Monday, October 31, 2011

I won the Hooniverse scavenger hunt!


Here is the link.  In the comment section, I briefly went over how I found the cars.

I won a copy of Forza 4.  But since I don't have an Xbox, I think I'll give it away to one of you.

Academy of Art's car collection

I spent half of Sunday morning hunting down a $250,000+ supercar for a scavenger hunt.  While checking out the Lamborghinis and Bentleys at a dealership on Van Ness, I noticed a collection of old cars across the street at the old Mercedes dealership.  Apparently, these belong to the Academy of Art.








And no, I did not find the right car at the Lambo/Bentley dealership.  The highest priced car there was a $233,000 Bentley.  So close!

Better pictures of the collection here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

American stereotype in the media #45, the Asian high roller/whale

Here is "comedian" Dat Phan with a cringe-worthy accent:


Here is comedian Henry Cho, with a big dollop of Texas oilman:

Mr. Bean watches F1

...during Hamilton-Massa crash at India GP today.

Carspotting: Mercedes W114 240D

The prototypical Berkeley car.




Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mobile version of this blog available now!

  • Same URL: karakullake.blogspot.com.
  • Better readability.
  • Faster loading.
  • Something to do while waiting in line at the DMV.

Carspotting: Ford F100

Found this beautiful ol' rig in North Berkeley.



Rhino Runner armored bus in Kabul

Before:

After getting too close to truck carrying 1,500 pounds of explosives.


It's time to get out of Afghanistan.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I need your help, Bay Area denizens!

Update 1: No luck on Saturday.  The most expensive car I saw in the wild was a Bentley Flying Spur, which is not expensive enough.

#5 on the list.

Hooniverse has a car-themed scavenger hunt in which participants take pictures of specific cars.  I want to win.  I've got 9 out of the 10 items listed.  Can someone tell me where I can take a picture of a modern exotic with an MSRP of over $250,000?  They're relegated to Bugattis, the Aston DBS, a couple of Ferraris (599 and 612), Maybachs, and the Lambo Aventador.  I want to avoid dealerships if at all possible, to make the hunt more interesting.  Thanks!

Here is the entire list.

  1. A car with an actual “Gas, Grass or Ass” sticker. No one rides for free mother f’ers.
  2. A French automobile
  3. A pre-1975 Italian automobile
  4. A sign with the word “hoon” in it – any sign.
  5. A 3rd-gen. Camaro that does not have a Calvin pissing on anything sticker. We respect Mr. William Boyd Watterson ’round these parts.
  6. An American car from the ’40s.
  7. A classic muscle car that does not have chrome wheels.
  8. A W211-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon. (Don’t be mad, we discussed this and decided E63 wagon was too mean)
  9. A BMW 6 Series from the E24 era. (To remind us of our dearly beloved √úberbird)
  10. A modern exotic with an MSRP greater than $250,000.

Vice Guide to Travel

This wacky collection of shorts is available on Netflix streaming.  The topics are unusual and the hosts are irreverent.  The Liberia episode is a major mood killer but worth watching.


My favorite pieces:
  • Gun markets in Pakistan
  • Going to Mecca with your parents
  • Radioactive beasts of Chernobyl
  • PLO boy scouts
  • Vice Guide to Liberia
  • Vice Guide to North Korea
Here is their Youtube channel.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Ely, Nevada

    At the end of Day 1 of our trip, we spent the night in Ely, Nevada.  The Eastern Nevada town of 4,255 residents was a welcome change after hours and hours of nothing along Highway 50.

    This was a race against time.  I desperately wanted to reach Ely by sunset.

    Here is downtown Ely.  The last stop light was 257 miles behind us in Fallon.  See the Hotel Nevada to the right (the 6 story brick building)?  Until the 1940s, that was the tallest building in Nevada (including Las Vegas)!

    The photo immediately below shows the other side of the hotel.  You are looking at all the action on Friday night in town.   Although we never went into the hotel/casino, this Yelp review is worth a read:

    I'm giving this place 3 stars based solely on the fact that it is a microcosmic representation of all that is wrong with the U.S.A., and I find that extremely stimulating.  The lady that checked us in was friendly and even gave us two margarita vouchers.  The room was of average quality -- but that is not the point!

    We arrived in Ely at about midnight and were looking for some place cheap to stay.  The Hotel Nevada is the largest building in Ely and it also happens to be one of the cheapest places to stay.  It's a sort of casino, 24-hour diner, and hotel.  Ever seen Star Wars?  Think Mos Eisley Spaceport.  We made it into the diner at about 1am, the (approx. 50 years old) waitress was lamenting about a recently failed night-school anthropology course, a group of eight or so local teenagers were gathered at another table, and a lady in another booth was talking about how she found a new man while simultaneously coughing up a lung.

    I must have become immune to the sound of that cough; it was so nasty that I didn't want to believe it was real.  A cook came up to us and said, 'did you guys see where that lady puked?' -- I looked behind me, to where the woman had been sitting and noticed that she was gone, only a pile of puke remained under her table.  I didn't say anything, just pointed.  The waiter cursed to himself, put on some rubber gloves and proceeded to clean the area (briefly).  Soon after, we got our food... But I had trouble eating it.

    After 'dinner', we emerged to find ourselves in the gambling area.  Many locals from the surrounding remote areas and many aged people gambled and smoked and chatted.  A man ranted about proper fiber optic installation and two other men told my girl friend she was 'hot' and asked what she was doing with that 'fa#$%t' (me).  We relocated to a quiet corner and reminded ourselves why slot machines suck.  We redeemed our margarita vouchers and drank our cocktails.  Another round on the slot machines.  It is now 2am, we had our fun.  Ely, Nevada is awesome.



    We had dinner across the street at Happy Garden.  It was supposedly the better of the two Chinese restaurants in town.

    Across the street from the motel we stayed at was this collection of gas station signs.  A large chain linked fence, the lack of a truck, and the law all conspired to prevent me from pilfering those signs.  Talk about garage art!

    We had lunch the next day at Silver State Restaurant.  It has a hunting motif.  The waitresses all wore camouflage.  There was a display case with dozens of pictures of hunters and their trophies.  Apparently, it takes years to win the lottery to get a license to shoot certain animals.  And with license fees, trophy fees, and guide fees, it could cost tens of thousands of dollars to catch a big animal.  The fees are even higher for non-Nevadans.

    The special on the menu was the elk burger.  I had to have one.  Though it looks like a dry hockey puck in this picture, it was actually quite juicy and flavorful.  Not gamey at all.  I noticed that during our entire trip, no one ever served tomatoes, not even in salads.

    Peter suggested that I pick up a passport and get it stamped along the way.  I did.

    At each of the five towns along Highway 50, you are supposed to go to the Chamber of Commerce and get a stamp or two.

    Once completed, you're supposed to tear off the last page and mail it back to the Nevada tourism bureau.  I'm supposed to get a certificate signed by the governor and a special prize in return...

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Saabkyle04 interview


    Kyle is the king of car videos.  He was kind enough to sit down and answer all of my questions.  This is going to be a full, in-depth tour of Kyle's mind.  And so, without further ado...

    Why do you do these videos?
    I have always grown up around cars.  
    My Dad played pro baseball for the White Sox and other teams back in the day and when he got out he opened a dealership in Florida where I'm originally from.  I can remember how I used to go up there and hang out; I loved looking at all the cars and would even take a bottle of Windex and some paper towels and clean the headlights and taillights haha.  We had that for a few years before moving up to North Carolina in 1997.  
    There, Dad opened up our current dealership Car Connections, Inc. in Reidsville, NC.  I went there all the time but not until I was in high school, freshman year, until I started working as a detailer / lot porter.  After working several years doing that, going to auctions, etc., I became even more infatuated with cars as I got to see and drive a huge variety being I was in that line of work.  
    After graduation, I went to Campbell University to begin my undergraduate work for pharmacy school.  After 2 years I got accepted into Wingate University School of Pharmacy.  During my undergrad work I decided one winter break that I needed a hobby.  It was too cold to detail and there just wasn't much out of the ordinary happening.  I had 2 cameras and thought I would make a little collection of youtube videos and "develop" my channel so to speak.  That was in like 2008 I believe, hard to believe!  I found out about the youtube partner program through several channels I was subscribed to and decided it would be cool to be a part of such a "honor" so to speak.  Therefore I just made random videos of anything-- cars, school, my cat, etc. no rhyme or reason to it really, very amateur stuff.  
    I started doing more "start ups" and things of that nature at the dealership and the dealer auctions as well as more "in depth tours" that were probably 4-5 min long or so just on various vehicles I thought were neat.  Fast forward several months to the summer of 2009 and I started to upload regularly, every other day or every day, sometimes several at a time, trying to make entertaining videos to the best of my abilities.  I was consistent with that for several more months until I got into pharmacy school.  It was then I had to do something to get more material since I had to move about 2 hrs away from home near Charlotte, NC.  I started doing regular videos at a few used car lots and again, long story short, I was invited to be a part of the youtube partner program in January 2010.  
    After about a year and a half of hard work, ~400 videos and maybe 1000 subscribers or so? Can't remember exactly.  At that time I went into overdrive and took advantage of my new partner benefits, being able to upload longer videos, creating custom channel layouts, etc.  I developed the all too familiar "in depth tour" style to more of what you see today but it was still somewhat crude, well, sorta..compared to my standards today haha.  I begun making videos at various local new car dealers and then branched out into Charlotte itself.  Now, really long story short.  This all led to what you see today.   I had gotten a job at a nearby CVS pharmacy while in pharmacy school, which I ended up leaving to pursue my love of filming and treat it as a job.  
    Google Adsense had allowed me to be able to separate from my parent's wing so to speak, purchase my first car myself as well as apartment and basic living expenses.  A lot of people ask me if I get paid and I simply reply yes...  thanks to Adsense I am able to focus on my career, do something I love to do as a huge stress relief, while not having to overly stress on how to pay for school.  I made Saabkyle04 into an official business in the early part of 2011 with the creation of Saabkyle04, LLC.  So at this point I'm also the founder of my very own company, of which I do reviews at about 30 dealerships around NC for the most part.   
    It has been a fantastic ride so far and I have loved every minute of it.  I've been able to get exclusive looks at some of the rarest and unique cars in the US and the world.  I have established myself as "youtube's most automotive variety" as well as "the driver's seat of youtube" what that means is that I have developed a filming style that had never been done before and had the ability to bring viewers a look at cars that they would never have been able to otherwise.  It has been quite successful and has been followed up on numerous occasions.  All this led into the development of one of youtube's most watched automotive channels.
    Tell us about the process.  Do you go to a dealership and shoot x number of cars in one go?  
    I'll try to make this short haha.  Basically, you can't get anywhere in life without being professional.  You treat others the way YOU would want to be treated.  Therefore, no matter what happens you still thank them for their time, etc.  I email dealers beforehand about 80% of the time, about 50% of that time I will usually get a response.  I set up a meeting time before hand to talk with the manager(s) to explain what I do, the fact I don't charge them, and how I can make it beneficial for both parties.  At that point I make a video or 2 or set up another day to come back and film a few.  The ones that don't email me back I oftentimes go in person and work it out that way.  
    I make my videos in one way, mine, haha.  What I mean is that they are always consistent and everyone knows what to expect.  I've never had a single dealer in the history of Saabkyle04 say they didn't like a video.  At that point I start going back every now and then when I get requests, emails from the dealer that they have new things in, or if I'm bored and just want to check things out.  
    I like to go film a good handful of cars at once if time allows, pharmacy school doesn't always let that happen.  I keep about 30 videos in pending that can all be seen on the saabkyle04 facebook fan page so people have an idea on what's coming soon.  If I get bogged down with school I always have material.  In a nutshell that's basically how I treat it.  Not to mention, a strong, firm handshake!
    Is there a feature in a car you reviewed that you wished all cars had?
    Well, I am kind of an old school kind of guy so I often believe less is more in some cases.  If I had to guess I would say my favorite things in new cars are ipod integration, heated seats, nav not that necessary, cars with a full comprehensive set of gauges (I kind of wished my Roadmaster had an RPM gauge for that reason haha), dual exhaust, not to mention lumbar support.  I'm pretty simple!
    Do you have any tips for photographing/videotaping cars?
    I try to mould my video style on mistakes I see others do.  Whether it be shaky camera, not demonstrating a feature correctly, not showing styling details, giving proper overviews of the interior build quality, and differences in standard features between cars.  My style attempts to correct all flaws in car videos so to speak.  At least to what are close to my tastes.  I prefer a detailed look at a car I'm interested in instead of a flashy promo trailer thing.
    What is the most memorable car you have featured?  Why?

