Monday, October 31, 2016

Bologna, Italy

Has anyone been? Is it worth more than an overnight stay? It's close to Modena. I've never been to Italy before.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Orania, South Africa's all Afrikaner town

Here is a short intro:

Here is a promotional video:

Weiner documentary

On Friday, news broke that more Clinton emails were found. They were found on Anthony Weiner's laptop. Weiner, the disgraced Congressman and ex-husband to close Clinton aide Huma Abiden, is an infamous sexter. I watched the documentary about the couple yesterday on YouTube ($14.99) and it was totally worth it.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saudi-Yemeni war

This week, Houthi rebels fired a missile at Mecca. It was intercepted, presumably by a Patriot missile. These are the countries which have Patriot batteries. I'm surprised the U.S. allowed Taiwan to have the system.

And here is a video of Houthis attacking a desolate border watchtower along the Saudi-Yemeni border. The geology is so out-of-this-world.

I get that the young Saudi prince was trying to make his mark by cutting oil prices and bombing Yemen, but his tenure has been a disaster for everyone.

Strange story out of South Korea

I had no idea about President Park's past history until I read some stories this morning. But it goes something like this (and please correct me if I'm wrong, Korean experts). Park's father was the president of South Korea in the 1960s. Park's mother was assassinated and Park became First Lady. During that time, a shaman/cult leader named Choi pretended to channel Park's dead mother and had great influence over Park.

Fast forward to the present, and Park is president. She is close to Choi's daughter, who apparently received copies of presidential briefings, advised Park with respect to speeches and policies, and used her connection to Park to get large corporations to donate millions to Choi's "charities".

A good summary is here.

That's a fancy building Choi lives in. Check out her neighbors' cars!

Northwest Angle, Minnesota: American exclave in Canada


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Poll observer in Nevada

I just got my marching orders. I will be a poll observer this weekend in Washoe County, Nevada. Reno, the second largest city in Nevada after Las Vegas, is in Washoe County. My job will be to make sure every eligible voter gets to vote and that no one is intimidated.

Washoe is an interesting county. It is a swing county in a swing state. It's Wild West conservative, but it also has a growing Latino population and a liberal patch around the University of Nevada at Reno.

I volunteered there in 2008 and watched Obama win on Election Night.

In 2008, Obama won there 55.25% to McCain's 42.61%.

In 2012, Obama won 50.79% to Romney's 47.09%.

Early voting started last Saturday. So far, in Washoe County, 16,332 registered Democrats, 12,881 Republicans, and 6,329 Others have voted.

This will be interesting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

BMW i3 and Civic tires

The Land Cruiser search has not been a high priority. I'm leaning towards giving her the TSX wagon, leasing a BMW i3 for myself (to get the tax write-off as it will be mostly used for work), and keeping the Civic. Even with a budget of $30,000 for the Land Cruiser, I'm still ultimately getting a ten year old car that gets crappy mileage. That doesn't make much sense.

The 2017 BMW i3 is improved. The battery range goes from 81 miles to 114 miles. If I have to go to the South Bay to work, the round trip is 111.4 miles. I would get the range extender, a 2-cylinder motorcycle engine.

For now, I'm driving the Civic. The road noise is getting unbearable. I'm thinking of replacing the discount tires with something more substantial. I went on Tire Rack and these are the "premium" choices. It looks like the Michelin Defender is the way to go. My priorities are, in this order: noise, comfort, performance, tread life. I will never drive in snow or ice. Have you had any experience with these tires?

Owner of A Lonely Heart

I've never watched the video, until today. Check out the Jag!

You Spin Me Round

I knew the song, but I didn't know the band (Dead Or Alive) or the singer (Pete Burns). Burns passed away this week.

And, like every other 80s hit, You Spin Me Round is now used in a commercial. This time, for scratchers.

California Lottery "You Spin Me" from Search Party on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Ethiopian Airlines-- Largest and most profitable in Africa

I had no idea Ethiopian was so successful until I read this article. They even maintain planes from other African airlines.

