Friday, May 17, 2019

Eating the Globe: Uganda


Other than a Haitian food truck, I have exhausted my international options in the San Francisco Bay Area. So when I had to go to Los Angeles yesterday for work, I decided to try something not offered up here: Ugandan cuisine!

This is by far the strangest venue. The restaurant is inside a lady's house across from Van Nuys High School. It's just a regular single family home. The only difference is there are a lot of tables and chairs in the large backyard and the kitchen has two stoves.

There was no menu. The lady just served me what she was cooking. The goat in the bowl was amazing. It was smoked first and then stewed. The plate was carbo-licious. First, we have chicken plov. That's what she called it, plov. That's a big hunk of plantain on top. Then we have some triangular pancakes which were very much like Chinese bing. Except it had a peanut flavor. On the top left is a sweet potato smothered with a rich peanut sauce. It was really good, but it was too much. Three big tablespoons of that could be a meal in itself.

This experience was like no other. It's definitely not for everyone, but if you are curious, here is a professional review of the place.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, 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, Palestine, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Albania, Andorra, 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, Vatican City
North America: Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, St Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

2019 Jaguar XJR575

I was looking at my local Jaguar dealer's inventory (don't ask) and came upon the XJR575. I had no idea this thing even existed.

Next car: Fuel cell?

I just learned about the Hyundai Nexo today. It's a fuel cell SUV that comes with $13,000 worth of free hydrogen. Fortunately, in California, we have a decent fuel network. There are three stations within 15 miles of us.

Here is the Nexo:

And some stats for comparison:

Toyota Mirai fuel cell: 0-60 in 8.9 seconds, weight 4,075 pounds, price $58,500
Honda Clarity fuel cell: 0-60 in 8.1 seconds, weight 4,134 pounds, price $58,490
Hyundai Nexo fuel cell: 0-60 in 9.5 seconds, weight 4,116 pounds, price $58,300


State of the boy's Hot Wheels collection

Before the boy was born, I accumulated around 50 Hot Wheels cars. I kept them in the garage and slowly, one by one, gave the cars to him. I gave him the last one this week. He has lost or misplaced approximately a third of them.

I had this afternoon off and since rain was predicted, I took the boy to find some new cars. First, we went to the mall. Now that is a depressing place on a weekday afternoon. And surprisingly, the mall did not have a toy store. We then went to Target, and their selection was awful. Other than a Charger and a Viper, all the other Hot Wheels there were "pretend" cars.

We ended up at one of the local drug stores that has a reputation of carrying decent cars, and we ended up with the red Civic hatchback in the middle.


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Buying a used car online through Carvana


While walking with the boy around the block yesterday, we saw one of these Carvana Isuzu flatbeds drop off a white Kia Soul for one of my neighbors. I asked the friendly tow truck driver and he told me about the company. It's basically Carmax, but it's all done online, and they deliver the used car at your door!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Stratolaunch flying

This is the largest plane ever. Its purpose is to launch rockets into low earth orbit.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Nurburgring in an F1 car


I had no idea that Heidfeld drove his Sauber on the 'Ring in 2007.

From WTF1:
Equipped with super-hard demonstration tyres, short gear ratios and a super-high ride height to cope with the bumps, Nick Heidfeld gave it some beans on a few occasions but had to keep slowing down for photo opportunities, meaning he didn’t get to set a fully representative lap time. Still, it looked cool, though!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Old Range Rover at the market

I was pretty excited to spot this today. It's right-hand drive and in pristine condition.




And thanks to Alan for introducing me to Harry's Garage.

How to spend $10 in Afghanistan

Check out this guy's channel. He is documenting visiting every country in the world.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Battery location in an old Tesla roadster

I was reminded recently that the Lotus on which it was based was very low to the ground. So the battery wasn't in the floor. Where was it?


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Overlanding North and South America interview

As you may remember, F1O is driving a lightly modded 4Runner down to South America. His truck is currently being shipped from Panama to Colombia, so he had time to answer a few of my questions. Enjoy!



1 What prompted/inspired you to take this trip?

It goes back a long time. I can’t remember exactly what made me think about it at first, but it’s been a dream of mine since my teens.

I was too young and broke to do it at first, then life and career just took its own course and I never prioritized this. But it never ceased to be an idea in the back of my head. 

Through the years I would always tell myself and anyone who would listen that one day I would do this trip. I just wasn’t sure when, but I would do it. I sent a question to The Truth About Cars website back in 2010 asking what would be an appropriate vehicle. They published it:


Then around October last year I was talking to my girlfriend about it. She wasn’t happy with the idea of me being gone for the better part of a year at some point in our relationship but I told her this was not something I’d compromise on. The whole conversation made me realize that this was possibly the best opportunity to do it that I would ever have. I had enough money put away, I had the vehicle, and there was nothing tying me down at that moment. I had quit my job and had no mortgage or lease. So I told myself now or never, and I chose. The next few months I frantically prepared and tried to absorb as much information and knowledge as possible. 

