The Time I Accidentally Stumbled Across the World Tour Citroën DS Ambulance in Queens

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It was 2006: I was post-college unemployed and had just moved to Long Island City. When I wasn't job-searching, I was pretty deep into reading random Wikipedia entries and watching Arrested Development reruns. Naturally, this is when I became infatuated with the Citroën DS. As you do.

New York is one of the harshest environments on an old vehicle, but somehow it still remains a fantastic place for finding weird, obscure cars. I was still learning this when I was out at night and found a white Citroën DS street-parked a few blocks away from my apartment. I ran home and grabbed my terrible 2005-era digital camera and took some terrible 2005-era digital nighttime photos of it. Our apartment wasn't large enough so store a tripod, so, sorry.

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Knowing how bad the shots where and that I didn't have a lot going on the next morning, I made a return visit to the Déesse the next day.

Only now, there were two of them! And the owners were standing beside them chatting! It was a Citroën DS Ambulance, covered in handprints and graphics and grime. I guess he had stopped to meet up with another local DS enthusiast. I spoke to them, briefly, and they explained the Tour, but it didn't set in immediately. Before I knew it, the DS ambulance was on its way.

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This happened years ago and I still think about it. It's one of the most serendipitous things that's ever happened to me. Much later, I researched the Lunaya World Tour, and found little tidbits across the internet. The driver, Manuel Boileau, (or maybe it was Lunaya) described the purpose was "to meet local populations and to produce photo and video features depicting children from all over the planet."

Citroën and Lunaya both used to have news features about the trip but they don't seem to be reachable anymore. According to this article from Brazil, the whole trip lasted from 2005 to 2008, and Boileau only used paper maps to navigate, no GPS, which is kinda cool. It's a remarkable achievement and I'm glad I was able to be in the presence of it, even if by accident.

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Protect Me From What I've Become

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If you're of the opinon that it would be impossible for BMW to build a modern-day E30, and foolish to wish for it, please, stop reading now. Yes. This is another one of those posts. I'll keep it short. Let's revisit the BMW 1999 Art Car, the V12 LMR from carrying Jenny Holzer's message "PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT". But let's look at it in the context of BMW's wants and desires, and how they've changed in the past 15 years.

Here are a few additional truisms that, with the benefit of hindsight, we should have been watching out for:

Protect me from a 4,150-pound M3

Protect me from overwrought designs that follow trends instead of make them. 

Protect me from character lines and creases that say nothing.

Protect me from 'sDrive' model designations. 

Protect me from the X5, X6, X3, X1 and X4.

Protect me from completely unnecessary front-wheel drive BMWs

If only BMW had listened to itself in 1999!

But hey, there's hope. The recent one-off BMW Pininfarinia Gran Lusso is the best-looking car with a BMW roundel in a decade. Sure, there's still a lot of surfacing, but it's crisp and understated in a way that few modern cars are. And even fewer modern BMWs. It looks so 'right' that I can almost ignore that it's 37 feet long.

(Post inspired by conversation with Will Pierce)

How I Became "You Should Quit Facebook" Guy

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My friends have noticed that if we hang out for any amount of time, at some point, I'll jovially suggest that they should quit Facebook. I wasn't planning on writing a "Why I Quit Facebook" post. It's pretty self-righteous and there are more than enough of them out there already. I had read a half-dozen such posts before the notion of me quitting Facebook ever even crossed my mind, honestly.

And then, about 5 months ago, I just ...quit. All of my reasons that were huge deterrents before — my long list of well-earned 'friends,' my carefully-curated profile, the peace of mind of being able to message anyone I've ever known — didn't matter. Suddenly, I didn't care.

So I'm writing this because lots of people ask me why I quit, and because I need to clear the air about the way I choose to use social media. I quit because Facebook was wasting my time, yes, and critically, because I wasn't getting any value from it. That's the important takeaway.

What I'm not saying: that I'm better than anyone who chooses to stay on Facebook, or that I don't still actively waste time using social media.

People get awfully defensive about this topic, and call me a hypocrite because I check Twitter endlessly but pat myself on the back for quitting Facebook. And that's all true. Briefly, without making this a post about Twitter, I feel that I get a lot more from it: the content (links, insight, news) is better, the people I follow are more interesting and the short format keeps everything faster-paced. Ultimately, I feel I get out of it as much as I put in.

