Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Paul obtains a valuable skill

So here's something that I am glad to have learned: changing a tire. Never changed one before last night, which isn't so good. It's easy, though, even with the shoddy tools that come standard with a Dodge Stratus. (VERY IMPORTANT: Bring a strong/easy to use jack with us.) I feel clever, in a small way because at first I couldn't get the damn tire off but then I picked up the spare and threw it at the flat, which dislodged it from whatever it was stuck to. Brute force, the thing that will make Team Newyorkistan successful, and the reason Audrey chose me as second-in-command (my verbal and psychological test scores were poor, but I blew away all the other candidates - several dozen - on the physical fitness test. What, you think Audrey just picked my name out of a hat?)

So, I thought a little bit about what car problems we would encouter most frequently/likely. This is my estimation:

1. Running out of fuel
2. Flat tires
3. The suspension
4. Overheating

The first two and the fourth can be managed and planned ahead for...busted suspension is a bit more of a problem, but that's what Kazakh mechanics are for. So long as their rates are a bit lower than those of New York mechanics, we're in for an easy ride. "Easy" used in a very loose and relative sense.

-Pablo Fantastico

Friday, April 21, 2006

Street Legal Jet Powered VW Beetle

Need I say more? (if the answer is 'yes', then see here): http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/street-legal-jet-powered-vw-beetle

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Advice from an '05er

(I am putting up a post from one of last year's rallyer's - it has lots of advice. i love it. here goes)

I am famous! (infamous) I forgot what a good off road panda driver i was
Good luck on 2006 rally

PS just ignore all Russians
PPS especially ignore Argentinians
PPS weld your own car-even novices
PPPS leave more time for Mongolia than the rest
PPPPS take some wet wipes (alot)
PPPPS if you hit mud or water just drive faster
PPPPPS dont listen to advice its more fun without

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

94 days

Yep, just 94 days until 22 July is upon us and we put the petal to the metal.

If anyone from England is reading this, then I have a request for you. Find me (Paul) somewhere to work in England between now and 22 July. I could be in England within a few days, if I so needed. I will do anything. I want to be able to stay in England a couple of months before we leave, both for purposes of getting our car and other Rally stuff in order, as well as for personal enjoyment.

I can do pretty much anything. Try me.

Alternately, if you live in the United States, and you need something done for which you are willing to exchange money (United States money, preferribly), let me know. (see my above claim about being able to do pretty much anything. It applies to potential employers in this country as well.)

I have enough funds to go on the Rally, but there are the aforementioned 94 days until it starts, which gives me some time to do something useful, and make enough money to spring for the two-star hotel instead of the one-star ("Best Western Samarkand" instead of "Yusuf's Goat Hospital and Youth Hostel.")

I know that this blog is very widely read. Latest estimates by our staff (we employ about 300 people, keep in mind) show a daily readership in the tens of thousands. So, if one of the legions of readers needs a research paper written, or a small structure demolished, or a romance-novel manuscript copyedited, or anything completely different, let me know.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Blue, by The Jayhawks, Is A Really Good Song

And on that note, I'm going to tell you that opportunities to become a member of Team Newyorkistan are still available. We may have already met the fundraising requirements, but hell, we desire to be the biggest and best and fundraisey-est. So, if you haven't yet become a member of the Team Newyorkistan BackSeat Drivers Club, join now by donating to one of three amazing charities - here they are:
  • Donations to Send A Cow!

  • Donations to Mercy Corps Scotland!

  • Donations to the Christina Noble Foundation!

  • We are so thankful to have you all out there working to help us out, and by making donations to these very worthwhile charities.

    All you have to do is donate, then send us an email (or just me, at roofeh@gmail.com) and I'll send you a Team Newyorkistan Backseat Drivers Club Membership Card. The next time someone rifles through your wallet he or she will be stunningly confused by this particular piece of cardboard. So join now!

    And while you're out there taking directions, go download some Joe Tex off the itunes.* I promise you won't be disappointed.

    *Unless your name is Aaron or Jason Brame. In which case a mix cd is on its way to you, I promise.

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Nobody Listen to Him!


    I don't know what you're talking about. There are no problems. We're going to learn to like the rain.

    Last night at Passover seder, one of my uncles (a car salesman - picture it: Persian through and through, wears suits and, I'm pretty sure, a hairpiece, and...cowboy boots. i love this man) is negotiating with my brother Abraham who wants to buy an Acura. I ask what he would drive if he had to go a really, really long distance. First he says, "Ah, comfort. I'd go for the Caddy". I say, hmmm, what if it's rough terrain? Like, a lot of rough terrain? Maybe, say, from London to Mongolia. He says, "Range Rover." I ask what the engine displacement of a RR is. He tells me "five point five liters." I say, well, what if you can only take a car with a one litre engine. He says, "you'll never make it." And walks away.

