Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hell-o-ween begins

First kids arrived at 18:49. The weather favours the trick-or-treaters: 16C warm, no rain, no strong wind.

20:25 - the flow has slowed down.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The new Jeep Liberty

Costco had the 2008 Liberty on display, which allowed me to have a good look. The suspension architecture is reworked both front and rear.

In front, the normal ball joint is replaced with an inverted joint, a-la FJ Cruiser. This puts a limit on the smallest wheel one can put on the jeep, but since Jeep is not making pickup trucks, it's not an issue for them. As long-time readers might know, I have sustained a ball joint separation on Galant, which uses the conventional architecture. There, the full weight of the car comes on the threads of one bolt and one nut, which stripped. I have to say, thousands of Tacomas, 4 Runners and (old) Liberties are taken to rough trails with success, so the dangers of stripping are overblown. The Galant owes its problem to so-called one-time nut, made out of a softer metal than normal car nuts. I think Jeep turned the Liberty's ball joint over in oder to facilitate weight savings, and for the peace of mind, rather than out of any real concern.

In the rear, the innovative architecture of the old Liberty was replaced with a traditional 5-link, found on late Montero Sport, FJ Cruiser, etc. The tried and true suspension is just as strong, has no ball joint, and in fact might even be lighter. Reviewers on blogs claim that the ride has improved, but I don't think the rear geometry changes were responsible. It's probably just the combination of shocks and sway bars. The real advantage of new-old 5-link is that it does not need all the space in the center, where the old Liberty's top member was. Now the fuel tank goes there instead, for added safety, and the spare goes where the tank was.

This leads us to the new rear gate, which lost the spare and flips up. It probably weighs less, which is good news for the mileage. Putting on the spare might be marginally harder, but it always was a dirty work. I don't mind.

Aside from improved suspension, what delights me most is how the new Liberty is only marginally longer than the old one (only 5cm or 2in longer). In our days, cars grow quickly: just look at the xTerra.

Many bloggers were yapping how the new Liberty is square where the old was round. In fact, it seems like the most important thing to them (even C&D did it). I don't know why they do it, I do not care if it's round, square, and triangular, as long as it's well made. But for those who care, yes, the new Liberty looks a bit squarish.

One thing that nobody seems to notice is that the hood of the new Liberty is shorter than the old one. You really have to look at it sideways or negotiate a good crest to appreciate the length of Liberty's snout. I think Jeep did a good thing with the shorter hood (although I haven't taken it to the trail). It probably adds internal space, too.

Monday, October 29, 2007

TRASH @West: Recycling

Phew, it's recycling.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Musashi Restaurant

I finally got to checking out the Musashi. It is located in an obscure corner of a nondescript strip mall at 2203 Tracy Boulevard. It's between Grant Line and the Save Mart, same strip where Radio Shack is. Now that I think about it, Fabio's is situated in the same way. To my greatest surprise, Musashi turned out to be the most pretentious Japanese place in Tracy. It consists of two parts, one is teppanyaki (food juggling), and the other is a kind of a sports bar with a projection TV. The place seem to be wired for parties, with a permanent mixer and sound system. Nobody in our family enjoys teppanyaki, so we went for the normal seating.

Actually, I very nearly walked out because of the loud and silly music that they were playing. Also, they might be streaming it from a shuffle of non-normalized MP3s, because the volume was changing between tracks, which was annoying as hell too. And it wasn't even J-pop. Seriously people, if you want to assault my hearing, do it with some Judy and Mari or KOTOKO at least. OK, I can take Ayumi Hamasaki, or, worst come to worst, Ken Hirai. But they seem to using some very, very obscure stuff from the 90s (I heard one Madonna track, but that was about it).

The food was ok. I don't remember anything especially outstanding. Service was ok too.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

Garden Waste week is next.

Unfortunately, I'm too busy with my homework to do anything and my bin is empty. Maybe on Tuesday...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

San Jose Japantown

I visited the elusive Japantown in San Jose today. It seems smaller than the one in San Francisco, even though they have their own Nijia Market (no Ichiban Kan though). They do not have the awesome structure that San Francisco possesses. This leads to the most important problem: there is no organized parking, only meters... which only take coins.

We ate in a small joint at 6th, called Minato, which has all the attributes of a 3-rd rate feeding place, but the kitchen was excellent. They used the right piece of a pig for their katsu, and the fish in sashimi was fresh.

One thing though... it looks that we were overcounted. 1 katsudon (9.50), 1 half-and-half sashimi/tempura (11.95), 1 sake (3.50): $24.95. But the bill was for $28.~, then tax to $31.83. I wasn't paying close enough attention, I suppose.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

New stop sign at Lincoln

I very nearly ran the new and unexpected stop sign at Lincoln and Beaverly yesterday. I saw some grumbling by jerk-offs who buy houses at 4-lane street then grumble that people drive by in Tracy Press a few months ago. Naturally, the city government was considering anti-driver measures, such as painting narrower lanes. It's a good thing we don't have money for Livermore style road enworsenment from 4 lanes to two. So, now it's a stop sign. Much cheaper than new lane markings too. Let's burn more gasoline on acceleration after stopping!

The point of fact is, Lincoln is a major connecting street. It has only one traffic light whereas the parallel stretch of Corral Hollow has five. Anti-car measures on Lincoln are assinine.

I don't know if Tracy is turning into Patterson just yet: after all we do not build roundabouts just yet. Also, this development comes on the back of speed limit increases last year. But it clearly is a matter of concern for all citizens.

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

Garden Waste... did I forget it?

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Visited the outlets yesterday, because we had a 25% off coupon for Rockport. For a forgotten shopping location they seem to be doing ok. Unfortunately, Mikasa has closed. The vaunted food place, for which I saw ads in Tracy Press, turned out to be a rather ordinary joint for coffee and sandwiches.

Monday, October 01, 2007

TRASH @West: Recycling