Weekly Photographic Summary: 6/4 – 6/11

Photographically this has been a productive week. As I mentioned last weekend, my friend Roman and I went about town and took images in Chinatown. I also had a few later nights and early mornings, where I had to take images. The mornings here are gorgeous. We sleep to the west, so we don’t get direct sunlight in, however we get the reflexion of the sunlight in as the rays mirror in the glass facades of the down town high rises. We have also had a waxing moon this week and thanks to an early rainy season, we have plenty clouds in the sky. But let’s start with the second part of Chinatown – where transmissions go to be revived.

We walked though the deep hidden back alley of Bangkok’s Chinatown and stumbled across this very old, yet two-color painted Fiat 500. It even has got suicide doors – door hinges in the back.

Forgotten Escape Car - The Real Fiat 500

I love this scene, because to me it looks like the car was parked there and left. But how it got there, that’s where your imagination can run wild. Maybe it was a big heist, the car was used to escape and the guys were never caught. The car’s ben sitting there for ages and now just slowly withering away exposed to the elements. The rust on the car has become a structural element – which has been a problem with FIAT for ages. They used to say in Germany, that the rust problem at FIAT is so big, that even the paper clips that held the FIAT catalogs together were rusting. Still this is fine automobile design and history.

Escape car in colorWe spend sometime here shooting the car and a few trees, but then we moved on to a Chinese hardware dealer, who specializes in old transmissions. Apparently he disassembles them and sells spare-parts and maybe retrofits the better ones. I don’t now exactly, but that’s what it seemed to me.

The trained eye can discern immediately, that these are car or truck transmissions. As a mechanical engineer and motorhead I was in heaven.

The stack you see in the lower center ate synchronous bodies, they enable the transfer of power from one gear to the other. These are the parts you hear rattle when you can’t drive a manual transmission. They can be replaced, but it’s expensive due to insanely long labor hours.

I call this place the “Transmission Graveyard”, since Boneyard is really not fitting and the Cogyard could be misunderstood.

Real heavy machine design, there is beauty in it. I will definitely have to go back there to buy a few wheels and shafts to use them as stands for speakers or – heck – just as sculptures.

Moving on to a three images I took at three different times of the day overlooking Bangkok.

Thursday Morning Sunrise - Looking West

Using the ever trusted iPhone I took this one of BKK at about 14:00 (2:00PM) in bright sunlight. Since the iPhone camera is essentially a glorified pinhole camera, the image did not require much post work. COnversion to B/W and a little contrast enhancement – voilá.

Finally, the beast in me found itself howling at the moon at night – most full-moons I wake up wide awake – it’s weird. In Johnny Cash’s words:” The Beast in me is caged by frail and fragile bars. Restless by day. And by night it rants and rages at the stars. God help the beast in me.”

Okeydokely, that concludes our little stroll through this week in photographs.

Enjoy live and help those around you – as in random acts of kindness.

Markus \m/

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FIFA Rocks

Last week the world governing body of football FIFA enforced a very ill-conceived ruling – moronic, idiotic, stupid are also applicable. With minutes to go before the referee was about to start the Olympic Football Tournament qualification match between Iran and Jordan, both countries known for their liberal approach to women’s rights and equality, FIFA enforced a rule that states that wearing headscarves is dangerous. The Iranian women’s team must wear headscarves or there are ramifications, that are rather undesirable (I don’t want to make stuff up here about the exact punishments). However, there is at least one company out of Canada, that manufactures exactly that – headscarves for female athletes.

Besides the idiot ruling, there are two more points that really irritate me.

  1. If in a country, in which women already appear to have fewer rights than man, if in such a country a few women band together to start playing football and they make it to a qualification match, then by all mean do not rob them of these 90 minutes where they are athletes on a world stage. This is just so unfair and inconsiderate. But it is not surprising, because Iran does not have a lot of weight in international football and the women’s football team even less. It is also not surprising, because all these football governing bodies were against women’s football in the early days: Kitchen – Children – Bed. Be a good house wife, raise the kids and give a little head.
  2. Let’s consider headscarves really dangerous, shall we – why then can male football players wear headbands? A large number of players sport long hair, that gets in the way when you run the pitch up and down or when you set up for a header. So it’s either the pony tail (held together by a band of some sort) or a headband. Oh, wait, I know, if you tell the German Khedira to cut his hair or any of the Argentinians, you are having a revolt on your hands faster than you can say FIFA and FIFA would actually piss off the same profit generators that allow these old men to become wealthy, influential, travel, rub elbows with the other rich and famous in the world  and play god over the little leather pill.

