Thursday, April 30, 2009

El Serpis Anchovy Stuffed Olives

I just had some anchovy-stuffed olives for the first time. The concept sounds weird and a bit disgusting, but the flavor is both familiar and unique. Salty and sweet are too broad terms for these snacks but that's just how they are. I highly recommend them.


Best Hot / Satay Sauce

VH Noodle House at the 99 Ranch Market complex in Richmond sells the best all purpose hot sauce anywhere. I use it on fried rice, burritos, poached eggs, even French fries. I go through a 6 ounce bottle every two to three weeks. It is that good. The ingredients--chili peppers, cottonseed oil, garlic, sea salt, MSG, "spice"-- are pretty vague. I guess it's all top secret.


Gung Ho Assan Fiats

I just watched the 1986 Michael Keaton classic Gung Ho. It is especially apropos, given the current U.S. auto industry meltdown. It is especially coincidentally as Chrysler declared bankruptcy today and will be taken over by Fiat. So these faux Japanese cars on Gung Ho. What were they?

The three door hatchbacks are South American-built Fiat Spazios.

The four door sedans are South American-built Fiat Regatas.


Swine Flu Theory

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist; I do not have a science background; and I base my theory purely on speculation.

One of the biggest mysteries confounding scientists is why the swine flu has been fatal in Mexico, but nowhere else (the one U.S. fatality was of a child from Mexico who came to Texas to seek health care). My hypothesis is that just as Native Americans at the time of Cortez died in the millions because they had no immunity against European diseases such as smallpox, something in the genetic make-up of certain people in Mexico today makes them particularly vulnerable to this new strain of swine flu. Perhaps an epidemiological study will shed light on this theory.


Pluto Humor

I just finished The Pluto Files. It is a light-hearted and serious account of how astrophysicist Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium single-handedly demoted Pluto's status as a planet.

Here is an excerpt from the book, which quotes a humorous 2/16/01 NYT op-ed piece by Eric Metaxas on the mistreatment of Pluto with the following mock headlines:












Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chevy Lumina / Holden Commodore / Pontiac G8

South African ad (new price is about $44,500 USD)

With the demise of Pontiac, the G8 will be no more. It may become a Chevy soon. So the question is, should I convert it into a Holden Commodore, or a South African Chevy Lumina?


Porsche Sedans: Old Vs. New

New Panamera


Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Cars of El Norte

College kids with revolutionary ideals in the 80s and 90s all watched El Norte. The Criterion Collection just came out with a restored version on DVD. It is as poignant, and as beautiful, as it was when it first premiered.

I rely on to identify and look at pictures of cars in movies. Unfortunately, the site does not have El Norte up yet. Here are my three favorites:

1. Flecha Amarilla bus. This bus brought back fond memories of my recent bus trip. Thankfully, mine was air conditioned and had a pirated Beverly Hills Chihuahua DVD blasting away for hours. Go to 0:07.

2. BMW 320i. The restaurant manager's Beamer was arguably the first SoCal yuppie mobile. Go to 7:05.

3. Mercedes W113. The ultimate symbol of the America that the movie's protagonists can never reach. Go to 2:49.


Swine Flu Map

View H1N1 Swine Flu in a larger map

Pink markers are suspect
Purple markers are confirmed
Deaths lack a dot in marker

Murphy's Law: I went to the drug store this afternoon to pick up some face masks, out of an abundance of caution. Before coming home, I swung by the barbershop for a haircut. Of course, my barber was sick-- wheezing, coughing, breathing through his mouth, looking generally unwell. That was the longest 15 minute haircut of my life.


Mind Blowing Jenson Button F1 Predictions And Odds

Jenson Button has won 3 out of 4 GPs this season. We are officially living in bizzaro world. Ready for some sheer lunacy?

Here is my post, from 2006, about why Barrichello and Button will win the 2007 constructors title. I guess you can call me a forward thinker.

I'm not a gambling lad but here are some odds pre-season to win it all:
  • Button (post-2008 season but before Honda's withdrawal): 66:1
  • Button (days before Australian GP): 9:1. The only people ahead of Button then were Kimi (4:1), Fernando (9:2), Massa (11:2) and Lewis (11:2). Currently, Button has 31 points and the other four gents mentioned have a combined 17 points.
  • Brawn GP (days before Australian GP): 4:1. The only teams ahead of Brawn then were Ferrari (11:8), McLaren (7:2), and BMW (19:4). Currently, Brawn has 50 points and Ferrari, McLaren, and BMW have a combined 20 points. By the way, Kubica finished 18th today and Heidfeld was 19th.

Citroen Museums

This blog's fascination with all things Citroen cannot be denied. I've already covered the Swiss Citroen museum. There is, of course, the official Citroen (private) museum. But for fans of post-war Citroens, the Citromuseum in Provence may be the best and most accessible of all of the museums. There are approximately 50 low mileage Citroens, most in their original, unrestored condition. They are simply amazing.

Photos credit: tobiastoft

Here is a mini tour of the museum.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Minichamps Tour And Bonus Austin Powers Spoof

Grand Prix Legends, a purveyor of all things die cast, puts out entertaining and informative podcasts on youtube. Three recent specials came out:

1. Visit of Minichamps Museum.

2. Austin Powers spoof.

3. Host Leigh Hobden's personal diecast collection.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Profiles of Lamborghini Estoque / Porsche Panamera / Aston Martin Rapide

Which is which?


Lancelot Link Opening Credit (English and Spanish)

I used to watch this as a kid. In retrospect, it was kinda wrong.

In English

En espanol


1/43 Car Collection Sales And Bargains

In this economy, hardly anyone is buying frivolous products. People are hoarding cash. As a consequence, the scale model car market has taken a nosedive that will even take AIG stock holders' breaths away. If you can spare a few dollars a month, this is an excellent opportunity to pick up some raging deals.

