Thursday, November 30, 2017

Trumpy Bear

Michigan attorney general election ad

Alas, we have come to this.

(Turn the volume down if you're playing this at work.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Putin daughter doing the boogie-woogie

For some reason, the YouTube video can't be embedded. Not only is she a dancer, she is also in charge of a $1.7 billion project to build a science center at Moscow State University. So, she is very talented.

The end of the Great Wall of China

Bosnian Croat general poisons self in The Hague

America is so messed up, this was literally the 6th biggest news story this morning.

Here is some background on the man.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Was the Pope riding in an old Toyota Camry in Burma?

The Pope of the People(tm) was seen riding in this. At first, I thought it was a Thai-spec Camry, but what is that badge up front?

ETA: Raphael says it's a Toyota Mark II.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Finishing the trip in Colombia

This will be the trickiest part of my bus trip. I am not worried about kidnapping or violence by FARC or ELN anymore. FARC laid down its arms and disbanded. ELN wants to do the same and has been bending over backwards to prove to the government that it doesn't want to make trouble any longer.

But there are still...issues. The segment of the Pan-American Highway between Pasto and Popayan is particularly problematic at night with buses getting robbed. And that's when I'll be there. Apparently, the police leads convoys of three to four buses at a time and drive together through that area.

I should arrive in Cali at 5am. This will be the end of my 2.5 day ride on a double decker Cruz del Sur bus from Lima.

At the Cali Terminal, I then immediately hop on a bus for a nine hour ride to Medellin. I am staying at Hotel Dann Carlton, which is a part of an upscale national chain. I am living it up because I need a little bit of luxury after three days on a bus without a shower. Apparently, the provincial beauty pageant was recently held at the hotel.

After a well-deserved night's sleep, I have an entire day free. No buses!

I have made a decision. I will forego any and all tourism related to Pablo Escobar. There is more to Colombia than a 1980s drug dealer who destroyed so many lives. I am going to enjoy what Colombia has to offer, TODAY.

For dinner, I am meeting up with an internet friend. He and his husband are retired and recently moved to Medellin (from Virginia). I'm letting him pick the restaurant.

Early the following morning, like 5am early, I will take my final bus. It is nine hours to Turbo, the end of the Pan-American Highway. Once I get there, I'll find a cab driver and ask him to take a picture of me and then I will ask him to drive me to the Apartado airport 31 km away, where I have a flight to catch to Bogota. By flying rather than riding the bus again, I give myself an extra day to explore Bogota.

In Bogota, I want to visit the Gold Museum:

...and will really splurge and celebrate the end of my decade-long journey with a stay at the Four Seasons. That bed and those sheets will look like heaven.


Largest "private" employers by state

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Ecuador segment of my bus trip

There will be no stops, except for fuel. From Huaquillas along the Peruvian border, it will take the bus 11 hours to get to Quito. And from Quito, it's another five hour bus ride to Tulcan along the Colombian border. The border crossing there looks like this:

Citroen Conservatoire auction catalog

The Conservatoire is auctioning off around 65 cars. Here is the catalog, which is a work of art in and of itself.

North Korean defector crosses DMZ

This is straight out of an action movie.

Crop to cup: Where does all the coffee go

Internet use throughout the day

Freddie Mercury with his mother, 1947

He was an ethnic Indian born in Zanzibar.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Replace the BMW i3 with a Chevy SS?

The i3 is being recalled again.

As you may remember, I had a hard time getting the i3 in March because there was a worldwide recall/stop sale. Apparently, the fuel line got loose and was at risk of catching fire.

Now, the i3 is being recalled again, and no new i3s can be sold in America. This time, it's because the i3 failed the frontal crash test for unbelted front female passengers in the 5th percentile (5' tall, 100-110 pounds in weight). I can't imagine how BMW is going to fix this.

So there's a slight possibility that BMW might buy back my leased i3. I love my i3, but it's small and not very family friendly. I've had my fun with an electric. It's time for a thirsty (14 city/22 highway) V8 sedan.

