Monday, February 29, 2016

Vespa versus motorcycle

That scooter can't be stock, right? Via Flavio Gomes.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Huell Howser in 1990 Moscow

Huell Howser is a California icon. He had a long running TV travel series about California. In 1990, he bought a camcorder and went to Moscow by himself to record the people. That's the first 30 minutes of this video. Then, immediately after the 1991 coup, he went back by himself and shot the second half of the video. Enjoy!

Different kinds of Russian hydrofoils

I opened up an old guidebook for rail travel in Siberia and saw a breakdown of different hydrofoils used by Russians.

1. Meteor. The largest, with seating in three sections (front, middle, rear). The front has a panoramic view of the river ahead. The middle is the largest section and has a kiosk that provides hot water, beer, and candy. There is an open air walkway between the middle and rear. The rear section is the warmest and noisiest because it is close to the engines.

2. Voskhod. Narrower than a Meteor, with just two sections. Front section also provides panoramic views.

3. Raketa. Just one passenger section. No wrap-around windows up front.

4. Polsye. Roughly the same size as the Raketa, but no front view (due to bridge) or rear view (due to engine).

5. Zarya. Not technically a hydrofoil, as it does not have underwater wings. But it does have water propulsion. Flat-bottomed for shallow waters. It will run right up to the riverbank without the need for a gangway or pier. Inside is like a local bus.

Audi unintended acceleration PR film

This 10+ minute piece is worth your time. Just imagine all the work done by the legal, engineering, and marketing departments. Every sentence-- every word-- was carefully selected. And Unser's road tests!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Doraemon in North Korea

Eating the Globe: Bosnia and Herzegovina

This meal beats the Chilean lomito sandwich as the best meal of the series (so far). There is a Bosnian community in the South Bay, where Euro Grill is located. A Bosnian market owned by the same people is located next door. 

I had the Cevapi (derived from the word kebab). It's akin to a skinless beef sausage. The flavor is mild yet sublime. The entree came with 10(!) sausages, raw onions, sour cream, and minced red pepper. The homemade bread alone was worth the one-hour drive. It's soft, spongey, and chewy all at the same time. It perfectly soaked up the grease and smoky flavor of the sausages. This is a masterpiece of a sandwich.

We shared some frozen fries (not Bosnian) and a unique sour pickle salad. It consisted of olives, little cocktail pickles, pickled peppers, and pickled cabbage stuffed inside larger pickled peppers. None of it was particularly sour, so it was easy to consume.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Ethiopia
Asia: Burma, China, India, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
Europe: Bosnia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Sweden
North America: Mexico, USA
South America: Brazil, Chile

John Oliver describes countries

2016 Presidential Candidates' Cars: Bernie Sanders

This one is surprising.

I had assumed he owned an old Volvo, a newer hybrid, or no car at all. But at a recent town hall, he said he owns a small, red, five year old Chevy. That he couldn't name the model tells me he could care less, which is kind of endearing. I'm assuming he has a 2011 Aveo.

But then again, it sort of makes sense. It's cheap (he's frugal and not flashy). The fact that it's red just tells me he hated shopping and just bought the cheapest car on the lot.

1993 V8 sedan comparo

1. I don't remember ever seeing a 1990s Audi when new. That 60 Minutes piece on unintended acceleration really did a number on the company. I can't believe Audi didn't just quit the U.S. market.

2. That BMW is a beast. How's your project going, Edvin?

3. Cadillac. I remember when the STS was supposed to represent a new, modern beginning for GM luxury cars. Just look at the color matching bumpers!

4. I like the Q45 the most out of this group. Infiniti took forever to be popular because of those stupid zen garden ads. I remember going to an Infiniti dealer in the mid- to late 90s and wondering if it would survive.

5. Here is my interview of an LS400 owner.

6. Why wasn't the 400E called the 420E? Sounded too much like the 420SEL?

And, as a postscript, this review talked a lot about freon-free HVAC systems. Remember in the early 90s when the hole in the ozone layer was tied with deforestation as the biggest global environmental issue? So quaint.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Baku street circuit

President Fox on Trump

Warning: Rough language.

Mexican-American reporter interviews Mexican president in English.

