Cerebral Gibberish

What's on my mind, might just blow yours.

Archive for the 'Transportation' Category

Gas: Pain at the Pump – Reloaded

Posted by heymoe on 7th December 2008

Gas Pump

A little over 6 months ago I posted about having to pay over $4/gal for Premium Gas. What seemed like a never ending upward trend in gas prices, due to wall street speculators in the energy-futures market (IE: Crude Oil), has seen a rapid decline in the last month or so. I mean why base the price of something on actual market fundamentals when you can have speculators look into their crystal ball and set the price of something based on what they think the future demand for it is going to be. It sounds like a Win-Win right.. NOT!

In any case, today for the first time in my current car, I paid under $2/gal for Premium Gas ($1.889 to be exact). Total cost: $31.50. Prior to today the cheapest I’ve paid for gas in my current car was $2.219 back on 11/2006. Yes, I’ve been keep track of my mileage, gas prices, etc during each fill-up pretty much since when I bought the car. Call me crazy I guess.

Any ways, It would have been nice if the government would have been proactive to curtain index speculation in the energy markets instead of waiting for a melt-down in the financial markets, which the goverment themselves caused by turning a blind eye on the mortgage industry instead of enforcing the regulations that could have prevented or limited the mess we are in right now but I digress.

Posted in Gibberish, Transportation | No Comments »

Capital City Bike Fest

Posted by heymoe on 6th October 2008


A couple of weekends back I went to the 4th annual Capital City Bike Fest which was held on Fayetteville St. downtown Raleigh. I’ve been riding motorcycles for almost 10 years now and currently own two (a cruiser and a sport bike) but in all that time I’ve never actually been to a big bike gathering. Now I’m pretty sure the size of this event is most likely no where near the size of the other big name bike events like Sturgis, Daytona Bike Week or Myrtle Beach Bike Week but I think it was it was a good start for me.


There were bikes of all shapes and sizes and even though a high percentage of the bikes were Harley Davidsons, other manufactures had a showing there as well.


I even saw what most likely is one of the most expensive iPhone docking stations available (see Photo).

I really enjoyed walking around the event and seeing all the custom paint jobs and accessories that people have come up with. One of the cooler mods I saw was a front wheel rim that was made of bulletproof glass (click for picture) so it looked as if it was floating magically in the air. Yes, I know it looks like the wheel is made of solid piece of chrome due to the spray bottle but it’s actually two spray bottles that the owner set up to fool people walking by.


There was also a BMX stunt show which gave me the opportunity to try some action photography. They had a half-pipe ramp setup at one end of the street that the bikers would use to gain speed so they could do tricks off of a take off and landing ramp setup at the other end of the street with a car between them. They even pulled people out of the crowd so one of the bikers could bunny hop over them (click for picture).


I wish I knew they were going to allow motorcycle parking on Fayetteville St. during the event before I left the else. If I knew that I would have road one of my bikes down there instead of driving. I also thought it might rain also which didn’t help with the decision either. Oh well, there is always next year.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)


Posted in Events, Photography, Transportation | No Comments »

Skydiving: I’m Alive!

Posted by heymoe on 14th July 2008

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Almost 3 months after our first attempt, Casey and I successfully jumped from a perfectly good airplane and landed safely.

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This time around the weather was great other then it being hot (in the 90s). We also had a larger cheering section in the form of Casey and Lindsay’s parents, Casey’s sister, aunt and uncle. My attempts to talk our other friends, who shall be unnamed (you know who you are 🙂 hehe), to come out and watch failed.

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Our jump was scheduled for 12pm (noon) but we did not actually get into the air until about 1:10pm. As a refresher, both Casey and I went through the level 1 tandem jump class again and about 10 minutes later we were called into the prep room to get geared up. 20 minutes after that it was time to board the plane, a CASA 212 Aviocar.

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Casey and I along with our tandem jump masters (Dave was mine, I’m not sure who Casey’s was) were the first to board the plane since we are going to be the last to leave the plane. The plane was packed with other jumper and everyone was in good spirits and excited. At around 6000 feet, our jump masters started to double check our harnesses and connecting us to their harness / parachute. Casey actually had to get up and sit in his jump master’s lap due to the tight quarters. As we climbed in altitude, the temperature was going down and made me wish it felt that good on the ground.