And here are all of Ethiopian's current destinations:

Africa - 51 Cities

Abidjan, Abuja, Accra, Addis Ababa, Bahir dar, Bamako, Blantyre, Brazzaville, Bujumbura, Cairo, Cape Town, Cotonou, Dakar, Dar-Es-Salaam, Dire dawa, Djibouti, Douala, Durban, Entebbe, Enugu, Gaborone, Goma, Harare, Hargeisa,Johannesburg, Juba, Kano, Khartoum, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, Lilongwe, Lomé, Luanda, Lubumbashi, Lusaka, Malabo, Maputo, Mekele, Mombasa, N’Djamena, Nairobi, Ndola, Niamey, Ouagadougou, Pointe-Noire, Seychelles, Yaoundé, Zanzibar.
Europe & America - 17 Cities 

Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Liege, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Maastricht, Milan,Newark, Paris, Rome, São Paulo, Stockholm, Toronto, Vienna, Washington DC.
Gulf, Middle East & Asia - 25 Cities 
Bahrain, Bangkok, Bangalore, Beijing, Beirut, Chennai, Dammam, Delhi, Doha, Dubai, Dubai World Center, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Jeddah, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Manila, Mumbai, Muscat, Riyadh, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Tokyo.
[Coming soon: Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam ]

"When does [Country X]..." Google search

Shaving wood down to 8 microns

Rent A Wheel

This exists? This exists.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Extreme prepper

I'm about 75% done with gathering the items needed to survive after an earthquake for five days.

Here is a CNN clip of a fellow prepper. I think his weakest link is his Land Rover Discovery.

Taliban drone captures suicide truck bomb

Holy fucking shit.

H/t to rchen.

18 days until Election Day

My blood pressure is down significantly. It looks like she will win. I have already mailed in my ballot. I have had my poll observer training and am just waiting for assignments in Reno and/or Vegas. In Nevada, the polls open from October 22 to November 4 and again on Election Day.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Namibia vacation review

F1Outsider recently visited Namibia and I thought it would be fun to ask him about his experience. Thanks, F1Outsider!

1. Why Namibia?

After going to South Africa last year and absolutely falling in love with Africa we immediately decided we needed to go back and see more. Namibia came up as a very safe country with sweeping desert landscapes, and abundant animal life. Overlanding is also something that is a big draw for me and my friend Steven, so renting an overland vehicle to use as our home for the duration of the trip was very exciting for us. Another major draw for me personally was because Namibia is one of the countries with the lowest light pollution in the world. I'm fascinated with night sky photography and wanted to see what kind of images I could create. The other 2 friends that came along just wanted to be in on the adventure.

2. What was your itinerary?

Because of the dates we were able to book safari lodges in Etosha National Park our itinerary and driving routes were a little backwards and we ended up having to do somewhat of a figure 8 around the country.

We flew into Windhoek, which is the Capital and really only big city in the country and picked up our 4x4 Hi-Lux. From there we started making our way south to visit Sossusvlei, which is famous for the world's biggest sand dunes and also Deadvlei and continued on south to Aus and Luderitz which are famous for wild horses and also Kolmanskop. Kolmanskop is an abandoned mining town that is being taken over the by desert. There is a famous National Geographic image of this place. After that we drove 12 hours back to the northern part of the country and spent a day in Swakopmund which is where Namibians spend their beach holidays. We explored the dunes near Swakopmund by ATV and also practiced sand boarding. After Swakopmund we did another long stretch of driving to the gates of Etosha National park and spent 3 days exploring the park before heading back east to the Skeleton Coast and down south to Swakopmund before heading back east to Windhoek.

3. How did you research your trip?

We booked the flights around February and my friend Steven ended up doing most of the research because my life became pretty hectic with moving to Colorado and starting a new job out here. We learned a lot from our trip to South Africa last year and Steven took on the task of making a lot of phone calls and sending a lot of emails to book certain places we absolutely wanted to stay at. If anyone is thinking of visiting any part of Africa I highly recommend booking early and being very persistent in making phone calls, sending emails and following up or you will not get what you want.

