Saturday, October 16, 2021

Eating the Globe: Marshall Islands


Last night, I made this cherry tomato and coconut milk soup. The recipe called for the soup to be blended, but I was too tired and the kids were too hungry so I skipped the step. I also do not enjoy cleaning the blender. 

I need to cook more so I think the next dish will be a chicken entree from Belarus.

Africa: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe

Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen

Europe: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Vatican City

North America: Barbados, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, USA

South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela

Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga

Kabul today

I check on this YouTube channel once in a while. The guy shoots 4K video of random street scenes in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Vettel and Stroll drive Bond's Aston

 Has anyone seen the new movie yet? Is it good?

Friday, October 15, 2021

World's oldest flight attendant

 

How deep is the ocean?

If you were to drop a pebble over the Mariana Trench, it would take an hour to reach the sea floor.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Goldeneye movie review

Pretty boy Pierce Brosnan debuts as Bond!


Dave's review: The problem with GoldenEye, for me, was the friendship between Bond and 006. I never really bought it. And because the movie focused so much on it, it affected the entire experience for me. That being said, it is a very fun movie with great set pieces and an excellent underrated score by Eric Serra. Having Judi Dench play M was a nice and very welcome twist for the franchise. And Brosnan certainly fit the part. I mean he just looks like who you expect James Bond to be! I can't help but think though that the generally rave reviews for GoldenEye were due to the fact that it came after License to Kill. Overall still, a good and much needed reboot for the franchise. 

Dave's grade: B

TT's review: Excellent on so many levels. This might be one of the best all around Bond films. First of all, Brosnan is a handsome dude. Sean Bean played an excellent villain. The tank scene was 100. What I enjoyed the most was how topical the movie was, to wit:
-end of Cold War
-Moneypenny brings up workplace sexual harassment 
-Judy Dench as the female boss calling Bond a dinosaur
-free-for-all Yeltsin Russia
-THE INTERNET

My only complaint is Xenia Onatopp. Not a believable character.

TT's grade: A

Dave's reaction: I think some might actually say that Brosnan is too much of a pretty boy to play Bond. The Cold War stuff was cool though. 

TT's reaction: Bond's friendship with 006 was strange, but then again, Bond quit his job to avenge Felix's near death in the last movie.


What Japanese think of Europeans

 


I just discovered Futurama

A friend just introduced me to the show. Better late than never! I am almost done with the first season. It's so creative, smart, and different.


Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Eating the Globe: Benin


With Vanuatu kava the last "food" I can get from a Bay Area "restaurant", I will have to cook the rest of the meals for the series at home. Over the weekend, I watched a thought provoking 4-episode series called High On the Hog.


I made a chicken dish that came from the author of High On the Hog. Because the kids were going to eat it, I didn't put any spice in, which made it bland.

Africa: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe

Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen

Europe: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Vatican City

North America: Barbados, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, USA

South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela

Oceania: Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga

Sunday, September 26, 2021

License to Kill movie review

The second and final Dalton Bond film, License to Kill!


Dave's review: License to Kill sucks. In almost every regard, it didn't even feel like a Bond movie. The entire storyline is gimmicky, Bond trying to avenge a murder for a friend, Bond getting his license revoked. Someone should have done a spoof and called it License to Drive. The movie did not flow well. There were too many villains and most of them were completely forgettable. Plus Dalton in super intense revenge mode is simply not fun to watch. The only semi interesting part was watching Bond gain Sanchez's trust. Some of it was believable and rather clever. The female jealousy angle was lame and neither Bond girl was a particularly interesting character. Even the massive tanker chase at the end just felt like it dragged on. Feel free to skip this entry.

Dave's grade: D

TT's review: I am a fan of Dalton's but this was an objectively bad movie. Where do I even begin? The tinpot dictator in Isthmus City. Sanchez's fickle girlfriend Lupe. The greedy inept Asian businessmen. The list goes on. The saving grace was the Q-Carey Lowell duet. And one more thing, why the heck was Felix laughing at the end of the movie when his new bride was just killed?! I can see why Dalton was replaced after just two movies.

