Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Funkengroovin - To Mokkatam and City of the Dead

(Repeat from the last post.) Before VB's trip home The Boss Man and she decided to go shopping for a few items to take back to the States. We went to the Mokkatam Alabaster Factory Shop, and then our driver took us to The City of the Dead for more. Here's the VW part of the trip.

(Below 4 photos): A red single cab on the highway. They're a bit blurry, but that's what you get when you're trying to photograph a moving object, while you are in motion as well.

(Below): A wrecked car on a service road, cut in half by VB's rear passenger seat window.

(Below): Grrr! Just missed another one again!

(Below): In The City of the Dead, a white Beetle, with a very funky background. Looks like he's working on it.

(Below): As promised, the newest latest version of the VW ambulance seen around Cairo.

(Below three photos): The rear and front of a teal Beetle on the highway.

(Below): An overloaded garbage truck on the highway.

(Below): An orange Beetle for sale. You will probably see this one from another angle in a future post. this photo was taken as we passed. It was parked between two police look-outs and VB was a bit leery about taking a photo with the fuzz breathing down her neck.


There hasn't been a lot of VW related news lately (except their deal with Porsche and new car related items), but VB did find some interesting Egypt traffic and general auto news bits of interest.

""Driving in Cairo is a lot like playing Atari," the 42-year-old Noureddin says with a smile, referring to the popular 1980s’ video game system. "Here, you dodge cars, pedestrians, donkey carts, buses. You try to make it to the end without hitting someone, getting hit or getting a ticket. The difference, though: There's no reset button. This is no game."

As the number of new vehicles on Egypt's roads steadily increases, the congestion is getting worse, with the distance between cars on the road easily measured in millimeters. The problem has become so bad that the government is kicking off an awareness campaign to supplement a relatively new and much-criticized traffic safety law."
Cairo's terrifying traffic chaos
"Drivers swerve with the greatest dexterity into the tiniest of spaces. Nearly every car or bus carries the scars of battle.
Of course spare parts are expensive, no-one has insurance and claiming for damage is about as worthwhile as dowsing for water in the desert.
The rules are pretty simple. Full-beam headlights and blaring horns somewhere behind usually mean you are about to be overtaken - or undertaken - at high speed, even though there is no space between your car and that concrete wall beside you."
A Taxi, an accountant and his four sons
"“There are doctors, engineers, teachers, all of them driving taxis. They just don’t earn enough otherwise,” he told me, grinding to a halt as a pick-up tried to do a U-turn in the middle of a narrow road. “This government doesn’t even provide order.” It’s hard to argue with that point on the streets of the capital where even the newest cars have scratches and dents, testimony to traffic rules that seem to be regarded — at least to any visitor — as optional."
A system much misunderstood
"Diyyah for the death of a woman during the time of the Prophet Mohammed was usually less than half that for a man. Many conservative muftis prefer to maintain this practice in court cases today, but it is controversial and varies from country to country."

"Compensation for damages and injury is common legal practice in many countries. Insurance companies in North America, for example, pay damages according to “tort”, or compensation, laws. Compensation for murder, however, is specific to Islamic countries governed by the Sharia laws.

“The amount of money is different from country to country,” Justice al Hamdi said. “The Quran just sets a guideline and the laws of the country determine what that price is.”

In Egypt, for example, the diyyah for car accidents is 53 Egyptian pounds (Dh34) while that for premeditated murder is 2,000 Egyptian pounds. These numbers have remained unchanged, which makes the issue of blood money irrelevant in jurisprudence."
Driving According to Egyptians
"First lesson I have learned in Egypt, there appear to be absolutely no traffic rules at all."
Great article comparing traffic and driving attitudes between Abu Dhabi and Cairo.
Cairo traffic would drive you mad… but it works
"...While it appears, in this most populated of African cities, that an absence of rules leaves the roads in a state of chaos, just the opposite is true. The seemingly anarchic driving hides underlying order. It may not be immediately apparent, but traffic in Cairo works according to a clear, firmly understood (if unspoken) set of rules."

"... If everyone understands the rules and expects others to act accordingly, then no one is surprised. And it works: you are six times more likely to die in a car accident in Abu Dhabi than in Egypt."

