Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Car Talk's Ray goes to Havana

Eating the Globe: Morocco

This was a close call. As my own umpire, I will count this as a Moroccan meal.

I went to this place for lunch. It was known for belly dancers at night. When I got there, it was completely empty, except for the owner's two elementary school-aged daughters. There was also a large rug in the middle of the restaurant. I assumed that's where the dancing happened.

I wanted to get the harira soup. They didn't have any so I was left with lentil soup. It was bland and watery. My dining companion, who spent a week in Marrakesh, confirmed that they have lentil soup in Morocco too. So I guess it's sort of authentic.

As for the entree, I ordered a kefta sandwich. The Dutch crunch bread roll was definitely not Moroccan, but the kefta (meat, garlic, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes) was divine. (And I say divine even though I hate people who use the word divine to describe food.)

So all in all, it was sufficiently Moroccan for this meal to count.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Morocco, South Africa
Asia: Afghanistan, Burma, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Bosnia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuainia, Spain, Sweden
North America: Canada, El Savador, Guatemala, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela
Oceania: Tonga

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Michael Schwab National Park prints

This is an easy way to decorate the house. We bought the Muir Woods print on Sunday and will frame it. We'll probably pick up another three or four of these.

Sunday in Marin

My sister-in-law came to visit and we took her on a tour.

We first stopped at Muir Woods, a small valley full of beautiful redwood trees. These coastal giants are my favorite trees in the world and play a big role in my love of Northern California. We got there when it opened at 8 a.m. and the parking lots were almost full.

Chiang Kai-Shek wasn't the only revered 20th century leader. On this plaque, FDR was described as an "apostle of lasting peace for all mankind". Ookay.

Next stop, breakfast. We went to Bovine Bakery and I had a savory ham and cheese croissant.

Next, we drove to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. It's supposed to look like this on a clear day:

This is the location of the lighthouse on a map. The bottom right corner is San Francisco. Sir Francis Drake supposedly made landfall nearby.

At the lighthouse, it was extremely foggy and windy. Had it been 1mph windier, they would have shut down the stairs to the lighthouse.

And this was what it looked like. My fear of heights prevented me from walking down the stairs to the lighthouse. Chicken.

For lunch, we had raw, chorizo, and BBQ oysters.

And we capped off the fun day with ice cream. Cooper really enjoyed it, although his stomach growled all day the next day.

Earth has a quasi-moon!


Matt Stonie demolishes an 18" burrito in less than 2 minutes

These competitive eaters are fascinating.

Monday, June 27, 2016

1/43 model wish list

The last model I got was a 2014 Rosberg Mercedes made by Minichamps that I picked up at a Mercedes dealership along the Champs-Elysees. It's time to get some more:

1/43 2015 Rosberg Mercedes by Minichamps

1/43 Maserati Quattroporte III by Minichamps

1/43 Mercedes CLR driven by Nick Heidfeld by Spark

1/43 Bentley Turbo R by Spark

Martian moon Phobos from Mars

Help an Armenian Kamaz truck owner

I lent $25 to this guy via Kiva. Let's help him out.

I've got a lot of ideas for blog posts, and will hopefully have time later this week to write them. Thank you for your patience!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A history of urbanization

Uzbek kids study Chinese

I'm captivated by their accent when they speak Mandarin.

4 minute clip of pro-Brexit supporters

Burnley appears to be similar to a Rust Belt town in Pennsylvania.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Chinese-financed Uzbek tunnel cuts journey from 4 days to 4 hours!

Toyota Origin

Never knew this thing existed until I saw this tweet this morning.

1,000 made. Only the best Toyota Century factory workers were chosen to build it by hand. A great write-up here.

Texas food, according to the French

At Paris Disneyland, via rchen

  • Vegetable taquitos: no
  • Stuffed jalapenos: okay
  • Side salad: no

Favorite versus favourite

Reading the answers you guys have left here made me realize I'm the only person on this blog that spells favorite F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

8 years of Obama photos

Eight-Year Old Make-A-Wish Child Janiya Penny Reacts After Meeting President Barack Obama As He Welcomes Her Family To The Oval Office

More here.

Adjustable car for car commercials

Is this real?

Chiang Kai-Shek hyperbole

This is North Korean-level ass-kissery. Per Charles, this is an excerpt from that Chinese stamp set:

“among all historical and current figures, within China and across the world, no one is worthy of comparison to him.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

18th century fried chicken recipe

Report from Baku

Tarlan reports:

  • He was in charge of Turn 16, including toilets, fire trucks, fan seating, garbage, etc.
  • He sometimes got just 3-4 hours of sleep.
  • His team of 40 marshals was led by Bahrani mentors.
  • GP2 and F1 race (after Lap 5) were fully managed by Azeris (observers, track marshals, safety marshals, evacuation team, etc.).
  • Marshals came from U.S., Italy, Hungary, France, Germany, Australia, England, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Abu Dhabi, etc. 

For photos of the weekend from the marshals' perspective, click here.

Chiang Kai-Shek death commemorative stamps

I just found these in my box of junk, while looking for something else.

The hyperbole. You'd think he was Jesus Christ or something.

Keep 'em coming!

The responses so far to my five questions have been wonderful. Please keep them coming!

Video of toxic chemicals being dumped in Nevada

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Blog 10 Year Retrospective: Four Eras of Cars

This blog, obviously, is mainly about cars. My car ownership experience over the last ten years can be divided into four eras: the TSX Era, the Phaeton Era, the No Car Era, and the White Wagons Era.

The TSX Era (2006-11)

I bought the 2004 TSX brand new. It was rock solid and had the finest shifter in the universe. Even though it was the entry level Acura, the plastics on the dash actually felt luxurious. By 2011, the only issue was that it was somehow losing a quart of oil per gas tank fill up. The mechanic couldn't figure it out, and at around 110,000 miles, I thought it was time to part with it.

I took it on one last road trip, along the Loneliest Highway in Nevada.

I ended up selling it at Buggy Bank, a consignment shop. It was sold within a few hours, before they even had a chance to post an ad online. A fellow car nerd who collected mundane Acuras-- he even had a first generation CL-- snatched up my car. He told me later that he changed a $25 gasket and the oil problem was gone.

Many years later, I emailed him, asking to buy it back. Unfortunately, he sold it to a young couple who needed reliable (and fun) transportation.

I sometimes regret selling it.

The Phaeton Era (2011-13)

Without a doubt, the greatest car I'll ever own. Just look at the interior! It's basically a normally aspirated Bentley Flying Spur.

I bought it for my 37th birthday. I found it on Craigslist in Scottsdale, Arizona. It belonged to a moneyed car collector. Surprisingly, his daily driver was a Golf. It had low miles and was meticulously maintained. That it was a 2005 model year meant it was a bit less expensive to repair and came with cooler rims.

Nothing ever went wrong with it. But the prospect of a huge repair bill left me nervous. I just couldn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked. So when a local car nut contacted me and asked me if it was for sale, I said yes. He bought the car and I am happy that we have become friends. He has babied the car. And it is still going strong! Plus, he became so enamored with the Phaeton, he bought two or three more.

The No Car Era (2013-14)

Just like George W. Bush with Iraq, I had no exit strategy when I sold the Phaeton. For a year plus, I had no car. Imagine that! A car guy without a car. I cobbled together my transportation needs with public transportation, sharing my wife's Honda, and Zipcar. Plus, for a week, my friend loaned me his Tesla Roadster.

All I have to say is, it's a pain in the ass to not have a car in the suburbs.

The White Wagons Era (2014-Present)

Heartbreak x 2.

Chris D found this Volvo V50 T5 6M on Craigslist in Mendocino for me. It belonged to a gentleman farmer and his wife. They transported organic wool from their farm to Taos, New Mexico, once a year.

I loved this car. Loved.

One day, I switched cars with my wife so that I could get an oil change for her car. On her way to work, at a stop light, an SUV rear ended the Volvo and it was declared a total loss. Someone bought the car from the junk yard but did a poor job fixing it up. It lagged on Craigslist for months.

I broke all my rules when I bought this Saab SportCombi to replace the Volvo. It was sold by a Japanese guy in LA. When I flew down to buy it, he was conveniently unavailable and I bought it from his brother-in-law. Superficially, the 50,000-mile car was unblemished. Even a Saab expert in LA gave it a thumbs up. But it didn't come with any maintenance records and had four(!) previous owners.

The brief time I had it was bliss. But then, disaster. It suddenly wouldn't start or shift out of park. I took it to my regular Saab guy, the former Saab dealership, and another Saab specialist. All three suggested replacing three computers to the tune of $5,000, with no guarantees that the problems would be solved. Worse, one of the three computers couldn't be sourced anywhere.

I ended up selling the Saab to the third mechanic for scrap. Of course, he fixed it up and sold it for $4,000 more than what I originally paid. I see it scooting around town once a week. I just hope for the new owner's sake that it lasts.

This year, I was finally ready for something reliable. I bought this gently used TSX wagon from my neighbor, who is the general manager at Oakland Acura. His wife drove it for a year and exchanged it for an RDX. I've had no problems with it, except for a flat tire (the car doesn't have a spare). My only complaint is that it's a bit underpowered. But Cooper seems to like it.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Please answer 5 questions

To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of this blog, I'm asking readers to answer a few questions and to share them with all of us. So please click on "5 Questions for My Readers" above and leave your thoughts. Thanks!