TT's grade: D+

Dave's reaction: Agree. Dalton sealed his own fate with this one, and the franchise almost didn't recover. License got trounced at the box office and it would be another 6 years before the next Bond film. 

TT's reaction: License to Kill was a disaster.


Sobering travel map


This pandemic has really done a number on recreational air travel. Our second child is two years and two months old and has never been in an airplane. Our four year old had visited NINE states by plane by the time he was two years and two months old.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Marshall Islands Space Fence

Space Fence is a US facility that tracks space debris. I found this video describing the system and another video showing the island where the facility is located.


Friday, September 24, 2021

Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Living Daylights movie review

We have a new Bond actor!


Dave's review: The Living Daylights featured a much more serious, intense James Bond, played by Welsh actor Timothy Dalton. This didn't work for a lot of people, as Dalton didn't flash the familiar charm of a Connery or Roger Moore. However, from a movie perspective, Daylights has one of the most satisfyingly complex stories. It also portrays Bond as a one woman man, again worked for some, not for others. The pre-credits sequence, a training exercise gone awry, is thrilling and one of the best Bond action scenes ever. A subsequent fight in a kitchen, sans 007, is hand to hand combat at its finest. The film meanders a bit in its middle and Maryam d'Abo as Kara, is not one of the more memorable Bond women. Overall due to the lack of dynamic characters and personalities, this film is an average entry in the James Bond canon.

Dave's grade: B-

TT's review: Sentimentally, The Living Daylights is my favorite movie. Dalton is my favorite Bond. His Aston Martin V8 is my favorite Bond car. Although I liked Moore's cheesiness, Dalton's dark presence was welcome. I was 13 when this came out, so it definitely left an impression.

However, upon watching it in 2021, it wasn't really that good. Something was lacking. The inflated grade is due more to nostalgia than merit.

Also, I watched this while the US was fleeing Afghanistan. In the movie, there were plenty of dead Soviet soldiers' bodies laying around. It was "acceptable" because they were our enemies and they were killed by local freedom fighters. How would we react if those bodies were American soldiers?

TT's grade: A-

Dave's reaction: Funny thing is, Daylights has a lot of sentimental value to me too as it was the first movie I ever saw in a theater!  But upon repeat viewings it just seems a bit dry and not so fun. 

TT's reaction: I agree with the assessment, but a B- is harsh.


A View to A Kill movie review

Roger Moore's last hurrah!


Dave's review: In A View to a Kill, Roger Moore is ancient, hitting on a Tanya Roberts who is probably 30 years younger. He snowboards to The Beach Boys "California Girls," races thoroughbreds and hangs off a blimp in midair over the Golden Gate Bridge. All of it adds up to good ol' fashioned fun. John Barry outdoes himself with one of the best action scores of the series and Duran Duran rocks it with the title song. And of course there is Academy Award winner Christopher Walker chewing up scenery. If you're looking for a serious film, this isn't it. Most of the characters are cartoonish, but there are some moving moments, such as when May Day sacrifices herself to help Bond. The plot is also intriguing and the climactic fight on top of the Golden Gate Bridge is utterly thrilling. Certainly not a bad way for Mr. Moore to go out.

Dave's grade: B+

TT's review: This movie has a lot going for it. Kickass soundtrack courtesy Duran Duran. Christopher Walken as the villain (probably tied with Javier Bardem as best actor to play Bond). That Renault taxi car chase in Paris. And on and on.

But something was missing. I felt like Roger Moore was just calling it in. It was, after all, his last Bond film.

What intrigued me was May Day. She was tough and mysterious. If this movie were made today, the studios would surely make a spinoff with her character as the lead. What would that be like?

TT's grade: B+

Dave's reaction: Moore fared admirably. Not that there were many truly dramatic moments in the script for him! 

