Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cars of Germany and Zurich

These photos are from slirt. His thoughts on the cars of the various cities he visited are at the bottom of this post.

European readers: Although these cars may be mundane to you, they fascinate us Americans.

Citroen C4 Cactus:

Ford StreetKa:

Ford Focus:

VW Golf Cabrio:

Alfa Romeo 156 wagon:

Honda Civic(!):

1 of 350 Volvo limos built for East German government:

Audi A2:

Merc CLS wagon:

  • Zurich: nice car stock, good mix of all euros, many high end, with asia represented in the mix; saw 1 or 2 Teslas (only ones) and a VW e-Up!, a RR Wraith coupe & a Bentley GTC, a variety of Maseratis & Alfas, and one new C7 Corvette. despite this (and freezing temps), saw bicyclists & bike infrastructure, too.
  • Hamburg: much more modest car stock overall, most variety of VWs in traffic of all the cities, more asians/east.euros too; had a Touran taxi, saw two T1 Kombis. i rented the Skoda Citigo and went 2+hrs north on the Autobahn, the 1.0-litre 3-cyl keeping up with 100-120kph traffic, and hitting 160kph (~100mph) without any drama; very base car, but a fine little rental.
  • Berlin: most mixed international (German, asians, Frenchies, Fiat, eastern euros, SEATs, a few American); only Type 1 aircooled Bug (~'67); lots of smart Car2Go (car share) incl. e-smarts; also many cyclists.
  • Stuttgart: serious Car City: was told by hosts very few bikes & we saw NONE; most cars MBenz & BMWs, only a few Porsches, with a healthy Audi presence too; more Italians on the road again, esp Alfa Romeos; not many SUVs, a few, tho. Saw 3 b&w camo'ed prototypes on the road, 2 SUVs & one large sedan, but wasn't fast enough for pics.

Monday, December 15, 2014

993 Ruf Turbo R

This car has been on my mind today.

Model D on Friday

My friend is picking up his P85D on Friday at the factory. I'm tagging along and hopefully I'll get some time behind the wheel. 691 silent horsepower!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

My grandfather's bio

The man wore a coat and tie all the time, even in the tropical weather of Taiwan. This was taken in our backyard. 25 years later, you would be able to see Taipei 101 in the background. Having daydreamed of one day visiting the Empire State Building, Little Me would never have imagined that one of the tallest buildings in the world would be so close to my childhood home.

Born in 1900, my grandfather was a voracious reader and devoted himself to fighting feudalism. In February 1925, he joined the Chinese Communist Party (one of the first 1,000 members; there are 82.6 million today). He was one of the leaders of the May 30th Movement (which was anti-imperialist and pro-labor).

In 1926, he formed and became the principal of a high school. He also set up a number of elementary schools in his local county. At the same time, he was organizing the Communist Party at the grassroots level. He led the fight to change the education system, replacing the chairman of the education board with a number of council members. He established a teachers union, increased funding for elementary schools, and upped faculty compensation. (He spanked me just once. I was practicing writing Chinese words and purposely wrote them as small as possible. He was not amused.)

He did something to anger the Communist Party (I wonder what he did). Branded as "proud, arrogant, arbitrary" and "taking matters into his own hands", he was expelled from the Party in April 1927 (wouldn't it be cool if he was the first member to be kicked out?). He immediately joined the Kuomingtang and served in that party's leadership.

During the Anti-Japanese War (1937-45), he served as commissioner of Shijiazhuang (in 1947, it had a population of 190,000; it had 10.1 million inhabitants in 2010). After World War II, he became governor of Hebei Province (!).

He was elected to the National Assembly and attended its first session and constitution drafting conference in Nanjing on March 29, 1948 (I have a long, scrolling, panoramic photo of him and a bunch of other men in suits taken on April 4, 1948). On April 19, the National Assembly elected Chiang Kai-Shek the President of the Republic of China.

When the KMT lost Mainland China, my grandfather fled to Taiwan, where he continued to serve on the National Assembly. From Taiwan, he and his fellow members continued to represent their respective districts in Mainland China until such time as when there could be new elections in China (an impossibility, and quite delusional). He also served as Deputy Transportation Minister in Taiwan.

In May 1969, he proposed the building of Qiufengjia Memorial Park in Taichung, Taiwan, to commemorate those who lost their lives fighting Japan.

In October 1982, he finished writing a book about his hometown. He passed away on December 29, 1982. The book was a record of the town's history, its geographic features, industrial and commercial development, as wells as its people's ancient and contemporary manners and customs. In the book, he documented looting, burning, and killing by the Japanese army and the Chinese people's rise to combat them. This is a rare document of the Anti-Japanese War period.

(When I lived with my grandfather from around 1977 to 1982, I remember him working on this book in his study. I did not realize that he finished his book just two months before he passed away. I do remember that a month or two before his death, he started coughing, suddenly became very ill, and was diagnosed with lung cancer. It's almost as if as soon as he finished that book, he was finally at peace and was ready to go. By the way, he had been a chain smoker since he was 15. He only smoked State Express 555s.)

American Honda collection

More here. I would really like to visit this and the Toyota collection in Torrance.

Porsche Museum photos

H/t to @slirt, who visited the museum last week. These are my favorite oddball cars.

356 B 2000 GS Carrera GT "Dreikantschaber":



1996 Porsche 993 police car:

Street-legal 911 GT1:

Swabian ravioli with potato salad and roasted onions (8.20 euros):




928 cabriolet:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Thompson Twins

I heard this song on the radio last weekend on the way back from Thunderhill. It's refreshing that they haven't sold out because, to date, I have not heard any of their songs as a jingle for dish soap.

Friday, December 12, 2014

100 years of Greyhound

To celebrate, Greyhound is showing its old buses around the country. They will be in the Bay Area tomorrow and I'm going to try to check them out.

Proud Prius owner

I saw this at the Office Max parking lot today.

I also feel like venting that Office Max's selection of medium binder clips is woefully inadequate.