I will continue tweeting, so check the right column of this blog. By the end of next week, I will have covered the entire length of the North American continent by bus. My checklist for this Alaska trip:
seeing the midnight sun
touching the Arctic Ocean
not getting bitten by mosquitos or bears
eating whale blubber (very unlikely)
More photos of the Dalton Highway, taken last week, here.
This totally reminds me of my high school days. I was captain of an academic team. The contest was sponsored by Cathay Pacific and the winning team got a free trip on the first non-stop flight between LAX and Hong Kong. We lost by one question-- What is the primary religion of X Southeast Asian country? (I forget the country, but it sure as hell wasn't Buddhism.)
I found the notes from my 2007 bus/van trip to Alaska. This is Harry, whom I rode with from the Tok to Fairbanks leg.
Harry is a Native American in his early 60s. He was born in Fort Yukon, one of 13 children. When he was five years old, he fell off a tree and shattered his entire left side. He was sedated with methadone at a hospital for eleven months. Back then, there was no medical knowledge about withdrawals so the medical staff just released him from the hospital. He had blackouts and other horrible symptoms for three years after that.
At age 17, he left home because of his step-father. He became an electrician and joined the Teamsters. He was a workaholic.
Harry served in Vietnam. He first claimed that he served a few tours, but then admitted that he only served seven months and was discharged with PTSD. He has not worked regularly since. His union paid over $3 million in benefits.
He has two daughters and three grandchildren. His mom lives in North Pole, Alaska, a suburb of Fairbanks. He has a sibling in New York.
Harry wears a cap that has an Intel logo, except it says "Jesus Inside". He looks like a swarthier version of Senator Daniel Inouye. When I noticed the cap, he started talking about miracles, God, etc. He mentioned these subjects in the course of pleasant conversation, and not in a pushy way.
He lives alone on a 160 acre plot between Beaver and Birch Creek. Harry supports himself by trapping. He shares with me a salmon jerky he made. It's tough but good. A bush pilot flies him to civilization for $600 per trip. The longest he has ever been alone is 91 days. Being alone too long, not surprisingly, makes one go crazy. Like Howard Hughes, Harry explains, your image of your self is magnified. Before he gets too lonely or just before he comes back to civilization, he plugs in his satellite dish and watches TV.
He is frustrated with how the VA hospital and doctors have treated him. In fact, he's on his way to the VA hospital now for a regular check-up. The VA pays for his transportation, i.e. the bush pilot and this van company, to take him to and from the hospital.
Harry would give up his annual oil revenue check (which every Alaska resident is entitled to) if he could have the pre-oil discovery Alaska back.
On the way home today, I passed by the local Porsche dealership and caught a glimpse of the new Macan. This review is pretty positive. I think it will sell well. It looks like only the S and Turbo are available here in America.
The Republican Party in California is not doing well. Traditional, rational, fiscal conservatives are being crowded out by reactionary, xenophobic Tea Party-types. This Donnelly guy is going to end up running against Governor Jerry Brown in November. It's both amusing and scary.
A CHP officer was making a routine traffic stop when a 22 year old in a Montero Sport slammed into the back of the Crown Victoria. Investigators say that she never applied her brakes. It happened at 8 a.m. and she claims that she was up all night at a nearby Indian casino. The cop is still in the hospital with two broken legs.
*If I have complained about this before, I apologize.*
In the U.S., every other TV ad is a car insurance commercial. Since 2012, Liberty Mutual has been playing this ad repeatedly. I have probably seen it over 1,000 times. It has completely ruined a perfectly good song.
Another great race for Mercedes. I was counting down the laps the entire time, hoping Rosberg didn't make a mistake. Hamilton is certainly quicker, so Rosberg has to play it cooler for the rest of the season.
This weekend, Boko Haram crossed into Cameroon and kidnapped 10 Chinese workers building a bridge. China has massive infrastructure projects all over Sub-Saharan Africa. China funds the projects and expects payments in natural resources. To doubly reap the benefits, the labor and materials for the projects are Chinese as well.
In Cameroon, China is building a deep water port to siphon resources from all of West and Central Africa. It stands to gain oil, minerals, and timber at cut rate prices.
Here in the Bay Area, travel ads are on TV constantly. I've seen ads for San Diego, Oregon, Alberta, Los Angeles, and even the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. Here's a brief piece on branding, in the context of travel destinations.
In one episode, we learn the term "We can neither confirm nor deny" came from Project Azorian.