TT's reaction: I think we are in agreement!


Friday, September 17, 2021

Eating the Globe: Angola

This was a simple dish-- papayas, port wine, lime, black pepper. It took me a while to prepare it because I never buy papayas and have not had port wine in years. 

Africa: Algeria, Angola, Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe
Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Vatican City
North America: Barbados, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga

Sunday, September 12, 2021

New York City dollar vans

I had no idea this informal transport system existed.


I am going to read this article!

Shining Path leader finally dead at 86


Guzman died in prison yesterday. In high school and college, I thought the Shining Path was the cruelest and most dangerous organization in the world. One of my college TAs was in Peru doing research on them in the 80s and 90s. This morning, I Googled her, found out she is a professor at the University of Georgia, and emailed her with the news. 

Anyway, while reading up on him, I learned that their deadliest bombing was in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima in 1992. 


When I was in Lima in 2010 and 2018, I stayed in Miraflores. It's a nice and safe neighborhood with cool shops and great eateries. I wish I had known about its history and paid my respects at the bombing site.

Here is a map of the area. A shows the hotel where I stayed both times. B is Wong supermarket (kind of like Carrefour), where I bought all my provisions for my bus trips. C is Haiti Cafe, where I like to have breakfast. And D is the bombing site.



9/11 + 20 years

I spent the day thinking about how the attack changed America, Iraq, and Afghanistan forever. And I saw a lot of tacky marketing from burrito restaurants to mortgage brokers. I thought I had seen everything, but no.

Here is a photo of a UPS guy still working after the attack.


And this is an incredible story of 500,000 people who were evacuated from Lower Manhattan by boats on 9/11.


Finally, you may remember that my friend Steve escaped the attack. He lives with PTSD every day and he shared his battle with his demons here.

Percentage of population with unfavorable views of China (2019)



Friday, September 03, 2021

So far this year, 64,000 migrants have crossed the Darien Gap


Story with photos here.

ANA kabuki safety video

Beautiful and creative. H/t @rchen.

Humvee in South Lake Tahoe/Stateline

I'm considering using this photo as the banner for my blog. Our dystopian future...today!



Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Countries that will accept Afghans

 

Infographic: The Countries Pledging to Accept Afghans | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

Watching South Lake Tahoe area

Virtually every Northern Californian has fond memories of Lake Tahoe. Following the Dixie Fire's progress has been painful.


New and old Countach


 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Time lapse of US Covid cases per capita

 

Visiting SF-08C Vollmer Peak Nike missile site

The day after visiting the Lake Chabot missile site, I took the kids to the Vollmer Peak site.

Vollmer Peak, at 1,905 feet, is the highest peak in the East Bay Hills. It is named after the first police chief of Berkeley, California, who is recognized as the Father of Modern American Policing. As you can imagine, the City of Berkeley is considering changing the name.

The peak is in Tilden Park, about a mile away from the steam trains. So I took the kids for a ride first.


We got to ride in the caboose.


Almost there! The last part of the paved trail was steep.


No signs of any missiles. Just this giant array of antennas. 


The view should be fantastic, except for all the wildfire smoke. You can barely make out San Francisco.



This is the view looking the opposite direction. Mt. Diablo is in the background and the Orinda Country Club is in the fore/mid-ground.



Monday, August 23, 2021

Visiting SF-31L Lake Chabot Nike missile site

At the beginning of the Cold War, the U.S. stationed Nike nuclear-tipped missiles all over the coasts to intercept Soviet bombers. There were a bunch near where I live so I decided to visit a few with the kids. The first missile site, long since abandoned, was in Lake Chabot Regional Park.

The former site is at the end of a short and steep dirt road, but with a two year old and a four year old, the walk took forever.


The launch site was paved over with this parking lot.


They were confused as to what this box was.




Friday, August 20, 2021

Fast SUVs, what's the point?

