Saturday, June 30, 2012

44 BART stations in 5 hours 37 minutes

Please look for a more in-depth post about this journey on Crasstalk shortly.  For now, enjoy these photos and running commentary:

In order, I did the Yellow, Red, Orange, and Blue lines.

Lafayette station, the starting point.  Those white dots on the hill in the background are crosses that represent every American soldier killed in Iraq.

6:07 a.m.  I can't find my hand sanitizer.  How am I going to eat the pretzels and dry cereal I am bringing to snack on?  Okay, I just won't touch anything.

6:19.  I buy the $5.20 excursion fare at the Lafayette station (1st of 44).  This allows anyone to travel to as many stations as they want, so long as they don't exit any other stations and return to the original station.  There is a three hour time limit.  This trip will take longer than that, and I don't know what BART is going to charge me.

6:20.  I absent-mindedly touch the escalator handrail with my right hand.  Now it's soiled.

6:30.  The 6:30 train to Pittsburg/Bay Point is late.

6:34.  I get on the Pittsburg/Bay Point train.

6:36.  My dirty right hand just clasped with my left hand.  Both hands are now contaminated.  Ugh.

6:39.  Walnut Creek station (2nd of 44).

6:41.  Pleasant Hill station (3rd of 44).

6:46.  Concord station (4th of 44).

6:49.  North Concord station (5th of 44).

6:52.  I am in the exurbs now.  Pittsburg caused the worldwide financial crisis.  At the peak of the housing bubble, houses there jumped from $125,000 to $500,000 plus.  When the bubble burst and prices collapsed, it ruined those who borrowed to buy at the market's peak and homeowners who used the inflated equity as their personal ATM machines.

Classic car in front of Mt. Diablo.  Devil-hating citizens want to change the name to Mt. Reagan. 

6:56.  Arrive at Pittsburg (6th of 44), the end of the Yellow Line.  The same train I just rode on will be taking me to the Millbrae station, so I won't even have to get off.  I notice that the disheveled guy in my train car is also staying on board.  I come to the realization that he is homeless and is going to ride the train all day because he has nowhere else to go.

6:58.  Leave Pittsburg.

7:06.  There are a lot of Spanish place names in California.  The largest cities-- Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco-- are all Spanish.  A significant number of BART stations have Spanish names as well.

7:19.  Back in Lafayette and zooming towards Millbrae.

7:26.  Orinda station (7th of 44).

7:32.  Rockridge station (8th of 44).  The lady sitting next to me is reading a trashy novel with a half naked fireman on the cover.

7:35.  MacArthur station (9th of 44).  I'm getting motion sickness.  Not good.

7:38.  19th Street Oakland station (10th of 44).

7:40.  12th Street Oakland station (11th of 44).

7:45.  West Oakland station (12th of 44).

Port of Oakland in the background.  Urban legend has it that those white cranes inspired George Lucas's AT-ATs.

7:47.  The train goes underground and underwater, into the Transbay Tube.  It connects Oakland with San Francisco.  I'm always afraid while riding in it that there is going to be an earthquake and we're all going to drown.

7:51.  Embarcadero station (13th of 44).  This is the first of many San Francisco stations.

7:53.  Montgomery station (14th of 44).  

7:55.  Powell station (15th of 44).

7:56.  Civic Center station (16th of 44).

7:59.  16th Street Mission station (17th of 44).

8:01.  24th Street Mission station (18th of 44).

8:03.  Glen Park station (19th of 44).

8:06.  Balboa Park station (20th of 44).

8:08.  San Francisco sure is foggy.   

8:09.  Daly City station (21st of 44).

8:13.  Colma station (22nd of 44).

8:17.  South San Francisco station (23rd of 44).

8:20.  San Bruno station (24th of 44).

8:24.  San Francisco International Airport station (25th of 44).

8:29.  Millbrae station (26th of 44), the other end of the Yellow Line.  Wow, there is hardly any time to rest.  This train is turning back towards the East Bay.  I've got the bulk of the trip done.  Now, it's just the spurs.

8:42.  Train leaves Millbrae.

8:54.  I wonder if that homeless guy that has been sitting there since I got on-board at 6:34 is wondering why I'm not getting off the train either.

9:22.  A gaggle of sorority pledges enter the train car.  They are loud and look like they are ready to hit the clubs (except it's 9:22 in the morning).  For some reason, they are having a discussion about the Eurozone crisis.  "Like, OMG, Italy is going to totally suffer the same fate as Greece and Spain, you guys."

9:30.  I make the dash across the platform at 12th Street Oakland to catch the Richmond-bound train.

