the other movies and that’s a little annoying, but it’s still a very good movie.

Thor, 7.5/10 (theater ) – the Marvel movies are generally really well done and this is no exception. I never cared for the Comic version of Thor and even in the movie I found him a little dull. Still, the acting was good, the special effects were top notch and I really enjoyed myself.

The Mechanic, 5/10 (DVD) – I don’t know why, but I like Jason Statham. This movie is kind of a hashed together version of other movies I’ve seen- very unoriginal. I didn’t find the action of plot to be very satisfying, but it’s mindlessly entertaining overall.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, 7/10 (theater) – This is sort of a re-boot. I like that Disney took the movie back to its adventure roots. This is a fun installment with plenty of action, a fun plot and plenty of over the top acting.

Fast Five, 8/10 (theater) – How can you not love Vin Diesel and The Rock pounding on each other? They traded in the underground racing angle and gave this movie more of an “Italian Job” heist film. Over the top action makes for a great adrenaline rush.

Source Code, 7/10 (theater) – The “science” in stuff like this is always a bit of a head-scratcher, but this is a fun movie with a nice mixture of mystery & thrills.

Limitless, 7/10 (theater)- The everyman’s fantasy brought to life- a pill that makes you awesome. Fun action movie, not deep but engrossing enough.

Adjustment Bureau, 7/10 (theater) – special place in my heart, since it’s just like a story I wrote when I was younger. There are a few plot holes that might bug sci-fi geeks.

Battle: Los Angeles, 6.5/10 (theater) – Gritty, edge of your seat action. Aaron Eckert is great. The shaky (intentional) camera work at the beginning of the movie was unwelcome. Kind of like Independence Day without the hokiness.

Unknown, 7.5/10 (theater) – Fast paced, with a great plot twist. I really enjoy Liam Neeson. It’s not as cool as “Taken” but it’s still worth a watch.

The Way Back, 6/10 – (theater) – Visually appealing and well acted but ultimately sort of soulless. It didn’t evoke the emotion I expected. Very slow paced.

The King’s Speech , 8/10 (theater) – Excellent in all respects. Rush really stole the show! Deserves it’s Oscar nomination.

The Dilemma, 6/10 (theater) – I was expecting more from Ron Howard. Had it’s moments, but came across as a little shallow. Naturally I loved the idea of creating “real” engine sounds for electric cars.

Black Swan, 7/10 (theater) – A disturbing psychological thriller / drama. Well acted, passionate and worth a watch. [Yes, technically from 2010, but I saw it 2011].