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My first time (contextually SFW)

By Gamut (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Strangers though we may be, I recently experienced something so personal, but so wonderful, that I can bottle it up no longer. It is the passionate story of my first time; a moment I will treasure for the rest of my life.

It starts as many tales do, with a young woman. She gave me some instructions, but I was impatient. A few flicks of my wrist later, and I was done before she could finish.

Even with all of the scientific innovation and technological advances of our day, I choose to don protection—better safe than sorry, but honestly, I don’t mind. If you had seen her, you wouldn’t have minded either.

The moment—the definitive one in a person’s life, was upon me, but I hesitate. Never, in my wildest imagination, did I think it would happen this way: so fast, so… un-romantic? I expected it to be much slower, and I certainly expected it would have been less of a spectacle. I thought there would have been more time to talk and at least introduce myself, but I was out of time, and so I was urged to approach. Like any other reasonable person in this situation, I entered and it began.

Could I have waited for a more intimate opportunity for my first time? Sure, but I’m glad I chose to do it when I did. It was faster, more fun and more exciting than I ever thought it could be. I held on for dear life and refused to let go. It was violent yet controlled. It was less about wild thrashing, and more about calculated thrusting and gripping. What I once thought was the pinnacle of existential being, was clearly too small, too narrow and far too limited. This is one of those moments that hooks you and never lets go; you want it to never end, and you will always want more.

By now, you may suspect that your experience was no different than mine and that your experience was just as special as mine; in all likelihood, you would be wrong. Call me smug, but I sat in a Ferrari.

Now you may object in all sorts of ways, attempting to emphasize the fortitude of your experience: a random, but nice lady let you sit in hers in the movie theater parking lot; or your obscenely-rich-for-no-good-reason uncle, whom you almost never see, let you sit in his while it was in the garage; or perhaps best of all three—you were entertaining a sporting-good client whom happened to be in a good mood, and urgently needed to go to a grocery store only accessible by highway, and so he offered a ride in his lavishly new Ferrari, that he will trade-in for a newer model next year.

Maybe the stars aligned for you, and this fellow punched it out at a green, just for a block, when he hit a red light. Or God-forbid, you hit 110 mph for a moment on the highway, but fearful of a ticket, the car was quickly brought down to a meager 80 mph. Good for you—you have experienced a snippet of what a Ferrari can do. Protest as fiercely as you desire, but I forgot one important detail: it was on a race track.

Most people with a pulse would say this was a fine and wonderful experience and brag about it for years. Over time, the story would reach all new heights of craziness—the top speed would climb and the driving style will become more dare-devilish and inane with every telling. Most people that hear the story will mentally acknowledge some inadvertent embellishments on your part, nonetheless accepting your story in whole; try to counter with one of their own, or perhaps the moment will just move on for everybody else. But you—you reflect for a moment. You think back on your first time and you cherish it all because it was a Ferrari.

When I was first introduced to the beast, I ran up to the passenger door, face bright as it was when I was a child on Christmas morning. Scared to scratch the paint, I flattened my hands and ran them over the bend at the top of the door—hovering as low as possible over the body without touching it. Immediately given the life-changing permission to touch it and open the door, I used as few fingers and the lightest touch possible to open the door. First my eyes went wide, then as I opened the door further, my top lip began to curl and my cheeks swelled—don’t worry—I’m okay, I’m just smiling.

Permission confirmed, I carefully entered and gingerly situated myself in the seat. Wow! I was sitting in a Ferrari—who would have thought?

That is how I expected my first time to be—mesmerizing and romantic. But unfortunately, I couldn’t afford the time for all that mooshy stuff.

I honestly don’t remember how I got to her—it was just as if I was drawn to her, but once I got there, I entered with enthusiasm, and instinctively buckled my seat belt. That’s weirdly… normal? But yet I savored those first few moments; capturing and cataloguing them for the rest of my being because it was a Ferrari.

