Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The world, according to Herman Cain

Lifted from his FB page.  Watch out, UK, Cain has a "special relationship" with you.

Putin booed

Lot of brave souls there.

Shamelessly swiped from Motoring Con Brio.

How NOT to run a presidential campaign

Herman Cain is finally toast.  Monday, a woman came out to confess that she had a 13-year affair with Cain.  Of course, Cain denied it.  Here is a great (and head shaking) summary of every mistake he and his staff made over the last few weeks.  Incredible.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Four car books

You're gonna dig this.

The island of Kauai (population 65,689), according to Yelp, only has two bookstores.  One sells Christian books.  Another, in the town of Hanapepe (population 2,153), sells used books.  Guess where I got these four?

1. Future Classics (1991)

I question the wisdom of choosing the Toyota Supra Mark III and the Ford Thunderbird SC.

 2. A World of Wheels 

3. The Saab-Scania Story.  This contains detailed drawings, period photos, and lots of trivia about every jet, truck, and car ever made.

4. Mercedes-Benz Production Models Book.  This book dedicates two pages to every model/version made over 40 years.

This is for Lucas.

This is for rchen.

Though these books put my luggage home over the 25 pound limit, the well-manicured Hawaiian Airlines counter agent gave me a pass.  The contents of these books should inspire a few blog posts, at least.

Koenigsegg factory

Monday, November 28, 2011

Krokodil drug in Siberia

This is sad and disgusting.  When joining a cult is actually a better life choice than taking this drug, well, you're screwed.

Note: There are some scenes in Part 2 that are really graphic (medical footage of effect of drug on people's skin and limbs).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vice does Dekotora

The fun starts at 4:45.

Curiosity landing on Mars

Tethers?  To land?  Are you mad?

The best part is between 1:00 and 2:00.

Volvo Tundra concept car

Look familiar?  It became the Citroen BX.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Visiting Niihau

You are looking at the only piece of tourist infrastructure on the entire island of Niihau-- this shack, euphemistically called a "pavilion".  There are no ABC Stores, no golf courses, not even an airport.

We landed yards away, on a flat piece of lava rock.  We are to spend 3 1/2 hours at a beach facing Kauai and Lehua.

The beach, upon first blush, is serene and untouched.  Aside from the pilot and my fellow travelers from the chopper, we are alone.

But upon further inspection, especially up near the high tide line, we noticed a lot of trash.  The windward coast touches the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Trash from all over Asia and Oceania has washed up.  And because it is so desolate and outside of the tourism bureau's jurisdiction, no one has picked up the trash.

It's ironic that the most common item that has fouled up the beach and absolutely failed to disintegrate is the liquid soap bottle.

I was so dumbfounded, I had to confirm with my wife-- That's a toilet bowl, right?

I took this emergency eye wash/shower sign home with me as a souvenir. 

There were plenty of nets and floats, many of which had Japanese writing on them.

A lot of plastic has disintegrated into tiny shards.

This Sears DynaPly tire is from the late 1970s, me thinks.

We had a change of plan during our stay on the beach.  Apparently, this has only happened one other time in the pilot's 11 year tenure.  The absolute rule is to keep the tourists away from the locals.  But today, just a few days before Thanksgiving, the co-owner of the island is delivering turkeys and sundries (like a huge plastic picnic table) to the islanders via a borrowed naval landing craft.  Our beach was the ideal place to land that day and three Korean War-era deuce-and-a-halves filled with locals were on their way to greet and empty the boat.  So the tourists had to be evacuated from the beach in order to avoid contact.

But how?  One local was kind enough to pick us up in this Dodge M37, drive us a short distance, and drop us off at another beach.  Score!  Again, I've purposely avoided taking any pictures of the locals.

At the second beach, we took a short walk, until we saw that bloated and endangered monk seal, lying motionless.  We ran back to the pilot to tell him about our discovery.  Fortunately, it's just a really lazy (and very alive) seal.

This picture really captures the spirit of Niihau.  Deserted, with a hint of humans.

I couldn't resist taking this picture as we took off.  It's one of the deuce-and-a-halves, filled with goodies from the landing craft.  Black Friday came early for Niihauans.

Pusher trilogy movie trailers

The Danes sure know how to make some depressing movies.

After many months and a few nightmares, I finally finished the Pusher trilogy.  They are dark, exciting, and well acted.  The bald dude in the blue shirt in Pusher 3 makes Winston Wolf of Pulp Fiction look like a rookie.


Pusher 2

Pusher 3

Tamerlane, not Tamey Lane

Friday, November 25, 2011

Grand Marnier ad

Flying to Niihau

The trip to Niihau was the highlight of our vacation.  Not only was it a difficult place to reach, but it was the first time I've ridden in a helicopter.

Niihau is a 69.5 square mile island 17.5 miles southwest of Kauai.  It has 130 permanent inhabitants.  We approached it via its eastern cliffs and traveled clockwise around the island.  We landed on a secluded beach on the northwestern tip, across from Lehua Island (that U-shaped islet on the map below).

The only way visitors can reach the private island is via Niihau Helicopter.  The island's owners, the Robinson brothers, bought a helicopter for medical evacuations.  It offers tours to defray costs.  On average, it flies tourists there (5 to 7 tourists per trip) two to three times a week (so about 750 tourists a year).  But since medical flights, military use (for a radar station on the island), and residential use take precedence, getting bumped is the rule rather than the exception.

The helicopter office is in an anonymous building just west of Port Allen on the south side of Kauai.

After getting weighed in (the Agusta 109A maxes out at 1,100 pounds), we drive to Port Allen airport.

I got to sit in the front, which was really cool.

Over the channel, we flew between 2,000 and 3,000 feet at a maximum of 180 knots.  The wheeled Agusta is the fastest civilian helicopter in the state.

Here is the approach from the east.  Lehua is on the right.  If you look closely, you can see that Niihau almost touches Lehua.  From afar, you'd think that Niihau only consisted of the cliffs, but there is also a significant, low, flat area between Lehua and the Niihau cliffs.

A view from the side window.  A/C is too heavy (600 pounds) for the helicopter, so we stuck our hand out the window to let fresh air in.

Niihau, a very arid place, has the largest lakes in the state.

Dry lake bed.

This is us skirting the western shore, heading north.  Lehua is in the background.

This is a view down.  I was terrified that my rental car key was going to fall through the opening.  This shot is very Magnum, P.I.

A few monk seals dotted the beaches.  I'll post a picture of one we saw on the beach tomorrow.

There are signs of life.  Dirt trails.  The settlement of Pu'uwai, where all the residents live.  And quite a few Korean War era army trucks, which are used as transportation.  They look very post-apocalyptic.  To protect their privacy, we did not take any pictures of the town or the residents.  Trust me, I really wanted to take pictures of the trucks to share with you all, but there was almost always a resident or two in or next to the vehicles.

There is a herd of elands, introduced from Molokai Ranch.

Our shadow along a dirt trail.

The leeward beaches are pristine.  The windward beaches, not so much (more on that later).

Lehua is in the foreground and Niihau is in the background.  After we landed on Niihau, we first hung out at the beach to the left, and then we moved to the beach on the right.

Here is us landing.  You can barely make out one of the old cars in this picture.