In 1968, the Soviets lost a submarine 3,000 miles northwest of Hawaii. The US wanted to retrieve it from the ocean floor for intelligence purposes. Not only did the sub contain codes, but nuclear weapons as well. The US contacted Howard Hughes and asked his company to pretend to be interested in mining for manganese on the ocean floor. They used that as a cover to secretly recover the sub. "We can neither confirm nor deny" was first used during this project when journalists asked about the project's existence.
A neighbor kid's friend has a non-WS6 Trans Am. The Pontiac is intriguing, but I've never liked its looks. Though it's essentially identical to the Camaro, the Pontiac just looks so narrow and long. And all that body cladding! The shots of the interior in the video below remind me of all the abysmal Grand Prixs I was forced to rent on vacations and business trips.
As some of you know, I am/was a huge Heidfeld fan because he had so many podiums but never a win. Picking Rosberg as my new favorite driver when he moved to Mercedes is becoming a sound decision, especially this season. In the last four races, he's come in second all four times. Today, he finished barely half a second behind Lewis. Here is a breakdown of how close Heidfeld and Rosberg came to winning a race.
2005 Monaco: 13.877 second behind Kimi
2005 Europe: 16.567 behind Alonso
2007 Canada: 4.343 behind Lewis
2008 Australia: 5.478 behind Lewis
2008 Canada: 16.495 behind Kubica
2008 GB: 1:08.577 behind Lewis
2008 Belgium: 9.383 behind Massa
2009 Malaysia: 22.722 behind Button
Rosberg in 2014
Malaysia: 17.313 seconds behind Lewis
Bahrain: 1.085 behind Lewis
China: 18.686 behind Lewis
Spain: 0.600 behind Lewis
Yesterday, I stopped by Oakland Police Department headquarters for its annual memorial ceremony for the 50+ officers killed in the line of duty. I was surprised to learn that the first fatality took place all the way back in 1867.
After watching four seasons of The Wire, I am hyper aware of the intersection between Big City Police and the Mayor's Office.
The City of Oakland and its police department are beyond dysfunctional. Mayor Jean Quan (second row, in white and red) is viewed by many as incompetent and has no friends in the police department. At the ceremony, she was relegated to the second row.
Right in front of the mayor is the current Interim Police Chief. I think "Interim", "Acting", and "Co-Whatever" are the most useless titles ever. He seems competent, but has zero charisma/gravitas. He is probably not going to be made the permanent chief. He became chief when his two predecessors both quit within the same week(!).
Up front, in the middle, in purple, is the District Attorney. She doesn't have extraordinary clout, but she has credibility and staying power, which are both in short supply in this group. She gave the longest speech, and all she talked about was the need to hire more officers.
In the second row are a handful of city council members, who are all coincidentally running for mayor.
I am compiling a comprehensive list of what every local police department is replacing their Ford Crown Victorias with. Here is a link. Or, just comment on this blog. Please let me know what your local municipalities are using. Thanks!
Here is my Soarer story, which I may have told snippets of already.
I knew these brothers, Bobby and Eddie. They were about ten years older than me. Family friends. In fact, their mother owned the restaurant next door to my family's restaurant in Yokohama's Chinatown. They both attended the American school.
In the mid-80s, they moved to Southern California to attend college. I remember visiting them. Eddie shipped his white Toyota Soarer (non-Aerocabin) here. His brother Bobby had a no-doubt gray-market Alpina E21. I think Bobby also had a non-running Indian motorcycle that he was trying to bring back to life.
Fast forward 20 years later, and I was at a Korean BBQ joint in Oakland. I saw a white Soarer, just like Eddie's. I'm sure there are probably more than a few Soarers in California, but I've always wondered if that used to belong to Eddie.
I like the description, even though it's an auto. Email to owner has already been sent.
"Great condition. Meticulously maintained:
- One owner since new. All maintenance records available. - Old school maintenance schedule. - Only synthetic oil used. - Timing belt and water pump were replaced at 60K miles. - Newer Michelin Defender (10K miles). - New Die Hard Gold battery."
I understand that you can't attribute any specific weather event to climate change. In addition, the cause of the jail explosion is still unknown. But let's just imagine this scenario: Climate change causes unprecedented rain. In Pensacola, five inches (12.7 cm) of rain fell in 45 minutes. The local jail is flooded, causing a natural gas leak and explosion, killing 2 (another 3 are missing) and injuring 155.