I have to admit that one of the most common things I hear from people when they talk about my MINI is, "It's so small. How can it be safe?"
The answer - pure engineering and forethought.
Pictured below are the results of the IIHS (International Institute for Highway Safety) 40 MPH offset head-on collision tests of both vehicles. The pictures speak for themselves. It's clear that the driver in an F-150 would susstain serious, if not, life-threatening injuries while the Cooper driver would apparently walk away with few if any injuries. You can read more here with links to the IIHS stats on both vehicles.
So bigger is not always better...
Last fall Andy Crouch came to Kansas City to speak at our church. Andy is an author, speaker and columnist for Christianity Today. He had come to town to hold a workshop on our consumer culture and the Church (that's maybe an over-simplification but it's close). Given my flexible schedule, I was volunteered to pick Andy up at the airport. No problem, I love any excuse to be in the MINI for extended periods of time, about an hour round trip in this case. My wife told Andy earlier that I'd be picking him up and he would get to ride in the MINI. He was excited at the prospect and eager to see a MINI up close and take a ride because he had not previously had the opportunity to do so. He was full of all the usual first impressions and questions, however, I knew he was coming to speak on consumerism and culture, so I hoped I would not become an example of rampant consumerism or fodder for an upcoming discussion. As it turns out, Andy's experience with our MINI inspired him to write an article that appeared in the March/April issue of Christianity Today's Books & Culture.
I urge you to read the article because I think he has some fascinating ideas. His point is driven home in the last two paragraphs and does beg some discussion of the possibility that technology is, occasionally, worth celebrating and capable of bringing our world into focus.
I am humbled and honored. Thanks Andy.
I've been back from L.A. for about a day now and the pysical effects of my "vacation" are starting to wear off. Let me explain. I went to Los Angeles to visit one of my best friends in the world. We only get to see each other a couple of times a year so in my three and a half days' visit we sought to squeeze all we could out of our time. We did this by sleeping as little as possible. On Friday in an attempt to counteract the effects of too little sleep we went to the neighborhood Starbucks to order sextuple mochas. When Brent ordered a Venti-sextuple mocha the barista's eyes became the size of saucers and there was silence, a beat in time and the response, "You mean six shots?" Brent nodded and I said, "Make that two". You can clearly see the 6 in the "shots" box of the cup and at the bottom the 2X as in hit me two times. You can also observe the barista's inability to spell the name Brent. The irony here is that moments before we entered this specific coffee shop, Brent told me that he didn't go to this 'Bucks very often because he was annoyed at thier inability to spell his name correctly. The last time he was there he said Brent they said okay and proceeded to write down Rich.
The six shot mocha was delicious and got me through the day and well into the next. We visited so many different restaurants, bars and coffee houses in three days I lost count. Our evenings of bar hopping were not so much a quest for alcohol but a quest for atmosphere, music and to basically be on the scene. We did have a few drinks as we went along but the fruit of our time was the conversation. I am grateful for my time away and I am also grateful to be back in the Central Time Zone. Sleep is a good thing.
Pictures of the adventure are now available here. And no, we didn't go into the strip bar pictured. I just took the photo because of the Courtney Love cultural reference which I wouldn't even have known without my tour guide who is a virtual wasteland of entertainment trivia. Thanks Brent.
Coming to L.A. I expected to see a lot of MINIs on the roads. From my observations in two days that hasn't been the case. I've only seen two MINIs in all our travels from Silver Lake to Santa Monica, both of them were in Beverly Hills. My original plans were to meet up with a couple of SCMM club members and fellow bloggers while I was here. I had hoped to be able to hook up with them last night but we made last minute plans to go to San Diego to meet a friend and a client of mine. I was all primed to head off toward OC and she calls to cancel so we didn't end up meeting her or the MINI guys. Oh well.
We're off to get coffee and batteries for my camera so I can finally post some pics from sunny southern California. I'll try to get at least one MINI photo so I don't lose my theme here. Stay tuned for an afternoon update.
It's 3:09 AM in L.A. and we just got back from our evening on the town. We started at a place called Mixville in Silver Lake. Mixville is a bar/restaurant in an old fire house and it's called Mixville because it's on the location where old Tom Mix westerns were made. Very classy place. Next stop was Bigfoot Lodge for beverage no. 2. Very cool environment, like, you know, a lodge. From the Bigfoot Lodge our next stop was the famous Dresden Room to hear Marty and Elayne. Yes that Marty and Elayne made famous in the film Swingers. They are much cooler and talented in person and yes, they played Stayin' Alive. The Dresden was cool enough that we'll be making another stop there tomorrow night. To carry on the Swingers theme we left the Dresden for The Derby to check out the swing dancing. The Derby ended up being closed - bummer. By this time it was about 1:30 AM and we decided to get "dinner" from Canter's on Fairfax. I had a reuben sandwich so good I almost passed out.
