Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bugatti Chiron 0-400-0 record

Imagine if they had put a thinner guy in there. Zing!

Going to Richmond, Virginia

Next week, we will be in Richmond, Virginia, for my wife's high school reunion. It's a small Southern city with a lot of history. It was once the capital of the Confederacy. The biggest mansions are along Monument Avenue. There have been calls, of course, to take them down.

If this promotional video is to be believed, the town has been taken over by hipsters. So there's hope!

Ken Burns Vietnam War documentary

Watching this 10-part, 18-hour series has been gut wrenching. I just watched Episodes 5 and 6 last night. I've been in a funk all day today as a result. The atrocities. The futility. The waste of hundreds of billions of dollars on helicopters, fuel, and ammo. Everything was just so fucked up.

The documentary is paired with dozens of iconic songs, like this one.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Best North Korea documentary out there

I've been searching for and watching North Korean videos on YouTube for a decade now, and this one is by far the best. A Canadian tourist exhaustively chronicled his trip there. The first half takes place in Pyongyang. The second half takes place in secondary and tertiary cities. It's fantastic and is definitely worth watching.

H/t to Ramon!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Pontiac 6-wheeler

I heard Tony Quiroga (Car & Driver) interviewed on The Smoking Tire podcast and checked out his Instagram feed.

A post shared by Tony Quiroga (@guaupants) on

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Anti-gay marriage ad in Australia

I just learned that the mail-in vote is being conducted by the Bureau of Statistics. And that voting is kept open until November. Australians, is it just wall-to-wall media coverage for months and months?

Latin American taxi crash tests

First of all, can anyone identify the make and model of these Medellin taxis?

I first noticed these microtaxis in Nicaragua, which had tons of them. They might have been more noticeable due to the lack of private cars on the streets (as compared with other Latin American nations).

I'll be using these quite a bit in Colombia: Cali, Medellin, Turbo, and Bogota. It would be funny to see me fit in the back of one of these with my big backpack. It would not be funny, I imagine, to be rear-ended in one of these.

I present to you: Latin American crash tests of typical taxi models.

Do they still sell these old Nissan Sentras as new cars, Ramon?

Chinese Cherys.

Not requiring frontal airbags in new cars is as anachronistic as restaurant smoking sections.

These are not the Sparks sold in America. These are teeny.

I think these Indian-made Suzukis were what I saw a lot of down there.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Conan O'Brien visits Golan Heights and Tel Aviv

Crazy that he could hear the fighting from his vantage point.

Tel Aviv looks like a chill place to hang out. 

Heathcliff cartoon

Did anyone else watch this as a kid in the 80s?

  • Drawn by the same people as Inspector Gadget.
  • Were they trying to emulate Transformers with that junkyard Cadillac?
  • Cleo was a gold digger!

Carspotting in Italy

A friend just came back from Italy and shared the following photos and insight (at the end):

  • Pisa is a waste of time. 
  • The hill towns are amazing. We stayed in Orvieto and visited Civita Bagnaregio. Both awe inspiring. 
  • Pedestrians do not have the right of way. 
  • Italian drivers take lane markings very casually. 
  • Cars are tiny so they can drive down small alley ways that you don't think should really be streets. 
  • If you get just a little bit outside the tourist areas you are more likely to encounter people who speak no English. 
  • Trains work pretty well, buses are ok. We almost got stranded by a bus strike though. 
  • There's a 50/50 chance that anyone is going to check your train ticket. There seems to be a zero percent chance that your bus ticket will be checked. 
  • Sienna is pretty awesome. 
  • The train station with the name that's the most fun to say is Firenze Santa Maria Novella. 
  • Italians basically don't believe in washcloths. 
  • Do not use the small towels hanging above the bidet as washcloths. They are for your butt. 
  • Children spend a lot of time trying to kick pigeons. 
  • Restaurants do not server olive oil and vinegar with bread. 
  • The bread really isn't that good. The Italians could learn a thing or two from the French on appreciating good bread. 
  • Some words don't have an exact translation but are more of a general use like allora and prego. 
  • Many public restrooms don't have toilet seats. 
  • Wiener dogs are very popular. 
  • I met a lot of cats that seem to be just hanging out living their life in amazing settings. The cats (like the cars) are pretty small. 
  • Capri is beautiful but a total tourist trap. 
  • We had a nice kosher meal in the historically Jewish district with some fried Jerusalem artichokes. 
  • Romans will go out of their way to tell you that they're Roman. They consider that additive to being Italian. 
  • We had a tour guide that spoke Italian, English, Spanish, French, a little bit of German and could speak passably in Japanese.

Sleeper bus between San Francisco and Los Angeles

8 hours, $115. Unless you're afraid of flying, I do not see the appeal to this, or this business model.

Thermal efficiency of 2017 Mercedes F1 engine

Is breaking the 50% thermal efficiency mark a big deal?