    Probably the one that was featured in the article Car and Driver had on me in the October 2011 issue.  The 1995 Lotec C1000, only 1 in the world.  Took about 8 months to get the opportunity to film it, took research, traveling, and being persistent.  Not only that, it was the C1000, for ~1000 horsepower, and I had it as my 1000th video, crazy coincidence don't you think? ;)
    Who is your favorite television car presenter?
    I honestly don't think I have one.  I watch some every now and then but don't think I would call any of them as my favorite.  I'm going to have to stray from the question a bit and say probably one of my favorite shows are the Mecum Auto Auctions, I watch them every chance I get.
    Is there an elusive car that you want to review but can’t locate?

    I have 2, the mighty Bugatti Veyron, and the DMC Delorean!
    What cars have you personally owned?
    My first car (hence where I got the username from) was a 1997 Saab 900 SE 2.0T that I got in 2004.
    Due to issues with that car I got a 2000 Chrysler 300M (fantastic car).
    Sold the 300M for a graduation present of a 2002 Lexus ES300 (everything I ever wanted in a car, very safe also).  The ES got totaled in an accident where someone ran a stoplight in front of me on my way home from school senior year of high school.
    I then got a 2007 Lexus ES350 Ultra Luxury, stuck with Lexus being such a safe car after that accident.

    3 years later sold the ES and I bought myself a 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Grand Touring (also a very fun car, would recommend to anyone!).


    In the meantime I bought myself a 1965 Ford Fairlane 500 2 door post sedan, 289 V8, 3 on the tree, I am almost through restoring (my fun classic, always dreamed of owning).

    And then sold the Genesis and bought my current 1995 Buick Roadmaster Limited with 46k miles.  I decided having a new sports car was not my style nor did I think I needed it.  I decided to save money and invest in my future.  Plus I have ALWAYS loved the 90s B and D body GM vehicles, which I always wanted as well.
    I'm very happy with where it's at now haha. 
    You’re studying pharmacy now.  What role will cars play in your life?  What do you see yourself doing in ten years?
    Honestly, I hope this somehow turns into a career.  I like pharmacy and that has been my whole plan in life but if I can make a great living off of something I love to do then I will sway towards it.  At the minimum I will continue to do youtube as well as pharmacy as a dual career.  Cars have ALWAYS been a huge part of my life and will always be, I especially have a soft spot for older ones and classics (hence my '65 Fairlane).  In 10 years I see myself having a successful automotive reviewing company, a established pharmacist in the community and living the American dream with my current girlfriend Christal.  :)
    Why do you love cars?
    Again, pretty much with the whole growing up around dealerships thing, I won't go into detail again but there has always been something about things that I just like.  It is very hard for me to say I hate a car.  There are ones I don't like and I keep my opinions to myself in videos but I believe everything is unique in some way.  I often favor cars others don't like because I like to be different, old things have character, class, and an image depending on what it is.  Everyone has personal tastes and preferences.  I guess I would have to say I just love the feeling of open road freedom, the feeling of a V8 rumbling beneath and the solid foot and feel of a vehicle, especially one with fantastic driving dynamics.  The car also has to have proper history, soul, and passion.  Just to name a few of my tastes.

    Kyle's youtube channel is here.

    Separated at birth: Lincoln MKX, Jabba the Hutt's Sail Barge, Moffett Field hangar



    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    The oldest trees in the world

    What are bristlecone pines, Alex?


    At the end of the Loneliest Road in America, just a couple of miles from the Nevada-Utah border, is Great Basin National Park.  And just below the treeline of Wheeler Peak, at 10,500 feet, is a tiny grove of bristlecone pine trees.  Some are almost 5,000 years old.  Here is our mini-trek.

    We started the morning from Ely (elevation 6,437 feet or 1,962 meters).  The park's entrance is about 80 miles away, to the southeast.


    There's Wheeler Peak (13,063 feet or 3,982 meters).


    The trailhead is at the end of a 12 mile road within the park.  The parking lot for the trailhead is at around the 10,000 foot level.  It's a short 1.5 mile hike to the grove.  There was a bit of ice along the trail, but fortunately, I had a walking stick.


    And this is one of the bristlecone pines.  They are short, bare, and gnarled.










    Here is the grove in all its glory.