Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Computer Squabbles

Just last week, I was pining to print some photos stored on my external harddrive for my photography class. But alas! My "USB Hubport", as my computer was apt to report, had a power surge. No big deal, right? Not so much. I thought I could simply shut the PC down, let it cool off, and sort out its issues, but no! Every single one of my USB ports does not function! Not work! Work = no! This means I cannot use my harddrive, [couldn't use] my mouse for a short time, and for whatever reason, to throw a whole other monkey into this wrench, my monitor decides to commit suicide right on the scene of the crime!

The only silver lining in the sky to this story is that I've since gotten my monitor working. But unfortunately, yet again, my super-savvy-ultra-know-how-turbo-overclocking-PC-computer-wizard friend has assessed the problem. And it was so rare that even he was taken aback! He suggested I get another motherboard, and for you non-super-savvy-ultra-know-how-turbo-overclocking-PC-computer-wizards, it is the most central piece to the internals of a computer. In other words, it will cost over $600, considering that a new motherboard will require a new soundcard (because that killed itself too!), a new graphics card, new RAM cards, and much more garbage!

And if you're such a Neanderthal that you've never heard of any of this, get your tush on some sort of research. IMMEDIATELY!

That is all,

Friday, December 17, 2010

You Say "New Blog", Flammen?

As you likely have noticed, I've lost weight and have gotten a haircut. But more importantly, my blog has been redesigned.

For about two years now, the cow and rainbow Katamari Damacy image has served as the header to my blog. But because times are a-changin', I thought, "what better than a blog redesign?" Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So stop eating, watching that precious Jersey Shores program that all you damn children are watching and look at me! Look at my blog! See it in its purest glory and sanctimonious harmony of color, flair, style, and a play on my nickname, "Flammen".

Enjoy the blogging, creatures.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My New, yet 21-year-old Car

I LOVE the thought of purchasing a new car. From deciding what color to choose, what options to prioritize, to comparing deals, miles, models, conditions, prices; it all for some inextricable reason fills me with enthusiasm.

For the past three to four months, I've been looking for a car for myself. After discovering that my father would not allow me to take the car that my sister and I currently share to the track, nor modify in any way, I concluded that I needed a set of my own wheels. And also, one that had a manual transmition.

I scouered the internet--Copart, Vehbidz, Craigslist, eBay, Yahoo! Autos, and AOL Autos were the sites I ripped through, and eventually deduced what car I could afford with the money I had. From the onset, I knew I wanted something German. Whether that meant the essentially-out-of-reach realm of Porsches, the exclusive world of Mercedes-Benz, the slightly more reasonable planet of Audis, or the downright, down-to-earth land of BMWs.

Given not only that BMWs are purported to be some of the sportiest cars, in my estimation, they happen to be also some of the best-looking cars. Plus, the aforementioned car my sister and I share is a BMW, and being a part of the BMWCCA (BMW Car Club of America), my decision was foregone.

Early in my search, I realized that Copart and Vehbidz were less than ideal, let alone, credible sources for a car, let alone [I know, redundant] for one I intended to take on a track. In case you've never heard of the two car outlets, they are salvage dealers. (Think slightly higher-quality junkyards, and by slightly, I mean imperceivably). Many a listing on their respective sites have seen the severest of punishments from concrete walls, oncoming traffic, water, and its corrosive effects, and the laws of gravity, and its tendency to turn a car upside down. So, I concluded that a junkyard wasn't the right place for me.

Months passed before I made any effort of contacting sellers, which was likely because it was brought to my attention through the auto-searching process that $1000 isn't all that much. Before I made any knee-jerk reaction purchase, I would painstakingly inspect every pixel of a Craigslist post, and compare side-by-side prices, models, and most unfortunately of all, seller locations (which invariably would be placed as far away from my hometown of Chicago as possible) on eBay.

