Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Eating the Globe: Dominica


This is Calypso chicken. I overcooked the chicken and put too much ginger in. 

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Zimbabwe
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, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine
North America: Belize, Canada, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga

Monday, November 12, 2018

Huell's Gold podcast interview


I recently became a huge fan of the Huell's Gold podcast. Chris and Allan discuss one classic Huell Howser TV episode every week, dissecting every location, wardrobe, and guest with humor, fondness, and nostalgia. The duo was kind enough to answer questions from this Huell Howser superfan.

Huell's Gold podcast link.
Twitter link.
Instagram link.

1. How would you describe Huell Howser to someone who had never heard of him before?

Huell, first and foremost, is an historical booster. California had many types and styles of boosterism throughout its history. People and organizations that aided in cementing the legacy of culture and history, embellished or otherwise, even before California was a state. Huell was the last great California booster, with his show, as seen through the eyes of a Tennessee transplant, California was shown less for its glitz and beaches, and more for its people. Huell was the last television booster but the first California people booster, because that's what his show was really about. The people. 

2. What prompted you to start a podcast about his shows?


It all started after a visit to the Chapman University Huell Howser Exhibit. My wife, her family and I (this is Chris talking) had went on a Disneyland trip in 2016. It was a pilgrimage of sorts, as I had had a dream that many fans of California's Gold had...running into Huell and Louie out on the streets, or on a trail, or on a mountain, filming a segment of the show. After Huell's death, that obviously wasn't possible, so the Exhibit became the closest I could ever come to that. It did not disappoint. 

After returning home, and binging Huell for hours, I started to think about how KCET and PBS could continue the work Huell had started. I knew a reboot or replacement could and should never be attempted. Then in a flash, it hit me...I had been recently listening to the Seincast podcast. A retrospective on all 9 seasons of Seinfeld, one episode a week. I thought, someone should do that for California's Gold.....Why don't I do it! Within a matter of seconds I was on the phone with Allan, whom I've been friends with for years and always had long historical, economical, philosophical, musical, even gastronomical debates and discussions with. It took only a matter of minutes for him to agree and off we were planning for our January 2018 debut. 

3. What is the goal of your podcast?

Goal....I don't think we really set out with a specific goal. At first, it was to see if we could even make a podcast. Neither of us had done anything like it, but thought, "hey, if it sucks, we'll delete and tell no one." After a few weeks of doing the show, we realized that, as small of a piece of the Huell puzzle as we are, we had now entered into the "Huelliverse" as we call it. Which is simply anything or anyone who felt compelled to do something Huellish, travel, talk to interesting strangers, find out interesting California historical tidbits, or even analyzing the work Huell left behind. 

4. What is your favorite episode and why?

Wow, that's like asking to pick a favorite kid, or pet. Now, not to say that every episode is 100% gold. Despite our bias as heavy Huellheads, we know that not all episodes are created equal. However, we are pretty partial to any episodes shot in our back yard of Bakersfield/Kern County. Huell seemed to really have a soft spot in his heart for this area and he always shown it in the brightest of lights. Our area of California gets a lot fo flack, and we know it's not perfect, but the perceived notion that Bakersfield is the "armpit" of California is laughable to us. 


5. What has been Huell's impact on California and Californians?

Hmmm, his most lasting impact has got to be the way he went about his show, and just life in general...See this big place we live in, see it for yourself, and find the beauty and positivity in all of it. No episode of California's Gold ever was based on the premise of tearing down a place, a person, or a thing. All shows began with, and ended with an excitement that to most, is infectious. Now, we know some people are Huell Haters, and that's fine...but just know, it says something about you if you hate something so pure and joyous as California's Gold and Huell Howser. 

6. How many hours a day do you think Huell worked out?


In the early days, every day. We have been in touch with old friends of Huell's from his early days at KCET, and a number of them mention having met Huell at the gym. To have made so many friends at the gym, you must go A LOT!!

7. Was Huell's on-screen persona the same off-screen? Did he have a dark side in real life?

From everything we have heard from Luis Fuerte, former employees of Huell Howser Productions, and even people interviewed on the show, one things holds true...The person you saw on camera was the real deal. Luis Fuerte did pull the curtain back on some Huell idiosyncrasies, but no dark side...With that being said, we have watched a lot of Huell Howser television, and when you peel back the persona slightly, and really try and analyze Huell the man, as opposed to Huell the host, small things start to seep through. 


One episode in particular gave us this impression. It was episode 11012 "Neptune Pool" and on the surface it is a great, fun episode. It features Huell getting to live a lifelong dream of swimming in the famous Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle. Once Huell does get in the water and is swimming with the family that allowed him to join (they had won a contest to get to swim in the pool) It began to dawn on us, Huell seemed lonely. His interactions with the family shown a small glimpse into a life that was dedicated to his craft and his work. When reading Louie's book, or watching "A Golden State of Mind" the PBS documentary on Huell, talk of friends and family are slim, and one can only believe that Huell considered everyone to be his friend. And I guess, when looking at it that way, maybe he was never lonely at all. 