"Honking of horns, just about the only form of signalling on the road, can mean many things. Drivers honk when passing through a small intersection to indicate to other drivers who may be out of view that they should slow down: “I’m coming. You wait.” Honking is used when passing other cars on the road, and at busy overpasses: “I am passing now. You’ve been warned.” Honking can express frustration at heavy congestion: “I am not pleased. I wish I was moving faster.” Taxi drivers use their horns to get the attention of a potential fare: “Take this taxi. Hello, I am here.” Sometimes a driver will honk for what seems like no other reason but sheer happiness: “Great morning of light!”
Unlike in Abu Dhabi, where the hierarchy on the roads is an extension of the greater social order, no driver in Cairo – no matter what make of vehicle, its condition or the attire of the people inside – is an exception to the rules. "

"The experience on the roads in Abu Dhabi and Cairo couldn’t be more different. Both may be known for having aggressive drivers, but the nature and manifestations of that aggression are not the same. In AbuDhabi, the aggression exhibited on the roads results from a genuine sense of entitlement that some drivers have: they seem to think they have a right to drive recklessly and it is the responsibility of the other vehicles on the road to make sure they don’t get in the way. Cairo has never seen a 200-car pile-up.

Aggression on Cairo streets is defensive, not offensive, and it is the result of collective consensus that despite each driver looking out primarily for himself, each is only one cog in a much larger machine, and all have the same goal – to move forward without collision. "
My $4,500 Lemon: Taking the Feds Up on Cash For Clunkers
"My first reaction to this news was shock. Sometime after I backed into a stump, but definitely before I clipped the neighbor's garage—actually it was around the time the babysitter somehow creased a perfect inch-deep furrow along the entire passenger side, headlight to brake light—I stopped thinking of the van as having any monetary value whatsoever. I resolved to drive it for at least 10 years, or until I developed a capacity for shame, whichever came first. At which point I would pay someone to take it off my hands.

Now I see the van with fresh eyes. It's no longer just a sun-bleached hulk with the rear wiper snapped off. It's a wiperless hulk worth thousands. If this is socialism, call me comrade!"
Wheels: A Daring (and Deadly) Race Remembered
"Almost 400 vintage cars will participate in the Mille Miglia in Italy next week, a historic revival that pays tribute to what was once considered the most dangerous race in the world."
Goin' Down the Road in Defunct Car Brands

Cool Feature. Lame Car.
"We’re firm believers that innovation can take place in the most mundane places. A company can create a new product on the back of a coffee-shop napkin, an airline interior can be breathtaking, and the most utilitarian family sedan can feature a “must-have” doodad that few other cars can match.

In an attempt to spotlight some cool tricks available on, ahem, less-interesting cars, we’ve listed a few of our favorites. Whether any of them are make-or-break remains to be seen, but we’re sure you’ll let us know if you can’t live without any of these features."

Wheels: Wacky Parade Is a Memorial to Car Artist
"Last Friday, a procession of odd-looking vehicles paraded from San Francisco's Ocean Beach, through the city and across the bay to Oakland, as a memorial to an art-car pioneer."
Motor City Misfires: Ten Cars That Sunk Detroit

Big Bucks and Big Ideas for Big Transportation Bill
"Uncle Sam is finally getting serious about overhauling a transportation system that hasn’t seen a significant upgrade since the Eisenhower era."
Nate Silver takes score on Americans' changing driving habits
"Silver has turned his somewhat jaundiced eye to the automotive industry in this month's Esquire magazine. In his "The Data" column, Silver posits that it's more than high gas prices and an economy on the skids that are helping to systematically change the amount we Americans drive, and that maybe, just maybe, this reflects a change within our national psyche. His findings suggest a one-year delay in Americans' response to gas crises and our growing lack of dependence on cars -- all this coming from a non-car-driving New Yorker. Silver does this with his usual mix of statistics and anthropological insight."
Sideways star plays Micro Bus in VW's new ad campaign

Getting There is Half The Fun on the Dubai Palm Monorail
"As part of a plan to reduce gridlock while attracting tourists, a new monorail in the emirate of Dubai silently whisks passengers to exclusive resorts and offers sweeping ocean views along the way, proving that even public transportation is more extreme in the United Arab Emirates."

Wheels: Eurovan Devotion
"One family's long devotion to the EuroVan"
Karmann Ghia at Tsukuba Circuit (Cool Photo)

Last week was the season finale for Chuck, which is on NBC Monday nights. VB started watching it, when they offered the first episode free on iTunes last year. It was during the spat Apple was having with NBC, which resulted in NBC pulling ALL their shows out of iTunes. Chuck is produced by another company, which apparently had the rights for reproduction, putting it out of NBC's jurisdiction. Well, VB got addicted. Let's just say Chuck is something akin to a modern day Get Smart. VB hopes that the contract will be renewed for next year, and nothing has been decided yet. This is part of the last episode.

For more background on Chuck, and when and where in the world you can view it, check out Wikipedia.

Jeffster - Mr. Roboto