Sunday, April 23, 2017

Impressive truck driving video compilation

G550 4x4 Squared

For some reason, the local used luxury car dealer has a 4x4 Squared with less than 100 miles on it. I had never heard of it before running across this ad on Craigslist.

And here is a very honest take on the car, by the ICON guy:

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Ethiopian intersection without traffic signals

Beautiful and terrifying.

A walk with Cooper

This is the wettest season on record. Usually, by late April, this would all be yellow.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Engine disassembly and assembly video

Chinese government destroying Uyghur spirit

Insightful car guys tweet thread


Go here! (The thread is 60+ comments long. I don't know why most are not showing up.)

Fastest lap at Le Mans

H/t to Alan.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A gift from BMW

A question for you fathers out there...

I got this in the mail.

It's a cool USB stick with some marketing BS about how eco-friendly the i3 is.

The package also came with a free one-day car control course at either BMW's track in Thermal (between Palm Desert and the Salton Sea in Southern California) or next to the Spartanburg, South Carolina, factory, where they build the X3, X4, X5, and X6.

The easy choice would be to fly down to Southern California for a day. But if I go to South Carolina, I can get a factory tour and visit the BMW Zentrum museum.

The question for you fathers: At what point do you feel comfortable asking your wife who just gave birth for permission to fly across the country for a few days for cars?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Fueling up my i3

I have to go to Nevada City in a couple of weeks for work. It's in the Sierra foothills (around 2,500 feet in elevation) and 150 miles away. Normally, the i3's battery runs out of juice after 125 miles. But since I'll be going uphill, I suspect my electric range will drop to 80 to 90 miles. Then, the gas Range Extender generator kicks in (I have yet to use it).

This has led to some thinking. The easiest solution is to take the TSX wagon. But we have family visiting so I'd rather let my wife and guests drive/ride in the TSX. The Civic is fine, but I'm relegating it to transporting the dog and transporting sweaty-me from the gym.

The next solution is to call the BMW dealership and borrow a gas-powered BMW for free under its Flexible Mobility program. Under the program, electric BMW owners can get around 10 days of free rentals when they have to travel long distances. The caveats? You are limited to 100 miles per day (dumb) and the vast majority of dealers do not participate in the program (dumber).

But you know what's even dumber? The dealer where I got my i3 participates in the program. But recently, I found out that while I was filling out paperwork to lease the i3, the dealer slipped in, unbeknownst to me, an application for a BMW credit card. When I received the card in the mail, I was pissed. Needless to say, I don't want to go back there.

So I have to drive to Nevada City in the i3. I am plotting out a route that would take me to DC Fast Chargers. These chargers are indeed fast. I found one that's only 1.3 miles from my office. It's free and will charge 80% of my battery in less than 30 minutes. I can catch up on email and voicemails in that time.

Young me as a farmer

Now here is a good story.

I was raised by 19th century Mandarins. Specifically, I was raised by my maternal grandparents, who were born in 1900 and 1911. My grandfather came from a well-to-do background. Manual labor was foreign to him. He spent his childhood reciting ancient poems and practicing calligraphy. My grandmother was never taught how to read or write. And her feet were partially bound.

Hilarity ensued when they raise a grandchild in the late 1970s. Progressive and forward-thinking they were not. I was discouraged from playing outside or even to sweat. And even though we lived in Taiwan, speaking Taiwanese was strictly forbidden.

So one day, some family friends thought-- Wouldn't it be funny if they took me to a farm for a week?

On the first day, I encountered mud. I didn't know what it was, except it looked like wet dirt. I took a step and was ankle deep in it. The result can be seen in this photo, which I recently uncovered.

On that trip, I was also introduced to thousand year old eggs. I found them revolting then, but now I love them.

Buying Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars

Whenever I am at a drug store, I go to the toy section to look at what die cast cars are available. So far, I have been disappointed. I guess Matchbox and Hot Wheels are owned by the same people now. I don't like most of the models and when I see a model I like, I don't like the color scheme.

Where locally can I find a better/larger selection? And is there anywhere in the Bay Area that sells Tomicas?

But then again. Should I be pushing my taste/preferences on the boy? Or should he, when he is old enough, pick the cars he likes?

These multi-packs seem very popular.

I like the SP2 a lot, but I don't like the racing livery.

Again, cool car, but I don't like the colors. Also, what a drab package.

Now if I saw this 6x6 at CVS, I'd get it!

Andre the Giant flying out of 1980s Japan


Saturday, April 15, 2017

BMW E1, BMW's first electric car

Matteo the car designer was at the BMW museum today and this tweet caught my attention.

I learned that the E1:

  • debuted at the 1991 Frankfurt Motor Show
  • developed by BMW's Technik division
  • 93 mile range
  • 43 hp
  • aluminum chassis, plastic body panels
  • first prototype caught fire and burned to ground

Friday, April 14, 2017

Follow this car designer on Twitter

Watching this Mazda ad on TV last night reminded me to remind you to follow Matteo on Twitter.

Matteo is an Italian car designer who currently teaches in Barcelona. I don't know how I found him. Perhaps via Sanchez? I really dig Matteo's brief observations and posts about current and past car designs. 

Largest non-nuclear bomb dropped in Afghanistan

Remember when the History Channel showed informative documentaries instead of pieces on vampires and Dan Brown novels?

And here it is in action.

Citroen XM/SM mash-up

Is this Photoshopped? Or real?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Standby, folks

Having a week-old baby takes a lot out of you! Who knew?!

I've got several post ideas. I just need free time. I have an interview with a Range Rover/Land Rover nut. I have interviews regarding Lima and Cartagena with Ramon. I am going to write about why I am pissed off at my local BMW dealer (they applied for a credit card I never authorized). I am planning an out-of-range trip to the mountains in my i3. Etc., etc., etc.

Maybe I'll have time this weekend. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Weapons by Canadian province

Now that Texas will have an official "state gun", these are the Canadian weapons of choice.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Friday, April 07, 2017

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Brake light activation on the i3

The i3 regenerates aggressively. As soon as I let my foot off the gas pedal, it slows forcefully. If I time it right, I can get around town without ever using the brake pedal. But paranoid-me thought: Can people behind me tell if I'm slowing down quickly? The answer is yes. The brake lights sometimes go on even when I don't have my foot on the brake pedal.

Top cars used in movies

Bugatti Chiron

A friend shared this Nat Geo documentary about the Chiron and I'm now totally fascinated.

And here's SaabKyle04's video. Lots of trivia. Funny that the TPMS light is on.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Human League Human

I heard this on the radio this morning.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Edition 507 Wagon

A tale of three unusual Bay Area restaurant chains

My quest to Eat the Globe has slowed down quite a bit recently. However, I found a United Arab Emirates-based fast food chain in Fremont called Just Falafel.

Fremont has almost a quarter of a million residents. It's between Oakland and San Jose. It has a large Afghan, Indian, and Chinese population. 18% of the city are Indians, another 18% are Chinese, and I can't find figures for Afghans because they count themselves as Asians and whites in the census.

In any event, I was in Fremont this week and decided to go to the falafel place for dinner. My meeting went long and by the time I got to the strip mall where the falafel place was located, it had closed already. Who closes at 8 pm?!

I then looked around and found Eden Silk Road next door. I had heard about this place. It's a Uighur chain restaurant run by a Xinjiang-based company. I've always wanted to eat there. On the windows, there is a long, hand-drawn map of the Silk Road, with places like Hami, Kashgar, Turpan, and Tashkent marked. Guess what? It also closes at 8.

I then walked some more and found a place called Inchin Bamboo Garden. It looked like a nice Chinese restaurant from the outside. I walked in and it looked just like a PF Chang's. But all of the servers and all of the customers were Indian. It's an upscale chain of Indian-style Chinese restaurants. I had the chili chicken with Kingfisher beer. It was really spicy and didn't taste "Chinese" at all. It's definitely worth checking out.

Chinese riot in Paris over deadly police shooting

Chinese military in Xinjiang practices in mock Bin Laden compound


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Two weeks with the i3

I have barely put 200 miles on the car so far but I am extremely satisfied with it. I'm glad I paid more for the sunroof, leather, and big navigation screen. I have not driven it too far so I have not used the Range Extender yet. This video encapsulates perfectly why I like it so much.

I just got my license plate so now I can add it to my Fastrak (electronic toll tag) account and hopefully get a carpool lane sticker.

Renault 4

I'm not certain if I have ever seen a single one in the U.S.

H/t Ramon. This is a great summary of the popular car.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Complimentary 1985 Oldsmobile tape

A telescope in a 747

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Interview with a car nut in Israel

Thanks, Max!

1. Is there much of a car culture in Israel?

Israel is a country with a fairly poorly developed car culture because car ownership on a massive scale is really only something that began with the spike in economic growth in the mid to late 90s.  Since then, a culture of company cars being a common perk and very high import tariffs have made it difficult for people to use their cars to express themselves.  In addition, because private car ownership was so uncommon for most of the country’s development, as well as the tiny size of the country as a whole, public transit in Israel is very well-developed and makes it easy for many to get by without driving much.

2. What brands/models are popular over there?

Currently popular brands are Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru, Suzuki, and Renault. There are a great many more popular makes in Israel, but buying patterns trend towards superminis and compacts.  Historically, Mazda and Subaru were far and away the most popular brands because they decided that they could target the Israeli market despite the Arab boycott on companies that did business with the Jewish state.  Also, American market models have historically been viewed as prestigious if not luxurious.  You can see a greater array of USDM models in Israel than most European car markets because of this.

3. How much do new cars cost over there? Is there a high tariff?

I don’t know the specific tariff formula, but for most private buyers the tariff is more or less 100%.  There are exceptions for some pickup truck models and certain “green” vehicles but I don’t know the specifics.

4. Are any cars currently manufactured/assembled there?

Right now there are no private car models manufactured in Israel, but the Tomcar ATV is made in Israel and AIL, or Automotive Industries Limited, builds a version of the Jeep J8 for the IDF.  They actually pioneered the four door Wrangler in the early ‘90s.  In the past, a factory in Haifa built a number of Kaiser and Studebaker models in addition to the Hino Contessa.  After that, a series of Israeli companies built fiberglass cars with British underpinnings under the names Susita and Carmel but both projects eventually failed.

5. Is there a stigma to owning a German car?

The stigma has more or less subsided, but earlier in the history of the state most officials were driven in American cars or Volvos rather than the quintessential German luxury sedans.

6. What do executives and high ranking government officials ride in?

As of now, ministers receive Audi A6s and the Prime Minister is driven in a set of armored A8L W12s.  Lower members of parliament get either Volvos or Skodas, I think.

7. How easy is it to drive between Israel and the West Bank/Gaza with Israeli/Palestinian plates?

It is fairly easy for Israeli citizens (with yellow license plates) to drive into the West Bank, but mostly only to Jewish settlements.  Palestinians with white and green license plates are unable to leave the West Bank with their vehicles for the most part, and access to Gaza is more or less forbidden to all Israelis.

8. How easy is it to drive to other neighboring countries with Israeli plates?

You can take a car out of Israel to Egypt and Jordan, but there is actually a scheme where you replace your Israeli plates with local ones for the time you spend there.  Very rarely you can see a car with Jordanian plates in Israel.  Still, foreign plates are an extremely rare sight in Israel.  Every once in a while you might see a truck with Turkish plates that was brought on a RoRo ship to Haifa and is bound for either Jordan or the agricultural parts of the country, but nothing much besides that.  Interestingly, though, many Israeli used cars find their way to markets in the Gulf via Jordan.

9. Anything about cars in Israel that would surprise Americans?

The mixture of European and American models might surprise Americans.  In addition to that? The only other surprise might be the well-developed bumper sticker culture in Israel.

10. Why do you love cars?

Cars tell you a great deal about a culture, an economy, a people.  The way people drive is as much a cultural indicator as the way someone talks, walks, or writes.

A post shared by Max Finkel (@2fast2finkel) on

Edd China leaving Wheeler Dealers

What a shame. Profits before quality content. What do you all think?

2005 Sesame Street episode featuring Donald Grump

Rob Corddry Daily Show 2004 Boston

I'm reading about the history of the Daily Show. Correspondent Corddry got to go to his hometown for the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Those were his actual college friends. He told them to go to the bar at 2pm and start drinking as the show was paying for the booze. They started shooting at 5pm. The show paid for the broken bar stools.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Volvo Australian road train

These Volvo Truck videos on YouTube are beautiful. I had always assumed the Outback was dry. Never realized it was humid.

Tiff N races a Koenigsegg with a Volvo truck

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Merkel's reaction to Trump

BMW i3 parking assist

I have not tried many of the features in the i3 yet, including the $1,000 Parking Assistance package. (I haven't even run down the battery enough to activate the Range Extender either.)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

BMW i3 overview video

I wonder if the car's body is costly to repair. My insurance premium just doubled!

Aleppo car collector, a year ago and today

H/t Ramon.

A year ago:


Some more footage:

Sphinx being excavated, 1860s

Sunday, March 12, 2017

I got a BMW i3

The search is over. The car is pretty sweet. It's got pretty much every option available. 20" wheels. Moonroof. Leather. Tech package. Parking Assist package. I'll report more later, because I have a crib to research and buy!

Protonic blue.

Dark oak wood and Dalbergia brown leather.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Two unexpectedly great meals

Usually, if I want to try a new place to eat, I at least look at its Yelp reviews first. But yesterday, I didn't.

I grabbed lunch with a friend, and he suggested Chai Thai Noodles in Oakland. He knows all the great places, so I assumed I'll just get a delicious yellow curry chicken, or something generic like that. I was in for a pleasant surprise.

This photo is from Yelp. Friend and I both ordered this, pork leg stew over rice. The meat was tender and had pieces of fat to add to the flavor. We washed the meal down with Lao beer.

Then, dinner. The work day ended up being much longer than anticipated and I was miles from home. A freeway shooting clogged the entire Bay Area road network. I was trapped. I texted a friend for nearby recommendations. She suggested Booniepepper Islander Grill. I was too hungry and tired to look it up online. I walked up to the register, asked what they recommended, and got this chicken kelaguen. It was only after I paid for my order at the counter that I asked, what cuisine is this? Guam/Chamorro!

This meal differed from other Pacific Islander cuisine in three ways. First, there were vegetables(!). In this case, roasted carrots and red bell peppers. Second, the portion size was much smaller. Which is a good thing. And finally, the flavors were complex. The kelaguen was unlike anything I've ever had before, both in terms of taste and texture. Principally, it's chicken with lemon juice and peppers. But it's much more than that. If you ever get an opportunity to try it, DO!

US F/A-18 fighter pilot lands on aircraft carrier in conditions of no visibility

Nobody lives here

A map of census blocks with zero population.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Australian aboriginal bush mechanics

Hilarious! Via Flavio Gomes.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Egyptian women drivers

I can't even imagine the bullshit these women have to go through every day.

Tuk-tuk driver.
Taxi driver.
Minibus driver.
Truck driver.

Working at the Waffle House

The co-founder of Waffle House recently passed away. A few thoughts:

  • This is a Southern institution. There is one along the way between the Naples, Florida, airport (RSW) and my in-laws' condo on Marco Island. My wife's family ate there when she was a kid as a treat during their road trips. I can't wait to introduce it to our boy!
  • Who is this Barry Tanaka?! He must have an interesting story to tell.
  • This host "working" at Waffle House reminds me of my tenure at Arby's (an American fast food chain). More often than not, Latinos and African-Americans are working hard, away from the cash register, doing the grunt work of cooking and cleaning. In the meantime, whites (and sometimes Asians) are up front, not working as hard, manning the cash registers.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Unionizing Nissan plant in Mississippi

Bernie was in Mississippi last weekend to help unionize the mostly African-American workers at the Nissan truck plant. The plant builds the following:

Nissan Altima
Nissan TITAN

Nissan NV Cargo
Nissan NV Passenger
Nissan Frontier King Cab 
Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 
Nissan Murano

European Jewish population, 1933 versus 2017

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Moto taxi racing in Peruvian cocaine valley

The title says it all. Beautifully shot, wonderful story. Enjoy!

Eating the Globe: North Korea

This is a dish from northern Korea that was served at a "South Korean" restaurant. Wikipedia summed up naengmyeon perfectly:

"Naengmyeon is served in a large stainless-steel bowl with a tangy iced broth, julienned cucumbers, slices of Korean pear, thin, wide strips of lightly pickled radish, and either a boiled egg or slices of cold boiled beef or both. Spicy mustard sauce (or mustard oil) and vinegar are often added before consumption. Traditionally, the long noodles would be eaten without cutting, as they symbolized longevity of life and good health, but servers at restaurants usually ask if the noodles should be cut prior to eating, and use scissors to cut the noodles."

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa
Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden
North America: Belize, Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga

States without a river for any part of their border

H/t Peter.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Appraisal of old Rolex

I don't know anything about watches. Is this a coveted watch?

Wednesday, March 01, 2017


My opinion of Trump is obvious. It's very, very hard to like the guy. But this spoof video, shot a year before his election victory, shows a human side of Trump.

Glass zebra fish

Watch from 1:43 to 5:08.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Karakul Lake mentioned in Economist article

You may have noticed the URL to this blog is "Karakul Lake". It was mentioned in this article about tourism in Xinjiang.

My old Phaeton is for sale

The most detailed used car ad you will ever see. I am obviously biased, but I honestly believe this is the best example of the V8 in the country. The ad's meticulous write-up says it all.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Mercedes B-Class electric

All the B-Class cars in America are electric. And I see quite a few of them.

BTW, BMW does not have an ETA for when the i3s being recalled will be repaired.

Lexis LC500 One Take

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cooper in the rain

I thought we were going to get a break from the rain today so I tried to take Cooper for a hike. It rained just as we got out of the car. We didn't get far before we had to turn back.