Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Thousands of dead London taxis in Azerbaijan

From Tarlan: These have old Nissan Patrol chassis with plastic body panels from China.


Weirdo Alpine wipers

Inspired by Alan.

Automatic beer dispenser

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sunday brunch

Friends invited us over for a simple brunch. We got a Laotian feast instead. There's also a bit of Vietnamese and New Mexican on the table. There were at least eight different kinds of fresh, homemade hot sauce.

Hungarian Revolution, 1956

Wasp carrying its dinner

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

1990 Ford DOS simulator

This is where those funky graphics came from.

McLaren toddler push car

It arrived yesterday. Just one tiny problem. It's recommended for 18 month olds. Junior is only 5 months old.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

DOS Fords

There was a point in time when we thought these graphics were mind-blowing.

Macho Trans Am

Last weekend, I went to the local car show. In the parking lot was this Macho Trans Am.

I assumed it was just a tongue-in-cheek custom sticker job. In fact, a few hundred of these were sold by a couple of brothers. It has more power and handles better than the original. It cost $2,000 more. Looking at the sticker on the spoiler, this was Car No. 59!

Marco Island survived

Approximately 1,000 people stayed on the island when the storm hit. No fatalities as far as I can tell. News has been hard to come by. Below is a letter the condo association sent to all the owners. Eddie better get a Christmas bonus.

"Eddie, our maintenance manager, and twelve other owners and/or residents and/or family members of owners remained in the building throughout Hurricane Irma – thankfully, they all worked together, supported each other, and are well (considering what they have been through).  Frankly, that is the most important thing!

Very quickly:

  1. Power went out yesterday morning (Sept. 10) and no one knows when it will return.  The building generator is operating and is keeping the essentials running, with power to the Social Room.  There is NO power to your units – assume no air conditioning and no working refrigerators.
  2. We were fortunate that there was not the storm surge that was predicted – the sand berm or dune held against the gulf, which completely covered the beach – perhaps a 4 foot storm surge.
  3. Our damage came from the front and East side of the storm.  Those units on the island side of the building were affected the most, i.e. those units with old windows (without high impact glass) were either blown out or broken by flying debris.  We are currently making a quick survey of the building but if you had not updated your windows and have a unit on the island side, you should assume that your unit windows were breached and that you have unit damage.  Please notify your insurance carrier as soon as possible.  Eddie and other staff are working on the building and will not be able to provide any assistance to you at this point.  We are making efforts to secure someone to board up windows but workers and lumber are absent, and no one knows for sure when the Island will be accessible.
  4. Our main damage is from water intrusion through the compromised windows.  We are working to contain that water but it has spread to the hallways and probably to other units.
  5. Our roof for the building held, but the farthest carport roof (closest to the street) blew off, causing flying debris.
  6. All palm trees are down – many broken like toothpicks – but much of the rest of the landscaping that was low survived.  One palm is in the pool and the grill area is “gone”.  Eddie will move the grills back outside when it is safe to do so, which will provide a cooking surface for those at the building.
  7. I am receiving reports from other buildings, and some reports are much worse than ours.  I have also received unverified reports relating to City infrastructure, bridges being evaluated, etc., so at this point I have no real information as to whether the City is accessible or habitable.  Before attempting to come down, please check with the City and others, as well as a Board Member or Management Team member, to make sure to you can get to your unit.

In many ways, considering we took a direct hit from a major hurricane, the news is better than might be expected; on the other hand, there will be much work to perform over the next weeks and months to get our building and grounds back to A-1 shape.  Your Board is committed to this process and will act as quickly and appropriately as possible.  Many of us have offered up our units and the supplies therein to those on site to aid in their safety.  Eddie has served as the rock or anchor for our building and all of us are in his debt.  We anticipate that we will have your full cooperation as we put our building and property back together."

Monday, September 11, 2017

So long, Cassini!

Saturn and Earth.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Building an Incan woven bridge

Man converts wrecked 2CV into motorcycle

1993 New York City in HD

Apparently, it was shot with Digital-VHS. Was this technology available to the average consumer?

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Farm to vending machine (Japanese curry rice)

Marco Island landfall for Irma?