Despicable! With decisions like these you are trampling on the idealistic concept that sport unites. So what if they wear headscarves?! These women have been training, have been making sacrifices. It is not that the Iranian women’s team decided on a whim “Oh let’s wear head scarves” and still FIFA felt it necessary to wait with the enforcement of the rule until the very last minute – as if someone was really studying the rulebook trying to find a way out – poooleeece!

To top it all off, FIFA ruled that Jordan’s team won the game that was never played 3:0. Really!? FIFA felt compelled to insult to injury and make it a clear victory of 3:0.

I am just thinking WTF – but then I have used my one dirty language piece already for today.

So there, I have said it. I felt, it needed to be said, because anybody who trains for anything, knows what it’s like when you are being deprived to compete in the event you have prepared for.

Markus \m/

P.S.: You can read the whole story with more details at the following sources:

Short snipped from a large Turkish daily newspaper:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=iran8217s-women-soccer-team-banned-from-olympics-2011-06-10

Nice background over all and on the history of the Muslim Women Football Player Attire

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/09/137078804/the-nation-a-marriage-of-sports-and-politics

Vespa Night Market Or How The Living Daylights Got Scared Out Of Me

Saturday night I went to one of the many night markets around town. Since, I am currently home alone, I asked my Thai teacher if she wanted to com along. She picked me up with her Yamaha scooter (Valentino Rossi Moto GP Edition) around 20:30. I consider myself t have a bit a of a wild streak. I like speed, I like riding on two wheels, heck I don’t even mind the smell of exhaust in the right context (traffic jams are not the right context). So riding motorcycles is something I love, even when it’s shot-gun. But what happened on the way to and from the markets was a first for me: I got scared, scared primarily for  my kneecaps. My teacher is perhaps 145cms (4ft 10in) and she has a very good feel for her scooter…..when she is the only one riding it. But with me on the back my knees extended out considerably more than her mirrors. We rode binary: Full throttle or full front brake. The scariest bit were the high-speed rides weaving in and out of cars with hairs on my legs sometimes grazing the fenders of cars. Also scary, just barreling down a trench of standing car that await the lights to turn green – think Luke Skywalker’s Proton bomb approach through the long trench of the death star in the first Start Wars movie. I yelled twice and she laughed both times. I got a bit pale off the bike and she – She was listening to her iPod while my inner monologue consisted of screaming like a little French girl and eulogies for my knees…..”I love you knees, I am glad you are still with me.”.

But once at the market it was great. The market started out years ago as a meting point of a bunch of kids with their Vespas and grew over time to a full-fledged market including excellent local live bands. Of course like with any large congregation of people there are vendors who sell all kinds of food, too.

So let me show you around on Lad Phrao / RatchadaPhisek Market.

This is the place to get T-shirts cheap. May be not the kind you want to wear on casual Friday to work, but certainly for any other occasion. If you are looking for an image makeover or simply want to indulge the hell-raising bad-ass in you, you will find suitable attire here as well.

But you may also find everyday useful items, such as second-hand helmets and diving masks, which is a particularly helpful combination should you find yourself on a motorbike in one of the frequent downpours.

Then there are also more unique items like Skull or Tongue phones as well as a huge variety of slippers.

Skull phones come in bleached white and high gloss black for your telecommunication convenience, unfortunately, Tongue phones only come in extra long.

All your slipper needs (or Puscheln as we say in Germany) are met here: From the most conservative flag bearing American to the tartan wearing Scottish clansman to former French aristocrats, your slipper desires are about to become a reality.

However, the cake for me took a small booth, that sold shooting trophies from Austria (Rorschach) from the 1960s. How many time have I heard my dad and my father-in-law lament the fact, that they never won one of these coveted shooting awards – the Famous Rorschacher Sharp Shooter & Night Poaching Medal of Honor in Silver – are you kidding me???!!! Well, I might make one of  these your birthday present boys.