Trump McDonald's commercial

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Eating the Globe: A Wish List

I've been instructed by the Mrs. to create a list of future dining options. So here is a list of ten. If you're interested in joining me at any of these places (or somewhere else), let me know.

South African (only open for lunch on weekdays)

Laotian (should eat there during the day, potential safety issue)é-oakland-2

Number of billionaires by city

1. Beijing (100)
2. NYC (95)
3. Moscow (66)
4. HK (64)
5. Shanghai (50)
5. London (50)
7. Shenzhen (46)
7. Mumbai (46)
9. Hangzhou (32)
10. Paris (30)
11. Taipei (28)
11. San Francisco (28)
11. Istanbul (28)
14. Singapore (27)
14. Seoul (27)
16. Tokyo (26)
17. Sao Paolo (24)
17. Bangkok (24)
19. Los Angeles (21)
20. New Delhi (20)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Snap-- The Power

This was on Fresh Off the Boat tonight.

Our robot overlords

1. This is how I walked on the ice in Iowa.
2. Good bye, warehouse jobs.
3. One day, the robots will rise and kill us all.

I'm on Google Street View

Last December, my friend Matt and I were walking back from lunch when a Google car drove by.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Unmanned drone lands on aircraft carrier

I would be afraid to work on the deck.

2016 F1 calendar and Spa-Francorchamps advice

I missed the last five races of the 2015 season. They were:

  • Russia (I'm still boycotting)
  • US (I didn't want to see Hamilton win the championship)
  • Mexico (I forgot, having gotten used to not watching the race on TV for more than a month)
  • Brazil (Really could not give a hoot, as I had missed three races already)
  • Abu Dhabi (The season is not over yet?)

But now, it's 2016 and I can't wait for the season to begin. Here are a few thoughts about the calendar.

20 March: Melbourne, Australia (Can't come soon enough.)
3 April: Bahrain, Bahrain (Still boycotting.)
17 April: Shanghai, China
1 May: Sochi, Russia (They moved this way up from October.)
15 May: Barcelona, Spain
29 May: Monte Carlo, Monaco (Is there more than one city in Monaco?)
12 June: Montreal, Canada
19 June: Baku, Azerbaijan (Why is this called the European Grand Prix? Also(!), our very own Azeri commenter, Tarlan, will be a marshal at the race.)
3 July: Spielberg, Austria
10 July: Silverstone, United Kingdom
24 July: Budapest, Hungary
31 July: Hockenheim, Germany
28 August: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (85% sure I am going.)
4 September: Monza, Italy
18 September: Singapore
2 October: Sepang, Malaysia (Did Russia and Malaysia switch places? Also, what's the 411 on that Indonesian driver?)
9 October: Suzuka, Japan 
23 October: Austin, USA
30 October: Mexico City, Mexico (I saw photos of the stadium and it looks rad.)
13 November: Sao Paolo, Brazil
27 November: Abu Dhabi, UAE

So, Belgium. Has anyone been to the race? Any tips? Which corner/area would you sit? Eau Rouge, the Chicane, La Source? Here are the choices.

Oh, and by the way, Rosberg has a 3:1 chance of winning the championship this year. Bernie Sanders has a 9:1 chance of winning the presidency this year.

Eating the Globe: Brazil

These chicken croquettes (coxinhas) were fabulous. Here is the restaurant's Yelp page.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Ethiopia
Asia: Burma, China, India, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
Europe: Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Sweden
North America: Mexico, USA
South America: Brazil, Chile

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Jaguar XJ220 drive

The owner's dad is a Coptic billionaire in Houston.

Personally, I think the car is fugly.

Our next president...

Don't blame me. I voted for the other guy.

Young Bernie and Hillary

The Nevada caucus is this morning!

Here is an ad that came out yesterday, narrated by Morgan Freeman.

And here is Bernie in 1963, arrested in Chicago for protesting against racial segregation in public schools.

Plane lands on wrong aircraft carrier

Friday, February 19, 2016

Eating the Globe: Great Britain

I went out of my way today to eat at this fish-and-chips place, which, according to Yelp, was supposed to be fantastic. It was awful.

That spray bottle was for the vinegar.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Ethiopia
Asia: Burma, China, India, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
Europe: Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Sweden
North America: Mexico, USA
South America: Chile

A representative car from each decade

Cool video. Via Flavio Gomes.

