As a reminder, Redpants will be closed January 8-15, 2019, while I'm out of town. Any orders received during that time will ship when I get back. The sale I'm current running in the online store will end when I get back (at midnight EST, specifically). If something on sale is listed as sold out, contact me and let me know and I'll honor the sale price when it's back in stock.
The British Are Coming, The British Are Coming!!
I've gotten regular requests for additional Tech Days ever since the first one I organized last year. That even had a few hiccups but overall was a success and I've been planning additional ones ever since. We had a couple dozen people attend and the feedback was fantastic - both regarding attendees’ satisfaction with the event as well as some ideas for the next one, and even offers to pitch in.
I put plans for more Tech Days aside for a while so I could focus on getting through my personal 'stuff' but I never put them off entirely.
James Hawkes-Reed, Co-Director of Aston Installations Ltd, was the guest speaker at last year's Tech Day. James is the guru for Aston Martin infotainment systems and has been deeply involved with them as both an aftermarket and OEM supplier. He's worked on everything from base-model Vantages to the Vulcan, Vantage V600, and DB4 GT Continuation.
He loved Tampa when he came last year and has wanted to come back ever since. We've talked about doing Tech Day events around the US as well as elsewhere but coordinating our schedules, especially given how chaotic our personal lives often are, has made that a slow process. However, he has decided to come back to Tampa for several days in March (exact dates haven't been finalized yet) to do installations for people that want to upgrade their Aston Martin infotainment systems.
Installation options include front and rear cameras, cell phone mirroring on the factory nav screen, music streaming over Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay. Here's a video showing his work:
This isn't meant to be a Tech Day as James will be solo and won't be able to do installations while talking to people (he had his partner Lenny with him for the Tech Day). However, I might do an informal thing at my place on the Saturday or Sunday that he's here for people to get together. There's a big race happening at Sebring and Aston Martin Racing will be there, so we might plan his visit so we can attend that race. I got to attend a race at Silverstone when James hosted me in England last year and it'd be cool for him to experience the same when he comes to the US. If that's the case, we'll probably meet up with people there rather than do anything at my house.
If anyone wants to send a car to us or drop one off, I'm more than happy to store it for you. I can hold two cars in my garage at a time. The car won't be driven except to move it out of the garage as needed for installations and putting it back into the garage once the installations are finished, unless there's a need to drive it and you give me express permission to do so. I did this last year for a couple of people and it worked out really well for everyone.
If a third car needs to be stored, I do have a car cover to put over it and the driveway is monitored. My house has two overlapping security camera systems (one system hardwired with a dedicated hard drive and the other system is wireless with cloud-based storage) so your pride and joy will be safe and sound while it's in my care.
I'm Turning Japanese, I Think I'm Turning Japanese, I Really Think So
Going to the Tokyo Auto Salon has been a bucket list item for me for nearly two decades.... and it's happening next weekend!
I mentioned in my last couple blog posts that I'm going back to Japan next week. My buddy John will be joining me and we'll be accompanied by Luanna, who will be translating for us, with a few other friends popping in and out during the trip. John is co-owner of TLC Auto Detail in northern Virginia and a partner in Modesta North America.
Modesta got us the passes for Tokyo Auto Salon so I want to give a huge thank you John and Modesta for making that happen.
A couple of people very close to me asked how I was paying for all this travel I've been doing and still have planned to do throughout the year. In additional to the small-but-meaningful help like event passes, I'm using the credit card points I've been banking while running Redpants. I don't pull much money out of Redpants for myself. My bills are paid by my day job. Instead, I reinvest the money from sales in the online store into buying more inventory and funding projects. Some of that goes into my own cars, but that gives me a chance to test and review products, create DIY guides, and help keep you guys informed. And remember, not all projects I take on lead anywhere. For example, I've got over $4k worth of brake parts I had to write off because the manufacturer was so unreliable and I couldn't get what I needed to take those parts to market as a finished product.
It's a good thing I don't have a drink in my fist. That tangent would have quickly turned into a rant. But the point of it is that other than a few things here and there, I don't financially compensate myself. I do, however, get to reap the benefit of the points I've stockpiled from my Redpants credit and charge cards. I didn't touch them for nearly three years and now I'm finally starting to use them. So although I've had to seriously tighten my belt to survive the fallout of a few bad investments and a failed relationship, I can still travel since the monetary cost of doing so is incredibly low.
So, having cleared that up, my trip to Japan next week won't be my last. I'm taking my dad over there at the end of May. I was thinking about going back for my birthday in November as well, but a friend of mine asked me to be in his wedding around that time and he lives in the Philipinnes so that'd be the big trip that time of the year.
I do plan on going more often, though. Japan is my favorite place in the world and I've been told the same by several people since I first started talking about my love for that country back in November. That trip was an amazing opportunity to do a lot of writing, which is something I love, and I think going forward the repeated travel will continue to spur that in me.
Now if only I could find a way to make money as a writer... Any publishers out there want to take on a pen-wielding trainwreck?