It looks like it. My in-laws have a vacation condo there on the second floor of Sunset House North. It has been in the family since the 1970s and holds a lot of memories. They've spent virtually every Christmas there. It's a short walk to the bathtub warm water of the Gulf of Mexico. With storm surges of over nine feet predicted, the FLAT island will be inundated. Apparently, until the 1980s, there was no sandy beach there. The shoreline was right in front of the condo. They pumped white sand from the Gulf to create that artificial beach.

Irma makes landfall around 10 a.m. Eastern on Sunday.

The condo is at the 3:00 mark. It is the second oldest building along the beach. Developers made a fortune there.

How to make a baseball

So imprecise and labor-intensive. And beautiful!

Walt Disney-designed children's gas mask, WWII

Genesis valet

Didn't they try this with the Phaeton here in the U.S.? That didn't work out.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Interview with a Lithuanian

Thanks, BHF!

1 What are your fondest memories of growing up in Lithuania?

Summers in the city. The city would get almost empty since most of the parents would ship their kids to the villages to stay with their grandparents. I had nowhere to go, everybody lived in the city. I mostly stayed with my grandparents that lived in Zverynas, one of the oldest residential parts of Vilnius and was allowed to do whatever I wanted. Then there were summer vacations on Lithuanian beaches that are beautiful. One place is the Curonian Spit. The other is the seaside resort town of Palanga.

2 What are your worst memories?

I really have nothing. My biggest complaint was that I was not allowed to have a dog.

3 Did Communism permeate through every aspect of life?

Pretty much. I knew that we lived in an occupied country since I was very little.

4 When the Soviet Union broke apart, what were you doing?

I was on the streets. On January 11, 1991, I was outside the Lithuanian Parliament. We honestly thought that the Soviets are gonna attack. We all were ready to die.

5 Before the Soviet Union broke apart, could you ever imagine it would happen one day?

The hope was almost lost.

6 What is the relationship between Lithuanians and the Russians who stayed in Lithuania today?

It's really hard to say, I do not live in the country since 2000. The Russian community was not that big there. The biggest issue is so called local Polish community that is supported by the Soviets. It's pretty complicated, would require a lot of writing but if you wanna now I will try to put something together.

7 Are Lithuanians afraid that Russia will invade again?

Yes, very much so.

8 How similar are the Lithuanian language and culture to the languages and cultures of Estonia and Latvia?

The Latvian language is pretty close, but Estonian is totally different, it belongs to the Ugro-Finnish language group. We were mostly united because our countries were occupied by the Soviets. 

9 Did your family have a car when you were growing up? What was it? What do you remember about it?

We did not have a car. There were very few people who had cars when i was a kid. My great uncle had a Pobeda, but I saw it only in the pictures. That was a beautiful car.

10 What would you like people to know about Lithuania? 

We were the last pagan country in Europe. We were baptized only in 1387. I think that says a lot about our resilience. Also, we are very proud of our language, one of the oldest spoken languages in the world.

All 5 former Presidents appeal for Harvey help

Look at these men! I even miss W, a little.

Stay safe, Floridians. Irma looks bad.

Glory movie trailer

I just watched this 1989 movie for the first time. It's particularly powerful given all the Confederate statue controversy going on today. Denzel was masterful. I'm going to watch Philadelphia next.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Visiting the Duncan collection?

We are going to K's high school reunion next month in Richmond, Virginia. Just a short three hour drive away is the Duncan collection. You may remember Jalopnik featuring it recently? The one with dozens and dozens of Figaros? The owner and his assistant both emailed me back, welcoming me. I just have to rent a second car and take an entire day by myself to visit the cars. Is it worth it? Here is the inventory.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Pyongyang street corner

Future posts about northern Minnesota

We had a wonderful vacation along the shores of Lake Superior last week. But with the baby and work, I am simply too exhausted to write anything cogent.

For example, I deleted two drafts of a post about race and the two diners I visited. Race is a sensitive subject and I don't talk about it much, so I wanted to make sure the blog post came out clear. It's a work in progress. Maybe this weekend.

