Friday, January 30, 2004

Baby- and SF-friendly cars

With the new baby we sadly had to replace our beloved Mazda Miata, "Junior." In its place we had to find a car that could both seat the baby and still be easy to park around Russian Hill -- a notoriously difficult SF neighborhood for parking -- where Lucy's mom lives. That meant we needed a really short 4-seater car, that was still fun to have around.

Here's my candidates list, with some benchmarks thrown in:

Length (in.) - Car - # Doors
142.8 - Mini Cooper - 2
154 - Scion xA - 4
155.3 - Scion xB - 4
155.4 - Mazda Miata - 2 <-- we were here
159.1 - Audi TT - 2
159.4 - VW Corrado (1989-95) - 2
161 - VW Beetle - 2
164 - VW Golf - 4
165.7 - Civic Hatchback - 2
165.7 - BMW 318Ti Hatchback (1995-8) - 2
168.1 - Ford Focus - 2/4 (same length)
168.8 - Chrysler PT Cruiser - 4
169.6 - Toyota Prius (2001-3) - 4
171 - Mercedes C-Sport - 2
172 - VW Jetta - 4
172 - Acura RSX/Integra - 2
173 - Subaru Impreza - 4
174.3 - Mazda RX8 - 4
175 - Subaru Forester - 4
176 - Mazda 3 - 4
182.1 - Subaru SVX - 4
242 - Maybach 62 - 4

Originally I thought a Mini would be the "it" car -- so short! -- but it became clear that the 2-door setup would make it painful for baby seat in/egress (imagine climbing around in a downpour), and that there would be very little room available for the stroller. Instead I found a 2000 Golf 4-door with the 1.8 turbo engine, and am so far very happy with it. (This configuration was available 2000-1.)

I wonder if Lucy will let me add a muffler whistle.

Saturday, January 24, 2004


This was pretty awesome watching it all happen: SIXTEEN a-holes getting tickets for jumping into the Bay Bridge carpool lane on a Saturday afternoon. All the while more cars kept driving into the mousetrap:

At the current fine of $341, that's almost $5500 into the state coffers. If they'd only enforce this regularly, maybe we can do away with the vehicle license fee...

Friday, January 23, 2004

The word actually means many things

Orkut, one of the rocking engineers at work, came up with this snazzy social networking site. It's not quite wide-open to public registration yet, so let me know if you want me to send you an invite. (Current Piequeens subscribers will automatically receive one.) As for other meanings of the word, suffice to say that the "Come Together" call-to-action is actually well stated.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Mars... Needs... Women Women Women...

360 degree panorama of Mars. Oooooo.

Batting Practice with a Penguin

This game is strangely addicting for, OK, 5 minutes.

Added: Obligatory parody pics

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Windows, Windows everywhere

From the bullet train station in Tokyo. Similarly, I once saw a payphone in Seoul hang on the "blue screen of death."

Angry Berkeley Bowl shoppers

Forwarded from Teri. A lot of this column on the angry vibes abound in the East Bay resonated with my nagging fears too.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Graco Snugride fits into Peg Perego Aria!

We've found that the well-reviewed Graco Snugride car seat fits right into the also well-reviewed and very lightweight Peg Perego Aria stroller, helped along by a couple of easily-formed nylon straps. (Buy the straps at Narain's Outdoor Fabric in Berkeley, or at your favorite backpack repair shop.) No need to buy a universal stroller frame, the bulky Graco traveler system, or the not-as-well-reviewed Peg Perego car seats!

Here's how.

Lychee Martini How-To

You'll need:

* Canned Lychees (Asian Taste seems to yield nice whole ones, but any brand will do. Obtain at Ranch 99, Chinatown, etc.) Each can yields maybe 6-8 drinks. You'll find peple eat them outright, though, so buy more cans than you think you need.
* Vodka
* Ice
* Cocktail Shaker
* Toothpicks for the lychees

Separate Lychee fruit from the juice. Place ice in cocktail shaker. Follow with Vodka:Juice portions of 1:1 (sweet) or 2:1 (dry) or 3:1 (really stiff). Shake. Serve with couple of toothpick'ed fruit. Instantly please crowd.

