Style

A few people asked about this one, so here goes. More pics to come.

I picked up a pair of FRS seats a while ago and decided that as I actually had no real use for them, I would make a desk chair for my home office space. Combined with my new desk, this was a serious win.

New desk with FRS seat office chair

Materials included one 28″ desk chair base – https://www.amazon.com/Hihone-Replacement-Cylinder-Casters-Adjustable/dp/B08B7SVWCH is the one I used. You might need a shorter one, but I would not get a smaller diameter one. These seats are heavy, due to being automotive grade. I also used a 4′ section of steel L channel in 2″x1.5″. I cut this into two pieces that span the underside of the seat. I used 8 1-inch 1/4″ bolts, two 2-inch 1/4″ bolts, washers everywhere, and about 24 1/4″ nuts.

The biggest challenge with this project is getting the seat pitch correct. It’s a car seat from a sports car, so the seat base is pitched back qutie a bit. This does not work for an office chair. In addition, the seat mount on the seat base is also pitched back. To correct this, you have to suspend the front of the chair. (Pic coming soon)

Just the chair

If you use the seat rails (I did), you will have to drill one hole on each side to line up with the front holes in the chair mount. Take one of the pieces of L channel and mount it to the rear holes on the seat rails. Measure forward on the chair base to get the correct offset for the front mounting bar and drill the appropriate holes in the seat rails. Mount the other piece of L channel to those holes. Don’t tighten anything down hard yet.

The hole you drill

You can remove the seat rails and just mount the actual seat if you are on the shorter side, but at 5’6″, I did not have to do this. I still have some down-space on the gas shock, too.

Now for the fun. Tip the seat over. I got a kitchen chair and put it upside-down on that to make it easier to work on. Take the chair mount off the chair base (it lifts off) and insert it under the front L channel, and over the rear L Channel. Bolt the back rail to the holes on the back side of the chair mount. Here is where it gets interesting – put the longer bolts into the front holes of the seat base and add washers and nuts Do not snug these up, they need to move around a bunch. There is enough flexibility in the steel to allow you to wiggle things around. I used 3″ bolts here, but 2″ or 2.5″ are more than enough and easier to work with. Add two more nuts and a washer and wiggle them into the front L channel. NOW, tighten them up at the chair base mount.

Better view of rear setup

At this point, you are ready to set your seat pitch. Add a washer and nut to the stubs of the long bolts sticking through the front L channel. Flip the whole mess over and get your level out. Adjust the height of the front of the seat so it is comfortable and then tighten everything up. Use the jam nuts (the double nuts on “top” of the front L channel) to hold the position.

Suspension adjustment for seat pitch

There you go. Enjoy your new desk chair. Mine is awesome!

It’s an IKEA curtain rod end. I think it’s called Lystra. It was a joke, one of those April Fool’s things we used to do on ClubB5.com back in the day. This had to be back in like 2001-2. I remember taking pics on the AC Expressway. I had pulled the knob and found that the shifter shaft was hollow. Oh yes. The wheels were turning.

My dad machined the stainless base for me. It took a couple of tries to get it all right. Including the electronics. I blew a few LEDs getting it sorted, but eventually got it wired into the dash dimmer circuit, because that is what I do. It also took a while to find the correct color of LED, these are rather violet, not the traditional teal that was common back then.

Blue Bubble Ball

So if you ever want to blame someone for a Pep Boys mod, well, now you know. It was a joke. We had a laugh. I still put it on once in a while when I light up the roof. May as well enjoy the old beast, right?

OEM+

The pinnacle of early 2000s VW modding – poaching partsbin bits for upgrades. This is the OEM taxi dome light switch, wired into the dash dimmer and driving the fibre optic headliner off rail power. It’s my dream install and I am completely delighted. The switch arrived today thanks to a fellow B5er who reduced his hoard of parts by one switch.

There was a request to address the fibre optic headliner.

So. I redid the headliner in the B5. With custom-printed fabric from Contrando. I did a sticker bomb pattern of my girlie logo. It’s awesome.

I purchased a 14W light engine from amazon Chinapost. It was $45 with 250 3m strands of roughly 1mm optical fibre. I also purchased an extra 100m of fibre.

I did the headliner like normal with lots of pattern matching so that the sunroof cover lines up when it is closed. This was not that hard. There was a lot of spray adhesive and high temp hot glue involved. See above.

Then… the fibres. There was much hemming and hawing about how to do the fibre insertion. I originally wanted to do a random pattern, but then realized that that would be pretty hard to accomplish with basically acres of headliner. So, I opted to put a fibre in each complete eyeball in the pattern. Basically light up pupils. The first 250 fibres took me about two weeks to get in. The next 250 took me another two weeks. The last hundred took me about a morning because I wanted that **** done.