4. Did you get to drive in Namibia? What was that like, compared to, say, Brazil?

I did the majority of the driving with Steven taking over for the shorter routes or when I was a bit tired. I don't know the exact figure, but it felt like less than 10% of the country's roads were paved. But they were otherwise very well taken care of and extremely well marked although I would not recommend driving on them with a normal car. We had to stop to help an older German couple who had a nasty flat in a small rental car. We never felt lost, although at times, it was a bit unsettling to drive 4 or 5 hours without seeing another car. Where there was asphalt the roads were extremely well maintained. Brazil has a lot to learn from how Namibia and South Africa maintain their roads.

A photo posted by ThatNeivaDude (@thatneivadude) on

5. What are Namibians like?

Very polite and helpful but not very warm. Much like the Germans, I would say.

6. What was the food like?

We had a fantastic meal in Swakopmund and some of the best wine I've ever tasted. Elsewhere the food was ok. We were making our own dinners and breakfast and would stop at the nearest town to grab lunch and it was hit or miss. I was surprised at how delicious Oryx and Springbok meat is.

7. Namibia has a funky history, with German and Afrikaner influences. Did you sense that?

The country is very much German in culture. From their food, to the beer and how they interact with people. It seemed much less Afrikaner than South Africa.

A photo posted by ThatNeivaDude (@thatneivadude) on

8. What was your most memorable experience?

The entire trip was a dream come true for me. Climbing one of the world's tallest sand dunes in Sossusvlei to watch the sunrise is something I won't soon forget.

9. What was your most challenging/negative experience?

Driving to Etosha National Park we stopped at a Cheetah Conservatory and from there we decided to take a route that wasn't clearly marked on the map. We ended up getting lost and unknowingly drove into a private game reserve. There were no signs indicating it was private land. The owner chased us down and gave us hell for trespassing into his land and endangering his animals. My friend Steven was driving. I tried to diffuse the situation but the man was having none of it. I flat out told him he could keep on yelling at us or he could show us how to get out of his land and be on our way. He showed us the way out and before exiting I stepped down from our truck and walked over to apologize again but he still wasn't having any of it. 

10. Why do you love to travel?

Traveling re-energizes my soul. 

A photo posted by ThatNeivaDude (@thatneivadude) on

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Japan vacation interview

HouseOfCadillacs recently visited Japan and I thought it would be fun to ask him about his experience. Thanks, HouseOfCadillacs!

Why Japan?

I had never been to Asia before so I figured that Japan would be a good country for the first trip, plus two of my close friends had been there on business trips and highly recommended it.

What was your itinerary?

The trip started with 5 days in Tokyo followed by a Shinkansen ride (177 mph!) to Kyoto where we stayed for 4 days and then back to Tokyo for the last two days. We did a day trip to Nara while we were in Kyoto.

What were your expectations before you went? Did they come true?

My expectations were that it would be a very modern, high-tech country with lots and lots of people crowded together and that getting around on our own was not going to be a problem. This was all based on my extensive research (I don’t like to go on organized tours, prefer to explore on my own) before the trip and what I gathered from my friend’s first hand experiences.

I’d say most of my expectations were pretty spot on but there were also some surprises. Probably the real positive surprise was that the crowded streets and subways did not intimidate me at all due to the Japanese being so friendly and organized. Walking down a busy street in Shinjuku during rush hour was memorable in terms of how everybody knew intuitively where to walk and how to cross without holding anybody up.

What also left a big impression on me is how clean and safe it is, especially in a huge metropolitan area like Tokyo. At no point did I ever feel worried about my personal safety even at night. On many occasions I saw people leaving their wallet/cellphone/purse on a table while they went to the restroom, something I don’t think I would ever do. I think the closest in safety would be Oslo, Norway, which I visited last year.