Friday, January 09, 2004

More Isabella pics

The Japanese have an expression "oya-baka," to refer to parents that go all ga-ga. We're well on our way, and here's some more pics to show for it.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

"... and pass the ammunition"

This'll be handy for something, I'm sure. Automatic Church Sign Generator

Added: California DMV has a handy license plate generator as well.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Hello Isabella!

Isabella Shau-Yun Chen
Arrived 1/4/2004 11:57am
6lbs 12oz
21 inches
Baby and mother are doing very, very well. Father is in highly confused state. :-)

Rest of pregnancy fun

This could be the one

Contractions every 5 minutes. We're off to Alta Bates!

Friday, January 02, 2004

Search Google by Location

Pretty snazzy!

Covert dumpling manufacturing plant

It's a cash-and-carry operation, made even more suspicious-looking by the papered-over windows. Tax and immigration ambiguities aside, this is our current favorite for frozen ready-to-cook dumplings. I'd bet more than a handful of local restaurants source their supplies here. Get bags of water dumplings (boil your way to a square meal in 5 minutes) and little dragon dumplings (steam your way to bliss), about $12 for a bag of 50. Who needs Betelnut?

Lai Young, 2609 Oliver Dr., Hayward. Map

East 14th St.

All these years of living in Oakland, and I'm just now discovering the taco trucks in / around Fruitvale. I don't care what they call it now, but it's always going to be East 14th St. to me. Here's a great site with a full directory, and another fun write-up here.

I'm partial to the tripe tacos and the cheviche at Sinaloa. Good menudo from the permanent restaurant next door, too. East 14th St. @ 22nd Ave. Map

Another seafood favorite is Mariscos La Costa, also on East 14th past Fruitvale Ave. 3625 East 14th St. Map

For sit-down (read: indoor) meals, we've gone to Tijuana Restaurant a few times to order whole fried fish, served family style. Sunday dinners are full of happy families here. 1308 East 14th St. Map

Evil Restaurants

I'm very down on the "user friendly Asian food" genre. It's a great business concept (and granted, there's a big demand for it) but the food just sucks.

Places I drive past, hoping that it's gone out of business, all the while they rake in the big big bucks:

Long Life Noodle and Jook Joint
PF Changs

Good eats: Oakland Chinatown favorites

Gum Kuo is a great spot for jook, "wet t-shirts," claypot rice, and pig's tongue. On ground level of Pacific Renaissance Plaza. Map

Shang Dong is the favorite for hand-cut noodles and dumplings. 328 - 10th St. @ Webster. Map

Shanghai Wang is great for little dragon and pan fried dumplings. 1437 Franklin St. Map

Dim Sum at Legendary Palace seems to be the "it" choice these days. I'm not too crazy about Peony, and definitely not about Jade Villa. 708 Franklin @ 7th St. Map

I usually get the wonton noodles at Vien Huong, underneath the aforementioned Legendary Palace. We call the place "Techno Noodles" because they often play up-tempo dance tunes on the radio, that lends it an oddly authentic Vietnam-like atmosphere. We also think it gets people to eat faster and generate turnover. 712 Franklin @ 7th St. Map

Get the braised duck noodle soup at Vi's. Enough said. 724 Webster @ 7th St. Map

They call themselves D&A cafe but we call it "The discount Chinese food place." Home of the elusive $5 dinner. Very tasty and open late, and it's one of those places where the action comes to a grinding halt when the Chinese soap opera comes on TV. Corner of Webster & 7th St. Map

Finish off with dessert from Ming Yuen Island Cafe (entrance is on Webster St.) Mango tapioca was great while in season, and they also serve lychee ice cream from Marco Polo Ice Cream that just rocks. Corner of Webster & 9th St. Map

Citrus Miso!

Just heard the KQED Forum interview with Eric Gower about his book Japanese Breakaway Kitchen. I share his disdain for the all-purpose tempura/sushi/teriyaki restaurants that are so pervasive around here.

The grill looks familiar, too

2004 is going to be all about China, China, China. Protection of trademarks seems awfully long ways off, though. Toyota just lost their suit over this logo below.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Happy New Year!

Here's my pre-Blogger homepage.