Without warning, but almost as if the car is smugly said, “watch this,” I was jettisoned back into my seat. The closest experience I can think of that the average Joe would have, would be riding a roller coaster. But don’t think for a moment you can ride a roller coaster and check off “ride in a Ferrari” from your bucket list; it is still an inadequate compromise of comparison. Riding a roller coaster is like being ripped apart limb by limb on a Crusades-era stretching machine operating during an earthquake. Riding in a Ferrari is much more akin to gravity having its way with you than it is being a helpless ragdoll.

Believe me when I tell you, it takes more than just a driver with whom is merely familiar with 450+ horses for you to appreciate a Ferrari. The ability to launch and halt this beast in and out of corners is just staggering. It takes someone who knows what he or she is doing to blast out of Turn 3 and down to Turn 4, one of my favorite parts of the track prior to construction. We were finally at the part of the track that always made me giddy to drive by during construction of the track.

Turn 4 is typically blocked off by a handful of concrete pillars that have little gardens on the top of them. For most of the year, they are used to protect a parking lot that is used as a market on the weekend. So for 350 days a year, you will never see someone make a right turn, but skid marks remain. To me, these marks they symbolized excitement, fast cars, loud engines, and the coming together of an approaching IndyCar race. Turn 4 was a symbol for me.

As we prepare for Turn 4, the downshifts scream the car’s hatred for going slow, but its brakes willingly oblige the driver’s commands. And with a late turn-in, we enter Turn 5, as I hold onto what I call the “O-S!-B,” while you may know it simply as the “handlebar.” Aware of wait lays ahead, I continue to hold on, knowing that Turn 6 is almost immediately followed by a change in direction at Turn 7. And as we push out of Turn 9, we shot off down the scenic Acura Advance, past the docks, past the yachts, and past people that could only be described as envious blurs.

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2012 BMW 328i

2012 BMW 328i (c) 2012 BMW Group

Until recently, I wasn’t sure whom to blame: the brokers on Wall Street, the Indian & the Chinese or those princes in the Middle East. What’s the connection? The burden on my wallet every time I want to go somewhere. For those of you just out of womb: inflating prices and an increased demand of old plants and big reptiles has made life more expensive for me. As you grow older, you will learn how truly inter-connected the world has become. But to make things simple, just remember this: every time you forget your homework and Mommy or Daddy have to bring it to you at school, you get less stuff on your birthday.

Parents, this is when you cut your kids off from reading the rest. Yes, what I am about to say is Safe for Work (SFW), I just want to let you in on a little four-lettered, three-numbered secret that will allow you –inexplicably to your kids—to afford some toys of your own: B-M-W-3-2-8-i.

Of course, I’m talking about the all-new, BMW 328i. The 2012 model now features the N20 engine. It’s an inline, 4-cylinder gas engine with TwinPower Turbo technology. So what does that mean—are there uppity, out-of-line engines out there? Yes and no. There are engines out there that are not inlines, aka “straights,” mainly the standard V-engines and diesels, but others such as boxers and “wizard factories,” aka rotaries. So while the other engines behave fairly well, it’s just that straight engines tend to be smoother.

Now, before you go all elementary-school-math on me and say, “But four cylinders is less than six cylinders,” I will admit, you have me there. But if you read a little bit more closely, you will see there is more to the engine than just four cylinders—there is a turbocharger. On paper, turbochargers are a golden exemption to that stilly capitalist rule: to get more, you have to pay more. While you may bring up the fact that you pay more for a Porsche GT3RS with fewer parts than its little brothers, I will ignore you and insist on staying on topic.

You see, turbos give you more power and more efficient use of fuel. Sounds like a total win-win, right? I mean it utilizes a twin-scroll design, which aids in providing a balanced spectrum of power. Here’s the problem: while on paper, it looks like you have lots of power, in the real world, you typically suffer from something called “turbo lag.” So when you put the pedal all the way to the floor, you don’t actually have all that power immediately available—you have to wait for the turbo to spool up and provide the power.

Or at least that is the typical complaint. When I drove the 328i, the biggest disconnect I ever felt from the power is actually supposed to happen. BMW utilizes a start/stop feature to save you gas while you wait at a red light. The engine stops running in order to save you gas, and it flips back on once you take your foot off the brake pedal. It felt no different than turning the car on and off. In your day-to-day running, this isn’t much of an issue, but a recent turn of events does make me wonder if this feature could make a bad day even worse.