This morning, my 18 year old calendar showed the 2002 Mercedes ML55 AMG. When it came out, I was in awe of the ultra-wide rear tires. But was this car really necessary? Back then, 342 horsepower was too much. Now, not so much.


Then, this afternoon, I passed this Bentayga Speed, which has a top speed of 190 miles per hour. Is this car really necessary?

Sunday, August 15, 2021

7 Mile House in Brisbane

I met up with some friends and had this Filipino sisig for lunch yesterday. I did not know that the building was a stage coach rest stop during the Gold Rush!

Sunday, August 08, 2021

Never Say Never Again movie review

Connery is back!


Dave's review: Never Say Never Again is good ol' fashioned fun. A remake of Thunderball, in many ways, it is better than its predecessor. Connery is ancient but still has that unmistakable charm. He is flanked by a simply outstanding cast including Kim Basinger as Domino, Klaus MarΓ­a Brandauer as the megalomaniac Largo and Barbara Carrera as the flirtatious and deadly Fatima. One of the best scenes of the movie is the video game for world domination, with physical pain the consequence to the loser. Where can I get one of those? And I wouldn't mind taking one of those pens too. All in all, what a satisfying way for the legendary Connery to make his swan song. 

Dave's grade: B+

TT's review: Is grade inflation a thing here? When I embarked on this journey with Dave, I thought most of the Connery and early Moore movies would get Cs, but I have been overly generous. This is a solid movie. Fatima Blush is my favorite non-Bond Bond character of all time. She was both batshit and had the raddest wardrobe. Her Renault R5 Turbo is also the tops. The actor who plays Largo is excellent. His smirks kill me! 

The only demerit is Connery himself. Who was his makeup artist?

I wonder how much the feel of this movie influenced War Games (also 1983), Miami Vice (1984), and D.A.R.Y.L. (1985). The archaeological dig scene at the end definitely had a Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) vibe.

TT's grade: A-

Dave's reaction: Barbara Carrera's costumes were indeed extraordinary. 

TT's reaction: Never Say Never Again was definitely a better version of Thunderball!


Rwandan troops in northern Mozambique

I knew there was an Islamist insurgency in Mozambique, but I had no idea Rwanda sent 1,000 soldiers to help. Here is a good article on the situation.

2020 USSR Olympics medal count

Since nobody asked, this is how the USSR would compare against China, USA, and Japan:

USSR: 139 total, 29 golds, 51 silvers, 59 bronzes

USA: 113 total, 39 golds, 41 silvers, 33 bronzes

China: 88 total, 38 golds, 32 silvers, 18 bronzes

Japan: 58 total, 27 golds, 14 silvers, 17 bronzes



Thursday, July 29, 2021

Tirana, Albania's pyramid

Two cool cars I spotted over the weekend

Hi. Remember me? Things are good on the home front, just super busy. I have not posted in a while. These are the cool cars I saw last weekend.

1. Lotus Evora GT.

C bought a Lotus! I got to drive it slowly around some residential streets. Better yet, I got to catch up with C. The last time I saw him was in April 2020, when I met him at a donut shop to buy him some toilet paper.



2. Chevy Volt rebadged (and re-skinned) as a Vauxhall Ampera. I spotted this at the local playground. Look what this mad man did to make a LHD Volt look like its British brother!




Here is what a Volt looks like here in America:





Thursday, July 22, 2021

Remembering Bourdain

I am still not over his passing. But with the new documentary out, I decided to finish watching his final season of Parts Unknown 1) to prepare myself emotionally for the movie and 2) to see what he was like in the months before his death. I'm up to the Indonesia episode (episode 3) and I must say you can see that he had already checked out. And in this episode, he talked about how he would die in a jungle, alone, and that he didn't care what they did to his body.

Yesterday, my son was at the bookstore and saw this book. I read it in an hour. It was a quick read. It's full of photographs of Bourdain at various exotic locales along with heartfelt messages left by fans, both famous and not.