Hillary and Bernie woo Latino voters in Nevada

These TV ads are pretty heavy handed. Tomorrow is the caucus. Let's see what happens.

TSX wagon versus Accord Crosstour sales figures

Two Accord wagons, one much more popular than the other.

Acura TSX wagon:
2010: 126
2011: 3,210
2012: 4,234
2013: 1,976
2014: 640
Total: 10,186

Honda Accord Crosstour:
2009: 2,564
2010: 28,851
2011: 17,974
2012: 20,848
2013: 16,847
2014: 11,802
2015: 9,104
Total: 107,990

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Guy eating like an animal at In N Out

Sadly, I suspect this is how I eat when I go to lunch alone.

Karl Rove Super PAC attacks Hillary Clinton in Nevada

Nevada will be the third state contest in the 2016 season. On Saturday, Democrats will choose between Clinton and Sanders. Polls have them tied, but Clinton has an advantage because she has the support of the unions.

This is a case of "My enemy's enemy is my friend." GOP operative Karl Rove is helping Bernie Sanders by attacking Hillary Clinton in this Nevada TV ad. He's equating Hillary to Trump (in English and Spanish). Or, in the alternative, he wants Sanders to beat Clinton because he thinks Bernie will be easier to beat in November.

Illegal North Korean photo

Taken while minder was gone for 15 seconds.

Sorry, P. I know you don't like North Korean photos.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Eating the Globe: Israel

Other than the soggy fries, everything was delicious: chicken schnitzel, hummus with tahini, Israeli salad, pita bread.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Ethiopia
Asia: Burma, China, India, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
Europe: Germany, Greece, Italy, Sweden
North America: Mexico, USA
South America: Chile

Sunday, February 14, 2016

St. Helena's first airport

I watched a Globe Trekker episode on St. Helena. It's a tiny British island in the middle of the South Atlantic. The island's only connection with the outside world is a mail ship that goes there every three weeks. The ship takes five days to travel there from Cape Town.

An airport is finally being built and will be completed this year. Its three-story air traffic control tower is the tallest building on the island. Given the unpredictable weather, planes are expected to circle overhead for up to two hours before the runway is clear. If it's not clear after two hours, the flight has to abort and land in Namibia or Angola.

Here is a BBC documentary about the fears and hopes of the locals regarding the airport. Will the young leave? Will developers ruin the island? Unfortunately, the fisherman featured in the documentary recently committed suicide. And like Pitcairn Island, another remote British territory, allegations of rampant child abuse have arisen.

And here is a more cheery promotional piece about the island. Check out the governor's X-Type!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bernie's Superdelegates problem

Superdelegates are elected politicians and party leaders. They have a say in who becomes the Democratic presidential nominee. Clinton has a lock on the vast majority of these people (she has 394, Sanders has just 44).

Here is the head of the Democratic party (who happened to be co-chair of Clinton's 2008 run) explaining how this is fair.

And this handy chart from 538 shows what a candidate needs in order to win the nomination.

Lister Jaguar Le Mans

Here's another car I had never heard of. Jay Ramey at AutoWeek wrote a nice description.

Bentley Turbo R Empress II

I happened upon this while looking for photos of Turbo Rs. It cost half a million pounds to create. Ghastly.

Simon Le Bon shopping at Sears in 1993

The Cindy Crawford posts came about became I am listening to her interview on Marc Maron's WTF podcast. She mentioned a House of Styles episode in which she went shopping with Duran Duran.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Cindy Crawford, Mercury Sable

Eating the Globe: Thailand

I've had a hacking cough since I got back from frigid Iowa. So last weekend, I got some chicken soup from the local Thai restaurant. I'm not a big fan of Thai food, but I always get some fish cakes.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Ethiopia
Asia: Burma, China, India, Japan, Lebanon, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
Europe: Germany, Greece, Italy, Sweden
North America: Mexico, USA
South America: Chile

How NOT to announce layoffs of 1,400 factory workers


Early Valentine's dinner at Commis

Commis is the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Oakland (with two). We rarely fine dine, so I thought I would share the menu and some photos (grabbed from Yelp).

The owner is a local kid with Thai and Chinese parents. He worked at El Bulli and several top restaurants in the Bay Area. His restaurant's interior was minimalist.

