Thursday, June 29, 2017

Eating the Globe: Syria

I was in San Francisco for work and celebrated a productive morning with an out-of-the-way lunch. This is Palmyra.

I got the Kibbi platter, which consists of:
Four shells of mashed cracked wheat stuffed with ground beef, sauteed onions, and pine nuts served with a side of hummus, cucumber salad, pita, garlic sauce, and hot sauce.

The kibbi was/were delicious. Not greasy or heavy at all. My only complaint was that it only came with four pieces.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa
Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Albania, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden
North America: Belize, Canada, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

1959ish Plymouth Sport Suburban

I just got a hold of a bunch of scanned slides from my wife's late grandfather. They show his Sport Suburban in all its glory. They drove it everywhere, from Banff to Rhode Island.

My mother-in-law is the kid in the middle. These photos are both awesome and adorable.

Here is a dealer promo slide show. Jump to 7:00.

Saudi Arabia's list of 13 demands on Qatar

I don't understand what the young Saudi prince is doing. These are impossible demands. The only outcome is Saudi looking like a fool.

1) Scale down diplomatic ties with Iran and close the Iranian diplomatic missions in Qatar, expel members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and cut off military and intelligence cooperation with Iran. Trade and commerce with Iran must comply with US and international sanctions in a manner that does not jeopardise the security of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
2) Immediately shut down the Turkish military base, which is currently under construction, and halt military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar.
3) Sever ties to all "terrorist, sectarian and ideological organisations," specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIL, al-Qaeda, Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as the Nusra Front) and Lebanon's Hezbollah. Formally declare these entities as terror groups as per the list announced by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt, and concur with all future updates of this list.
4) Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, US and other countries.
5) Hand over "terrorist figures", fugitives and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
6) Shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
7) End interference in sovereign countries' internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for nationals where such citizenship violates those countries' laws.
8) Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other financial losses caused by Qatar's policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
9) Align Qatar's military, political, social and economic policies with the other Gulf and Arab countries, as well as on economic matters, as per the 2014 agreement reached with Saudi Arabia.
10) Cease contact with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over files detailing Qatar’s prior contact with and support for opposition groups, and submit details of their personal information and the support Qatar has provided them.
11) Shut down all news outlets funded directly and indirectly by Qatar, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed, Mekameleen and Middle East Eye, etc.
12) Agree to all the demands within 10 days of list being submitted to Qatar, or the list will become invalid.
13) Consent to monthly compliance audits in the first year after agreeing to the demands, followed by quarterly audits in the second year, and annual audits in the following 10 years.

Check engine light on i3

A couple of days ago, my Check Engine Light went on. I called BMW corporate in New Jersey using the SOS button (kind of like OnStar) and the master technician ran a remote scan and found nothing. And then suddenly, the light vanished.

This is what the owner's manual says about the light.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Where are the world's skyscrapers?

Real life Saul Goodman

This guy is accused of bilking Social Security out of $550,000,000. He was under house arrest and he escaped!

This ad is cringeworthy.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Peruvian bus company uses Kamaz trucks

I'm researching my bus trip again and Cruz del Sur just bought these 24-passenger trucks to transport its mining customers.

Training Day (2001)

I finally watched this movie, and it's pretty good. Back when this movie came out, I was visiting friends in New York City. A friend's boyfriend had just watched this movie in the theater and was yelling "I am police!" all evening long when we were hanging out. I was always curious, and finally watched the movie 16 years later.

Note there is a lot of foul language.

The scene. Denzel won an Oscar for his performance.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mater's Tall Tales

I came across this toy and learned that there is a Cars movie spinoff called Mater's Tall Tales. It's a set of formulaic but fun short films of Tow Mater making up fantasy stories. Here is a clip of the tale that involves this Japanese police car:

ROC ambassador to UN

A post shared by @tamerlaneblog on

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Toyota MR2 interview with Alan

Enjoy, everyone!

1. Didn't you have an MR2 in your youth? Tell us about that one.

I had an '89 (final Mk1 year) in the early 2000's. Bought it back from the kid I sold it to in far worse condition around six years ago. It was a shadow of its former self and just bummed me out so I got rid of it shortly after. I've co-owned a supercharged '88 with my father, and drove with him around 600 miles round trip to pick up a nice low-spec '85 that I drove frequently as well.