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

"M3" wagon

This is a clever build and a beautifully made video.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Indian food at American truck stops

We are going on a Route 66 road trip. More and more Sikhs are becoming truck drivers, so this development is not surprising. But it's still surprising.

Ainu museum in Japan

The Ainu are an indigenous people in northern Japan. A new museum has opened, to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics. It looks nice, but critics say there is no mention of the Ainu's plight or their treatment by the dominant Japanese population.

I met a couple of Ainu in California in the 1990s, when they came to support the Sinkyone people of the Lost Coast. Up until then, I had no idea they existed.

Median age by state


 

The most popular languages learned on Duolingo


 

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Taliban making huge advances

 

Octopussy movie review

Terrible title, great movie!

Dave's review: Octopussy is one of the most creative Bond films. Maud Adams is stunning as the infamous title character and she and Moore have great chemistry. The story is first rate and unpredictable, starting with the stealing of a faberge egg, to Octopussy and her band of lady thieves, to a rogue Soviet plot to destabilize Europe. One of the most common critiques of the film is that the train sequence is too long, but after rewatching it it is a satisfying set piece with genuine intrigue. At the climax of it, you feel Bond is in real danger, something that can't be said a lot during the Moore era. India is also handsomely featured and the score is top notch. 

Dave's grade: A

TT's review: Octopussy was such a fun and cheeky movie. I had totally forgotten about the Tarzan yell. Too bad the title was so *groan*. I think my favorite part of the movie was the sidekick Vijay. I had no idea he was a professional tennis player. Does Felix Leiter count as a sidekick? Did Bond have any other sidekicks? The movie certainly didn't have much meaning or depth, but it was overall very entertaining.

TT's grade: A-

TT's reaction: I didn't think the train sequence was too long either. I also really enjoyed the fight on top of the airplane.

Dave's reaction: Vijay was great. Why can't more Bond sidekicks actually survive the day? 



Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Monday, June 21, 2021

A year of heaven and hell, in review

As you may know, my wife was diagnosed with cancer in April 2020. To say life has been challenging is an understatement. She did chemotherapy last summer, had the cancer surgically removed last fall, and underwent radiation therapy over the winter. On top of that, we put our old dog Cooper to sleep in April 2021.

I have a new perspective on life and appreciate every moment we spend with our kids. I've picked the highlights from each month to share with you.

And the best news is that my wife is cancer free.

June 2021: I visited Alpine County, the 58th and final California county.

July 2020: Our daughter's first birthday.

August 2020: We took a trip to touristy Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. There was not a single tourist in sight. We had a great time and had fish and chips. (We forgot to pack a jacket for our son. It is very cold in San Francisco in the summer.)

September 2020: This photo was taken at the lowest point of the pandemic for me, which meant things could only look up. My wife was battling cancer. Because she was immunocompromised, we could not send our kids to daycare. I had not had a haircut since January (the photo was taken as I was about to step into a hair salon). Trump may get re-elected in two months. Plus, the worst wildfires in California history were raging (the photo was taken at 11 a.m.).

October 2020: I made an airport fire truck for the boy.

November 2020: I had a meal from a local Ivory Coast(!) restaurant.

December 2020: Christmas with the family and Cooper.

January 2021: I got a surprise gift from my best Chilean internet friend Ramon.

February 2021: We took a trip to Mendocino. It was to be Cooper's last.

March 2021: I got my first Moderna shot at a county-organized mass vaccination event. While there, I found a great Korean restaurant for lunch.

April 2021: This was a fantastic month. First, we cooked a fantastic lamb meal for Easter.

Then we rented a fire truck for the boy's fourth birthday.

Finally, I visited the Lost Coast.

May 2021: While taking the kids to a nearby state park, we came across this gathering of radio controlled truck aficionados. So random!

June 2021: We just took a trip to Calistoga and Mendocino. We spotted this Chevelle outside a seafood grill.