    You know what this is like, people? This is like the scene early on in Lawrence of Arabia, where Colonel Dryden informs then Lt. Lawrence of his new assignment, to head out into the desert to find Prince Faisl. And Lawrence says, "this is going to be fun!" And Colonel Dryden sighs, and responds, "it is recognized that you have a funny idea of fun."

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Problems, oh there are many

    Indeed, thinking ahead is important in a venture such as this one.* However, my impression is that no matter what problems we think of ahead of time, it's going to be the ones that we could have never imagined that will trip us up. This might sound like a cliche, but think of it in this context. Think of the problems that have been envisaged...and then think of the stuff you haven't even thought of. Scary, isn't it?!?

    Creativity in problem solving might not be as important as creativity in problem imagining.

    The Rally is still a hundred or so days in the future, yet the list of things I have learned, and people I have met, and experiences I have had, all in connection with this grand event, is long. One I'll mention here, because it's just plain wacky, is when my dad arm wrestled a British filmmaker during a late-night outing for Chinese food. We actually didn't realize he was a filmmaker at the time, but he was. In fact, we didn't know him at all until he happened to be singing karaoke at the same bar that we held a fundraiser at. William Archer, the filmmaker in question, is an awesome guy who made what appears to be a fascinating political documentary called Hand to Hand (www.handtohand.com, check it out)...it's high on my to-watch list. William donated to Team Newyorkistan, for which we thank him. I will always remember, with fondness, my dad arm wrestling him.

    I was perusing eBay car listings a moment ago. The cars all look pretty good, which really means little, because I'm confident that any one of them will give us problems to no end.

    One is inclined to think that we shouldn't buy a Fiat Panda, because "everyone" is taking a Panda...but then again, this "everyone" in question represents only the subset of the general populace who are driving to Mongolia, so "everyone" is really a relative term. So, what I'm saying is, looks like we're going with the Panda.


    *That doesn't mean there's been very much of it, though, on our part or on the part of other teams.

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Gambling Junkies, Start Your Engines

    Paul raises a good point about the amount of discomfort that will be involved in the Rally. Some elements we will be able to anticipate and some will come wholly out of nowhere. In fact, I'm thinking we should start taking bets. I want to see what the folks think the odds are. I'll start:

    100% Chance that Shit Will Go Down:
    Having to sleep in our car
    Not getting to shower for extended periods (what I mean by "extended periods" is up for debate)
    Living off of melty power bars covered in sand when we drive through the desert
    Having to pee on the side of a road (perhaps more my problem than Paul's)
    Finding that our maps don't correspond with with the road options we are presented with in reality
    Being threatened with a beating by an Azerbaijani dwarf. (We'll be better people for it)

    On the other hand, I think that there is also a 100% likelihood of the following:
    Doing donuts in a field somewhere in Kazakhstan
    Making friends with the locals
    Seeing the stars in the Gobi desert sky
    Buying all y'all bitches' christmas presents at bazaars in Central Asia
    Getting to pop in various mix tapes for various kinds of driving (the power pop for the first stretch of open highway, the quieter Yo La Tengo and/or a reasonable facsimile for contemplative night drives, and wooboy - whatever it is we're listening to when we come upon the Mongolian border, will be a song forever emblazoned in our memory)*

    This is the road trip of the Gods.

    Whoever wants to start the debate on the really scary shit that's gonna go down - go right ahead. We're just waiting to hear it.

    *Not unlike the way I remember that my ipod, on shuffle, was playing "Do Me", by Boyz 2 Men (thank you Tommy Hartnett) the very moment I found out I passed the bar exam.

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    When we thought it couldn't get any better...

    Over the weekend at an undisclosed location, Paul and Audrey met with two individuals who happen to comprise a film production company that has made some pretty impressive stuff. Turns out, Team Newyorkistan might just warrant inclusion in an upcoming TV special. Specifics, of course, need to be worked out, but the idea has been put in motion, people are talking, and Paul is willing to skydive in any state of undress should the networks so desire (doubtful.)

    Audrey mentioned the levels of discomfort we are in line for facing; that made me think about discomfort and how we're likely going to be facing a good deal of it. I specifically am not eager to be out in the rain. I'm kinda like a cat in that regard. I also do not want to be in a car that is sinking into the mud. And, I don't want to have to escape from a car if the mud is that severe. Man, thinking about this is no fun.

    But what is fun? The Model UN reunion/Team Newyorkistan party that we might have. If you were ever in Model UN, or know someone who was, or can guess what the UN in Model UN means, you're invited. More info on that front coming soon.


    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    A Most Horrible Realization

    I tried to do long division today. I couldn't.

    How will I make it through the mountains and deserts without the long division skills that I have now, apparently, lost?

    Chicken Little.