Thursday, August 30, 2012

Posting will resume on Tuesday...

Have a happy and safe long weekend, my fellow Americans!

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This documentary is available on Netflix streaming.  It's not just about food, but about work ethic, honing a craft, father-son relationships, and so much more.  Has anyone eaten there?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cheap American food

I just had a quick bite at In N Out, a better-than-average hamburger chain.  I am amazed at how cheap the meal was.  A double beef patty cheeseburger was just $3.30 and a side of fries was $1.50.  The level of agricultural industrialization (and government subsidies) must be incredible.

I'll be going to the heart of corn, beef, pork, and soybean country this weekend.  I'll report back on what I find out.

Mossad does not like Peugeots

Fast and Furious, Swedish Edition

H/t to Edvin.

1959 Porsche 356 D convertible

I was having wine with an older friend yesterday and was completely blown away by the revelation that he is a car guy.  For most of the time that I have known him, he drove a late 80s Oldsmobile.  His favorite car was a white 1959 Porsche 356 D.  He said it's easy to identify because it has one grill in the back (as opposed to two).  He bought it secondhand and autocrossed it.  He later had a 914, which was underpowered but perfectly balanced.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Five classic Land Rovers at Pebble Beach

PSY and Hyundai Equus


I just had a trippy, eye-opening day yesterday. My friend owns/manages duplexes and fourplexes all over Oakland and I tagged along with him. 
  • I got cussed out by a 3 year old and a 5 year old. 
  • I witnessed two octogenarians load/unload gas dryers from a pickup truck. Their compensation-- selling the old gas dryer for scrap. 
  • Mexican immigrants picking on Guatemalan immigrants. They paid Guatemalan ladies $60 a day for housekeeping work. They work 12 hour days. 
  • Six people living in a small one-bedroom unit. A washer and dryer were offered by the landlord but turned down because there was not enough room inside the apartment. 
  • A park was closed (with fences) because there was so much violence and drug activity. 
You and I are incredibly fortunate. Don't take anything for granted.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pagani Zonda

In a week of extreme cars, this Zonda may have been the most extreme at Pebble Beach.  It attracted more attention than anything else.

Porsche 928 four-door concept

This was at the Porsche display at Pebble Beach.  More info here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Will be back on Monday

In the mean time, please enjoy a summary of Edvin's Oregon and California road trip.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Test driving the Aston Martin Vantage S, BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Hyundai Equus

Disclaimer #1: I drove these cars over very short distances, i.e. approximately two to four miles per car.  
Disclaimer #2: In declaring that none of these cars impressed me, I am not under the influence of crack.  I swear.

Aston Martin Vantage S
MSRP: $136,300
Engine: 4.7 liter V8 430 hp
What I got from the manufacturer: The chance to drive an Aston (!!!); the chance to see the inside of a $15 million mansion (it was the venue for the test drive); and a fancy drink made of watermelon juice, soda, and fresh sprigs of rosemary.
Impressions: It's a beautiful car.  The exhaust note (in sport mode) is viscerally charged.  It's loud but not obnoxious.  The ride was firm but not kidney busting.  And obviously, it is a fast car.  But, I just was not wowed by it.  This Aston is the most expensive and most powerful car I have ever driven.  And it's what James Bond drives (not this model, but you get the idea).  But the interior controls felt cheap (plastic-ky) and haphazardly cobbled together.  Nothing inside felt luxurious.  It's supposed to be a supercar that is also classy.  I was not feeling it.  At all.

BMW 640i Gran Coupe
MSRP: $76,000-$93,000
Engine: 3 liter 6 cylinder 315 hp
What I got from the manufacturer: 3 spam emails (so far) asking me to go to my local BMW dealer.
Impressions: I understand that like the CLS and the A7, this is a more compact, coupe-sedan hybrid.  But it was positively claustrophobic in the cockpit.  Also, the dashboard and controls were overwhelming.  The car comes with a joystick gear shifter.  I had trouble with it on my friend's new 5-series.  I had the same difficulty with the 640's.  While parallel parking, I could not figure out what gear I was in.  When I looked at the dash for help, dozens of lights, pictograms, and abbreviations stared back at me.  All of these minuses distracted me from the car's looks, as it is stunning.

Hyundai Equus
MSRP: $59,000-$66,000
Engine: 5 liter V8 429 hp
What I got from the manufacturer: A fancy, faux moleskin Hyundai notebook.
Impressions: The reps were eager to let me sit in the back seat and try out the massage chair first.  Though it was comfortable, I was shocked at how little legroom there was in the back.  The Phaeton and the new BMW 750Li have much more room to stretch one's legs.  What cheapened the experience was the remote control for the seat functions.  It looked and felt cheaper than a 1980s Mexican-made Magnavox TV remote.  Rolls-Royce does not have to worry about this "competitor".  My favorite part of the car is the wooden steering wheel, although I would have preferred it more if it was a bit chunkier.  Despite all the hype surrounding the big Hyundai, it felt like driving a Camry-- competent, but not superlative in any way. 

Imelda Marcos and Pinochet at Franco's funeral

H/t to Viva Chile.

Monday, August 20, 2012