The biggest surprise was probably the weather. I’d read that fall is a good time to go to Japan, but it was still very hot and humid, with quite a bit of rain in the forecast. Apparently, the summer in Japan stretches all the way to the end of September and into October. Fall for them would seem to start at the end of October and into November based on a bulletin board we saw at the JR travel office in Shinjuku. It showed a map of Japan with the trees turning color and predictions for when the color would be at peak. They were all for about three or four weeks later. 

It was also surprising that in a city as large and cosmopolitan as Tokyo so few people really speak English. It made things like trying to order in a restaurant more challenging. You kind of had to roll the dice with the picture menu, which does not tell the whole story (yakitori chicken gizzards anyone?) and the often hilarious English translations, which may or may not actually reflect what you will get on your plate. Anybody want some “weak coffee”?

As someone from Austria and now living in the U.S., what did you think of the Japanese culture?

Fascinating, homogenous like Austria in the 70s/80s when I grew up (conforming to a set of norms), willing to follow the rules even unwritten ones. Japan feels like an extreme example of this even to this day while Austria like many other European countries has definitely changed to more diverse societies. Very formal even from an Austrian point of view. Notable lack of ethnic diversity.

What did you enjoy the most? What was disappointing?

Well, I have to admit the pastries won me right over on the first day. The cleanliness and friendliness, peacefulness on the street and on the metro (the default mode is to be quiet vs. the default mode in the US is to talk). Of course I loved the Shinkansen!

The weather, as already mentioned, was a bit of a surprise because it made being out running around all day kind of difficult. About the third or fourth day we figured out that we needed to duck into someplace air conditioned on a regular basis to cool off for the next wave of sightseeing.

Also, in the culinary district, the fake food, which we’d thought would make cool souvenirs, turned out to be very expensive. A fake bowl of tempura udon was about $350. The fake food in Japan is like an art form.

What was the most unusual thing you saw/experienced?

Without question the Hedgehog Cafe in Tokyo. I guess because people live in such small spaces and work such long hours in the city having a pet is out of the question for most of them. This has given rise to a truly unusual variety of animal cafes where you can pay by the hour or half hour to be around and pet and hold all different types of animals ranging from bunnies, cats, chinchillas, owls, snakes, and of course the most famous of all, hedgehogs (which are cute for about 30 minutes until they either start pissing and shitting all over the place or curl into a ball and poof out their little quills so you can’t play with them any more).

The second most unusual thing was the variety of toilets, something for every taste and style. Rustic Asian, i.e. a hole in the floor, to the basic western style “sit on the throne,” to the fully automatic computerized models with built in butt washer and drier that play music for privacy. Of course, the Japanese love instructions and there were explicit “how tos” with pictographs included to explain how to properly use each type.

Any great meals?

My Austrian heritage will show in this answer.  Something that I didn’t read about in my research was that sweets and desserts are so popular in Japan. I was truly impressed with the number of bakeries and patisseries and the multitude of offerings. I had no idea that the afternoon coffee & cake tradition, that I’m used to from Austria, is so popular in Japan. I ate many great cakes but what really stuck in my mind was a curry flavored baguette that had just the right hint of curry seasoning. Also loved the Hokkaido Sweet Corn Mochis.

Did you see any cars there that fascinated you?

Of course I was looking forward to seeing a Toyota Century in real life and it did not disappoint. Unfortunately the test drive track at Toyota MegaWeb in Tokyo was closed on the day of my visit, sure would have loved to drive one. While there I took a closer look at the Toyota Crown Majesta, which I kept seeing everywhere. I love the styling but the interior is a little disappointing, at least if one is used to Phaeton interiors. Also love all those aggressive looking Minivans like the Toyota Alphard which has the front end of a Lexus sedan on steroids. Then there are all those cute Kei cars with funny names, like the Suzuki Hustler!

How would you describe Japan to someone who has never been there?

Peaceful, clean, safe, organized, ZEN. A harmonious blend of ancient and modern.

Why do you love to travel?