8. Most of Huell's programs are archived by Chapman University. He also left his estate to the school. What was his connection to Chapman?

From what we can tell, he went to Orange to do a story on the school and really loved the campus and the faculty, and stayed in touch with them for a number of years. Toward the end of his life he was given an Honorary Doctorate from Chapman and was even the key note speaker at that year's graduation. I think Huell wanted to entrust his legacy to a place that would continue to cherish California and Chapman seemed like the place to do that. 

9. Huell had always been apolitical. What would he make of the current environment we live in?

You know, that has been a subject we have tried to study when rewatching shows. Very few glimpses of Huell's political leanings are ever visible. But, the episodes of Visiting he did after the 9/11 attacks really opened Huell up to his audience as far as his patriotism is concerned. Huell always had a smile and a positive attitude and I think shifts in politics or culture really didn't phase him. Huell was Huell, and the world could change around him, but it couldn't change him too much, 

10. Why do you love Huell Howser and his programs so much?


That really is one of those intangible type of things. Huell either grabs you, or he doesn't. It seems like his infectious attitude and excitement for everything California grabbed a lot of peoples attention over the years. When you think about the fact that he was a semi-regional public television host, with thousands of shows that all looked and felt nearly identical, that were all very low-tech, about things as minuscule as a woman's lawn, or an old cabin, or even yes, an avocado eating dog, it really is AMAZING that he made the impact he did. Huell really seemed to quantify and simplify the art and science of television down to a simply quote he said for years "TV ain't rocket surgery." But it wasn't TV that made Huell the person he was, it was just...him. Good ol' Huell. 


Macron and Merkel

To the people outside America: We are not even looking for an inspirational leader anymore. We are fine with someone who is just not a total asshole.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Middle Eastern airlines can't fly the shortest routes


This is a hilariously sad article. Here's a summary:

  • No one flies over Syrian airspace for obvious reasons, except Lebanon's Middle East Airlines, which doesn't give a shit.
  • Qatar Air can't fly over Saudi Arabia.
  • Due to insurgents, no one flies over northern Sinai.
  • Libyan and Yemeni wars make flying to Africa difficult.
  • No Arab airline flies to Israel other than Egypt (which uses a subsidiary jet with no livery) and Royal Jordanian (which cannot fly over Israel to get to Lebanon).
  • For El Al planes to go to East Asia, it has to fly down the Red Sea to the Horn of Africa, and then turn east.


Chinese government admits to Uyghur re-education camps

After months of denials, this 15-minute news documentary aired on CCTV. It's a re-education camp near the city of Hotan, where the "guests" are indoctrinated and given vocational training. You don't need to understand Chinese to see what's going on there. All the young people interviewed say how their parents are happy for them and they are happy for themselves. And that they never want to go back to their past lives.

It's maddening to see an entire people erased before our very eyes. And the Uyghurs in charge of the camps-- there's a special place in heck for these collaborators.

Here is a Guardian article about the video.

Eating the Globe Update

I've made a lot of progress!


No disrespect to Catholics, but if I have a communion wafer, can I count that as Vatican City?

There are not that many local restaurants left:



Haitian https://www.yelp.com/biz/caribbean-spices-san-francisco

Senegal https://www.yelp.com/biz/little-baobab-san-francisco-3

Cameroon https://www.yelp.com/biz/little-baobab-san-francisco-3

Eating the Globe: Niger

Having exhausted virtually every foreign restaurant in the Bay Area, I will try to cook one foreign meal every weekend. Today, I made djerma stew, the national dish of Niger. It's basically chicken stew with a big dollop of peanut butter mixed in. The boy really enjoyed it.




Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Zimbabwe
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, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine
North America: Belize, Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga

Thursday, November 08, 2018

2018 Land Cruiser walkaround

Enough bad news for today. Let's watch something light-hearted.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The only non-Korean Korean lawmaker

Jasmine Lee was born in the Philippines and married a Korean man. She became the first non-Korean to join the legislature.

The world's economic center of gravity

Via The Economist.


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Yemenis fled to South Korean resort island that did not require visas

10% of New Caledonian residents are Algerians




Full documentary here.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Sultan of Oman welcomes Bibi

Geopolitics is weird. Also, Qaboos looks bad. With no successor in sight, what will happen to Oman after he dies? And finally, I love the news anchor's hat/helmet!

Eating the Globe: Uruguay


Last night, I made a Uruguayan lentil stew. In retrospect, it's very much like the Jewish Tunisian dish shakshouka, but with lots of bacon. I wonder how Uruguay adopted this dish. From Jewish immigrants, Middle Eastern immigrants, or original Spanish settlers?

I found a wine shop that carried Uruguayan wine. This $20 bottle came highly recommended, but it just tasted like generic table wine.


Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Zimbabwe
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, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine
North America: Belize, Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga

If classic F1 races had modern graphics

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Quietest room in the world

12 Sips to Glory

A short documentary about an orange soda enthusiast.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Rotten meat in Venezuela

I don't know how Maduro is able to stay in power.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Ugly new Audi




Friday, October 19, 2018

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Three birds with one stone


Three of the four counties I still need to visit (Trinity, Modoc, Lassen) are in extreme northern California. Originally, I thought I would visit them by visiting their county seats. Weaverville for Trinity (to the west of Redding), Alturas for Modoc (to the northeast of Adin), and Susanville for Lassen (to the southeast of Adin).