The process I used was…

Poke a hole through the headliner in the desired location using an upholstery needle. This left a big enough hole that I could find it later, and almost big enough to get the fiber through. The headliner is a lot thicker than I realized, up to 1/2″ in places. Once I had all of the eyes located and poked through, then I started threading the fibre.

I did have to figure out where to stick the light engine as there is a sunroof in the car and that limits space a bit. I put it near the C pillar so it was easy to peek at if needed. All fibres ran to this location.

Threading the fibres required me to insert the needle and then catch the end of the fibre with it. Then push the fibre through allowing it to follow the needle. This was a lot of work and took me a bit to get a method down. Once I got it going, it was better. I needed a lot of ambient light to see the fibre ends. I ran the entire 250 fibre bundle first before moving to the next step. Then I cut the fibres and hot-glued them on the back side of the headliner. The hot glue melts at a temperature close to that of PMMA so I had to hold the fibres in position until the glue solidified a bit. This was about ten seconds.

I reserved all of the cut ends as they varied in length from 1 foot to about 8 feet. I reused all of these, finding the flat ends to face the light engine. Then, I started cutting into my coil of PMMA. In the end, I believe it was 618 individual fibres.

Once I had the fibres in, I had to equalize the lengths and get them into the coupler. This was difficult and I have no pics.

The last thing I did was glue down a piece of nylon fabric over the middle of it to protect the strands in the middle from the sunroof assembly. Again, no pic because doggone it, at that point, I wanted it done and in.

It is utterly amazing. I cannot describe how happy I am with it.

I found this oldie when replying to a BRZ thread. Original date was 15FEB2006.

I got the email from Volkswagen last evening: I would finally find out what my fast was about. I clicked in anticipation, who knows, maybe my fast would be special, maybe I would actually get a fast. Whatever, I was off for the e-ride.

My fast looked suspiciously similar to the fast I had already seen in the forums of TCL, but whatever. It was cute, if a little bit pudgy. Certainly more pudgy than the fast I have out in my garage, although it is certainly faster than the fast in my garage. That fast is not very fast, although it is very noisy and seems to think it can talk to me. I had the sneaking suspicion that my fast looked just like everyone else’s fast. Bummer.

I worked my way through the car configurator to see how fast I was going to go. I have to admit, the configurator was nicely done. Keeping tabs on the cost, advising when an option was part of a package, showing the parts on the vehicle, and good informational blurbs about each option. Very well done. I was particularly interested in the “joy ride” selection. I knew I was off for an e-ride, but an e-joyride? What the hell is that? I clicked. A clipped, European female voice advised me that the joyride would be handled by an expert driver on a closed course. It was right there that I went wrong. My wrongness would become readily apparent in mere moments.

At the words “expert driver on closed course” I made a critical error. My mind drifted. I let myself imagine who I would want my “expert driver” to be. I drifted further, would he be better looking than Schumi? More confident than Rubens? Would he be the racing equivalent of Fabio? I admit it – the sexy female voice told me I would get an expert driver. No crime in hoping for a good looking one. If I’m going to take a fantasy e-joyride with a guy, I want it to be nice, and good looks under the helmet will be a definite plus.

Then Helga popped up.

Uh, ok.

A porn star in a nurse’s uniform with a Cinnabon on her head is now on my screen. What does this have to do with joyriding? I have heels like that, I sure as hell don’t wear them when I’m racing. I don’t generally associate wearing them with driving at all. Little problem with ankle extension on the clutch foot, you see.

I want Hans, not Helga. And now she’s a cloying kitten, teasing the ******* in the rice rocket in the next lane over. This is embarrassing. Car chicks do not behave like that. We wear our clothes when we take your pink slip, thank you.

<detour>
It would not be possible to abuse Mitsubishi’s j-cool concept more heavily than the creative people did in this bit. Stereotype takes on new meaning after seeing that car. Yellow may be fast, and stickers may mean horsepower, but daaaaaayyy-um! That thing had it all! And the wigger that was driving it? Please! The Icy-Hot Stunnas could not have done a better job of creating that train wreck. Did I see diamonds on those teeth? Holy crap. If I wasn’t laughing out loud at Helga, I’m laughing out loud at this fool.
</detour>

So I watch while Helga drops the flags. The cars launch. Wait a minute, now she’s back in the car? Um, story board foul-up. It’s a bit hard to get around a launching vehicle and into the passenger seat if you are the starter. Wait, it’s supposed to be a fantasy e-joyride. I suppose anything can happen. It’s also a straight quarter, not exactly what I would do with a GTI – it’s supposed to be a You-Ro-Pee-N car with that fancy handling, right? What kind of handling is required for a straight quarter mile? More racing stereotypes leave me feeling cold.

