BMW European Delivery

March 29th, 2008

T-2 days till I’m boarding LH459 on route to Munich, Germany where on Wednesday next week I’ll be picking up my new car! After looking at lots of different models (all the way from Infiniti G and EX over the VW Eos, the gorgeous Audi A5, BMW 328 Coupe, Mercedes SLK, you nameit) I finally settled with my first (hardtop) convertible. The BMW328i SULEV Convertible. Now now I know.. urgh.. everyone drives a Bimmer (particularly in California), so why on Earth did you pick that?
Well for one it actually is a really great car. And for more.. it’s the only one that offered the variety of a hardtop convertible with all the technical gizmos like ComfortAccess, iDrive and whatnot with reasonable lease rates. And if you think BMW dealers are bad, good luck talking to Audi here in the Bay Area. One South Bay dealer told me he doesn’t know when if ever they get A5s in, even if I’m willing to put an order in right now. The other East Bay dealer didn’t bother giving me any price quotes even after several emails where exchanged. But thankfully he put me on his spam list, so that now I get stupid ‘special lease deal offers on A4s in stock’. Really valuable. Thanks again.

Anyway, as part of the European Delivery program, I’ll pick up my car in Munich, drive it for about a week or so and then drop it off near Frankfurt (to have it trucked to Bremerhaven and ultimately shipped all the way through the Panama canal to California). Believe it or not, but it is actually cheaper to buy a car this way than ordering it directly from the dealer. More info on the program here. After that I’ll have another 1.5 or so well earned vacation days – as a matter of fact the first ones since I joined Google over 1.5 years ago. Yes. I was THAT busy. I’m definitely looking forward to having a break, eating mom’s cooked food and maybe driving down through the Alps to Rome (with stops in Lucern, Milano, Florence…). Not sure if that’ll happen yet, but right now that’s the plan. So – expect to see more photos and infos on here soon.

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When my Mini Cooper works, I love the car. It’s small, you can park it anywhere, is fairly snappy and frankly is just fun to drive. It’s cornering capabilities are awesome. I originally got it in my first quarter at Stanford (custom-made order sent from the factory in Oxford, UK). The whole time I was at Stanford (aka the first two years of ownership of the vehicle) it worked (nearly) flawlessly. Yes I had to bring it once in for a broken steering engine fan after my long trip back from Seattle to California, where the dealer ridiculed me saying: this car is not made for the wet. The fans break when wet. To which I thought… hm.. not only is this thing sold in Seattle but it ACTUALLY is made in the UK – a country somewhat (just a little…) know for rainy days. But anyways – other than that it worked great.
Too bad things changed dramatically since the warranty ran out. Now, thankfully I never had anything major happen to it. But it surely is annoying to have a laundry list of things to fix. There were times (just went I joined Google in fact) when I had to bring the vehicle into the shop every 3 weeks.
So what’s wrong with it?
Frankly I forgot already. It was so many small things that most of them just escaped my mind, but a few recent items include:
- Three steering engine fan repairs (Two real repairs and once I brought the car apparently in for nothing as they didn’t bother replacing the fan, but just ‘realigned it’, which did NOTHING whatsoever to the extreme loud noises it made. In fact the noise was so bad that passers-by honked at me regularly.)
- Several software faults that needed updates
- Once the transmission didn’t go beyond 2nd gear. Fun! Thankfully it wasn’t the transition that’s at fault – it was the software. Car three days in for service.
- Had to jump start the car three times, only one of which is my fault for ACTUALLY having left the light on. Just today again I got back to my car seeing that the light was on and noticing I need yet another jumpstart (I just had one last week). The sad thing is: the light switch was on the off position and I never turned on the light today.
- Several inspections lead to small things here and there when I brought the car in for oil changes, inspections or new tires, new brakes etc.

Now I have to go get some jumper battery kit for $80+ as I’m traveling to Europe for the next three weeks. I know I can’t rely on my car to start after such a period of time, so I better get it now before I’m stranded when I come back.

