Saturday, February 26, 2011


Sixty six millimeters between Sebastian Langeveld and Juan-Antonio Flecha to make Langeveld the winner the 66th Omloop het Volk ... het Nieuwsblad. I tuned in online around 40km from the finish at 7am California time. It was supposed to snow in the morning in San Jose; the first time since 1976. It turned out to be another media-hyped meteorological non-event. At 40km from the finish, Langeveld was alone in front and race appears to be over. Ten kilometers went by. Yet, Flecha made a monster jump and closed the one minute to catch up with Langeveld. The two of them were heading for a sprint in Gent.

It didn't look like it was a nice day in Belgium - muddy and rainy. It is a indeed a hard sport.

Friday, February 25, 2011

De Ronde

After watching two episodes of the De Ronde, it is time for action. Episode one was a whirlwind of introductions: the accident, the divorced Flemish nationalist, the cycling fan who got bumped from the car by a snotty director and his wife who could care less about the race, the driver of the company car, the ex cycling champion hired to chauffer vips, and so on. I was getting a little dizzy about all the story lines being set up within a single show. Having lived in the US for a while now, I prefer more simple shows. And it is not looking good for a happy ending either. It is time in part 3 of the show for some clarity and action.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

When buying a car

We recently had to replace our old car. I had been secretly on the look out for a replacement car. However, with the deadline to re-register our old car coming up, and the need to fix a few things to pass the smog check, we decided to buy immediately.

The selection process
I made a check list with features we wanted in a car. My wife and I both check of whether it was important, nice to have or a don't car.

Looking around us every day, we had settled on three or four candidate models: VW Jetta Wagon TDI, Subaru Forester, Toyota Rav4 and the Honda CRV. All were good brands. It was time to check them out closer and we spent two Sundays on the Auto-row. We test drove the Subaru and the Honda CRV and with some internet resource, we paired it down to the Subaru Forester.

Now finding the model, color and price we wanted. This is always the part most dreaded when buying a car. And we wanted to trade-in our old car. Upon a great tip from a friend, we tried and got some initial internet pricing. Sending emails back and forth between dealerships within a 50 mile radius, the price kept on dropping, from about $26500 to $22400 for the same model and options. You might have to be flexible on the color. At the end I never had to have the one on one conversation with the car salesman in his office, going back and forth with 'his manager' on the price. We did have a great price in hand when we drove up to the dealer, about 50 miles from here.

The trade-in was simple. The trade-in was negotiated at the dealership. First of all, I made it clear that the deal was {trade-in,new car}, and not new car alone. I was willing to leave if I didn't get a good price on the old car. We had a price in mind and when their offer was about dead on, we felt we might be able to get something more. We negotiated about a few options on the new car and kept the trade-in price fixed. For example, a new back bumper protector is $80. However the cost for the dealer is much less, so it was easy for them to throw in such items.

Lastly, although it is said, that financing the car is beneficial to the dealership and you might be able to get a cheaper price (as some of it is recovered by the dealer in loan-recruitment-fees), it didn't appear to have a difference or our final price. Having cash on hand helps in my opinion.

Thus, negotiating over the internet and willing to drive a few miles has made buying a car fun and without too much hassle.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Counting Down

De zes koersen van Flanders Classics:

  • zat 26/02 - Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

  • woe 23/03 - Dwars door Vlaanderen

  • zon 27/03 - Gent-Wevelgem

  • zon 03/04 - Ronde van Vlaanderen

  • woe 06/04 - Scheldeprijs Schoten

  • woe 13/04 - Brabantse Pijl

  • (PS - That's European date notation)

    Saturday, February 05, 2011


    Oh, we parted with our beloved and trusted little 1998 Honda Civic EX today. It was time. We spent many great times in this car. From the trips to Mount Shasta and Crater Lake to a hasty trip to Los Angeles to the Argentine embassy. We brought our first born son home in this car. And our second born daughter. We moved many boxes in it when we moved to San Mateo. It has been a great commuter car every day up and down highway 101 to Mountain View. A testament to the reliability of Honda. 

    But now at one hundred and seventy three thousand miles, it was time to part with it. We traded it in when we bought a Subaru Forester. In what must be a weird scene at a car dealership: we posed for pictures with the kids next to a green little and since recent smog puffing monster. 

    Adieu, you served us well. 

    The green little monster