So with my $800 saved up from babysitting, chores, birthdays, and other miscellaneous methods, I had to have more if I had any hope of getting a ride. While on eBay searching for cars, my eyes slid upward to the "Sell" icon, and my mind played with the idea. I thought of the obsolete toys I had stockpiled in the basement, and contemplated selling them. The toys ranged from remote control cars, such as Zip-Zaps, XMODs, and even a gas-powered one, to K'nex toys, magazines, and Hot Wheels track sets. I made $300 in my first week, and have continued to make a profit ever since.

So that put me at around $1200 after taking into account the loads of birthday money I had accumulated this year. I actually had a chance this time to get a car! I continued my daily visit of Craigslist's Chicago "Autos + Trucks" listing, with a search query of "BMW" and a price range of "1 to 3000".

I will never forget the third of December, when I first laid eyes on possibly the most desirable and reasonable car listing I'd seen in months! For so long I had seen BMW E30 sellers that were simply out of their minds, with prices well into the 3000s of dollars. Twenty-plus-year-old cars don't belong to be priced nearly that high.

Over such a long period of time, I was relieved at the prospect of not looking over scores of listings, immediately looking if it was a manual, a two-door, and if it was a 325i, or a 325is, at least. Nothing else would suffice. And luckily for me, I came across the right car. It was a 1989 325is. The exact model, year, transmission, two-door car I silently wished for as my friends and family sang "Happy Birthday" before me and my birthday cake.

I was determined this was my car. I persistently sent e-mails to the seller daily. But because he was so congested with work that week, it wouldn't be until the weekend that he would respond. I asked for photos, and in the description, he said "runs good, good transmission, good clutch". Now this is rather typical rhetoric of what you'll find on Craigslist.

After a few back-and-forth e-mails, I eventually sent him my phone number, and on the Sunday night following, we talked, and talked and talked. I found out that he has two children, is a fellow member of the BMWCCA, and much like myself, is a fan of the classic E30 BMW look. He talked in-depth about the car, as I responded with casual "uh huhs", and "yeps", sometimes cutting him off unintentionally mid-sentence. At the end of the 40-minute conversation that boggled my mind how much he truly knows about cars, we decided that we would "keep in touch" and that it would be the next week that we would meet so that I could see the car.

Days passed, and I knew that my father would want to be there when I would make such a monumental purchase for my age. Keen to not purchase a "lemon", some days later, I waited for my father to return from his business trip in, you guessed it, Las Vegas. (Unlikely, I know. The place doesn't even sound business-y, does it?) We then got up on Saturday morning, and headed out in the constant rain pour. Using the MotionX GPS App on my iPhone, we eventually made it to the modest home in which my dream car was stored. We rang on the doorbell, and were greeted by a clearly "ethnic" lady as my father would later point out, with a maybe Polish accent. We walked past the medium-sized gray house to the garage that sat behind. We encountered a man with a prickly, black beard, glasses, and gray jeans and brown working boots with obvious paint smears on them.

I shook his hand assuringingly as I had spoken to him a few days prior and by text on the way there. We walked through the doorway of the three-car garage, and found a matte-red 1989 BMW 325is, a.k.a. the car of my dreams. It gazed at me just as intently as I did, only it looked better than it did in the photos he sent by e-mail. The interior was tan, and in all honesty, could be in better shape. Although the exterior was remarkably good, especially considering the price I payed for it.

Most notably, the rear bumper cover was cracked, and the basket-weave BBS wheels lacked their BMW badge caps. We talked for a good half hour, and my father sat in the driver's seat to operate the shifter knob and clutch. As I saw him approve of its robustness, I immediately anticipated the strategy I had planned ahead of time, which was to say "Will you take eleven-hundred?" and if that fails, say "Twelve-hundred?" and then if that fails, say "Twelve thirty? That's all I have". He then responded with "Twelve fifty and we have a deal". I looked to my right and said to my father, "Could you throw in an extra twenty dollars?" He took a bill out of his wallet, and we had a long-anticipated, and solid deal. Right after this tension, I recall him saying "Deal-maker of the century right here" as he went over to retrieve the title and papers.