9:41.  Ashby station (27th of 44).

9:43.  Berkeley station (28th of 44).

9:45.  North Berkeley station (29th of 44).

9:49.  El Cerrito Plaza station (30th of 44).

9:52.  El Cerrito del Norte station (31st of 44).

Marin County's Mt. Tamalpais in the background. 

9:56.  Richmond station (32nd of 44), the end of another line.  I gotta use the WC.  But before I do that, I help an old lady with her suitcase down some stairs.

The bathroom is surprisingly clean.

The first time I rode on BART, I took the train from Berkeley to Richmond.  It was my freshman year, 1992.  We were protesting the oil refineries which were emitting toxic chemicals into the air (while thousands of poor people lived adjacent to said refineries).

10:15.  I get on the Richmond to Fremont train.  There is another homeless man sleeping in the train car.

I assume that the city of El Cerrito (the little hill) is named because of that little hill in the background.

You can just make out San Francisco in the background. 

10:46.  Lake Merritt station (33rd of 44).

10:49.  Fruitvale station (34th of 44).

10:53.  Coliseum/Oakland Airport station (35th of 44).  This is where the Raiders and Athletics play.

10:57.  San Leandro station (36th of 44).

11:00.  Bay Fair station (37th of 44).

11:04.  Hayward station (38th of 44).

11:07.  My rear end is feeling numb again.

11:08.  South Hayward station (39th of 44).

11:15.  Union City station (40th of 44).

11:19.  Arrive at Fremont station (41st of 44).  This town is named after John C. Fremont, aka the Pathfinder.  I wrote a report about him in elementary school.  That homeless guy from Richmond is still sleeping.

11:28.  Either I or the seat smells like wet dog.

11:35.  Leave Fremont.  I have to double back to Bay Fair and transfer.

11:39.  I'm exhausted.

11:46.  Why do people with headphones have to listen to their music so LOUDLY?

11:49.  Why do people walk on railroad tracks while talking on their cell phone and wearing high heels?

11:52.  Bay Fair transfer.

11:54.  Just got on the Dublin train.  My low back hurts.

11:58.  Castro Valley station (42nd of 44).

11:59.  The track runs parallel with a section of the 580 freeway that's named after my buddy Dan.  Just know that whenever you see a memorial sign like that on the side of the road, the person being commemorated was someone's son, father, husband, brother, and friend.

12:09 p.m.  West Dublin station (43rd of 44).

12:11.  Dublin/Pleasanton station (44th of 44).  Mission accomplished.  It took me 5 hours and 37 minutes to visit all 44 stations.  Time to go home.

12:35.  Shoot, I just realized that I forgot to take a picture of the 44th and final station.

12:54.  I get off at Lake Merritt to make a transfer.  Before I got off, a large gang of guys in their early 20s got on the train, headed to a Giants baseball game.  They all seemed okay, except they were loud and very drunk.  They were passing around a bottle of Southern Comfort and an even larger bottle of Sprite as a chaser. Well, it got so rowdy that a concerned citizen/prude ratted them out to the train operator.  Word has it the BART cops were on their way.  I left before I saw what resulted.

12:58.  Useful trivia: There are no restrooms in any of the underground BART stations.

Remember how, 21 years ago, Magic Johnson announced that he had HIV, and we all thought he was going to die?  Also, Magic is a cool nickname.

Berkeley campus and Campanile tower in the background. 

1:32.  Back in Lafayette, where I started.  It took 6 hours and 58 minutes to visit every station and return to the original station.  I stick my $5.20 ticket into the turnstile and the machine tells me to SEE THE STATION AGENT.  I tell the agent my story.  He doesn't seem impressed.  He sticks my ticket into a giant machine in his booth.  He then pulls it out, gives it to me, and tells me to try the turnstile again.  I do and the gate opens for me.

The end.

One station down, 43 to go

Friday, June 29, 2012

Nissan tire pressure horn honk ad

Classic Japanese car show in San Leandro on July 1

Okay, guys, I'm giving you 2-day notice. 

I'll be doing the BART run tomorrow.  It should take 8 hours and 20 minutes to complete.

Celebrity spotting: MC Hammer

Saw him at a restaurant/pub last night.  Other than a little gray in his soul patch/goatee, he's looking energetic and happy.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Countries visited by Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State


In red, as of today.  100 countries and 806,000 miles.

VW Phaeton for sale at Buggy Bank

This has been for sale for a while now.  I'm going to do a quick write-up of it on Hooniverse.

The ad is here.

