Wednesday, July 26, 2017

COPA 201 crash (1992)

I bought my tickets! I'll be flying COPA, a Panamanian airline. I will fly to Lima and return from Bogota, stopping at Panama City both ways. Here is a video of the flight from Panama City to Lima. Even though I've been to the Panama City airport once, I have absolutely no recollection of any of its details.

This will be my first time flying COPA. My habit is to look up any and all air disasters related to any new foreign airline I am flying. That's how I discovered COPA 201. It was a 1992 flight from Panama City to Cali, Colombia. It mysteriously crashed into the Darien Gap(!). Here is an excellent Nova documentary about the crash investigation. Just the theme music from this PBS show brings back memories of my high school days.


The documentary is worth watching for a number of reasons. First, it's a professional journalistic piece. There is no hype. Just the facts. The camera crew followed the NTSB team from beginning to end, and had incredible access. It's also neat to just see what people were wearing in the early 1990s.

For those that don't want to watch it, the 737 crashed because the wire for the gyroscope was loose. 

Hunting down the autonomous Buick LeSabre

I had to find out if any of these Buicks are in storage at the Richmond Field Station.

The reply: No. We tried to give one to the Smithsonian but they wanted a substantial donation. All are scrapped, except maybe one that's at the Blackhawk museum or the San Diego car museum.

I emailed Blackhawk's executive director. Stay tuned...

Here are some technical papers about these cars.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

1990s autonomous cars

I was not hallucinating.

In the 1990s, while I worked for the campus police, I was once assigned to work at the Richmond Field Station. It's a large facility that Berkeley operates for its engineers who need a lot of room to conduct their experiments. Well, during that shift, I saw a bunch of Buicks drive autonomously on the tarmac, with magnets guiding them.

I've never been able to find any evidence that this program existed. Until today. It wasn't just my imagination.

This evening, I went to a focus group of BMW i3 owners run by a Berkeley transportation researcher. After the session ended, I went up to him and asked him about Buicks, magnets, and the Richmond Field Station. He knew what I was talking about. The man in charge of the project was Steven Shladover.

And here is a very comprehensive video!

Pablo Escobar White House vacation photo

Monday, July 24, 2017

A message from my 5th cousin (predicted)

23andMe thinks an Azeri man is my 5th cousin. We share 0.11% of our DNA together.

I reached out to him and asked if he had any Chinese ancestors. His response:

Hello, Jim,
I am Azeri and my grandmother is Russian, so I don't think I have any direct ancestors from China but we could be DNA relatives from some Far East ancestors, like Mongolians, I suppose. Historically, Turks came from Enisey river region.

50% of Canadians live south of red line

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A small Russian town, a commuter train

This is from a series of videos from the perspective of an average Russian.

Eating the Globe: Estonia

Chicken from Tallinn. I got the recipe from The Globe and Mail. It was delicious. Just go easy on the red pepper flakes. We are a bit suspicious of its authenticity, as the ingredients are more Mediterranean than Baltic. But if you can't trust the Canadian media, who can you trust?

ETA: The dish is not Estonian. Try again!

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Tunisia
Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Albania, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden
North America: Belize, Canada, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga

Mexican father deported after 16 years in America

1985 Lada Niva ad

Dead wolves!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lotus Evora: Rejected

That I have only purchased three Hot Wheels/Matchbox cars in the last three months is either evidence that I have great self-control or evidence that the available inventory is crap. I considered buying this Evora the other day, but just couldn't accept the matte black paint job.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

F1 race day in Baku

Thank you again, Tarlan, for these wonderful behind-the-scenes shots. I just have a question about the last photo. Who is that man with the cigar? He looks important.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Saturday before Baku F1 race

The castle!

Ricciardo out of his car.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Hitching a ride on a Colombian military plane (sort of)

Time is of the essence. In order for my bus trip to happen, I have to get back home as soon as possible (for my family and for work). But here is the dilemma: Once I am done and have reached the end of the Pan-American Highway in Turbo, must I ride a bus nearly 20 hours back to Bogota to fly home to America? It's not only a waste of time, but it's also uncomfortable. By then, I will have already been riding buses for 75.5 hours over a five-day period. I would go insane.

So do I fly back to Bogota? How?

Turbo has an airport, but I can't find any commercial carriers that fly there. That Google Street View's view of the airport entrance is this, and ends there, is not a good sign.

Fortunately, I snooped some more and discovered SATENA Airline. It's an airline created by the Colombian military to serve far-flung destinations along the Pacific Coast and the Amazon jungle. They serve Apartado, a town half an hour by taxi (car or motorbike) southeast of Turbo. For less than $100, I can take an ATR puddle jumper and fly to Bogota in 90 minutes direct or two 50 minute flights to Bogota via Medellin.

Here is a cool promo for SATENA Airline. The pilot even got picked up at home in a Duster!

And here is a two-part video of the flight from Medellin to Apartado. The planes at the airports are fascinating and the city of Medellin is oddly beautiful from the air.

Raphael O unscathed after rally car crash

So glad you're okay, man. Full story here.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Friday before Baku F1 race

Marshals getting ready to go to the track.

Tires and noses.


I love the font used on the license plates.


Daniel Ricciardo?

Definitely Max V. here.


I didn't realize volunteer marshals worked in scrutineering.