2. What is so special about the MR2 you just bought? What's its story?

It's a rare hardtop (no sunroof, no T-tops) with A/C and manual windows locks, my ideal spec. It's a rare color as well, though currently wears a so-so respray that a good wet sanding and polish may improve drastically--I'm hoping anyway. The interior is truly immaculate and pretty much as-new except for some light wear on the shift pattern plaque which is unavoidable really. It's never been crashed or had any rust. All VIN tags in place.

It's been fitted with some Konis, squeaky poly bushings, what appear to be Tein springs, and some other things I can't talk about :)

Though slightly lower than stock, the ride remains nice and pliable like a standard car--it's like a Lotus in that it's very comfy but just as sharp, one of my favorite things about the car. I'm installing an OEM rear swaybar I have lying around so it remains neutral even when pushing hard up to the limit. These were strangely dropped from US cars '86-on despite the general view that the chassis was already as friendly and lift-off snap-oversteer resistant as an agile mid-engine car can be.

There are some other mods I can't mention, but nothing that drastically changes the character of what IMO was a near-perfect sports car to begin with. The design is all about balance (control weights, responsiveness, grip, power, everything really--you can tell it wasn't developed by a committee) and though another 50 HP and 1000 RPM can be helpful (20V Silvertop or Blacktop 4AGE's drop right in to replace of the 115 HP 16V version, bringing awesome individual throttle bodies and variable valve timing with), any more overwhelms the chassis.

3. What should car enthusiasts know about this generation MR2?

Like they were known to do back before Japan's economic bubble burst, Toyota really shot for the moon with the car, and spent hundreds of millions and close to a decade developing it. It has outstanding visibility, ergonomics, control weights, manual steering, four-wheel discs, near-perfect shift feel, a high-revving Cosworth BDA clone engine, and friendly, incredibly agile handling with a nice, comfy ride and two trunks. Styling is subjective but I also happen to think they're great to look at, with loads of techy 80's overload detailing and cute/exotic proportions. Both Dan Gurney and (less officially) Lotus were involved with dialing-in its handling. It's both viceless and bursting with personality--almost entirely unique in that way I believe.

4. Why are you so crazy about this gen MR2?

Well, in addition to the stuff above, I'm just super-nostalgic about 80's cars in general, especially Toyotas as that's what my family drove (though mostly Tercels and definitely no sports cars). It was the first display car I ever sat in as a six year-old at the Chicago Auto Show in '85, and I remember being mesmerized by them all throughout early adolescence.

5. What are your thoughts on the 2nd and 3rd generation MR2s?

I was blown away by the Mk2 when it was new, but it hasn't aged as well IMO. It's funny that the general consensus seems to be turning towards my point of view despite being 180 degrees opposite until recently. They drive very, very well, especially a good, mostly stock Turbo, but they're more isolated feeling with power steering, more sound insulation, and a generally less "fizzy" or living feel to them. They're trickier when pushing really hard too. I'd still like to own one someday. The Mk3 was a missed opportunity. They drive very similarly to a Mk1, but with a less satisfying feel to the controls and a lackluster engine. Styling is funky and kind of cool, but definitely not pretty. Very special to drive though.

6. Going back to your current car. What does it need in terms of work? What are your 
plans for it?

Mechanically it's essentially perfect, but a bad 2nd gear synchro is hard to live with in such a perfectly heel-and-toeable car with a shifter as good as any Honda's. I'm hoping some Redline gear lube will be an easy fix--usually is in these cars.

The paint issues I've already mentioned, and then there are things like peeling window trim that's been poorly repainted with gloss black spray paint--I'm going to strip it back and use the correct texture and finish for an OEM look. It's missing TOYOTA and MR2 decals on the nose and trunk, but I have reproductions on the way. Clear front indicators will be returned to amber. C-pillar trim needs to be replaced and that will be expensive but worthwhile.

Brake calipers are sprayed red but will be stripped and redone in a cadmium gold. I've been going through fluids and filters, but really it only needs cosmetic detailing. I'm going for a clean OEM look set-off with a nice pair of rare JDM aftermarket wheels when everything else is done. 

Oh yeah the exhaust is obnoxious and raspy but I'm going to go to Ed Hanson's Muffler and have them do a full stainless custom that sounds like this, but with a single OEM-look double small-diameter pipe finisher.

Plans are to get it perfect and never ever sell it. It's insured on agreed-value which I've never done and definitely provides some peace of mind.