I love to see new places and experience other cultures, gives me a new perspective on home both the positives and negatives (the BART ride home from SFO was a stark contrast to the train ride to Tokyo to Tokyo-Narita). I also enjoy architecture and Tokyo certainly did deliver on both ancient and modern buildings.

Incredible private Mitsubishi collection in Germany

Link here.

Mesmerizing car crusher

Monday, October 17, 2016

Puerto Rico vacation interview

@Slirt recently visited Puerto Rico and I thought it would be fun to ask him about his experience. Thanks, Slirt!

Why Puerto Rico?

On my To Go list as I've seen much of Latin America (capitals & colonial cities/towns) but felt remiss to have not seen the "Gateway to the Caribbean" and the de facto capital of New Spain. I'd never been been to a Caribbean island, it wasn't even on my radar until maybe 10 years ago when I discovered & learned about Vieques (island, former Navy practice area; I really wanted to go to the W Hotel there, but ala$ it wa$n't meant to be), and lately I've been watching a lot of Beachfront Bargain Hunt, House Hunters International, Island Hunters, and Caribbean Life on HGTV. But as it's also a US territory, I always choose abroad over domestic (ie, went to Colombia instead, 2013). 

Five years ago I realized it's MUCH cheaper to fly to PR than Hawaii (almost half: $350-400 vs. $600-700 from L.A.) and I wanted this to be a water-based vacation (pool, beach, scuba); October is also LOW season (lotsa rain, VERY humid), meaning cheapest flights & deals to be had at hotels, etc. Risk is it's also hurricane season... and we lucked out in that regard, arriving on the heels of Matthew. But as a Florida-born Angelino, I was looking forward to seeing (feeling, smelling) some warm, tropical rain!

What was your itinerary?

LAX-ORD, where Mike (from YVR) & I met for our ORD-SJU flight on United. [As much as I love international travel and the associated adrenaline rush, I must admit it was nice to avoid Immigration & Customs, making coming & going much faster.] 

Rented a 2017 Toyota Yaris iA from Europcar and immediately drove east to Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort, my 1st resort experience. Four nights (Mon-Thurs*) there, then back to San Juan, ditched the car, and spent Friday-Saturday nights in Old San Juan (OSJ) at La Terraza hotel. Same SJU-ORD-LAX flights home.

*Mon - downpour upon arrival at resort; dinner at Kioskos de Luqillo: mofongo & mojito (pictured).
*Tues - torrential rain, so rainforest: El Yunque National Forest; mostly drove, short hike; lots of infrastructure there built by Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s!
*Weds - best day forecasted, cloudy no rain, so catamaran (my 1st) sail & snorkel from Fajardo to Icocos Island, $66
*Thurs - SUNNY! drove 2hrs east to Arecibo Observatory.

Without fail we started and/or ended our days in the pool(s) & hot tub(s); the resort's beach was OK & we walked it twice, but the weather conditions made it less inviting than it woulda been otherwise.

In Old San Juan we were also treated to a Columbus Day airshow by the Thunderbirds, who roared overhead as we drank in the rooftop plunge pool.

Given that the Puerto Rican economy almost went bankrupt, how much did things (gas, food, etc.) cost compared with the mainland?

The economic situation was basically invisible to these tourists' eyes, and I kept having to remember it. That said, I was surprised that PR was more expensive than I expected it to be. It wasn't particularly expensive (like Hawaii), but rather it was about the same as mainland US: $3/gallon gasoline, $5 beers, $10 lunch, $20 dinner; certainly not a Thailand-priced bargain destination in that regard. But I used a Travelzoo voucher for the resort (buy 2 nights, 2 nights free, making it only $100/night, half-price), and used Expedia to book Old San Juan room, also cheaper than list at $100/nt.

Did everybody speak English with proficiency?

No. At the airport, resort, and in Old San Juan, yes pretty much, so no communication issues on the tourist trail. The countryside, when we stopped for gas, food or directions, we encountered Spanish-only speakers (and even one policeman in Old San Juan).