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Once we were at altitude and over the drop zone the pilot turned on the green light and the other jumpers started to exit the plane. When it was our turn we made our way to the rear of the plane which was awkward due to Dave being shorter then me. I kept reaching out with my right hand to help keep my balance but Dave kept making me put my arm down for some reason. I was able to hold onto the static line cable with my left hand which I guess was OK. Casey, his jump master and his videographer were the first to leave the plane and then Dave and I moved into position. Once in position I once again reached up for a handle on the ceiling to balance myself but had my hand swatted again but I think I know why that time. Looking down at the ground below seemed unrear and before I knew it my arms were crossed and my head was back as we exited the plane doing a back-flip, or at least I think it was a back flip.

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During the free-fall I don’t really remember to much visually, most likely due to the adrenaline rush and concentrating what we were told to do in class. The lack of any visual reference that we are used to on the ground (IE: driving by stationary objects in a car) seemed to cancel out the fact that we were falling at 120MPH. The only real sign of speed was the sound of the wind going by which was quite loud. I remember making sure I had my body arched and arms crossed as instructed until Dave tapped me on my shoulder letting me know it was time to un-cross my arms and hold them in front of me. We performed some left and right turns but I don’t know how many degrees we turned. After that I got tapped on the shoulders again letting me know it was time to re-cross my arms and prepare for the parachute deployment.

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Once the parachute deployed everything went silent and things started to slow down to a more relaxed pace. Dave did the post deployment checks and loosened up the straps on my harness some to try and make things a little more comfortable. He then handed me the parachute controls and we did a practice landing flare and then did some left and right turns. We also did a double turn to demonstrate how the turns get faster the longer you hold it. Dave pointed out where the landing site was and we even saw Casey in the distance below us and the jump plane coming in for a landing. At this point my arms started to get numb so Dave said to put my arms down. I think there was a strap or two still too tight and and was cutting off circulation, oh well.. it happens. Any ways, as we got closer to the ground I could see the cheering squad waving and taking pictures. Our butt first landing was uneventful and it was nice get disconnected and having the blood flowing again.

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After that Casey and I posed for some pictures with our jump masters and then walked back to the cheering squad and posed for even more pictures. We got out of our jump gear and got our logbooks filled out and signed as well as our first jump certificate. We all then headed out to grab some late lunch.

Now the question is should I go for the certification or is one jump enough for me? The experience was great but I kind of wish I remember I remember more of the free fall portion and for that I think more jumps will be required. In theory I could do the level 2 jump and not have to worry about maintaining currency from a training point of view. After level 2 you’ll have to schedule you jumps so that you don’t exceed 30 days or more between. If you do you’ll end of spending more money in the long term since you will most likely have to repeat previous levels before you’re allowed to move on to the next. Hopefully Casey will be interest in getting certified so we and do it together, if not I’ll most likely do it any ways. I highly recommend everyone jump at least once.

Note: Casey is under the white, yellow and blue parachute and I’m under the black and blue one. I also want to thank Casey’s uncle Dayle for taking the pictures of Casey and I making our way back down to Terra Firma.

: ::Update:: :
Lindsay has posted some pictures of Casey’s jump and posted an entry on their blog.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Posted in Cerebral, Events, Home, Transportation, Travel | No Comments »

Happy Soggy 4th of July

Posted by heymoe on 5th July 2008


Well so far the only fireworks I’ve seen this 4th of July weekend are from Mother Nature. I headed down to the Raleigh fairgrounds in hopes of setting up the camera and make attempts at capturing the fireworks action but that pretty much failed more or less from the beginning.

I knew going down to the fairgrounds was going to be a mess with traffic and cars everywhere so figured I would take the motorcycle out so I can easily find a parking space up close. I check the weather about an hour before heading out and everything looked good then but I should have checked it before I left. A little over halfway to the fairgrounds it started to sprinkle and I could see lighting in the distance. When I was almost to the fairgrounds, maybe two exits away, I hit traffic and the rain was really coming down. At this point I figured the fireworks were canceled so I worked my way out of the traffic and stopped by a bar for a drink near the apartment I used to live in during college. I figured I would hold up in the bar until the rain stopped.

As luck would have it, shortly after getting my drink I got a call from the security company for my work informing me that the alarm was triggered. We being the good employee I am I figured I should head to the office, which was on the way home any ways, and make sure everything was OK. So I finished my drink which by that time the rain looked like it died down to a sprinkle again and head out. Once on the road again Mother Nature figured I was not wet enough and sent a tropical down pour my way. Of course when the down pour hit everyone on the road turned stupid and started to flash their emergency lights but instead of moving into the right lanes so other people who know how to drive in the rain could get by, they just formed a line across all lanes pacing each other blocking in everyone behind them. GRRrrrr.. I hate stupid drivers.