If you have ever had to jump start your car, you should know that until you can get the car to a place where the battery can be replaced, once running, you don’t turn your car off. Unfortunately, by the time your battery dies, I doubt that roads will have been re-constructed in a way that prevents you from coming upon a red light on your way to the auto store. So I wonder, with start/stop becoming more prevalent, will we have more stranded vehicles at intersections in a few years’ passing?

Who knows—that’s a couple of years down the road anyway. We are more concerned with the green light on which we wait. React to it, and 255 ft. lbs. of torque propels you forward with confidence. That torque remains constant between 1,250 and 4,800 rpm, which means that metallic-white HUD will quickly indicate you are most likely doing double those arbitrary and outdated, black-on-white numbers.

Perhaps the Germans created this machine to save them from having to bail out another country burdened with debt. Here’s how it works: because the 328i is without want of power, we will surely stretch its legs beyond the government’s revenue-raising limits imposed on us. Fortunately, the 328i is sufficiently fuel efficient—enough so that we can afford those speeding tickets. The fines could then be used to pay off the debt. It could be Cash-for-Clunkers 2.0, except this time, people wouldn’t be able to put the money towards fuel efficient vehicles like a Ford F-150 pick-up truck.

Sure it’s a little paternalistic to force people into fun, safe, comfortable and fuel-efficient vehicles that are actually enjoyable to drive, but I mean who hasn’t voted against gay marriage from time to time?

Categories: Auto Pulpit Tags: , , ,

BMW releases information about the new 6 Series

BMW has released information and pictures for the new 6 Series. It will have three different engine variants: 650i Coupe (V8), 640i Coupe (V6) and a 640d (diesel six cylinder). The 650i will be the first 6 Series with the option to come with xDrive, BMW’s four-wheel drive system.

Each will come will come with a power boost over its predecessor. The 650i will receive a 40 hp (30 kW) up to 407 hp, the 640i gets a boost of 47 hp (35 kW) to 320 hp, while the 640d is upped by 27 hp (20 kW) to 313 hp.

Dimensions have changed slightly, but the biggest difference people will notice be the headlights that have more of a V shape than the current generation. The side profile of the vehicle looks less like the land yacht of previous years and more sleek, like that of of a 335i Coupe. The rear end is more prominent–not in shape, but in styling. The taillights are actually interesting, and they’ve got the mean red styling that BMW seems to have been effectively using recently.

Categories: Auto Pulpit Tags: , ,

Chevrolet Traverse: The standard rental car

2011 Chevrolet Traverse, Credit: © GM Corp.

I think we can all recognize that the cars we get from a rental car company aren’t the cream of the crop, but it got me thinking. If I see a pretty lady and I do a double-take just as the transmission lurches the vehicle back and forth, have I just done a quadruple take?

For example, let’s take a look at the 2009 Chrysler Town & Country that my family was given for our vacation on the island of Oahu. Now I didn’t have the pleasure of driving it, as that was left up to my father, which for the longest time, led me to believe that my sightseeing was being disrupted by him and not our transportation, but I was wrong. The jerky transmission made it feel like the car was a small child–nagging me to look back at what I had already seen. In my mind, there was no way that a car could be given the green-light with a transmission this obnoxious.

Now it only seems fair that I be forthright. Most of the time I prefer to drive because I’m picky about my driving. As a result, other people tend to find my passengership to be… well… taxing for them. When others are driving my attention to detail tends to intensify and my observations are shared more frequently. I like to think of these observations as my own incarnation of Peter Parker’s Spidey senses, but other people seem to treat them as if they came from the acutely aware, stereotypical sitcom mother-in-law.

So despite failing to properly do what it should do–comfortably transport people from one place to another, there were some other features of the van that I thought at least take my mind off the uncomfortable ride. The fact that a new innovation now allows me to lose belongings under the floor wasn’t all too impressive, and the anticipation of transportation that possessed the possibility of a table inside the vehicle, quickly ran out. Chrysler needs to note that a table inside a vehicle suggests that you can in fact be stuck in it for a long time. The mileage we got from that van (which was primarily city travel) was terrible. By the time that anyone unwrapped their food to actually use the table, the van would have needed to stop for gas and everybody could have gotten out and eaten.