We sorted the paperwork, and after that I shook his hand with vigor, sure to demonstrate my gratitude for accepting my admitted "low-ball". But I had no choice. I unfortunately didn't manage to make the full amount in time for our Saturday meet. As shameful as I felt moments after for doing this, because I can remember saying over the phone in our 40-minute conversation that "$1500 sounds right". I later found out he himself payed less for it when he bought it from the original Michigan owner, so that took away a good deal of the anxiety, as did the smile he finally let out as we took off in the car.

Currently, the car lacks a license plate, and is sitting in my father's spare hangar, being worked on by yours truly. So, as you can see, I am living a fantasy-a teenage boy finds a car he is in love with, has done much research for, gains friends, forms new, lasting relationships over, and modifies it and tunes it to his specific liking-and what a fantasy it is. Talk about your typical anime plot.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Internet as a Public Community

Recently I watched a video by Jeff Jarvis detailing the pros and cons surrounding the publicness and conversely, the privateness of the internet. As my work here on, and my ventures on YouTube would indicate, I am a strong proponent of the internet as a public medium. We should be open and willing to share stories and anecdotes, thoughts and experiences, not fall prey to the Puritanical subculture that inconspicuously affects us every day, and thus be opposed to the pursuit of comfort through anonymity.

(Link here:)

Yes, we should be open--but not excessively so. I can post images of myself, videos of myself, music by myself, blogs by myself, Tweets or Facebook statuses by myself that encompass myself and everything about myself.... Myself, myself, myself, etc. The internet certainly nurtures a culture of egotism. People will post something about themselves, they will get supportive comments, in the form of "Likes", "Diggs", "Thumbs Up", "Five Stars", whatever it be, and feel that much more confident about themselves. They will then take that positive energy into the outside world and may more fiercely, than they otherwise would, assert themselves in the public sphere, leading to social friction, tension, and a clashing of egos among similarly-minded egomaniacs.

And so, there are indeed two extremes of one's internet publicness. One being in the vein of a high school girl taking sexually suggestive photos of herself in her bathroom, with a whole array of Facebook albums to back that up, and the other being an oftentimes meek , anonymous internet "personality", if not, lack thereof that will from time to time post comment on,, etc. And in addition to this "personality", is as Jarvis details, an enraged commentor, one who feels totally excluded, and thus senses he or she is behind the illustrious "wall". This "wall" implies the media's exclusivity to the creation of their content, in that it excludes the public from fully participating in a "Crowdsourcing" kind of way.

"Crowdsourcing" is a phrase coined by Jarvis himself, examples of which include websites such as,,, and virtually any other blogging tool. These are inherently community-driven services that encourage contributors to contribute as much as possible, as a high a rate as possible, and in as high a quality as possible, all of which are incented by public recognition (as mentioned earlier, through comments, positive ratings).

Now back to the infamous "wall". It is what separates the communities of any enthusiast, political, or entertainment internet publication. It is what has its users post nasty, harsh, and brutal comments-it doesn't adequately allow for a two-way street as a proper conversation. In that, it doesn't equally value the comments as it does the original post. Commentors are seen as indiscriminant underlings in comparison to the initial creator, which couldn't be more backwards. Because you see, commentors, whose role it is to motivate the initial creators must create too! Only, they must create criticisms and render appropriate ratings. And in turn, it is up to the intial creators to absorb the [hopefully] constructive criticsms in hopes of further improving their content, whatever it be.

So as you can see, the internet is a tremendously cyclical form of media, and if its users fall back on their pseudonyms followed by a couple of supposedly "lucky" numbers, or hide behind their business desks and cubicles, their business positions, or salaries, the true voice, the true freedom of the internet as a place, as a destination will no longer exist as a result of government regulation. So it is our duty as internet users to proudly be who we are not solely in the physical space, but equally in cyberspace. This means we must use our full names whenever relevant, communicate to community contributors constructively what we like and dislike, and ultimately be respectful of our fellow users, because if we are true to ourselves-to our names-every user we come into contact with on the internet has an equally likely possibility to meet us in person some day and call us out on what we said. And who wants to get in a shouting match in public?