By time I got to the office I was soaked to the bone. My shoes were full of water and my leather motorcycle jacket must have weighted another 10 pounds. Luckily my camera and lens were still nice and dry in my backpack.

After spending about 30 minutes at the office verifying everything was secure (It looked like it was a false alarm), I got on the motorcycle and headed home. At this points I was looking forward to getting out of my wet cloths and relax to a movie or something. Well that plan pretty much we out the door as I turned into my neighborhood. The storm that I’ve been fighting my way through pretty much since I left the house knocked out power to my whole neighborhood. So after everything I’ve gone though just to see some fireworks, my 4th of July ended in the dark.

Any ways, the fairgrounds fireworks were rescheduled to the 5th and this time I’m just staying home. As of right now it looks like it was a good decision since it has been raining pretty much all evening. Actually, checking the local news site it looks like the fireworks at the fairground did go off tonight but they started an hour early so I would have missed them any ways. Oh well. Maybe next year I’ll get to try and photography fireworks. Yeah!

Posted in Events, Photography, Transportation, Work | No Comments »

Gas: Pain at the Pump

Posted by heymoe on 2nd June 2008

Gas Pump

The other day I, for the first time ever, paid over $4/gal to fill-up my car. The total cost of that fill-up was $71.15. It does not seem like it was that long ago that a fill-up was costing me under $50. Ahhh yes.. those were the days.. hehe.. I guess when I have kids I’ll be able to tell stories about how when I was their age gas cost around $1/gal and they will look at me and disbelief and call BS.

By the way, based on the owners manual, my car requires premium gas. I know a lot of people will say just use regular but I’m under the mindset that the maker of my car, who designed the engine, knows what octane the engine needs to run efficiently. I personally see the ~$3 extra I pay to fill-up with premium worth the peace of mind and that most people probably don’t really spend the time to calculate how much extra they would actually pay by using premium if their car needs it. Yeah, I know $3 adds up over time but frankly, like I said above, it’s a peace of mind thing for me and most people would just waste the $3 by buying a bottle of water or something else wasteful.

Any ways, I can’t say that I’m mad about the price of gas. Don’t get me wrong, it does suck but at the same time other places in the world, like in the UK, have been paying > $8/gal for a long time (It should be noted that ~70% of that is tax). I can only imagine what goes through their minds when they here about the bitching and moaning that us Americans are doing about the price of gas.

So far, I haven’t had too make to many changes to my driving habits. It’s not like I really drove around a lot in the first place. My round trip commute to work is only about 20 miles and if I have to go to a store I typically hit one of the many choices between home and work that does not add much to my trip. On the weekends I do try to plan trips so that I hit all the stores in a logical order to limit any back tracking. I’m also trying to ride my motorcycles to work more often since they tend to get gas mileage in the upper 30s to 40s. But with the recent 95+ (F) temperatures, the lack of AC on the motorcycle can make being stopped at light uncomfortable.

I guess the only thing to make things worse is that the prices don’t seem to be leveling off or going down. I believe the price of regular has gone up another .10 cents since I filled up making the price of regular $4/gal or very close to it. It will be a sad day when I have to pay three digits for gas which would mean gas would cost about $5.70/gal.. YEAH!

There has been one good thing to come out of the rising cost of gas so far. It has caused the demand for SUVs and Trucks to go way down to the point that the major vehicle manufacturers have stated they will scale back their SUV and Truck production. This is not to say that their production will stop completely. There is still a need for these types of vehicles when it comes to things like construction but a majority of their sales were to people that have no real reason to own one in the first place. Most people bought one as a status symbol or to compensate for something else. Some people will even say they are safer to drive but I think it really made the roads more dangers for everyone else. So score one for the higher gas prices!

Posted in Cerebral, Transportation | No Comments »

Wine, Skydiving and Barbers: Oh My!

Posted by heymoe on 20th April 2008

Phew! The weekend is over.. Finally.. Saturday was the annual Uncork the Fun wine festival in Cary and since I forgot to buy tickets advance, I got up early so I could get there when the gates open to beat the lines. Getting their early also had the benefit of not having to deal with the lines at each of the wineries’ tents which allowed me to take my time while sampling their selections without feeling rushed by the line of people behind you. This year several wineries put out wines made wholly from strawberries or as a blend with traditional wine grapes. The strawberry concoctions typically ranged from semi-sweet to OMG sweet. I bought one of these concoctions that had a semi-sweet to sweet start and finished with an interesting “kick” that caught my attention vs. the others I sampled. Any ways, sometime between getting there and around 1pm, when I took a break for lunch, I started to feel really “happy” after all the tasting and Casey has the voice mail to prove it 🙂 hehe..