It's approaching 4 AM here and I'm fixing to lay down and catch some z's. On tap for tomorrow are sextuple mochas at Starbucks to offset our lack of sleep.
Tune in tomorrow, or later today I guess for further adventures and hopefully more pictures.
I'm in L.A. for a few days visiting my friend Shepcat and enjoying a little time on the left coast. Last night we had a late dinner at Kate Mantilini and retired to the Russell Riveria for a nightcap of Manhattans and conversation until 2:00 AM. That's 4:00 AM KC time BTW. Today we went to Pink's famous hot dogs at the corner of La Brea and Melrose(pictured) for a gluttonous lunch of spicy Polish dogs with mustard, onions and chili accompanied by a mound of chili cheese fries. I know, you can hear the arteries clogging 1,000 miles away. Don't worry, we chased it all down with Bass Ale at the Snake Pit Ale House on Melrose. Like that will help.
We're back at the Riviera for an afternoon respite and recharging before a night of martinis and who knows what else. I'm taking pictures and I'll upload a gallery soon. I'm surfing on an open wireless network that's barely accessible from Cat's apartment so I'll need to find a stronger signal before I can upload my multi-megs of pics. Stay tuned.
I've heard from a few readers that they have been unable to comment due to "objectionable content" meaning that if you try to comment to an entry, no matter what the content, you get an "unable to post due to objectionable content" error. Well, I can't even comment to my own blog because of the dreaded O.C. I tried to comment with just the word "the" and got the O.C. error. I'm looking into this and I'll try to have it fixed shortly.
*UPDATE* I fixed the glitch. Comment away.
It was bound to happen eventually. I got a speeding ticket today in the MINI. 40 in a 25 westbound on 63rd St. just past State Line in Mission Hills. I'm not lying when I say I was coasting downhill with the clutch in when I got nailed. Remarkably I was not mad. The officer was pleasant and even apologetic. The first thing he said to me was how much he liked my car. He then said he was sorry to have to pull me over but I was doing 40 in a 25. He then asked me for license and proof of insurance and while I was digging for both he commented that his wife has been wanting a MINI. As I handed him my I.D. I said, "They're great cars if you can manage to keep them under the speed limit." He laughed and said he'd be right back after he checked my license. I honestly thought he was going to give me a warning. No such luck. The officer returned and told me that he would have given me a warning but 40 was a little too fast to overlook. He then proceeded to ask me how much MINIs sell for and what kind of options are available. We chatted for a few moments and I apologised for speeding.
The cap on this little event is that I have to hand over the keys to the MINI for an entire week. My wife and I made an agreement when we bought the car last year. If I got a speeding ticket she would get to drive the car for a whole week. The inevitable happened. So from next Sunday to next Saturday I'll be going through a little motoring withdrawal.
Boot stripes seem to be quite popular lately. The Baron MINI sales manager called me last week and said he'd like to dress up a showroom car with a few extras. Let's just say that the few extras like my Union Jack boot stripes weren't much compared to the $7,000 Pioneer audio system the dealer had installed on spec.
The Electric Blue car belongs to a friend in the KC MINI club. While at the track a couple of weeks ago Jeff told me he was ready for some boot stripes. I'm sure it was because he spent most of his day behind me looking at my boot stripes. I told him it was in fact the boot stripes that make you faster.
You know me, I don't sell the steak, I sell the sizzle!
That's me at Heartland Park Topeka leaving the front straight heading into turn one. I put over 100 track miles on the MINI today and I gotta say that biggest lesson I learned is that even though I've been driving for more than 20 years, until today I did not know how to use the brakes on my car. Seriously. Let's just say I learned that lesson REAL fast after I "mowed the lawn" on the back stretch going into an S-curve. You see when you're going 75 MPH and there's a tight left ahead, if you don't stand on the brakes and I mean really put your car on its nose before you turn the wheel, you slide right into the grass and get a subsequent black flag pit stop and a "discussion" with the instructor. I knew better, I didn't hurt anything and I had a clean rest of the day on the track. I learned the limits of the MINI and the limits of the MINI driver.
All in all, it was an exhausting and extremely fun day. My last session was with the lead instructor and he taught me so much about driving right up to the limit. I passed four cars and hit some of my top speeds of the day all while keeping my tires on the blacktop.
Incidentally at least four other drivers in skill levels from novice to expert spun worse than I did today. One poor driver busted a control arm when she got sideways and locked the brakes causing the driver's side rear wheel to end up more horozontal than vertical. The instructors said this was one of the most difficult tracks they had been on. I'm no longer embarrassed.