Alas, three days was enough time with that van. Actually our reservation was up, but either way, I couldn’t spend much more time around that van. So we set out from Oahu and took a plane and hopped over to Maui. Once again, we got a rental car. While I was hoping for a Jeep Wrangler to come around the corner, I was given false hope twice. Twice, the families down the row from us became excited for getting a Jeep Wrangler. What finally came around was a goldish 2011 Chevrolet Traverse.

Overall, it’s not a bad looking car–a little bit odd, but not too bad overall. I remember thinking it had a refreshing style when it first came out, and  the style has held up decently. It’s hardly striking anymore. It sort of just endures with something that was once exciting, but has been left alone for far too long. Chevrolet claims it “characterizes the global face of Chevrolet,” but I’d be careful about making that assertion.

The problem with the Traverse is that it struggles with the same issue as a lot of new Lincoln models. They look magnificent on paper and on television, but they tend to look out of place in the real world. The fact is, most people aren’t travelling through space to the sound of The Crystal Method in the background. So it winds up looking overly futuristic and creating the paradox where something looks so futuristic, that it actually looks dated–like it’s from the 1950s or something.

The Traverse doesn’t suffer from looking dated, but it does suffer from looking rather uninteresting from just about every angle except the ones that Chevrolet presents us with. It’s rejuvenating from the front and intriguing from the back, but the sides are really bland. The sides just exist to keep the front connected to the back–or to remind me that I didn’t get the particular open-bodied SUV I wanted.

And just how your first impressions on the design of the car will depend on literally what angle you approach it from, the feeling you get when driving it isn’t quite consistent either. At first touch, the gas pedal seems to represent an engine with a decent amount of power, but I lost all sense of that immediately after I had pulled out of a parking spot. After that, it felt underpowered, and the brakes didn’t fall far from the accelerator tree.

The dimensions make sense from the outside of the car, but once you get inside, you realize that they’re not quite intuitive. It’s hard to tell where the front end actually ends from the driver’s seat, and the rear extends out too far. The problem is that if they made the dimensions of the vehicle more convenient for driver, the Equinox would be redundant. So Chevy leaves it as it is.

Overall, the Traverse is a decent crossover, but that means little more than that it is better than a minivan, but inferior to a SUV. Then again, it’s owned by a rental car company and people don’t go to a (non-specialized) rental car company  to get a vehicle that does anything really superbly. It does what it’s supposed to do–ferry a bunch of people from an airport to their hotel and around wherever they’re visiting. It’s not remarkable, but at least it didn’t leave me wondering about quadruple takes and other questions regarding the meaning of life.

Year: 2011

Make: Chevrolet

Model: Traverse AWD

Engine: 3.6 V-6 VVT DI

Fuel economy: 16 / 23 mpg

The walk-away: It screams higher-range rental car. (***)

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Showering Together #1 & #2

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I went ahead and revised these. They are the final versions for the sustainability video contest. Although the web link will probably be changed and the the videos re-dubbed to correspond with that change.

Showering Together #1

Showering Together #2

PSAs update

April 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Although a fair amount of progress was made on the two PSAs that were supposed to have been uploaded this Friday, we are of the opinion that it’s not ready until it’s ready. That being said, the final products should be done by Tuesday.

New Series

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment

After (what I consider to be) a success in making my first two PSAs for a video contest, I’ve decided to begin a new series, called Okquard PSAs. The videos were submitted to a contest, but due to time constraints, I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to them. For that reason, I have decided to postpone uploading them to the Interwebs until sometime later this week, when I am satisfied with the quality.

I’ve started making a list of subject matters that I would like to make PSAs for, but I won’t spill the beans yet. That being said, expect that they will be over-the-top and round-about ways of spread the message of the topic.

Categories: Okquard Humor, Okquard PSAs Tags: