Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Chinese Restaurants documentary

Thanks to CJ for the tip. A Canadian-Chinese guy did a 15-part documentary of Chinese restaurants around the world. The first one, in South Africa, was so-so. But this second episode, set in Turkey, is a must see.

Photo accidentally taken at disposable camera factory


Kidney stone under electron microscope


My Daily Driver: @HeyItsDerekJ's BMW 330i ZHP

1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

Quite simply, a case of quarantine boredom. I started looking around Craigslist for manual transmission equipped E39 or E46 BMWs that needed a little work, but nothing too far gone. I ran across an ad for a cheap 2005 330i six speed, with the ZHP package and wearing Imola Red paint. Cheap and manual E46 ZHP don't go together normally, so I knew it would have some character. 170k miles, sure. Oil leaks, check. Smashed rear door, yep. But it appeared decent otherwise so I figured it was worth a look. I met the seller who was a cool guy with 4 other BMW projects and a new house, so something had to go. He originally bought the ZHP from a kid who inherited it from his dad, with the intention of pulling the engine and transmission, until his friend talked him out of killing it. A quick drive and I knew it was the right project for me.

2. What has your ownership experience been like?

It immediately failed emissions for the gas cap (of course). I got it home from the DMV and the power steering pump failed, which I expected since it had been run low on fluid for too long in the past. After replacing the cooling system, power steering pump, brakes, control arm bushings, filters and fluids, interior bits, and fixing most of the oil leaks, I got to enjoy it. It had been years since I drove an older BMW and I immediately remembered why people liked the E46 so much. Amazingly I found an Imola red door on eBay to replace the damaged one and it was ready for daily duty on non snow days. It still needs a new windshield, a new steering wheel wrap, and a VANOS solenoid, but it's mostly sorted now.

3. What is your fondest memory with this car?

At first it was a project, and projects need repairs, so my early fond memories were learning how to work on it and annoying my neighbors as it sat on jackstands awaiting parts. Now that it's running it gets plenty of fun mountain drives. I really haven't had it long enough to have one favorite memory of it yet, but my daughter loves it and always wants to go for drives in it. That's enough for me for now.

4. Why do you love cars?

I honestly have no idea, but I can remember as a little kid being obsessed with airplanes and cars, which earned me zero credibility with most of my friends, but I never cared. Cars have been much more attainable than planes so I've gravitated their way. A lot of the fun has been learning more and more; first track days (bro), getting into more and more advanced repairs, and of course looking for the next project.

If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

On Her Majesty's Secret Service movie review

The sixth Bond movie, and George Lazenby's only movie, is On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Dave's review: On Her Majesty's Secret Service is one of the most under-appreciated Bond films of all. It is truly a work of art. It is the most personal, emotional Bond film, save for Casino Royale, and possesses an ending that will haunt you. It is a love story, one that is sweet and tense, and dark. Diana Rigg smoulders as Contessa, she will go down, again along with Vesper Lynd as the most memorable of the Bond women. The criticism over the years lodged at Lazenby is mostly unfair. He was no Sean Connery and he never got the opportunity to settle into the role. The story drags a little at Piz Gloria with the brainwashing of the women but overall this is a majestic film that ought to be appreciated without comparison to the lighter Connery entries.

TT's review: I was going to give this movie a C. I know many Bond-philes think OHMSS is the best Bond film. I’ve watched it several times and I always get skeeved out by the women on top of the Swiss mountain. And Lazenby with that kilt. So gross.

But in re-watching it, I’ve changed my mind. The end of the opening scene, in which Lazenby broke the fourth wall and quipped that this never happened to the previous guy, inspired Roger Moore’s lightheartedness. 

The ski chase, car chase, and bobsled chase were all excellent.

Ultimately, the love story was so different from the other Bond movies. Bond declared his LOVE for Tracy, offered to quit his job, and proposed to her. Tracy recited POETRY.

Dave's response: What's wrong with reciting poetry?!

This is definitely a film that requires multiple viewings to appreciate. Lazenby is quite funny once you get used to him. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if he made a second film. 

TT's response: I would have liked to see Lazenby in a second film.

Dave's grade: A

TT's grade: B+

Monday, February 15, 2021

Worth It visits Taiwan

@slirt introduced me to this series. 


Soup. Some thoughts:
  • The first place was featured in Netflix's Street Food: Asia. The woman's story is very touching.
  • The second place (beef) is nuts. 
  • The third place (French-inspired) is surprising because it's in Taichung, not exactly the most cosmopolitan town.

Chicken. Some thoughts:
  • The second place is my favorite. First, serving sparkling wine with greasy food is inspired. Second, I am so proud of Taiwan and its acceptance of the LGBT community.

Dude in 200SX destroys the Nurburgring

You've seen hundreds of Nurburgring videos, but I think this beats them all. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Chichen Itza in the 1890s versus now


Robot dogs guarding air force base

I don't like the future.

Pangea with today's borders

3rd gen MR2 review

My tweet today about this MR2 garnered 54+ helpful and funny replies.

Here is what Tiff had to say about it.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

E63 autobahn runs

The slow drivers in the passing lane!

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Thursday, January 28, 2021

You Only Live Twice Movie Review

The fifth Bond movie, and the last Connery movie for now, is You Only Live Twice (1967):

Dave's review: You Only Live Twice is a great film. It has the highest stakes of any Bond film thus far in the series. 007 really is out to save the world. Finally you get to see the man behind the cat and Donald Pleasance pulls off Blofield with a sinister ease. The setting, Japan, is marvelous. The film showcases the country quite handsomely and John Barry serves up one of his all time best scores, with elements reflecting the host country as well as an ominous overtone that suits the climax of the film perfectly. Connery is fine in his fifth outing, although perhaps a bit too dour. The highlight of You Only Live Twice has to be the villain's lair, a state of the art enemy stronghold disguised as a volcano!  Finally, the film offers the first semi cliffhanger of the Bond era. No one, though, would be able to imagine what happens next.

TT's review: You Only Live Twice is not good. I took a racism in film class in college and this was one of the movies we were required to watch. Instead of going through the list of offensive content, I'll mention what entertained me.
1. Connery's progressively worse hairpieces.
2. Seeing 1960s Japan (rickshaws in Tokyo!).
3. Rockets that can land back on Earth, which may have inspired SpaceX.

Dave's response: Come to think of it, there were some parts that were somewhat racist and in general, Connery's Bond seemed to possess a disdain for Japanese culture whereas everyone there viewed him as some great hero. 

TT's response: I did like the volcano lair.

Dave's grade: A-

TT's grade: C

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The story of a Saturn collector

Via Hagerty.

Repairing a Tesla Roadster

This video has everything!

-Car enthusiasts

-Rich car enthusiasts

-Tech people


-Elon Musk

-How dealers and service departments make money

Monday, January 18, 2021

Lada Niva owner interview

A big thank you to @seinedudeheit!

1. Tell us about your Niva.

First I have to write something about the name - the Lada Niva is marketed as Lada Taiga in some markets since some time, because the brand 'Niva' went to GM. However, for the sake of clarity, I will continue to write about my Niva.

I bought the Niva new in Germany in 2015. I was looking for an inexpensive car that I could use for short and medium-long distances professionally, on the one hand, and a car that could handle bad roads well, on the other. The new price at that time was about 12,000 euros with necessary extras such as a trailer hitch, inner shells for the wheel arches and a radio.

The car is otherwise very simply equipped - it has no air conditioning, no central locking, window cranks, a manual 5-speed transmission. The all-wheel drive is permanent with a locking center differential and a -not too long- off-road reduction. It is prone to corrosion, so I had a wax sealant done, which is why the car tends to drip in the summer heat.

2. Why did you decide to buy a Niva?

There were actually two reasons for buying the Niva. One is rather pragmatic - the car was mostly used for work in the beginning, and fiscally, Germany favors inexpensive cars, even with relatively high fuel costs. The other is that I liked the Lada since my childhood and I was fascinated that you could still buy it factory new. On top of that, there was an uncertain feeling that it probably wouldn't be available to buy for much longer. The official import was stopped in 2020.

I wanted to own a car that could take us anywhere and back again without major modifications. Since the car really only inspires commiseration or enthusiasm, encounters with other drivers in the woods or in the mountains are usually very relaxed. The small size makes evasive maneuvers on narrow roads very easy.

3. What is the dealer network/support like in germany where you live?

The dealer and workshop network for the Niva is rather thin. However, there are some garages that specialize in the Niva, but they are 50-100km away from me. I therefore have the following maintenance plan: I give the car to my trusted workshop nearby for standard maintenance every year and the following year I give it to the Lada workshop further away for more specialized work.

4. What do you love about your Niva?

I love several aspects of the Niva - certainly the looks, I like that it is boxy but not aggressive. I like the size - the car is 3.80m long 1.60m wide. So you don't take too much space either in the city or offroad. Nevertheless, one has - I have removed the back seats - a lot of storage space. Even though I don't do much work on the car myself, I like the simplicity of it - you open the hood and everything is immediately visible and understandable. The spare parts for the Niva are very cheap, although the quality is sometimes questionable, and you can get them without any problems. (I wish it was the same with Citroens from the 90s).

5. What do you hate?

I don't really hate anything about the Niva - it certainly has some drawbacks, but it doesn't hide them before buying. It is quite noisy - long trips on the highway are possible but exhausting - here headphones with noise reduction help a lot. Fuel consumption is not low for a car of its size - I have never used less than 10L per 100km (about 24mpg) and I am not a very dynamic driver.

6. Are Nivas super simple to repair and maintain?

Yes, the technology is relatively simple and very well documented. I could do most of the work myself if I had a place to work on the car. Our village workshop is always very fond of the car.

7. What is the most modern technology/part of your Niva? LED lights? USB?

I left the car mostly in factory condition. I had two Hellas fitted at the time of purchase, so the lights are not an issue. From that point of view, I think that the ABS and Bosch injection is the most modern part on the Niva.

8. Do you feel safe driving it on the highway? Does it have airbags? ABS?

Highway driving is not a problem with the Niva - it doesn't have much trouble with a cruising speed of 120km/h with its 87hp. At least not as long as it doesn't get too mountainous ;-) On the flat, higher speeds are possible, but I haven't driven faster than 150km/h yet. The car is track stable even at these speeds and you don't feel unsafe. The car has ABS, but I have never activated it. It does not have airbags - I think the body structure is too soft for airbags. It has proven to be better not think about accidents when driving.

9. Do you own any other cars? If so, what are they?

I currently drive the Niva and a 2019 Prius on a daily basis - fun fact: a Niva is much less exotic in Germany than a Prius. I see Nivas almost daily, a Prius only every few weeks. In the garage there is also a 1999 Citroen XM 3.0 Exclusive automatic in green and a black 2013 Ford Transit 2.2 Diesel Westfalia with lifting roof . And some motorcycles.

10. Why do you love cars?

I have always loved cars - our family always had practical Opel Rekord station wagons, until my father bought a Citroen XM in his retirement, his (and my) favourite car that I still drive. I've always been fascinated by the fact that you can go anywhere by car at any time and yet never actually leave your familiar surroundings. That's why I love road trips more than high speeds or sporty handling.

I also love the car as a social phenomenon and as a sculpture of everyday life - in the spirit of Roland Barthes' beautiful essay about the Citroen DS.

Eating the Globe: Senegal

I finally tried Senegal for lunch today. This is dibi, which is grilled lamb with mustard and onions. Unfortunately, the meat was not very tender.