I intend to take these trips with my toddler son, and keeping him in the car for that long is not fun. So I've changed my route. I'll just step over the border and head back. No need to visit the county seats. I would save a lot of time taking this "shortcut".

So for Trinity, the border is just over the first D in Redding on the map.

For Modoc, Adin is right on the border.

And best of all, in order to reach Adin, I have to drive through Lassen County!

Huell Howser visited the 5 corners of California

I am on another Huell Howser kick. He was a TV personality who visited every obscure place in California over two decades. While doing research for my road trips, I found videos of him visiting the five corners of the state.

1. Northeast corner in Modoc County. It's on a lava field bed.


2. Northwest corner. On the beach next to Oregon.


3. Tahoe corner. On Lake Tahoe.


4. Southeast corner. Along the Colorado River next to Mexico and Yuma, Arizona.


5. Southwest corner. On the beach next to Mexico.




Monday, October 15, 2018

Irish Republican Army sign

Remember when the world just worried about the IRA, Basque separatists, and the PLO?


Sunday, October 14, 2018

I visited three counties today

I had yet to visit seven counties in California. Yesterday, I decided to visit the three closest counties today with my son. This was my route.


I got gas at a tiny town called Knight's Landing. That Bank of America logo was from 1980-98. I was also trying to change my son's diaper at the gas station, but a bunch of sketchy people were milling about so I got out of town ASAP. I was going to have to change him somewhere else.


Just across the border of Knight's Landing was Sutter County. I was on my way to the Sikh Temple in Yuba City. 20% of the population there is Sikh. Along the way, I spotted this Nissan Axxess! It was only sold as a 1990 model (18,000+ were sold). When I took auto shop in high school, Nissan corporate donated a new Axxess and a new Sentra for us to tear apart.


We finally ended up at the Sikh Temple. Once I entered the gate, I felt safe again. It was like a refuge. Whenever I am in the rural American backcountry and afraid for my safety, I always have a sense of relief when I see other minorities. There was a playground adjacent to the temple, where children played. The parents there welcomed us. The park was donated by a Sikh-owned trucking company. There are over 150,000 Sikh truck drivers in America now.


We stopped by at a Mexican restaurant for a late lunch. The homemade salsa was perfect.


Next stop, Marysville. Confusingly, Yuba City is in Sutter County and Marysville (across the river from Yuba City) is in Yuba County. There used to be a large Chinese population there and there is still a Chinatown.


The building to the left is a synagogue.


Next stop, Oroville in Butte County. Oroville is famous for its dam, which is the tallest in America. During recent rainstorms, the dam was badly damaged and the town was temporarily evacuated. You can see the giant cranes in the background repairing the dam.


Like Marysville, there was a Chinese community in Oroville as well.


The trip was a success. The boy and I had a blast. Now, we have to visit Trinity, Modoc, Lassen, and Alpine Counties. B said if I visit Alpine, I can grab a Basque meal with him across the border in Nevada.

Eating the Globe: Kenya

I'm running out of local restaurants and I am getting desperate. I ordered some Kenyan potato chips online. It cost over $10 and tasted like spicy tree bark. I threw it away after a few bites.





Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Zimbabwe
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, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine
North America: Belize, Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

211mph in a Jetta

Traveling hair stylist in rural Russia

If I'm not researching the Darien Gap, I'm researching the Russian Far East.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Visiting the last seven counties of California

California is a large state with 58 counties. Through the decades of living here, I have visited 51 counties. I have seven to go. I used Route XL to figure out the shortest route.

The counties left are Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Trinity, Modoc, Lassen, and Alpine.


If I was really ambitious, I can do it in two days.


Saving the planet with rotor sails

Cargo ships pollute a lot. Here is a simple (partial) solution.

Dokdo belongs to Korea

As far as East Asian propaganda goes, the visual graphics are top notch.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

I'm bidding on this 1993 Toyota Century


Here is the auction. So far, I am competing with someone called "SuperCarnitas" and "2018trackhawk".

In a genius marketing move, the car was recently featured by Jay Leno.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Abandoned VW diesels

Last week, during my commute, I saw four trucks full of dirty Tesla Model 3s headed TOWARDS the Tesla factory. That's strange. On Twitter, there have been rumors of thousands of Model 3s sitting mysteriously in rural parking lots. I decided to investigate yesterday.

I headed out to Antioch, where one of the lots is supposed to be. Instead of Model 3s, I saw tons of recalled VW diesels, and one Audi Q7 diesel. I only saw two Model 3s. Bozi (@hoonable) confirmed my theory-- that Tesla is just not very good at logistics. The "abandoned" Model 3s aren't defective or hidden for dodgy accounting reasons. I suspect that the trucks I saw last week had taken away all of the Model 3s (with the exception of the two I spotted).









I suck at industrial espionage. The two Model 3s (one with hood up) are behind the barbed wire.