With Facebook, this stopped being the case several years ago. I've been using it since college in its early days of 2004, and I've seen it change over the years. But I changed, too. My need to stay connected with a bunch of acquaintences I'm not that close with dropped significantly after college and, now, with seemingly everyone I know having even less free time than a few years ago, that need has dropped to zero. I still am just as connected with the people I really care about, through text or email — that hasn't changed.

What I don't miss? Seeing outrage over a local sport result I don't care about (or anything about any sports result, basically). Hearing what a bartender I went to high school with has to say about a current hot-button political issue. Being extra careful with what I share because I know that extended family and a few too many former coworkers might be watching. Yeah, these are all really stupid things to complain about. But it was all bringing frustration into my life ...for what benefit?

As far as I could see, none. I really didn't get anything from it. The negatives, of which there are many, were just too annoying, and there were virtually no positives. Despite the lack of benefits, I couldn't help myself from checking constantly. I'm at a computer a lot, and whenever there's a moment between tasks (or worse, when stuck in the middle of a task), it was so easy to open a browser tab, navigate to Facebook practically subconsciously, and see what new updates there were. Seriously, typing the keys f, a and "Enter" is pretty much muscle memory to me. And when you get to your Facebook feed, it's like tuning in to the world's lamest reality show, but you can't stop watching because you know the whole cast personally. No matter how unsatisfying the updates, I kept checking back.

It was so ingrained into my routine, it felt impossible to quit. But it's not. Actually, it's incredibly easy.

Why you can quit

I always thought, That's great. But I can't quit, because I use Facebook to...

Check in on people you aren't close with and seeing what they're up to. This is only appealing because it's easy and is an easy way to distract you from doing something productive. You'll forget about this pretty much instantly. Quit.

Message people that I never text or don't have their phone number. If you don't have their number by now, you probably will never ever have a reason to message that person. And if you really, really need to, you can likely reactivate your Facebook account and they will all be there*. Quit.

Set up invites to events and parties. Ok for this one I don't really have anything, because a lot of people annoyingly set things up as Facebook Events. I guilt-trip them. Grow up, right? Quit!

*Reactivating was my safety net when quitting, but the urge to do it has never once crossed my mind.
** I realize the irony of this post having a 'Like' button immediately beneath this.

Diminishing returns and the 991 GT3

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A lot of people are counting on this car to be the 'best-ever' GT3, which makes no sense to me. The GT3 is the stripped, purest version of the 911, so why would I want it to start from the most complicated and arguably compromised 911 platform? Before this car debuted, I had been wondering if the 997 was that last 911 that's still cool to like. I'm just talking about standard model 911s, for right now. The 991 is an incredible car, but depending on your view of what the 911 is, it's quite possible that the 991 is one increment too far from the 911 premise. In retrospect, we may see the 997 as the last 911 that seems traceable to the old cars.

That's a broad, easily dismissed thought. But the beef with the GT3 isn't. What is the GT3? It's not the fastest 911. It's the rawest, most precise and most sorted. If it was about being the fastest, it would be a Turbo. So if that's the premise of the GT3, the 991 is such a polished, noise-canceling base to start with, it's not ridiculous to theorize that the rawest variant of 991 is probably still more insulated and digitized than a base 996.

With this type of car, it's simply a matter of diminishing returns. A big part of what makes the GT3 a GT3 is that it feels like the closest to an older 911. More racecar than luxury car. If that's your view, why would you want a 991? If you think of the GT3 as just the fastest NA 911, this one is fine. It's more GT-R than GT3, and it will be exceedingly quick. But I think the GT3 is about more than lap times. The people who equate "newest" with "best" will be very happy.  It's about connection, communication and the sensory inputs it delivers. A car that delivers less of those inputs can still be a very quick car, but I'm not sure it makes a great GT3.

We saw this happen with the M3, and it's an almost inevitable dilemma: the goals of the mass-market platform move in the opposite direction of the goals of the niche, driving-oriented version. Because of this divergence, you can have a 'perfect', "best-ever" base car (in this case, standard 911, or regular 3-series) that achieves all of it's goals, while the performance version is not as good as it's predecessors. This is almost a certain fate for the GT3, if not this version.

And I never even mentioned PDK.