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At around 2:30pm I decided I tasted all that I could and it was getting crowded so I hit the road and headed to Carolina Sky Sports in Franklinton NC. to check out their facilities and to get more information on jumping out of an airplane. Getting there was pretty easy and the drive down Highway 56 was scenic. Being that this is the first drop zone I’ve been to, I have no reference on how good or bad it is compared to others but I liked what I saw and everyone I talked to were really nice and were more then happy to answer any questions I had.

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There was a large observation deck out back and I was able to take some photos of some skydivers making their way back to Terra Firma. Well, after talking and watching for a bit, I decided I really wanted to jump from an airplane so I went and asked about scheduling a jump. They told me that due to the 4 straight weekends of rain they had a back log of people already scheduled but they did have spots for one or two people tomorrow (Sunday). At this point I gave Casey a call again, this time not so “happy”, to see if he was up for a jump and he was, so I scheduled us for the 2pm class and headed home.

To end my Saturday I watched Sweeney Todd on DVD. I was not sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it. I thought Johnny Depp and Helena Carter did a great job playing Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett as was their singing.

On Sunday, Casey, Lindsay and I met up at Carolina Sky Sports for our 2pm class and the first line of business was to watch a short video explaining the dangers of skydiving. It was hosted by a guy who looked like he was a member of ZZ Top which was amusing. Next we had to sign away our ability to sue pretty much anyone that we, our family, our next of kin, etc could sue in the case we are injured or die from skydiving. Then we paid for the jump and moved to the training room were an instructor ran through the gear used and the process of the first Tandem jump. During this time we could hear a down pour of rain going on which caused a weather delay for the three groups ahead of us which means our jump also got pushed back. The weather delay was lifted not long after we got out of training and the weather was looking good… so we thought. When the third group was on their way up, Casey and I were called into to staging room where we were given a jump suite to squeeze into. Lindsay came in and took pictures of Casey and I in our jump suites and we all chatted with the other two guys and their family who were in our group. Our jump masters came in about 20 mins later after completing their jump with the previous group and attached the tandem harness to Casey and I. So at this point we were ready to go but another storm front moved in and we were grounded. We waited for a while hopping for it to clear but when it got to be around 6pm it was decided to call it a day so Casey, Lindsay and I spent 4 hours at Carolina Sky Sports and all we had to show for it was a rain check to try again later.

Weather 1, Skydiving 0.

We all agreed that the next time we make our attempt that we would try to talk two other friends to jump with us or at least have them come out and be our cheering squad as we fall from the sky (hopefully cheering for our safe decent 🙂 hehe). Lindsay has update their blog with her account of our skydiving adventure including the pictures she took so check them out.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Skydiving Anyone?

Posted by heymoe on 31st March 2008

Sky Drive

I’m thinking that this year is going to be the year I jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Does anyone else what to join me? I’m still researching Drop Zones but so far it looks like the closest one is Carolina Sky Sports located in Franklinton, NC. which is about 45 mins. from my house. Of course the jump will be a tandem jump where you are connected to an instructor who does most of the work and you’re just there for the ride. The jump consists of about 60 seconds of free fall time at 120 M.P.H. and then about a 6 min. parachute ride back to the ground. Carolina Sky Sports charges $195 for the first tandem jump. It looks like there might be opportunities to get a 10% discount depending on the day of the jump.

If we get hooked and want to get our Class ‘A’ Skydiving license, the total cost will be ~$2,500 which consists of 25 jumps. After getting the license, jumps cost $24 + $15 if you need to rent the gear which seems reasonable after the initial training costs.

So if anyone else wants to join me in this adventure let me know.

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Get Smart

Posted by heymoe on 3rd March 2008

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Yesterday I had an opportunity to get a close up look of a 2008 Smart Coupe which is a 2 seat, 3 cylinder vehicle that measures 8.8 feet long and 5.1 feet wide. It gets a gas mileage of 33 City / 41 Highway so with its 8.7 gallon gas tank you can travel ~287 – 356 miles on a tank of gas.