With the rice rocket slain, Helga drops me off at the starting line and speeds off with those leg-breaking heels. I guess I’m supposed to be in some state of arousal at this point, but I am not. I am laughing. If humor was the point, I’m getting it. I am emailing this silly bit of teenage-boy marketing to my car-girlfriends so they can laugh at it, too. And they will. They will laugh and email it to their car-girlfriends, and so on. We will tell Helga jokes. Poor Helga. And we will snicker about this gorgeous GTI for a long time. We will probably not buy so many of them, because Volkswagen has told us where we stand in relation to it. We don’t.

You see, we’re not the target market. We’re girls.

Okay, so I admit it, I’m having my Initial D phase. I’ll post up some Shigeno-themed stickers once in a while. And reading it in Japanese is awesome. There is so much texture and detail that can’t be translated to English.

This sticker says “High octane! Fill it!”

I bought a Cricut Maker. I now have magnet numbers. I recreated the font from the car numbers in MF Ghost.

Magnet numbers!

Magnet numbers how-to.

You will need a Cricut Maker (the $400 one), magnet vinyl (available from Michael’s and/or Amazon), software that can output .jpgs or .pngs, and the Cricut app. You can add colored vinyl to laminate with for an extra challenge.

1. Prepare the magnet vinyl by magnetting it to your washing machine, fridge, steel door, or any other flat surface. It comes in rolls and needs to be flat to go through the Cricut nicely. Leave it there for two days. If you are laminating vinyl on, then unroll the vinyl and hang that up to flatten, too.

2. Design your numbers. Use your graphics software or whatever. Output a graphics file that the Cricut app can read (.jpg seems to work better than .png).

3. If you are so inclined and really want hot pink numbers, laminate the colored vinyl to the magnet vinyl. This is not easy and it took me to the third go before I could make it look decent without a million bubbles. Don’t hate yourself. 

4. Load up the Cricut app and set your design. I found that using the whole 12×24 sheet of magnet vinyl on the 12×24 grip pad worked better, but then you have to drop the $$ on the big pad. 

5. Stick the magnet vinyl to the grip pad. Make sure it is exactly in the lines because the positioning rollers will push it around if you are running the full 12″ width sheet. This will cause cuts within 0.5″ of the edges to not be just so. 

6. Set the material to 0.5mm magnet sheet. 0.6mm also works, but tends to cut through and into the grip pad. DAMHIK. 

7. Cut your numbers. At 0.5mm it will run the pattern twice. This is normal. I think it does three times for 0.6mm.

8. Put your numbers on your car and look awesome at the track/autocross. 

I have been running this material for several track days now, and have left them on by accident (lol) for driving to work (lots of traffic and highway). It stays on well and doesn’t move around. Do make sure your car is very clean before sticking the numbers on as if there is dust, it will get into the paint.

There are probably a hundred different ways to learn Japanese. Then, there is my way. But you saw that coming.

The most important part of a learning experience is determining your goal. Right up front, my goal with this has been to be able to read work PowerPoints. Not very lofty on the surface, but actually pretty complicated. I read and speak German quite well, reading novels, newspapers, and yes, work PowerPoints. With a rehearsal or two, I can actually present in German. Getting to that level in Japanese may not happen, but I am going to try.

With the clear goal of reading in mind, the challenge of learning kanji, the graphemes that make up Chinese and Japanese text, is at the forefront. My exercise is not about learning Japanese so much as learning to read it and that means kanji is more critical than anything else. Kanji is a unique writing system that can be learned without learning any Japanese whatsoever, actually. In fact, pretty much all of my Shanghai-dialect Chinese consists of reading kanji and not having any idea how to say them. I am functionally voiceless in China. I do not want that to happen with Japanese. Research into kanji tools led me to a strange blog named Tofugu, and their kanji learning tool WaniKani.

WaniKani is a spaced repetition tool that uses the radical system for teaching kanji. It is focused on the top 2000 characters and the vocabulary that use them. It does not teach Japanese, rather, it teaches a way to read Japanese and learn to interact with the kanji writing system. So far, I’m on level 19 of 60, and ready to go from Painful to Death. The language of the tool is very cute and humorous, but so far it is working for me.

Kanji is also giving me a new way to express myself, so don’t be surprised if you start seeing some here. 私は漢字は好きです。My imperfect grammar will likely be painful, but whatever. It’s a whole new way to express my self, and that is kind of pretty baller all on its own.

In October, I started a new task – I began learning Japanese. I’d discovered a sister plant to one of my three at work, a plant in Kakogawa, Japan, and decided that if the only thing holding back a lot of communication was language, that was not an excuse. It’s morphed into something I never expected – a new cultural experience that is augmented by two slightly Japan-nutty kids.

I’ll be writing more about the experience over the next few months.