We got the 8-course menu with the wine pairing. The first half of the meal was exceptional. The second half was mediocre. The pairings were spot on.

I. Caramelized onion financier with bee pollen
Foie gras tartlet with dried pear and mulling spices
Celery root with lovage, apple and mustard

II. Fermented carrots with Pacific herring, yogurt and honey
Kiuchi Brewing Co. "Hitachino Nest", White Ale, Ibaraki, Japan

III. Scallops and geoduck, radish and avocado perfumed with kaffir lime leaves
Weingut Mathern, Niederhauser Hermannshohle Spatlese, Nahe, Germany 2000

IV. Jerusalem artichokes with sunflower, trout roe and warm sea lettuce butter
Domaine Roblin, Sancerre, Loire Valley, France 2013

V. Slow poached egg yolk with smoked dates, alliums, and malt
Francois Chidaine, Montlouis-Sur-Loire, Clos du Breuil, Loire Valley, France 2014

VI. True cod, roasted hen juices emulsified with young garlic, almond panade
Louis Lequin, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot, Burgundy, France 2007

VII. Root vegetable and black garlic boullion, olive oil and marjoram

VIII. Roast squab, ragout of the innards with cacao, dried sour cherry and filberts
Paolo-Scavino, Baralo, Bric del Fiasc, Piedmont, Italy 2006

IX. Jacobs and Brichford "Everton Comte" with pine bud molasses

X. Tapioca and hay namelaka with tart apple ice

XI. Pecan and candied ginger biscuit with yuzu curd, sweet potato ice cream
Het Anker, Gouden Carolus, Tripel, Mechelen, Belgium

XII. Cep-chocolate truffle
Salted sesame seed caramel
Campari and grapefruit pate de fruit

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Sentimental Toyota ad

A real tear jerker.

Clinton AOL ad

In Sanders's 22-point win over Clinton in New Hampshire, he led among every demographic group except two: people over the age of 65 and families that make over $200,000 a year.

If he can convert enough African-American voters in South Carolina, Clinton will be in real trouble.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

New Hampshire votes today

For the Republicans, I think Bush and Kasich will do very well. Trump will still win though.

As for the Dems, if Sanders wins big, he will have momentum going into Nevada. Heads will roll in Camp Clinton. Look for Bill Clinton to get nasty.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Photos from North Vietnamese perspective

More here.

Matt LeBlanc and Rowan Atkinson on Top Gear

Top Gear is old hat, but here is Joey doing a lap in a reasonably priced car.

And here's Mr. Bean's lap.

Barbara Bush campaigning for Jeb

This is sad. Sad.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Tim's Citroen

It's almost done!

Here it was in 2012.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

My next car: Acura TSX wagon

The Saab story has become a sob story. Three of the best Saab specialists in town can't figure out what's wrong with it. Repair estimates range from $3,100 to $5,000+, with no guarantees. Worse, the parts needed for said repair are nowhere to be found.

So, a new chapter. Something reliable. I'm going to get a 2014 TSX wagon tomorrow or Friday. It's white.

Eazy E in 1989, Venice Beach

High resolution moon surface shot

From that Chinese moon rover.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Iowa: Day 4 + Election Results Postscript

I wanted to beat the snow storm so I left Iowa a day early. Unfortunately, I was going to miss the caucus process Monday night.

I drove two hours to Des Moines, mostly through icy fog. I highly recommend two of the podcasts I listened to during the boring drive. The first is an interview of a journalist who has covered every Middle East war since 1973. The second is an interview of New York Times food critic Pete Wells.

I grabbed a quick lunch at this "Chinese" joint next to the airport. I had overdosed on pork during this trip but I just had to try their bacon egg roll. It was surprisingly funky, in a good way. I had imagined an entire slice of bacon wrapped inside the egg roll, but it was actually little bits peppered in the edible delivery device.

At a table next to mine was a nice older lady. We got to talking and I learned that she was going to be a Hillary precinct captain on caucus night. Despite all the vitriol and bad blood, I quickly realized that in the grand scheme of things, we are on the same side. We really need to talk to and socialize with people with different points of view. Hanging out with partisans who agree with you 100% of the time is neither productive nor healthy.