Friday, September 22, 2017

The insane cost of new tires for your old McLaren F1

BTW, this guy also owned that microcar museum.

Coach-built Chrysler 300M

I was at lunch in San Francisco yesterday when I saw a construction worker drive this. It appears to have been rear-ended and the guy just sawed off the trunk and created a new rear end.

Traffic jam in North Korea

A very interesting mix of cars. This ballsy Indonesian guy who lived in Pyongyang uploaded a bunch of GoPro videos of his time there. There is one where he went to get his rear view mirror fixed and there were some cool old German cars at the mechanic's.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Guy on disability has valuable Navajo rug

In California, one third of the drivers either do not have any liability insurance or have the state-mandated minimum of $15,000 in coverage. Please protect yourself and your family and buy as much Uninsured/Underinsured coverage as you can.

Contempo Camaro

Apparently, Contempo (which converted vans) had a body kit for these Camaros in the 80s. Has anyone seen these in real life?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Thousands of dead London taxis in Azerbaijan

From Tarlan: These have old Nissan Patrol chassis with plastic body panels from China.


Weirdo Alpine wipers

Inspired by Alan.

Automatic beer dispenser

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sunday brunch

Friends invited us over for a simple brunch. We got a Laotian feast instead. There's also a bit of Vietnamese and New Mexican on the table. There were at least eight different kinds of fresh, homemade hot sauce.

Hungarian Revolution, 1956

Wasp carrying its dinner

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

1990 Ford DOS simulator

This is where those funky graphics came from.

McLaren toddler push car

It arrived yesterday. Just one tiny problem. It's recommended for 18 month olds. Junior is only 5 months old.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

DOS Fords

There was a point in time when we thought these graphics were mind-blowing.

Macho Trans Am

Last weekend, I went to the local car show. In the parking lot was this Macho Trans Am.

I assumed it was just a tongue-in-cheek custom sticker job. In fact, a few hundred of these were sold by a couple of brothers. It has more power and handles better than the original. It cost $2,000 more. Looking at the sticker on the spoiler, this was Car No. 59!

Marco Island survived

Approximately 1,000 people stayed on the island when the storm hit. No fatalities as far as I can tell. News has been hard to come by. Below is a letter the condo association sent to all the owners. Eddie better get a Christmas bonus.

"Eddie, our maintenance manager, and twelve other owners and/or residents and/or family members of owners remained in the building throughout Hurricane Irma – thankfully, they all worked together, supported each other, and are well (considering what they have been through).  Frankly, that is the most important thing!

Very quickly:

  1. Power went out yesterday morning (Sept. 10) and no one knows when it will return.  The building generator is operating and is keeping the essentials running, with power to the Social Room.  There is NO power to your units – assume no air conditioning and no working refrigerators.
  2. We were fortunate that there was not the storm surge that was predicted – the sand berm or dune held against the gulf, which completely covered the beach – perhaps a 4 foot storm surge.
  3. Our damage came from the front and East side of the storm.  Those units on the island side of the building were affected the most, i.e. those units with old windows (without high impact glass) were either blown out or broken by flying debris.  We are currently making a quick survey of the building but if you had not updated your windows and have a unit on the island side, you should assume that your unit windows were breached and that you have unit damage.  Please notify your insurance carrier as soon as possible.  Eddie and other staff are working on the building and will not be able to provide any assistance to you at this point.  We are making efforts to secure someone to board up windows but workers and lumber are absent, and no one knows for sure when the Island will be accessible.
  4. Our main damage is from water intrusion through the compromised windows.  We are working to contain that water but it has spread to the hallways and probably to other units.
  5. Our roof for the building held, but the farthest carport roof (closest to the street) blew off, causing flying debris.
  6. All palm trees are down – many broken like toothpicks – but much of the rest of the landscaping that was low survived.  One palm is in the pool and the grill area is “gone”.  Eddie will move the grills back outside when it is safe to do so, which will provide a cooking surface for those at the building.
  7. I am receiving reports from other buildings, and some reports are much worse than ours.  I have also received unverified reports relating to City infrastructure, bridges being evaluated, etc., so at this point I have no real information as to whether the City is accessible or habitable.  Before attempting to come down, please check with the City and others, as well as a Board Member or Management Team member, to make sure to you can get to your unit.

In many ways, considering we took a direct hit from a major hurricane, the news is better than might be expected; on the other hand, there will be much work to perform over the next weeks and months to get our building and grounds back to A-1 shape.  Your Board is committed to this process and will act as quickly and appropriately as possible.  Many of us have offered up our units and the supplies therein to those on site to aid in their safety.  Eddie has served as the rock or anchor for our building and all of us are in his debt.  We anticipate that we will have your full cooperation as we put our building and property back together."

Monday, September 11, 2017

So long, Cassini!