What did you enjoy the most? What was disappointing?

Enjoyed low season the most, that we were some of the only tourists there; nearly everywhere almost deserted. The resort only ~15% occupied, 15 of us on sailboat that usually takes 48, few other tourists at Arecibo Observatory, Old San Juan fairly empty & devoid of docked cruise ships. And maybe not-so-oddly, there was an underlying sense of security that came from knowing we were still "in the US" if anything were to happen; I just didn't feel as overall vulnerable as if truly abroad. 

Also, it was my Canadian friend's first real tropical experience (he'd only ever done Hawaii & Puerto Vallarta), and also his first Spanish colonial destination, so I enjoyed his discovery & reaction to things. He kept calling PR "America's Mexico" and i don't think he's wrong. (Funny aside, after he agreed to the trip when I called to discuss & said "San Juan" he asked "where in Mexico is that?" and I said "Puerto Rico, not Mexico" - he'd agreed to a completely different trip! But he didn't mind, and he kept conflating Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Puerto Vallarta, so in the end I decided next time we're going to Costa Vallarta!)

Most disappointing was that we only saw 1 iguana (but he was an awesome 4-5 footer). And the iA's sucky transmission. Also, we didn't really do modern San Juan, or as Mike dubbed it, "Miamolulu" cuz it looked & felt like Miami meets Honolulu.

Did you visit any cool historical sites?

The Cold War space-race era Arecibo Observatory was very interesting, and continues its research mission(s) despite no longer being the "world's largest" radio telescope (see China's brand new, mindboggling FAST) The topography of the region it's in is also very pretty, jungle-covered Karst terrain, with large limestone sinkholes which provided a natural geometry for the construction of the 305 meter reflector.

Old San Juan is the old Spanish colonial walled city that defended the port with the Castillo San Felipe del Morro at the entrance to the bay, and the Castillo de San Cristobal at the entrance to the city. We toured El Morro and were "forted out," so didn't bother with the other one. Instead, we wandered the streets (nearly identical to the equally-beautiful Cartagena, except Old San Juan has some hilliness) and the old cemetery taking lots of pictures, and finding the Deco architecture among the Spanish Colonial. I particularly love the never-before-seen blue-brick streets (the Goog sez "The streets of Old San Juan have a blue brick called Adoquin, blue stones cast from furnace slag which were brought over on Spanish ships as ballasts. The characteristic blue color comes from age and moisture.")

Any great meals/bars?

My favorite meal was our completely random stop at a typical little spot on the road up to Arecibo; limited menu from a steam table, we just had plato tipico, shredded pork with rice & beans and tostones (fried plantain/hockey puck) and a weird Malta India (local) soda (pictured; $7.50).

Anything different about the cars there versus here?

Unfortunately, no. The cars are about the same, with Hyundai/KIA making a major dent in the market from my anecdotal eyes. A few high-end marques, and usually newer than not, but overall many more beaters than I'm used to seeing, and around the towns, many cars on jack stands, engines pulled, in various states of disrepair. All over the place. Yards. Roadside. Fields. 

And as drivers, Puerto Ricans are not so good. Merging into traffic at speed of flow is not a concept they employ. Slow drivers camp in the left lane, intentionally we were told, even on the US-like highways; so frustrating. Lane wandering like neither of us had ever seen, too! Lots of suspected drunk driving... In fact, the 21 year-old rental car agent suggested it ("lotsa great little bars to stop for a drink while in the twisty mountains," she said. seriously. we did not.)!!!

Why do you love to travel?

It broadens my horizons and perspectives. It gives me insight into other people, cultures, languages. Food & drink. History. Different climates/environments. Architecture. It makes me feel alive. It makes me appreciate where I live.

French ambassador's Citroen C6 in Beijing

Eating the Globe: Mongolia

I had Mongolian with HouseOfCadillacs today for lunch. We had fun!