Yes, the variety is huge, leaves any mall in the dust. But it gets better…yes it does. On this market one climax chases the next.

There is a guy who mixes Cha (Thai ginger tea) and he celebrates his tam mixing, throwing the ladle up on the air followed by the condensed milk can, pouring tea around up and down, like crazy. I had a hard time capturing the frenzy, but I am posting one image that just shows the man’s dedication to his profession, best.

Look at the woman smiling happily in the background – that’s having a positive impact on your fellow-man.

Alright, me and my kneecaps had a good Saturday evening. Take care of yourselves and your extremities including joints.

A sweaty Good Bye

Markus \m/

Weekly Photographic Summary: May 30th – June 4th 2011

It’s been a while since I have posted a weekly photographic summary. But today I have some items to post – mainly taken to and from work with an iPhone.

With the rainy season upon us here early, all plants bloom and blossom, including the omnipresent Lotuses (which I must say, I only knew as Lake Roses – Barbara sprung some education on me).

This one here I shot shortly before it bloomed full and  call it “Imperfect Perfection”.

Imperfect Perfection - Lotus flower before blooming

Next, is a little Faux Pas that happened to the brand new Millennium Hilton on the River Chao Phraya. For me the name Hilton is primarily associated with Paris (as in the being famous for being famous). The Millennium Hilton is a signature hotel, with excellent and very spacious interiors. We went to eat at their buffet on the weekend. Hotel buffets are usually not our first choice when we go out for diner, but the Hilton has a “Cheese  Room”, kept at temperature and features an excellent selection of various cheeses from all over the “developed cheese world”. I digress, the big sign that welcomes you at the hotel pier indicating you have arrived at the Millennium Hilton had a malfunction (bulbs must have died) that now closes the story back to the aforementioned daughter Paris.

Whoa, Millennium Hi(gh), dude...

I have mentioned it a number of times, the best way to move through the city in Bangkok is by BTS or MRT – everything else is inefficient (Bus) or touristy and inefficient (Tuk-Tuk). This means I also spend a fair amount of time waiting for the train. SInce I don’t just want to stare at people, I look around for other stuff and my eye caught the direction indicator arrows to exit and enter the trains:

Walk This Way!

Walk That Way!

I love the clear shapes and lines juxtaposed by the dirt and grime that collects on the entry and exit points on a train platform.

Playing the lottery is a big thing in Thailand. The potential winnings as are not in the millions as in the West (at last as far as I know), but they can make a difference. Most importantly – people love it. On the way to work our car broke down – why is a different story that involves a dog crossing the highway and us barreling down said highway at 160km/h. But I had some time on my hands as we were waiting for a new car to get to work. Strolling around a local market I came across this cart that sold lottery tickets – al tickets nicely lined up for the fortunate winner to choose from.

The Winning Ticket

Finally, I have to go back a little bit to last Summer, to explain this image. In May last year or neighbors family over for the Memorial Day weekend ( there is a funny story about my flowery board shorts that I just mention in this side sentence, but Annie and Jeff will remember and I guess so will Madonna). Anyway, we went on a bike ride, Jeff, his brother-in-law, Annie’s dad and I. We rode casually through SW Minneapolis along Minnehaha Creek until we got to Lake Nokomis. At Lake Nokomis, Chris bought all of us ice cream. Now this may sound stupid, but I loved the gesture, because it has been years that some one bought me ice cream (I think it was 1995 in Stuttgart, when my uncle bought Barbara and me ice cream). So we said “Thank you” – just like we were taught – and enjoyed the ice cream cone on the hand. Jeff, however did not just say thank you but did what a picture-perfect son-in-law does, he thanked and praised: “Thank You , Chris, you are a gentleman and a scholar.” ow do you top that? It was so funny, his delivery, his expecting smirk – I almost choked on my ice. I would love to use this line someday, but the bar in terms of situation and delivery is set very high. So now to my point about the last photo. I was recently in Japan and on my way back at the airport, I saw vending machine, that sold beer in cans. As I was glancing at them passing by, I read the beer company’s slogan on top of the can an t reminded me of Jeff’s “gentleman and scholar” statement…it also reminded me of Miller’s “Champagne Of Beer” tag line. Some beer companies must be desperate to be remembered somehow.

"Good Value & Quality" - taste, not so important apparently.