Saturn and Earth.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Building an Incan woven bridge

Man converts wrecked 2CV into motorcycle

1993 New York City in HD

Apparently, it was shot with Digital-VHS. Was this technology available to the average consumer?

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Farm to vending machine (Japanese curry rice)

Marco Island landfall for Irma?

It looks like it. My in-laws have a vacation condo there on the second floor of Sunset House North. It has been in the family since the 1970s and holds a lot of memories. They've spent virtually every Christmas there. It's a short walk to the bathtub warm water of the Gulf of Mexico. With storm surges of over nine feet predicted, the FLAT island will be inundated. Apparently, until the 1980s, there was no sandy beach there. The shoreline was right in front of the condo. They pumped white sand from the Gulf to create that artificial beach.

Irma makes landfall around 10 a.m. Eastern on Sunday.

The condo is at the 3:00 mark. It is the second oldest building along the beach. Developers made a fortune there.

How to make a baseball

So imprecise and labor-intensive. And beautiful!

Walt Disney-designed children's gas mask, WWII

Genesis valet

Didn't they try this with the Phaeton here in the U.S.? That didn't work out.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Interview with a Lithuanian

Thanks, BHF!

1 What are your fondest memories of growing up in Lithuania?

Summers in the city. The city would get almost empty since most of the parents would ship their kids to the villages to stay with their grandparents. I had nowhere to go, everybody lived in the city. I mostly stayed with my grandparents that lived in Zverynas, one of the oldest residential parts of Vilnius and was allowed to do whatever I wanted. Then there were summer vacations on Lithuanian beaches that are beautiful. One place is the Curonian Spit. The other is the seaside resort town of Palanga.

2 What are your worst memories?

I really have nothing. My biggest complaint was that I was not allowed to have a dog.

3 Did Communism permeate through every aspect of life?

Pretty much. I knew that we lived in an occupied country since I was very little.

4 When the Soviet Union broke apart, what were you doing?

I was on the streets. On January 11, 1991, I was outside the Lithuanian Parliament. We honestly thought that the Soviets are gonna attack. We all were ready to die.

5 Before the Soviet Union broke apart, could you ever imagine it would happen one day?

The hope was almost lost.

6 What is the relationship between Lithuanians and the Russians who stayed in Lithuania today?

It's really hard to say, I do not live in the country since 2000. The Russian community was not that big there. The biggest issue is so called local Polish community that is supported by the Soviets. It's pretty complicated, would require a lot of writing but if you wanna now I will try to put something together.

7 Are Lithuanians afraid that Russia will invade again?

Yes, very much so.

8 How similar are the Lithuanian language and culture to the languages and cultures of Estonia and Latvia?

The Latvian language is pretty close, but Estonian is totally different, it belongs to the Ugro-Finnish language group. We were mostly united because our countries were occupied by the Soviets. 

9 Did your family have a car when you were growing up? What was it? What do you remember about it?

We did not have a car. There were very few people who had cars when i was a kid. My great uncle had a Pobeda, but I saw it only in the pictures. That was a beautiful car.

10 What would you like people to know about Lithuania? 

We were the last pagan country in Europe. We were baptized only in 1387. I think that says a lot about our resilience. Also, we are very proud of our language, one of the oldest spoken languages in the world.

All 5 former Presidents appeal for Harvey help

Look at these men! I even miss W, a little.

Stay safe, Floridians. Irma looks bad.

Glory movie trailer

I just watched this 1989 movie for the first time. It's particularly powerful given all the Confederate statue controversy going on today. Denzel was masterful. I'm going to watch Philadelphia next.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Visiting the Duncan collection?

We are going to K's high school reunion next month in Richmond, Virginia. Just a short three hour drive away is the Duncan collection. You may remember Jalopnik featuring it recently? The one with dozens and dozens of Figaros? The owner and his assistant both emailed me back, welcoming me. I just have to rent a second car and take an entire day by myself to visit the cars. Is it worth it? Here is the inventory.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Pyongyang street corner

Future posts about northern Minnesota

We had a wonderful vacation along the shores of Lake Superior last week. But with the baby and work, I am simply too exhausted to write anything cogent.

For example, I deleted two drafts of a post about race and the two diners I visited. Race is a sensitive subject and I don't talk about it much, so I wanted to make sure the blog post came out clear. It's a work in progress. Maybe this weekend.

We stayed in a cabin north of Duluth. Duluth is an absolutely foreign place. With its no-nonsense industrial port and Soviet apartment blocks, it's more Siberia than Upper Midwest.

I spotted a couple of Travco Dodge RVs on my way to get some smoked fish.

And here's a view from our porch. Lake Superior holds 10% of the world's fresh water.

Here's grandpa holding Tamerlane Jr at the Split Rock Lighthouse, once the most visited lighthouse in the United States.

A view from the lighthouse.