2 What modifications have you made to your 4Runner?

An off-road roof rack to accommodate my roof top tent, jerry can and recovery boards. Inside the truck I added a drawer system that I purchased from a former 4Runner owner. It serves to organize my food, pots and pans It also has a couple of slide out trays for food prep. It’s also a platform for my fridge and the sliding mechanism of the fridge. 

I also installed a dual battery management system, solar charge controller and 2000watt power inverter. The truck now has two batteries, the main battery for the engine, and a deep cycle battery for the fridge and my accessories. When I turn on the engine, the battery management system ensures the engine battery is healthy and after 5 minutes it begins charging the second battery. It also allows me to use the 2nd battery as a starter battery if my main battery gets drained for some reason, so it’s nice redundancy. If I’m not driving, I can keep the 2nd battery charging with solar. This allows me to keep the fridge running 24/7. 

All of this added a lot of weight to the truck so I upgraded springs and shocks all around to accommodate the additional weight. 


3 What is your favorite place so far? Why?

I don’t have a favorite place, there are simply too many. But I can say Mexico has been my favorite country so far. Some of my favorite moments in Mexico were sleeping under the stars surrounded by giant cacti, whale watching so close you could touch them, swimming in a lagoon at the edge of a huge waterfall with turquoise waters, visiting incredible Aztec and Mayan ruins and eating some of the best food I’ve ever had. 

Having said that, I’m about to begin the South America portion. It’s the part of the trip I’ve been most looking forward to. 


4 Any dangerous situations?

Thankfully I have not encountered any dangerous situations and have been treated incredibly well by nearly everyone. Even police and government officials I’ve come across. 

I have had some things stolen from me, which isn’t a nice feeling, but it’s mostly my own fault for being careless. 

In Mexico I left the truck parked on the street overnight and my yoga mat and snorkel gear were taken. I had been leaving them on my roof rack tied down with nothing but a bungie cord for almost a month. 

In Nicaragua they were a little more brazen. I was camping on a beach and I left my camp lantern hanging off my roof-top-tent. They took it overnight while I slept inside the tent. It was disconcerting to realize someone was nosing around so closely while I slept. 


5 What has been the most surprising thing?

A few things have surprised me. 

The number of Americans living and working all around Mexico was surprising. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. Gentrification is a thing in Mexico and it’s Americans doing it. You could be forgiven for mistaking parts of Cancun for SW Florida. 


Another surprise was that there is a huge community of travelers that have done or are currently doing the Panamerican highway by car. They are incredibly supportive of each other. There’s a very active facebook group. There’s an app for finding places to camp, mechanics, up-to-date information on border crossings, road conditions and warnings about corrupt police or robberies and break-ins. And there’s even a website to match you with other travelers to share a container for shipping around the Darien Gap. All of these resources are completely free and invaluable.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Los Angeles gang members fighting in Syria

This was filmed several years ago, homie.

Their ancestors were Armenians from Syria, who immigrated to California, homie.


Homie.

Largest ancestry groups in the United States by county


Bourdain at 24


Friday, April 19, 2019

Thursday, April 18, 2019

3 odd ads on American TV right now

1. Travel Oregon:


2. Miracle Spring Water:



3. US Army:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Saturday, April 13, 2019

State of My Life address

Hello, everyone. As you have noticed, I have not been blogging as often or writing as much when I do blog. Between work and family, I simply don't have that much free time.

Our boy turned two last week. He's perfect and parenthood is amazing. As an added bonus, he loves cars and trucks.



We are also getting ready for our baby girl, who is due in July. She's kicking and moving a lot in my wife's belly, and we are certain she has a fiery personality.'

On the travel front, I'm going to the Indy 500 next month to watch Alonso race. I will be joined by a special someone you all know and love. It will be a fun trip.

I have nothing else planned vacation-wise, but I still look for recent Darien Gap videos on YouTube. Here's a video documenting a crossing, but it's in Czech.


On the car front, things will be different within a year's time. My i3's lease expires in March 2020. I will likely buy a two or three year old Land Cruiser. We are going to see how long my wife can tolerate two kids in the TSX wagon. An Odyssey or Sienna is probably in her future. Or a Metris?

I have stopped listening to the radio in the car altogether. No more music and no more news. It's just podcasts, podcasts, podcasts. My favorites right now are the Omnibus Project (trivia), East Bay Yesterday (local history), and Huell's Gold (old California TV series).

As for TV shows, I just watched Guava Island on Amazon and it's quirky, imaginative, and beautifully shot. 


I kinda hate Jeremy Clarkson but I heard the Mongolian episode of The Grand Tour was worth watching. And it was.


One series I want to watch is survivalist Ed Stafford's Channel 4 show where he lives as a homeless person. It looks pretty intense.

Geopolitics-wise, I am fascinated/shocked by the fall of Omar al-Bashir. The civil war in Libya seems to be ignored by the Western press.

In terms of blog series, I'm going to try to find a few more cars for my World Leaders Cars series (I have 175 countries covered so far) tonight while I watch the China Grand Prix. As for my Eating the Globe series, I am stuck in the low 100s. There are a few more Bay Area restaurants I have yet to explore and I should cook more exotic meals at home.

If you want to see what I am up to, Twitter is a good place. I spotted the replacement of the Ferrari FF this afternoon.