We stayed in a cabin north of Duluth. Duluth is an absolutely foreign place. With its no-nonsense industrial port and Soviet apartment blocks, it's more Siberia than Upper Midwest.

I spotted a couple of Travco Dodge RVs on my way to get some smoked fish.

And here's a view from our porch. Lake Superior holds 10% of the world's fresh water.

Here's grandpa holding Tamerlane Jr at the Split Rock Lighthouse, once the most visited lighthouse in the United States.

A view from the lighthouse.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Panda eating bamboo

This is mesmerizing.

Unusual and creative art project for German train passengers

Peruvian TV airing programming in Quechua

Other than Paraguay, indigenous languages in Latin America have been marginalized and looked down upon. This is changing in Peru, as the new-ish president is promoting Quechua and other languages with TV and radio programs in those languages. Here's an ad promoting Quechua programming. You can read more about this positive development in this Economist article.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Donate to Harvey victims

It feels weird, but I'm going on a vacation for a week. As we watch the devastation in Texas, please consider donating to the Red Cross or a charity of your choice.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Friday, August 25, 2017

Natalie Imbruglia's Torn was a cover of a Danish song

This blew my mind. H/t rchen.



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Five more Hot Wheels

This is getting out of hand. I found these today at a drug store next to the pet food store.

Lamborghini Huracan LP620-2 Super Trofeo:
 Porsche Carrera GT:
 1985 Honda CR-X:
 1970 Ford Escort RS1600:
 1973 BMW 3.0 CSL Race Car:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

The toy cars I kept

A while back, I got rid of all of my childhood toy cars except eight. I subsequently added two to the collection (the Hongqi and the Leaf). But looking at their putrid condition now, I think I'm only going to let the kid play with the Hongqi and Leaf.

From bottom left, counterclockwise:

1. Matchbox Datsun 120X (Made in England)
2. Matchbox Citroen CX (England)
3. Matchbox Ferrari 308 GTS (Macau)
4. Matchbox Audi Quattro (Macau)
5. Tomica Sigma MC74 Mazda (Japan)
6. Hot Wheels Hot Bird (Hong Kong)
7. Playart Lamborghini LP500S (Hong Kong)
8. Tomica Nissan Leaf (Vietnam) (I got this as a gift a few years ago from the Nissan engine museum in Yokohama)
9. Tomica FAW Hongqi (Vietnam) (I got this as a gift from rchen; did you buy it in Bangkok?)
10. Tomica Lamborghini Cheetah (Japan)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

40 years of Williams F1 cars

Renault Dauphine, Bonneville, Prost & Prost

"The car bagged the new speed record in the Classic Gas Coupe (CGC) category by reaching a top speed of 76.5 m/h (123 km/h)." 

A Pan Am-affiliated helicopter airline in Manhattan

Infiniti Prototype 9

Steel frame and body. Electric motor.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Citroen SM sedan ad

Latin American passport stamps

I just noticed that my passport is about to expire. I'm going to renew it today. Here are the old stamps along the Western Hemisphere:



Mexico. Note I entered via Baja California Norte (Tijuana) on November 8 and exited via Chiapas on November 12 (Tapachula). I was supposed to have my passport stamped as soon as I crossed by foot into Mexico (this was my first Latin American land crossing). It wasn't until I got to the Tijuana bus station by taxi from the border that a nice policeman randomly checked my passport and told me I had to have it stamped. His office was so tiny, I had to stand sideways behind the counter because I was wearing a big backpack.


Honduras. This was the only country which didn't require travelers to step off the bus. The bus driver's assistant simply walked down the aisle, collected everyone's passports, and returned a half hour later with everyone's passports stamped.

El Salvador. I can only assume this is the El Salvador stamp from the process of elimination.

Nicaragua. No rule of law here. There were Daniel Ortega campaign posters plastered all over immigration control.

Costa Rica. The most beautiful sunrise I ever witnessed was at the Costa Rica-Panama border.

Panama. Before the old lady customs officer searched all of our bags, we had to hold hands in a big circle and say a prayer together.



Argentina. Every border crossing had a big portrait of President Fernandez wearing a big blue sash.