So as you can tell, all in all I am not too happy. Pretty does not necessarily equal reliable. I guess that’s a general lesson in life.

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This is one GREAT example how people can be misdirected by making investment decisions based on what ‘some dude on TV’ says. Here Jim Cramer said “Bear Stearns is not in trouble” “Don’t be silly”. The video was taken just a week ago on March 11th 2008 when Bear Sterns was at $62.97/share . Six days later, today Bear Stearns traded at $4.81.

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Me going gangsta

March 16th, 2008

Okay, not quite. But today is my friend and colleague Jonathan’s birthday (Happy birthday old man!) and we celebrated yesternight with a ‘Mustache party’ at his loft in SF. It took me half a day to find a store that does sell fake mustaches, but I think the end result was worth it (even though the hair color obviously didn’t match).
Enjoy:
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Ken Lee – Bulgarian Idol

March 15th, 2008

I just had to blog this. My friend Ivan sent me this video of a Bulgarian Idol contestant struggling with the English language while performing Mariah Carey’s “Ken Lee” Without You. Enjoy!

We all struggle with this: childproof medicine bottles, ointments or other containers that us grown-ups struggle with opening, while most kids can do it in seconds. This is supposed to keep kids away, but actually keeps mostly adults away.
Now, a second trend is to make everything as simple as possible. Idiot-proof is the concept. Sadly it’s similar to the example above: the only people who this helps is, well, idiots. My current car is the prime example for it. It beeps whenever anything happens. Open the door while your belt is off: beeps. Open the door while the light is on: beeps. Do anything out of the ordinary: it beeps.
I have become so accustomed to the constant let’s-warn-the-idiots-beeping that I don’t react to it AT ALL anymore. Sadly this led now to me leaving my light on for the second time in three months, thereby completely draining my car’s battery. The warning ‘light is on’ beep was supposed to prevent that from happening.
The moral is: let’s not try to cover ‘all bases’. Why my car beeps whenever I open the door (for any reason) is beyond me. Sadly this led to me not reacting to the (in this case meaningful) warning anymore.

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Chocolate

March 10th, 2008

On the lighter side of things:
There are certain things I just can’t let go off, no matter what I do. I realize it’s detrimental to my recent gym activities, but
I just can’t get rid of it: Chocolate. Milk or White (sometimes Dark), maybe it be Chocolate mousse or Belgian Chocolate fresh off the block. I am addicted to it.
Here’s a funny lil’ picture my colleague Jesse recently took at Crittenden campus, where Google has those full blocks of chocolate where peeps can just scrape their own chunks off of. Let me tell you. It rocks!
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Dramatic title for two dramatic accidents:
About 5 years ago, my mom and I were on the way to Frankfurt airport when a drunk driver early Sunday morning tried to overtake us at 110 mph on the right side on a two-lane per direction highway. Not noticing that the lane is blocked by a slow truck, the driver swirled onto the left lane and rammed us frontally. The front of the car (including complete) engine were wrecked and ultimately rebuild.
When moving to California I left the car with my mom, who continued driving it until last week. A truck rammed here from behind on a wet highway, completely destroyed the rear portion of the car this time.
Luckily for both of us we stepped out of both accidents with mere little blemishes.

The simple moral of the story is that investing in a safe car is money well spent in my mind. There are many opportunities to save money in life. This one shouldn’t be one.

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Oh and btw, my mom’s new car will be the Mercedes A Class Coupe:
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Happy birthday me ;)

March 2nd, 2008

Hm okay. Was kind of a non-event, turning 31. I remember last year where I thought the world would end when the clock strikes 30. But I guess that didn’t happen (or did it??).
Anyways – I wanna thank everyone for the well wishes. You guys rock!

Oh and above all – thanks to my friend and colleague Jonathan who put this crazy video together. Thanks buddy! ;)