Kimi, Alonso, and MSC, take two

2012 (Valencia), 2005 (France)


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

23 hour Orange County trip wrap-up

1. Failed to see Senna's McLaren because Marconi Museum is closed for remodeling. Will reopen on August 1.
2. Ended up having beers with Hooniverse's Jeff Glucker at bar inside Bloomingdales(!).
3. Friend told me about his Project Car Hell BMW 600 at a tiki bar in Downtown Disney. (See second picture below.)
4. Napped through 80% of Spain v. Portugal. I do not understand the draw of football.
5. Spent a frantic two minutes at airport gas station trying to find interior fuel door release handle. While skimming owner's manual, Good Samaritan told me to just push the door, which worked.
6. At airport now and afraid to try a Cinnabon.

Mitsubishi Galant rental

Japan's response to the Chrysler Sebring.

Cinnabon-- Tasty treat or sign of the apocalypse?

Believe it or not, I've never had a Cinnabon.  I don't like sweets and I hate airport food.  But these  rants by my favorite comics have me intrigued.  I'll be at an airport today and will give it a shot. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Paraguay crisis continues

Plus, Chavez is looking pretty healthy.  I thought he was on his deathbed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Odd trio

Billionaire former child star Mary-Kate Olsen, her boyfriend Olivier Sarkozy (brother of Nicolas), and Olivier's daughter.

Two Australian car stories

First up is an article our 6.9-loving friend Lukas sent me about Aussie Supercars.

Then we have this post about a visit to a car museum by our resident Bolwell fanatic, John L.

Thanks dudes!

Visiting every BART train station in one go

Any logistics experts out there?  What's the most efficient route on a weekday?  I'll be starting and ending at the Lafayette or Orinda station (along the yellow line).  I need to reach Richmond, Pittsburg/Bay Point, Dublin/Pleasanton, Fremont, Millbrae, and the SFO airport spur (in any order).  I do not need to take Air BART to the Oakland airport.  TIA.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The UN whistleblower

Just spoke to an old friend at the UN and this is the topic at the proverbial water cooler.

Episodes Dodge van

Just watched Season 1 of Episodes.  The sitcom stars Matt LeBlanc, Stephen Mangan, and Tamsin Greig.  This van, which shows tourists the homes of the stars, caught my eye. 

Incidentally, Matt LeBlanc's character on the show, actor Matt LeBlanc, drives an Alfa Romeo 8C convertible.  I watched the show because of all the critical acclaim, but I found it mildly entertaining.

Heidfeld to race Australian V8 Supercars

It's not a bad life, being an ex-F1 driver.  Heidfeld finished 4th in Le Mans (the fastest of the non-Audis) and it has just been announced that he will be racing at the Gold Coast 600 later this year.

My favorite Oakland restaurant

Oakland, to outsiders near and far, has a lackluster reputation.  Sure, it's got problems, but some of the food there is stellar.

I went back to Hawker Fare for the second time this week for lunch, and was blown away, again.  The theme is Southeast Asian with a strong Chinese influence.  I'm not a "presentation" person but the entrees are as beautiful to look at as they are delicious.

Issan Sausage: Grilled spicy pork with braised skin, coriander, garlic and lemongrass, chili glaze.

Kao Mun Gai: Poached chicken with salted mung bean sauce, fresh cucumber, and cilantro.

Some of my other Oakland favorites include Geta (cheap Japanese), Adesso (pates), and Gum Kuo (rice porridge).

Photos source.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Turkish F-4 shot down by Syria

It appears the jet was flying fast and low in Syrian airspace right off the Mediterranean coast.  The West is certainly tired of war (and can't afford one).  But what better way to distract the populace from a crappy economy than war.  Will NATO retaliate for the downed plane?

Exciting race at Valencia

Old school maps

We have been slow in finding appropriate art for our living room.  Finally, we've found something.  These are old (1959 for Spain and 1962 for Latin America) maps that used to hang in a public school classroom.

British and Dutch Guyanas before independence.

Diplomatic to call it "Malvinas or Falkland".  However, the islands are the same color as Argentina.

British Honduras aka Belize.

Now, for the other wall, we're looking for an old world map with the U.S.S.R. and East Germany.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Paraguay president impeached

That was quick!

The transporter

The Corvette and Bentley are pretty impressive.  I wonder what else was on that trailer. 

-Taken today in Oakland.

Driving geography buffs crazy

This ad for the San Francisco airport has been on my mind all afternoon.  The locations and distances of the cities from San Francisco are inconsistent!!! 

Carspotting: 1986 BMW 635CSi with manual transmission

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pilot defectors

Today, a Syrian air force pilot flew a MiG-21 to Jordan and asked for asylum.  This reminds of...