7. How was the drive from the previous owner's home in Utah to your home in San Diego?

The drive was really nice. Lots of time to myself which is rare, and despite revving at ~5k the whole time, the car didn't miss a beat. Nice ride and visibility meant it was comfy. Beautiful scenery and nice people who drive courteously. And fast--traffic was pretty much non-existent and what few cars and trucks were on the road moved at 90 MPH plus. I hit California and all of a sudden the roads were clogged, slow, and full of aggressive, discourteous drivers.

I bought it from a well-known and hugely respected figure of the professional vintage auto fetishism game and none of the car's issues or poorly chosen finishes (red calipers?!) are his fault. He owns a good number of vehicles and is very busy and never got around to dialing it in. Fortunately that's one of my favorite things about buying a new old car, dialing it in.

8. Are you going to bring it to Radwood next year?

Yes!! See you there. And JCCS and maybe the Touge California.

9. Is my baby boy cute?

Of course, he's freakin adorable! Just wait until he starts smiling and laughing and staring in your eyes, it will kill you but nothing feels better. I'm so happy for you and your wife. Happy Father's Day BTW.

10. Any other news to share with respect to the other cars in your household, i.e. the Subaru wagon and Nissan mini truck?

Subaru may need a new turbo or valve guides, it lets out a little puff of white smoke on cold start from time to time. It hasn't been washed in months and has toddler snack crumbs stuffed into every nook and cranny but that's the norm. It's still fast and comfortable and terrible to drive below 20 MPH and still getting ~14 MPG everywhere. Nothing touches it for utility or rarity when it comes to safe, modern and fun family cars though. Might need a new clutch soon as well.

Truck is ugly and beaten but always happy to be driven and worked hard. A beater pick-up is an indispensible tool for any homeowner/car enthusiast. I have a lot of affection for it.

Holy crap, incredible North Korean airline photos

H/t to Matthew.

Photos here and here.

Planets deconstructed

Russian car fidget spinner

Monday, June 19, 2017

Canepa Hummer H2 for sale

Features include:

  • supercharger
  • 6-piston brakes
  • gas shocks
  • Mercedes silver paint
  • Audi TT air vents

Ad here.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Lotus Elan for sale

These quirky "faux" Lotuses always intrigued me. There's one for sale locally.

Here is an old Motorweek review. Check out the Sony pullout! I had one of these in my Jeep. And it's playing C+C Music Factory.

Which reminds me of this Simpsons clip:

Which reminds me of this very 90s video:

Chinese state media is bad at geography too

CGTN is the re-branded CCTV English. I was watching a news report about the bombing in Bogota, Colombia, when I saw this gem.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Kubica in an old F1 car again

Poor guy. There's a good shot of his mangled right hand near the end of the video.

Porsche 917 engine restoration

Via Flavio Gomes.

Of all the incredible car events, museums, and shops in Northern California, Canepa is arguably at the very top. Try to visit, especially when they have open houses and allow public access to the shop floor.

Renault Speed Legends

The cars:

1. Renault 40CV. In 1926, it set 50-mile record at average speed of 118.1 mph. And the 24-hour record at 107.9 mph.

2. Renault Nervasport. In 1934, it covered 8,037 km in 48 hours (at an average of 104.0 mph).

3. Renault Etoile Filante. In 1956, it set the turbine-engined speed record at Bonneville at 191.0 mph.

Aircraft carrier doing high speed turns

I would definitely barf.

4 white cars

This was a total coincidence. We walked back to the Acura this morning and saw this cosmic alignment.

Arab TV ad: Consumerism meets racism

This is an ad for a mail order-type company. Order international products online rather than fly to the U.S. on a shopping spree.

Friday, June 16, 2017

I'm still alive

Sleep, baby, work, baby, sleep.

Sleep, baby, work, baby, sleep.

Sleep, baby, work, baby, sleep.

I'll try to get some content up this weekend.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

White House press secretary Sean Spicer media reaction gif

A Saab dealership in Portland

Here is a short and sweet New York Times article about a Saab dealership in Portland. And check out their inventory here. Their url is "Saab story"! H/t to Chester.

Moon and Saturn

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Inside an F1 drivers' briefing

So glad Bernie is gone. This is fantastic.

Cutting a VW Rabbit truck in half for art

This was at a VW dismantling business. Project took 40 hours.

Truck was rusted out and unsafe to drive.


Bolts and a 2x10.

Windshield was painted black because it cracked while being cut.

Fiberglass underneath to cover areas lost due to rust.

Wheels mounted on Harbor Freight spare tire mounts.

USB LED lights powered by phone chargers.