See, “Good Value And Taste” has the same rhythm as “A Gentleman and a Scholar”, which reminded me of that bike ride last year. But this beer, what is it, the Ssang Yong (Chinese car manufacturer, starting where Daewoo, Kia and Hyundai have started – “the bottom” – Don’t get a German started on Cars, we’re fierce and proud on that topic!) of beers. Instead of highlighting its exceptional taste, they focus on value and quality, really. What quality – Nobody measures the can’s dimensions. People want to enjoy themselves and the taste of the beer when you drink it. A man’s gotta be really desperate to get tanked on stuff that doesn’t at least taste half way decent, even if it’s cheap.

Alright and this concludes today’s post.

Markus \m/

Obviously Obvious, Even To The Most Casual By-Stander

Ah, today, I have had it. My day started actually quite normal. That is until I got off the motorbike taxi today at the BTS station. I was slogging up the stairs half asleep, yet already sweating. There are exactly 64 steps to be taken – subdivided into 4 flights of equal length (it’s 16 steps per flight, don’t strain yourself). And as I reach the last step of the fourth flight, I saw this beautiful sweat band underneath the strap of my bag across my chest. Alright all systems go. But here comes the first thing that brought me over the edge today. In order to ascent to the rain level on the BTS you have to go through a turn-style. There are eight turn-styles at each entry to the station. May be it is me, thinking as an engineer, but wouldn’t you think, that someone monitors the traffic pattern depending on time at these entrances. No, not so here. There are two or three open to enter the station, while the remaining five or six are to exit the station. I am thinking common people this is not rocket science, it’s goddam fluid mechanics of an incompressible medium – think Continuity Equation. This equation states, that the inflowing volume must be equal to the outflowing volume in a system (or in plain English: ” Nothing comes from nothing.”). The assumption of incompressibility of the medium (humans) is valid {people don’t like to be compressed or squished – unless it’s just two people who like each other a lot and the we would apply other equations that go beyond just the Continuity Equation. On top of that (no pun) the equations are a private matter between the two people doing the squeezing and possibly even bumping (equations of transient dynamics apply) and grinding (friction, tribology laws apply)}. Then, in order to reduce pressure gradients (people get pushy and exert pressure on their neighbors if they get squished (actio = reactio; Newton’s 2nd Law) at the entries to the station, we ought to have as many entry turn-styles as we have exit turn-styles, or better, yet, monitor the traffic pattern and change the direction of the turn-style accordingly – how hard can it be. Evidently, the first items of today’s entry that is obviously obvious.

So you see, I have real deep problems. But it gets better, the two dudes with whom I ride to and from work are lazy bastards when it comes to travel or make accommodations to get home fastest. Of course it’s nice to take a nap in the car, but when it rains anywhere near Bangkok, the already unstable traffic goes completely chaotic – actually it doesn’t go anywhere, you just sit in traffic and watch the world get polluted, because al engines run in order to keep the AC running – the heat, man, the heat!!!! Anyway, it was raining yesterday and we had agreed we’d take the BTS station on the outskirts of town and then cruise in by train (takes 12 minutes, I clocked it). But we get to the exit on the highway and all of a sudden my two compadres have a change of heart. Word like “Oh, no there is no reason to ….”. I am thinking to myself the four letter word that rhymes with Truck, but would bring this entry a NC-17 rating in big, black, bold capitals with three exclamation marks. Alright, we move on and sure enough about a quarter mile before Sukhumvit we come to a F%$^#$ing stand still. I had it, just go out of the car without a word. I hate it when people waste my sparse leisure time (may be you feel that way after you have read this entry up to here….I apologize, move on and pick something from the New Age Section.). This is the second item, that should be obvious to everyone, even the really casual (or comfort-seeking lazy) types: When it rains near BKK, take the BTS to get anywhere in BKK.

So, now you have caught up with me. One really bad day in 9 months is not bad, not bad at all.

But to calm myself down a bit and set a nice highlight for the day, I bought the Soundtrack to the Hangover II on iTunes and was listening to it while I wrote this entry.

Now, here’s your moment of Zen:

“A Finished Finisher Finishing The Rayong Olympic Distance.”

As the Stranger in the Big Lebowski says: “Take Her Easy, Dude.”

Markus \m/