I've eaten at this place in Oakland before, but it was under a different Mongolian owner. I find Mongolian food to be greasy and bland. The meal today confirmed my opinion. I ordered the tzu-van, essentially beef stir fried noodles. I added Sriracha for a kick.

We talked about cars and HouseOfCadillacs' recent trip to Japan. His interview is coming soon.

And, he even gave me a ride in his W12. Luxury!

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa
Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Bosnia, Czechia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden
North America: Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga

Peanuts voice actors

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Problem solving around the world

India's Frontier Railways

Great 3-part series. They cover trains from India to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. There are human stories too. In one, a father from Lahore takes his son to Delhi to get eye surgery. A Nepalese single mother smuggles goods between Nepal and India. And the Bangladesh episode features two conductors-- one a freelance astrologer and the other a food-loving drummer.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Alan is blogging again

It's awesome to see Alan blogging consistently again. Lots of cool/obscure/geeky stuff.

Late king of Thailand in a VW "hearse"

H/t to rchen.

Panfilov's 28 Men Russian movie

This is a Russian blockbuster that's premiering. A group of Russian, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz soldiers defend Moscow from the Nazis.

Here are Putin and Nazarbayev at a private screening of the movie.

What are they saying about this movie in Eastern Europe and Central Asia?

Here is the American perspective.

Pros and cons of that 2001 Lexus LX470

-Low miles for a 2001 (88,000)
-Decent asking price ($20,000)
-Recent mechanic's report gave it a clean bill of health
-Current owner (second) seems pretty easy to deal with

-Low miles
-15 year old car
-the 2006 and later 100 Series Land Cruisers had an extra 40 horsepower
-raggedy front seats
-black exterior means it will get dirty easily
-timing belt has not been changed yet

Ad here.

New Acura NSX

The TSX wagon hit 30,000 miles so I took it in to the dealer for an oil change and tire rotation. When I bought the car, I got a $500 dealer gift card so I might as well use it with the service department.

These three NSXs were parked in the garage. I asked to sit in one and was flatly rejected. A service tech was driving one of the new ones up and down the street. I didn't see it, but I certainly heard it.

Here is Jay Leno's take on the car.

And here is our Ed K's brief take on the NSX as a halo car, hot off the press.

Eating the Globe: Jamaica

Conundrum time.

I went to Miss Ollie's in Oakland yesterday for lunch. It is a much talked about Afro-Caribbean restaurant. Its chef-owner is from Barbados. But when I studied the menu, I couldn't find any definitive Barbados dishes. So I ordered salt fish and ackee, a signature Jamaican dish.

Ackee is an African vegetable that was brought to our hemisphere by slaves. My dining companion's Jamaican step-father doesn't think the version served at Miss Ollie's is authentic enough. Apparently, in California, ackee costs $14 a can. In Jamaica, where it is cheap and plentiful, the dish would literally be all yellow ackee, with no other vegetable "fillers". In any event, my dish was flavorful and definitely unusual. There were also two large plantains buried on the bottom.

The conundrum has to do with whether baked goods count toward my goal. My entree came with a "bakes", a Barbados bread. It is thicker, denser, and sweeter than a regular roll. So do I count this as a Barbados meal? If so, crossing Denmark off the list would be a lot easier as there are a few Danish bakeries but no Danish restaurants locally.

For now, I will not count the Barbados bread.

On Monday, I will have Mongolian with HouseOfCadillacs.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa
Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Bosnia, Czechia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden
North America: Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Eating the Globe: Cambodia

I usually don't like restaurants that specialize in two cuisines. That's why I wouldn't normally go to a place called Thaibodia. It's half Thai, half Cambodian. But today, I was in an unfamiliar place, was hungry, and in a hurry. 

This is the "Spicy Garlic Butter Sauce with Rock Cod" that I had for lunch. It's potatoes, corn kernels, and cod in a red, smoky sauce. I can't tell how authentic it is. I've never associated Cambodia with potatoes and corn. The sauce almost had a Mexican flavor.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa
Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Bosnia, Czechia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden
North America: Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga