Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Pepsi Ripoff Project

Wow, things I miss by not watching much network TV. This showed up during "Lost" on ABC last night. Pepsi's agency has got some splainin' to do:

Pepsi commercial - January 2010

Sour "Hibi No Neiro" - July 2009

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Laura Thatcher Out of Berkeley

Remember when recreational rioters were driving over the Bay Bridge to screw up Oakland residents' livelihood? Now we have douchebags from one of the finer SoCal communities rioting on the UC Berkeley campus.

You're *so* grounded Laura; go back to Rolling Hills Estates. After your jail sentence.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Unfortunate brands

... as seen in the Craigslist "Cars for Sale" section:

Alpha Romero
Carmen Ghia
Karma Ghia
Coupe Devil

Manuel Transmission

Head Casket

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Friday, November 13, 2009

More midlife behavior

So, I got an email from my friend Marc the other day. We've known each other since grad school, and in 2000 he bought my 1992 Honda Prelude with 69K miles -- The very first new car that I bought out of college, with a 48-month loan from the credit union.

Turns out he had just bought a new car -- a very sensible Acura TL -- and because his lovely wife Yuriko doesn't drive a stick-shift, can't really keep it around. Would I like to buy it back?

How many miles has she got now? 175K.

Has the service been kept up? Yes. With a big stack of receipts. Here's a spreadsheet summary. And I still have all the papers you gave me with the car.

What kind of shape is it in? Body is meh, with some rust and fading clearcoat in the paint. Mechanically it's sharp, the electrics work, and it's still a fun drive.

How much do you want for it? About half what you paid for your cheapest car to date.

... I'll take it! (And agree that if I turned around and resold the car, we'd split the profit. Or something.)

I brought the car home yesterday, generally tickled with the very familiar driving experience. The sunroof panel is rusted like I never thought a modern Japanese car can rust, and the body's got plenty of dings and dents (I'm looking at you, Helen "SUV Magnet" Kilber), but just the experience of going through old documents -- the original loan agreements, Clifford car alarm receipts from Whole Earth Access -- was worth the price of admission. The car also happens to be the ride for my first date with Lucy, although I'd rather not revisit the fact that it got keyed while parked outside the restaurant.

If baby boomers paying big dollars for their college rides is any indication, this just may turn out to be cheap insurance. At the least, it's interesting as a stock 1990s Honda that escaped the ricer treatment.

And would you just look at this dashboard? You can just *taste* the Japanese Bubble Economy!

Sunroof panels for 4th generation Preludes were apparently made from Soviet-grade steel:


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Confessions of an overcompensating Gen Xer

Big thanks to Tamerlane's Thoughts (darned fine source for your daily recommended allowance of cars and geopolitics) for letting me explain my interests. I hope their readers receive it with more nods than shakes.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Why they won't let me work in Japan anymore

(My US marketing failures here)

Seibu, Say Me"
Hankyu very much"


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Attainable Aspirations

A quick trip to our freakingly huge local Longs Drug store reminded me of an episode back when our girl was 3:

Izzy: (Pointing at a nursery fountain, having just downed a
Top Dog) "Can I have a coin? I want to go make a wish."
Me: "That's not really a wishing well, but OK. Here's a penny."

Me: "So what did you just wish for?"
Izzy: "Ice cream."


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hi-Res Street View

I've noticed that the upgraded Google Street View cameras (or the images being served, at least) are sporting a much higher resolution. So very cool. In the image below, click on the arrow to "drive" towards the toll booths to see the difference.

View Larger Map
And, for extra "wow," click on the full-screen button on the upper right.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Oakland Tech students robbed at gunpoint. In class.

Oh, and AC Transit needs some "No Food, No Drinks, No Guns" signage. How frustrating.
Two men in their early 20s entered a classroom at Oakland Technical High School shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday and robbed three students at gunpoint, according to police .... The robbers had taken an AC Transit bus to the North Oakland high school that morning, reportedly harassing some of the students on the way.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

This logo is rather unfortunate

Two versions of the logo seen on
their site. Transition in progress following an awkward meeting, no doubt.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

For sale: 2007 Mazdaspeed 3

Sometimes I've been known to actually *sell* cars. Especially if they're not mine. (And thus, not affecting the car count.)

It's a 2007 Mazdaspeed 3: An extraordinarily fun bundle of joy, and it's also a darned practical 5-door hatch. Definitely on my short list for The Only Car You'll Ever Need. If I had more space, I'd definitely be doing some splainin' to Lucy right about now.

Previously owned by these internet titans. Such provenance! Definitely a better deal than Sergey's old Prius that turned up on eBay.

Asking $16.5K. Craigslist ad here. Mention this post for special discounts and lease financing terms. :-)

For Sale: 2007 Mazdaspeed 3


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Nia Sykes Out of Oakland

You madam, are an idiot. Protest anywhere you like, but please riot in your own little room.
Protesters smashed the storefronts of McDonald's as well as stores called Creative African Braids and Oakland Yoon's Pharmacy. Cars along 14th Street were smashed, and some were set ablaze.

A woman walked out of Creative African Braids holding a baby in her arms.

"This is our business," she shouted. "This is our shop. This is what you call a protest?"

Nia Sykes, 24, of San Francisco, a protester who was with the group, said, "I feel like the night is going great. I feel like Oakland should make some noise. This is how we need to fight back.
Sykes had little sympathy for the owner of Creative African Braids.

"She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life," Sykes said.

Added 1/9/2008: SF Chronicle has published Nia Sykes' response to the article, which has since been syndicated worldwide.
"I do not advocate violence"

Editor - Regarding "Protests over BART shooting turn violent" (Jan. 8): I was dismayed to see that I was quoted grossly out of context. I spoke to the reporter for several minutes and they used only portions from the interview to make it seem as if I was condoning violence, which is not at all the case.

I was a part of the peaceful rally that began at 3 p.m. at the Fruitvale BART Station, where Oscar Grant was murdered. I said that the peaceful protest was "great"- not the destruction of property! Some of us continued to downtown Oakland, but I was not a part of the faction of protesters that became violent. I do not advocate violence at all, from police or the protesters, nor did I have any part of it. In fact, when I saw people vandalizing property, I moved to another block, where I was interviewed by the reporter.

I only became aware of the woman whose shop was damaged after the reporter informed me of it. I am sorry that her shop as well as other individuals' and businesses were vandalized.

I am saddened too, that The Chronicle chose to make this article solely about race. The protests were about the execution-style shooting of an unarmed man by the BART police. The protesters who came were of all races: black, white, Asian and Latino.

San Francisco


Friday, January 02, 2009

Loving the sushi nazi

I just finished reading "Fish out of water," a glowing cover story review of Sebo sushi restaurant, in San Francisco Magazine. (Yes it's a rather upscale publication in its current incarnation; maybe next time we'll talk about the latest issue of Robb Report.)

Sebo sounds like a nice place, the folks running the place sound cool, and I'd like to eat there sometime. I hope the place does well, and the article (likewise an earlier Vanity Fair -- another refined pub, kinda? -- piece on Tsukiji) is a really interesting, thorough exploration of the sushi-industrial complex.

This part got me a giant-geoduck-clam-sized head slap, though:
Few cuisines are as bound by custom and etiquette as sushi. Plug the word into any search engine, and you’ll come upon dozens of sites listing rules for eating it: Don’t rub your chopsticks together; dip the fish, not the rice, into the soy sauce; put the nigiri into your mouth fish side down and eat it in a single bite. It doesn’t help that chefs at some of the more traditional sushi bars often take a defensive stance against their customers (...) There are plenty of people who relish the intimidation and enjoy the challenge of mastering a purposefully opaque food culture. Me? I’d rather order a pizza.
Gah. Of course it's intimidating. It's, like, foreign. And the sushi chefs have pride.

Take an average Japanese person and imagine how intimidating a formal Western dinner would be to her: Do I sit down from left or right? Can I break the bread with my mouth? Can I pour ketchup on that fish? Is slurping OK? The last I checked, L'atelier de Joel Robuchon in Tokyo does not hold customer hands through these questions.

Actually that's a totally dumb comparison, because an average Japanese person would probably have done lots of how-to research before going into that Michelin 2-star, so it's a nonissue. You just don't hear about gauche Japanese behavior perpetrated upon Western restaurants nowadays, and that speaks volumes about their attitudes about foreign customs and how they embrace them in appropriate situations.

Sushi has been popular in the West Coast for, what, like 30 years now? How is it that we still hear these provincial complaints about how opaque and difficult its surrounding customs are? Why *are* people still rubbing chopsticks together?

I, for one, welcome our ganko overlords. User-friendly is for P.F. Chang. (The article also refers to a recent WSJ coverage on sushi bullies, another fun read.)


Monday, December 29, 2008

Why they won't let me work in Marketing anymore

"Mikasa es su casa"

"Live Longs and prosper"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

User-Generated Animation (and Sound Effects!)

For whatever reason Hatena Haiku had attracted a lot of illustrations. I'm really looking forward to all kinds of animators to come out of the woodwork for this new launch!

(Even better with audio.)


Monday, December 15, 2008

Amtrak and Horizon Air merge, sues Obama


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Stupid Economy

The restaurant slowdown has claimed one of my local favorites. Local businesses are struggling, and this news to me is a big reminder to support the good ones. I hope the folks at Jojo will reopen in better times.
For Curt Clingman of Jojo, a neighborhood French restaurant in Oakland that just celebrated its ninth year in business, it's the lack of customer traffic that's killing him. When they do come in, diners tend to share a couple of starters instead of buying full meals.

"The depth and length of this economic downturn has been the worst I have ever lived through," said the chef, who owns the bistro with his wife, Mary Jo Thoresen, a pastry chef.

Clingman said that he started feeling the pain early this year, when his usual clientele began to thin out.

"We thought we could weather it," he said. "But things got nothing but worse."

During the next few months Clingman and Thoresen tried to retool the business, eventually scaling down to two dishwashers, two servers and a part-time sous chef.

"Where do you go from here?" he asked. "To persevere was becoming too reckless."

The couple has decided to shutter the place Jan. 1. They have already made a deal to sell most of the restaurant's assets and feel fortunate to have found a buyer.
(via Hunter's fine local economic stimulus plan)

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Super Isabella, meet Giulia Super

I wish the DMV would offer registration discounts for interesting cars.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Life, Liberty, and...

On this glorious and beautiful Election Day, I enjoyed certain unalienable rights by adding this:

Yeah, OK, this ain't pursuing happiness, I'm pursuing crazy.