Thursday, April 19, 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Taking the SMART train

Public transit in America, for the most part, is subpar. Train transit even more so. The San Francisco Bay Area has a hodgepodge of trains. BART serves the East Bay and San Francisco. CalTrain serves the Peninsula. VTA serves the South Bay. The North Bay, which consists of Marin and Sonoma Counties, did not even have trains, until recently.

SMART opened last year. These new Japanese diesel trains use old existing rail tracks. I was about to have a super busy and stressful month at work so I decided to take a day off and ride the train. I dragged rchen with me.

The southern terminus is currently in downtown San Rafael. Once the line is completed, it will go all the way to the Larkspur ferry, which connects to San Francisco. The train is quiet, clean, and serves local beers and wines.

For this trip, we started in San Rafael and headed for downtown Petaluma.

Even though the route runs parallel with Highway 101 (it's less than a mile east of the busy freeway), the scenery is serene and bucolic. The recent rains made everything lush and green. It was like being on vacation.

We stopped in Petaluma and walked a few blocks to town and had Himalayan food for lunch. We then walked back to the station (really, it's just a platform) and headed back home.

In San Rafael, I spotted this random ad for calls to Somalia.

Incidentally, we took rchen's 300ZX to the train station. It was a fine example with Super HICAS steering.

On the trip, I saw two i3s on flatbeds.

The Z has T-tops!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Rolls-Royce Wraith

These are very rare cars, even in car-crazy California. But I saw one in Palm Desert on Saturday morning and when I went to pick up our dog on Sunday, I spotted a second one.

Monday, April 16, 2018

I'm back!

Just back from a little R and R in Palm Desert. Unbeknownst to me, the trip coincided with the Coachella music festival.

While there, we visited Sunnylands, also known as the Camp David of the West. It's a beautiful estate with lots of Cold War history.

Now that I'm back, I will also share the story of a short train trip I took with rchen.

Thank you for your patience and stay tuned.

Monday, April 09, 2018

American fast food in Kuwait

I am fascinated by the Arab Peninsula and would love to visit Kuwait, the UAE, and Oman.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Evil Japanese ramen ad

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Cadillac Super Cruise

GM arguably has a better driver assistance product than Tesla's Auto Pilot with its Super Cruise. Here is an ad I saw on TV of a Cadillac passing a Tesla.

And here it is in action. The thing about this technology is that in two, three, or ten years, it will be so dated.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Former Guatemalan dictator, dead

It's always fascinating to learn that colleagues from the 70s and 80s and early 90s majored in Soviet Studies or Oriental Studies in college. I majored in Latin American Studies and focused on Cold War Guatemala. My advisor was Beatriz Manz and she was interviewed this week about the death of Efrain Rios Montt.

Bored in an F1 garage

Ukrainian soldier