The Chevy/Holden SS has a 6.2 liter LS3 engine and magnetic ride control. 2017 is the final year for the car, and sales have been terrible. Chevy is cutting the price by 20% from $50,000 new to $40,000 new. There is even a manual one for sale somewhere in Ohio.

This video had me drooling: 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

What to do in Peru

After an evening with Lonely Planet Peru, I have figured out what I am going to do in Peru. On the first two days, I will be in Lima, getting acclimated (time zone-wise, weather-wise, language-wise).

I will visit Lugar de la Memoria. It is a museum dedicated to the violent 1980s and 1990s when the Shining Path terrorized the country.

Then, the Museo Larco (pre-Columbian artifacts).

As for food, I'm going to try beef heart anticuchos at Panchita.

And, if I can get a table, ceviche at Chez Wong.

I will then leave Lima for a 16- to 18-hour bus trip north... the border town of Tumbes, where I will have to cross between the border posts by foot.

Hot Wheels Embosser embosses Hot Wheels logo!

I just noticed this feature.

More Hot Wheels purchases

I was in a different town and went to their Target to see if their inventory was different than our local Target's inventory. It was!

The first car I picked wasn't even a Hot Wheels; it was this Matchbox. I knew about the regular Transporter that Matchbox made, but I didn't know there was a Color Changer version. 

I wasn't too crazy about the livery of this C4 Corvette, but C4 Corvette!

Same with this Camaro. I saw this for sale a year ago and was not impressed with the blue stripes. But I got it anyways yesterday because this is my favorite Camaro.

I am not a fan of fictitious vehicles, but I figured the boy will need a few "work vehicles" like tow trucks, dump trucks, and fire trucks. This reminds me of the race car transporters I once saw at Laguna Seca.

And here is a Ford Fiesta. I'm not a fan of new cars, but I figure the boy can't just play with 70s-80s cars of my childhood.

And finally, I got this Mobile Tune-Up van because it reminded me of the U.S. Mail van I had as a kid.

In fact, I think it's the same casting.

The weird thing about the van is that it's called a "Combat Medic". Did someone at Mattel not proofread the packaging?

Autonomous vehicle research in my county

I live and work in a suburban county an hour away from Silicon Valley. To outsiders in the San Francisco Bay Area, Contra Costa County is just known for its gigantic oil refineries in Richmond and Martinez.

Recently, I found out that a large office park in San Ramon has an autonomous shuttle program running between parking lots. It's the first in the country. I tried to check it out yesterday, but I don't think it runs on weekends. Apparently, there are two buses and they were built by a French company.

But there's more! I knew that my office in Walnut Creek is next to the county transit agency. That's why I get to plug in for free-- the county transit agency installed four free Level 2 chargers in the parking garage we share. 

I did not know until this week that the county transit authority apparently converted the defunct Concord Naval Weapons Station (which was shut down after the Cold War ended*) into an autonomous vehicle testing facility! This is such a great idea.

*In the movie The Rock, the VX warheads were stolen from the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Have you seen an Evoque convertible in real life?

I had no idea they had been out since 2016. I just saw my first one yesterday.

Welcome to the Jungle

The boy was jumping in his jungle and this song popped up in my head.

Heart attacks (red), Waffle Houses (yellow)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Another Hot Wheels purchase

I found this at a local drug store. I know nothing about the 934.5.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Now I have to worry about the Gulf Clan

Last week, the Colombian military seized 12 tons of cocaine worth $360,000,000-- the largest seizure in history.

The cocaine belonged to the Gulf Clan, a crime syndicate descended from right-wing paramilitaries. The cocaine was found in the area between Chigorodo and Carepa, right on my bus route from Medellin to Turbo. In fact, I'll be flying out of Apartado airport, which has been used by the Gulf Clan for some of its shady business. Neat!