Here are my three favorite stores, in no particular order.
  • EWA. This is an East Coast outfit. They have a huge selection and its website is very easy to navigate. They have a 30% off everything 30th anniversary sale. I just got an IST Uaz 452 and a Minichamps Alfa Romeo 159 today. More on that later. The packaging/shipping has always been top notch.
  • Not A Toy. An outfit in Michigan run by a really nice and helpful guy. Though there is no sale going on now, their prices are always low and extremely competitive.
  • Scale Cars. This business has a physical store in Napa. The owner is really cool and lets me at his cars whenever I stop by. I really want this place to succeed. If you go to the store, check out the helmet signed by every F1 driver (save DC) at the USGP a few years ago.
Buying a few cars a month (or even more) will not only keep the manufacturers in business, but it will keep these American small businesses going. Go for it. You know you need a 1/43 model of that obscure car only you and three other people in your time zone covet.

As for what I got today. First, I got an IST UAZ 452. It was advertised as an IXO. IST may well be a subsidiary of IXO. IST has its own website and it is a virtual Garden of Eden of 1/43 Soviet/Warsaw Pact goodness. It's got UAZ, Volga, EMW, Barkas, Melkus, and even ZAZ! The 452 I got for $17 rivals in detail with $40 Minichamps models. I am very happy.

The other car I got is a Minichamps Alfa 159. Since I can't buy the real thing in America, I might as well settle for a 1/43 version.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hongqi At Blackhawk Museum

I've always been fascinated with Hongqis. Bring A Trailer recently featured the first one exported to America. It is now displayed at the Blackhawk Museum.

The Hongqi CA770 was parked next to one of JFK's Continentals. Surprisingly, the Continental looked puny next to the Hongqi. The Chinese limo looked taller and bigger overall. Though it was a 1970s model, it still had wind-up windows. The red hood ornament and fender badges looked like they were made out of Bakelite.

Audi-inspired Hongqi

Lincoln-inspired Hongqi


New Greyhound Buses

More changes here.


What Book Did Chavez Give to Obama?

A few days ago, Hugo Chavez was seen giving Obama a book. What was it? Some Communist manifesto? A rambling diatribe by El Presidente himself? No, it is Las Veinas Abiertas de America Latina (Open Veins In Latin America) by Eduardo Galeano. Given the recent publicity, the 38 year old book is now #2 on Amazon.
Back in college, I read Galeano's Memory of Fire. It was intense, personal, and raw. A few years ago, I read it again and realized that it was a part of a trilogy. Faces & Masks and Century of the Wind were almost as powerful as Memory. I understand that I did not read Galeanos's actual words as I read the English versions.

I just ordered Open Veins and look forward to reading it.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Carspotting (15): Alfa Romeo 164 LS

If you had asked me to identify this car from this profile, I don't think I would have been able to do so correctly. Alas, this was the last Alfa sedan to be sold in America.


Dutch Volvo Compacts (1): Volvo 66

Dutch carmaker DAF introduced the 66 in 1972. It was equipped with tiny Renault engines and CVTs (Take that, Audi!). It came in two door sedan, two door coupe, and three door wagon forms.

Then, in 1975, Volvo bought DAF. Aside from the Volvo emblems, it made a number of upgrades, all in the name of safety. These changes included: larger bumpers, seats with headrests, safety steering wheel, and side impact beams in doors.

Luxurious Volvo?

Spartan interior (1).
Spartan interior (2).

Citroen CX-Amino

I have shown you a Citroen DS truck and even a Citroen SM truck. Now, I give you a Citroen CX truck. It's apparently a work truck for Centreville Garage, a Citroen specialist in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.


Citroen CX Taxi Cabs

I am doing research on Dutch-built Volvo compacts. While looking for stock images of the Volvo/DAF 66, I came across this picture of a Citroen CX taxi cab in the background. Intrigued, I then found this picture, taken in 1985 in China, of a cab driver washing his CX cab, complete with monoblade wipers.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Obama Y Chavez


Shanghai GP Circuit Inspiration

The above are the Chinese characters for the city of Shanghai. The word on the left is shang and the word on the right is hai.
Here is the track. Rotate it 45 degrees clockwise. It is the word shang.


Tahoe Rides: Toyota Corolla All-Trac And Range Rover Classic

For a mountain town, you'd expect all the locals to drive either F150s and Subarus. I was surprised to count at least half a dozen Range Rover Classics and about the same number of Corolla All-Trac wagons driven by Lake Tahoe denizens.


Carspotting (14): Runnels Automotive, South Lake Tahoe

During my stay at Tahoe this week, I noticed for the first time an eclectic automotive collection known as Runnels Automotive. It is a repair/restoration/used car lot at the Tahoe Y (intersection of Highways 50 and 89).

What first caught my eye were the THREE (3!) Merkur XR4Tis facing the sidewalk on the lot. Three Merkurs, next to each other. What are the chances?

What was more shocking came later. I decided to go to the lot this morning at 7am so that no one would bother me. I found three more XR4Tis in the side lot! Six XR4Tis. In. One. Lot.

After I recovered from my Merkur-induced shock, I noticed the other automotive oddities on the lot.

These three Volvos were cool. The red P1800 looked sinister and ready for a brawl. The Amazon wagon wedged between the P1800 and PV was absolutely pedestrian... to three more of these PVs.

I wish this picture turned out better. I sneaked a peek into the garage. An old non-descript car was on the lift but there was another one underneath. A third car was parked in the interior stall to those two cars' left. As I looked in and took the picture, you can see the reflection of a pick-up truck that was parked outside on the window pane.