Countries tried so far:

Africa: Algeria, 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: 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, Uruguay, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Thunderball Movie Review

The fourth Bond film is Thunderball (1965)

Dave's review:

Thunderball is the Bond film that many instinctively refer to as the one that has too many underwater scenes. In fact, there is so much more to the film. It's got one of the best plots of any Bond film. In fact, so good that it was duplicated in Never Say Never Again. The pre credits sequence features a great fight between Bond and a villain disguised as a woman. What works against Thunderball were the massive expectations after the first three films. In particular, the main villain Largo lacks the same commanding presence as say Dr. No or Goldfinger. Claudine Auger as Domino, is one of the most stunningly beautiful Bond girls, but she is given little to do. And to make matters worse on the sexism scale, Bond basically commits sexual assault on a nurse in a rehab clinic. Well it is the 60s. Overall Thunderball is solid fun just not epic.

TT's review:

Thunderball is fun to watch and has all the elements of a great Bond flick (villain, "love" interests, action scenes, exotic locale), but it falls a bit flat. Maybe it's because they tried to cram too many things in a two hour film. My biggest gripe is the gratuitous underwater scuba shots. Who cares?!

Underwater scenes aside, Largo is my favorite villain so far. His suit, his white hair, his bronze tan, and his EYEPATCH. The set designers also deserve kudos, from the SPECTRE boardroom to the Nassau hotel rooms. It is fascinating to look at the technology of 1965. The Mustang and Continental are definitely antiquated. But how much have jet engine (Vulcan bomber) and scuba gear technologies advanced in the last 56 years?

Another observation. Fiona Vulpe was a far more interesting character than Domino. And yet Vulpe had to play second fiddle to Domino. Injustice. And I have to make a correction. Alotta Fagina's name was obviously inspired by Pussy Galore, but the Austin Powers character was definitely inspired by Fiona Vulpe.

Dave's response: Agreed regarding Fiona Vulpe. She was a highlight of the film and one of the great Bond villianesses. 

TT's response: Other than Dave's low opinion of Largo, I agree with everything else he said.

Dave's grade: B

TT''s grade: B

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Electra Meccanica Solo EV three wheeler

I was at the outdoor mall last weekend looking for a birthday gift when I saw this. I had never heard of it before. It costs $18,000 and has a 100 mile range. There is no dealer. It's just this space at the mall. When test drives become available, they will contact me. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Goldfinger Movie Review

The third Bond film is Goldfinger (1964):

Dave's review:

Goldfinger rests right at the center of the golden age of James Bond, no pun intended, This is the film that to many fans, epitomizes the franchise. It's got a little bit of everything. You have the larger than life villain, a henchmen wielding a lethal metal derby, a Bond girl with the name of Pussy Galore, and the introduction of the Aston Martin DB5. Connery is in tip top shape and appears to be having the time of his life. Unlike the first  two films, Goldfinger  features a healthy dose of humor, which some critics lament for setting the stage for the more tongue in cheek entries like Diamonds Are Forever and most of the Moore films. 

Details wise, there are so many iconic moments in this film, such as a girl painted in suffocating gold and the famous line "No Mr. Bond I expect you to die!" It is also refreshing that after Bond saves the world and engages in high level espionage in his first two outings, he is now tasked with simply trying to stop someone from stealing gold in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Goldfinger is one of the most entertaining films you'll ever see.

TT's review: 

Dr. No was too rough. From Russia was too artsy. Goldfinger might be just right. I have to watch Thunderball to refresh my memory, but Goldfinger might be my favorite Connery film. Everything is perfect-- the pudgy villain, Random Task Oddjob, the Q Branch tour, the Aston Martin DB5, the theme song. 

Having given From Russia an A+ already, grade inflation for this series might become a problem. I can't give Goldfinger A+++, so I'll just stick with the highest grade, A+. There are plenty of Bs and Cs in the future, I assure you.

I can forgive the Pussy Galore name only because it inspired the character Alotta Fagina.

Dave's response:

It's true that you can run out of accolades when describing the first three films of the series, particularly the last two in my opinion. In retrospect, Goldfinger may be the most meaningful film of all, in that it ensured the longevity of the world's most beloved secret agent. 

TT's response: 

This is the part where Siskel and Ebert agree with each other on everything.

Dave's grade: A

TT's grade: A+

Pastrami in LA

I had a mini breakdown this evening. I really, really miss eating inside a restaurant. How are you handling it?