The Smart vehicles went on sale in the US on January 2008 and is part of the Mercedes Car Group. There are three versions of the Smart being sold in the US. Two are coupes and one is a cabriolet convertible. Price wise you’re looking at a starting price of $11,590 for the entry level “pure coupe” to $16,590 for the convertible plus any optional packages. I personally think it is a little pricey for such a small car but it’s still ~$5000 cheaper then the starting price of a Toyota Prius Hybrid.

I did try to get behind the steering wheel but my knees did not quite want to get under the wheel so I guess I won’t be driving one of these home anytime soon but I think it would be fun if I could. Oh Well.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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A Hybrid Experience

Posted by heymoe on 26th November 2007

While visiting my Mom in Atlanta for Thanksgiving, I was able to drive her new Lexus RX Hybrid that she got almost a year ago. In general I’m not a big fan of SUVs or other vehicles that I can not see around or through while in my car since they block my ability to see whats ahead. This means I have to hope the guy in front of me is not busy talking on the cell phone or dealing with some other distraction that will cause them to slam on the brakes at the last minute thus making me have to slam on my brakes and hope I don’t rear end them. If I could see around or through the vehicle in front of me I would be able to notice traffic ahead slowing down make the necessary decisions on my own. Being that my mom is driving one now, I’ll make an exception for her.

The RX is not overly large and is designed to be driving on the road most of the time unlike the many uber SUVs that are really designed for the off road but are driven by soccer moms or purchased as a status symbol and will never see a dirt road in their life. On the outside I don’t think you could tell the difference between the Hybrid and non-Hybrid version of the Lexus RX if not for the different model identifier on the back. On the inside everything looks normal. Prior to starting the car the only thing I noticed was that instead of an RPM gauge there was a kW/h gauge. The big surprise for me was when I went to start the vehicle for the first time. The ignition system is the traditional “insert key and turn” and not the newer “push the start button” type. The inserting of the key and turning was as to be expected but not having the rumble of an engine starting was new. So new that I pulled the key out and tried again a few times thinking I did something wrong. It was not until my mom told me that if the “Ready” message was displayed you are good to go. So I put the vehicle into drive and released the brakes and we started to move forward. It was not until I started to accelerate that the gas engine came to life to help out. The next big surprise for me was when I came to a stop at a stop light. Upon stopping the gas engine turned off and everything was dead quite. I thought I stalled it or something but when the light turned green and I pushed down on the accelerator, the gas engine started again and away we went.

The information panel, which is also used for the navigation system and rear backup camera when purchased with that option, provides all sorts of information on the vehicle. It’s a touch screen which I admit is a nice feature that I wish my car’s navigation screen had and it did not take me to long to figure out where things are and how to navigate the menus. There is a Hybrid information screen, which I doubt the average owner would use all that much, that shows how power is being provided to the wheels (IE: gas engine or electric motor or both), when the batteries are being recharged (IE: by the gas engine which turns the electric motor into a generator or by the electric motor by itself when you are coasting or braking). Another screen shows your average MPG over the last 30 minutes of drive time as well as how much energy has been regenerated (IE: from braking and coasting) to recharge the batteries. In my mom’s case, she has an over all average MPG of 26.3 which seems low to me but better then the typical SUV or my car even. It looks like this Hybrid system really shines with city driving which I did not really do that much of. On the highway, the gas engine seems to be used the most to maintain highway speeds.

Over all I think I expected more from a Hybrid car in the form of MPG. 26.3 MPG does not seem to be all that special compared to newer gas or diesel non-Hybrid vehicles. Cost wise, it seems that any savings that one would gain from the purchase of gas over the life of the vehicles does not offset the additional cost of paying for the Hybrid technology over the non-Hybrid counter part. At least over the typical life time of ownership of a vehicle. On top of that I’m sure the maintenance cost of a Hybrid would also tap into any gains as well since it is new technology which tends to have higher costs in the form of parts or labor due to the mechanics needing specialized training, etc..

I guess for me after all is said in done, if my mom is happy I’m happy and its a good start to breaking us from having to depend on foreign oil. I personally will consider an alternatively powered vehicle in the future so if my luck with cars continue, that will be another 6-8 years which will hopefully see mass improvements over the currently available alternatives.

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All Aligned Up

Posted by heymoe on 20th November 2007

Just got back from getting an alignment done to the Audi and overall everything checked out except for the front left wheel. The toe adjustment was out just a tad but it’s all better now. I was expecting the front right (driver side) wheel to be out of alignment but it was fine.

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