Monday, November 13, 2017

My new car mugs

More carspotting from China

Quick, Ramon, what's the second car?

And we're back

We just got back from a 4-day trip to Vegas to visit family. I got a facial for the first time at a spa and it was a transformative experience. Junior and I also got kicked out of a casino.

Two more trips in the coming months. In December, we go to Maui. In January, I go on my bus trip.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Documentary about Rio to Lima long distance bus

A big thanks to Ramon for telling me about this documentary. It shows exactly why I enjoy these bus trips so much.

I won't be posting for four days, so enjoy this while I'm gone!

Bonus: It's narrated by that English speaker in all those Auto Motor Und Sport videos.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Random cars parked in Beijing

A friend is on vacation there and I asked her to take some pictures of cars. She sent these.

Monday, November 06, 2017

1993 Mercedes 500E One Take

Kruseman sprint dirt car school

It's in Ventura, just north of LA. My buddy P lives there. Maybe we'll go!

For 40 laps, it costs $625.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Tarlan's US F1 race photos

Lucky guy.

1996 champion Damon Hill.

2018 Williams driver? Paul DiResta. How does he fit in an F1 car?

Seiko wristwatch computer

Saturday, November 04, 2017

A day trip up to Sonoma/Napa

A couple of Fridays ago, after the huge fires died down, we went up to Sonoma and Napa for the day. The area depends on tourism so we thought we'd do our part. Here is what we saw.

We first drove up to Sonoma. We passed by Sonoma Raceway. 60% of the hill overlooking the racetrack was charred black.

We went to Ceja Winery near Fremont Diner. It was the first day the tasting room opened since the fire. We were the only ones there for a long time, until a couple from Charleston, South Carolina, showed up. Here are a few unused livery cars parked outside.

We then went to St. Helena for lunch. The restaurant is usually pretty busy, but we had no problem getting a table. The staff frankly looked shellshocked. The menu was very limited, but we had a good time.

Then, it was a stroll through town. I saw this BMW Z8 in a bank parking lot. I wonder if it belongs to a good customer who needed a safe place to protect his prized possession from the fire.

And I believe that's a Honda Clarity, the fuel cell-powered sedan. It looked fugly.

We then drove up to Calistoga. The town was evacuated but the firefighters were able to save it. It's my favorite place up there. I couldn't get a mud bath at Indian Springs that day because the male section of the spa was closed for planned renovations.

And here's the drive down Silverado Trail. The fire reached the edge of the road and many buildings and vineyards were saved. The firefighters did an incredible job.

Man sits by gorilla after its mother died

Pan-American Highway blocked by indigenous protestors

This could definitely throw a wrench into my trip. Indigenous groups all over Colombia are upset about a number of legitimate issues. And selfishly, it's going to potentially wreck my vacation plans. Right now, I'm not concerned about my safety. It's more of a logistics/time issue. I gave myself two days of leeway in case of unexpected delays, but that may not be enough.

Here is a short news piece.

Here is raw footage of a protest.

Here is a longer piece about the plight of long-distance/international travelers.

Here is a typical roadblock.

Saudi father teaches daughter how to drive in Coke ad

Debbie Downer says: Saudi Arabia has a 17.6% diabetes prevalence rate.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Judy Tenuta soda ad

I was a huge fan of standup comedy when it was popular in the 1980s. One of the strangest comics was the accordioned Judy Tenuta. I was listening to Marc Maron interview Joy Behar this week and she mentioned working with Tenuta. Talk about a blast from the past!

Flexible logging truck

H/t to @slirt.

Clay modeling article

Informative BBC article. H/t to Ch.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Eating the Globe: Croatia

Tadich Grill (1849) is not only one of the oldest surviving restaurants in San Francisco, it is one of the oldest surviving restaurants in the country. It's named after a Croatian, who introduced grilled fish to Americans. Croatians, supposedly, invented grilled fish.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Tunisia, Zimbabwe
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, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Albania, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, 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