While growing up in Taiwan during the Cold War, one piece of news got everyone's attention.  Whenever a pilot from Mainland China defected, it was time for celebration.  It confirmed that Communism was bad and that our non-Communist dictatorship was good.  No doubt the gold that was given as a reward was a great motivator.  It was great propaganda.

Red China to Taiwan defections:

  1. 1960, MiG-15, pilot died when plane crashed on landing.
  2. 1961, An-2, two pilots awarded 25 kilos of gold as award.
  3. 1962, MiG-15, pilot got 50 kilos of gold.
  4. 1965, Il-28, first Il-28 bomber in "western" hands.
  5. 1977, Shenyang J-6.
  6. 1983, J-7, landed in South Korea, Taiwan awarded pilot 350 kilos of gold.
  7. 1983, J-5, 150 kilos of gold.
  8. 1985, Il-28 crashed in South Korea, survivor got 150 kilos of gold from Taiwan.
  9. 1986, J-6, landed in South Korea, given 250 kilos.
  10. 1986, J-6, landed in South Korea, given 250 kilos.
  11. 1987, J-6, 250 kilos.
  12. 1989, J-6, 100 kilos given instead of 250 kilos in response to Red China abolishing practice of rewarding defectors from Taiwan.
Taiwan to Red China defections:
  1. 1955, C-46 transport plane.
  2. 1955, two cadets in a PT-17 trainer.
  3. 1955, F-47, crashed and died.
  4. 1956, AT-6 trainer.
  5. 1963, F-86F.
  6. 1969, two pilots in a T-33 trainer.
  7. 1981, F-5E, awarded $370,000 U.S. but money was immediately returned.
  8. 1986, U-6A.
  9. 1986, former U-2 pilot defected in a hijacked 747(!).
  10. 1989, F-5E, pilot died after ejecting.

DC catches golf ball with Mercedes car

Porsche Panamera courtesy car

This is by far the best courtesy car I've ever seen.  It's from this dealership.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Joe the Plumber, gun control, and the Holocaust

Lanai for sale

Lanai is a small island right next to Maui.  For decades, it grew pineapples for the world.  When that became unprofitable, a couple of exclusive resorts were built and the fruit pickers became "hospitality professionals".  Now, it is for sale.

Here is a post I wrote when I first started this blog about my trip to Lanai.

World's top oil subsidizers

Cool and informative interactive map here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The highest paid motorsports athletes

Forbes just came out with its list of the world's 100 most highly paid athletes.  I skimmed through it and picked out the motorsports guys.

19. Fernando Alonso.  $32m ($29m salary, $3m endorsements)

20. Valentino Rossi.  $30m ($17m, $13m)

20. Michael Schumacher.  $30m ($20m, $10m)

23. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  $28.2m ($13.2m, $15m)

24. Lewis Hamilton.  $28m ($25m, $3m)

42. Jeff Gordon.  $23.6m ($13.6m, $10m)

47. Tony Stewart.  $22.3m ($15.3m, $7m)

53. Jimmie Johnson.  $21.5m ($14.5m, $7m)

Russia has a naval base in Syria?!

What is this, 1979?

More here.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa

And it's in order too!  Taken today in Mexico.

Mark I Honda Insight review

I used to hate these for some reason, but they fascinate me now.  Does anyone have any ownership experience?

Trade in woolly mammoth tusk ivory

Mammoth tusk necklace

With the ban on elephant ivory, Siberians are making a killing harvesting tusks from mammoths.  There are 150 million TONS of tusks buried in the permafrost.  And with global warming, more and more are popping up everyday.  Here is a fascinating 2-minute news piece on what carvers have been able to do with them.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Motorama Lafayette 2012 photos

First, an apology.  The show started at 9 a.m.  I got to a really slow start.  By the time I got to the show, it was 2:30 p.m. and more than half the cars were already gone.  Still, there were quite a few interesting cars left.

This Maserati Ghibli came all the way from Carmel.

This Maserati Sebring wasn't too shabby either.

Little Nash Metropolitan.

Old Cord and newish Alfa Romeo 8C.

At first, I thought this was an Italian roadster, but it's actually an MG Midget.

Cute Morris Minor 1000 Traveller Woodie.  It was purchased new from Tunnel Motors in Walnut Creek.

I've seen this Esprit before at another local show, but not the engine bay.

This 1967 Lotus Seven was one of the last 2nd generation Sevens made.  It's a 1962.

I don't know much about motorbikes, but this looked intriguing.  It's a 1970 OSSA Pioneer Enduro from Spain.  Ozmac and others: Can you shed some light on this?