On the flight to my Vegas layover, I read a sad but uplifting article in the airline magazine(!) about a Navajo woman who delivers fresh water to reservation residents.

I had a three hour layover in Vegas and my mother took me to this authentic Chinese restaurant right next to the airport. I highly recommend it if you have a few hours to burn between connections. Having had no real vegetables for three days, I ate every green-looking thing on the table.

A final note about the trip. Somehow, my boarding passes said I got assigned to TSA Pre-Check. It was incredibly convenient. There were no lines, and I didn't have to take off my shoes or stand in that see-me-nude machine. I'm going to sign up for it. It made the airport experience infinitely better.

A final final note. I was and am conflicted. I realize that I was essentially a caucus tourist. Though my motives were sincere-- I wanted substantive change in the political process and wanted to make this country a better place for the poor and middle class-- this was essentially a vacation. I treated Iowa like an exotic destination and marveled at the foreign ways the people there lived and ate. I do not feel good about it.

Did Bernie win, lose, or draw? Officially, Hillary won 699.57 county delegates to Sanders's 697.77. The county where I worked, Black Hawk County, went for Sanders 53%-47%. The arcane rules and imperfect hand counting led to a less-than-ideal result. Six delegates-- SIX-- were determined by coin tosses. Hillary won all six.

American democracy at work, ladies and gentlemen!

Post postscript:
Among Democratic voters ages 17 to 29, Bernie won 84% to 14%.

So was it a win, lose, or draw for Bernie?

Monday, February 01, 2016

Iowa: Day 3

Day 3 was interesting.

I learned that after the Bosnian war, around 4,000 Muslims were re-located to Waterloo, Iowa. The local meat processing plant was short on skilled labor and a bunch of the refugees came from a region of livestock farmers. It was a perfect fit.

I found a Bosnian bakery that was open early on Sunday. I didn't see any unrecognizable baked goods, so I picked up this bag of Smoki. It's like Cheetos, but tastes like bland peanuts. It's made in Serbia. I also got a bottle of Cockta (because I'm 14), a Slovenian soda. It tasted like licorice.

Day 3 was a big day. Bernie was in town. The building on the left houses the Waterloo campaign headquarters. They blocked off a big parking space for his bus. The rally was conveniently set to take place at the convention center across the street. Trump will be at the same convention center on Monday.

But before the 2pm rally, I had more doors to knock. I drove 30 minutes east to Independence (population 6,000). It's the county seat of Buchanan County (population 21,000). The conditions were atrocious. I couldn't walk on the street because of traffic. I couldn't walk on the sidewalks because they were covered with ice. I knocked on 18 doors before getting back in the car to help set up for the rally. In Independence, I spotted two yard signs and they were both Bernie signs.

A couple of side notes. On the way to Independence, I got passed by this Corvette covered with a Rand Paul vinyl wrap.

And in the town of Independence, I drove by a used car dealership that had 36 Impalas in stock. The dealership only had 37 cars.

When I got back, the C-Span van was parked in front of the convention center. Other political celebrities I saw: Congressman Keith Ellison (shorter in person), Joe Klein of Time (ruder in person), and Joe Johns of CNN (had big feet).

Those white tables in the foreground were for the press. There were two banks of cameras. My job was to sign attendees in and hand them stickers and signs. I greeted journalists from Spain, Japan, and some random Central European country.

The media estimated attendance to be between 650 to 1,100. I would ballpark it at around 750. They were young and old. Down-and-out to upper middle class. I saw someone from every ethnic group, but the crowd was overwhelmingly white. The state, after all, is 91.3% white.

And here's the Man of the Hour. I've heard his speeches before, so I didn't learn anything new. I was just blown away by the enthusiasm of the crowd. People waited outside, two hours before the doors opened. Bernie, by the way, sounded just like Larry David doing a George Steinbrenner impersonation.

I ended the day with a late lunch/early dinner. This pork fritter sandwich was from the same place as where I got the pork tenderloin sandwich two days ago. But it wasn't as good. Note the tiny green speck of lettuce on the pork.

And here was a sign hanging next to my table.

Sadly, I am leaving a day early and so I won't be here to witness the caucus on Monday night. A huge snow storm is coming Tuesday morning. If I stay as scheduled, I am going to be stuck in Iowa for at least a day or two. I've got to go home.