It’s Called The Golden State For A Reason

Well, we have done it and survived – two 14h time shifts in 5 days. Since we arrived back in BKK early Friday morning, I was a little loopy at work on Friday. And interestingly, I am wide awake at 4:00am in the morning – just ready to tear out trees.

The trip was unplanned and unwanted, but it was still good. We visited places of my California past – like the UCSD campus. The engineering school has got a really cool addition, that showcases beautifully what engineering is all about – conceiving and making things happen.

The crooked house on the balcony corner is on the 7th floor terrace. I love this as a showcase of what engineers do. We are not about pocket protectors and geek talk. Yes we understand math and physics and most of us love to ask questions. And even more we love to think and tinker to find answers to the questions we raised. But we really get excited by things that are unconventional, out of the ordinary, better yet, things that supposedly cannot be done. That’s when we latch on. In short:

Engineers* RULE!!!

But this is not about kudos to engineers, it’s about southern California. And Southern California has the Pacific – the peaceful ocean. This produces a great coast line with excellent beaches. It occurred to me on this trip, why a lot of big dreaming happens in California. It’s because, people want to dream as big as their surroundings. The mountains in the north-east, the desert in the south-east, the ocean in the west. An environment of that magnitude puts man in its place, but it also challenges man to dream big.

When you think about it, the waves here have travelled for thousands of miles from the shores of Japan, China, Indonesia and the Phillippines, that is magnitude. But the environment also invites to play, where – skateboarding, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, diving, swimming, if nothing else just running through the shallow water and getting splashed. It’s where adult indulge their inner five-year-old. And kids can dream – just watch them play.

Or look at the endlessness of this early sunset session overlooking La Jolla. The sun dipping California in this warm honey golden light. Views like this are invigorating, inspiring, they give me ideas.

Randy’s Donuts dreamt big to sell mundane donuts. We can talk about the quality and taste of the donuts, but by golly, did Randy dream big – slapped a cartoonishly oversized donut on the roof and voila, you have yourself a landmark.

The last image for today is how California inspired me during the recent visit. The subject itself is mundane, but the place inspired the vision you see below – stark contrast and clear lines.

I love the juxtaposition of order from the matrix of bricks and the disorder coming from the different brick colors. The ladders and their shadows crate further disarray. Yet, the bodyboard hints live – people living there. I saw the image and all these thoughts and more raced through my head.

O.K., enough of this little esoterically excursion – perhaps I am still suffering from sleep deprivation and an inner clock turned upside down. Regardless, it was a good trip with lots of impressions.

Until the next, keep it real.

Markus \m/

* = Obviously, I include physists and other natural scientist in the supergroup of engineers as well. That and Joe.

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More Stuff From The Road

We are in a hotel near LAX just a few miles south of Venice, waiting for our flight. Nearby is one of the great institutions in Los Angeles – the I-405 also known as the San Diego Freeway. But this is not what I am referring to. We are also near a landmark – Randy’s Donuts. A donuts shop with a giant donut on top. I would go as far as to say that this shop was the inspiration for the Lard Boy donut store seen in the opening scene of The Simpsons.

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And to prove that we are really here, Barbara (not me, since I was driving and I am a law abiding citizen) took a picture a we were crossing into LA.

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In the evening, after we had dropped off the rental car we strolled back through the neighborhood of liquor stores and adult movie rentals only to see an example of Los Angelino urban art painted onto a 405 overpass – Walking in Jesus:

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Although, I like it better in B/W, because it looks grittier, which fits better with LA. Don’t get me wrong, LA has its over the top posh areas with luxury and wealth oozing from the pavement. But the hidden to tourist eyes majority of LA lacks that splurging luxury and has a lot of grit instead.

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And this concludes our little whirlwind trip to SoCal. In the words of Randy Newman:”I love L.A.”

Stay sharp and look out for life, because it passes right in front of your eyes everyday.

Markus \m/

America’s Finest City

The government made us do it. We have a hot date in LA and until that date we are in my old stomping ground in SoCal – the little beach towns between Oceanside in the north and Mission Beach in the south, near San Diego.
A few observations:
1. Everyone has tattoos. Some very cool ones, some…
2. While CA is the cradle of fitness and body cult, it also has a lot of muffin tops (nowadays), to say it gently.
3. The California lifestyle is still a millionaire’s lifestyle, but somehow I have doubts that CA has that many millionaires. NO BAILOUTS IF YOU LIVE BEYOND YOUR MEANS – FOR ANYONE.
4. Nobody walks anywhere, everyone drives. People even drive to walk.
But, hey this I not to condescend or patronize. We visited a lot of nice sites at the right time with the right light. And the area around San Diego is still one of theist beautiful in the whole country, even if the city and county planners have managed to screw the area up traffic wise. A page from the book of county planning from Boulder, CO would have preserved more value and the natural beauty of the region.

So let’s get to the nice things here.

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The Pacific has always inspired me with great sunsets. I have a show carton with sunset images from the months when I lived here.

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I am leaving you with a sunset classic of Scripps Pier.

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Until the next, best regards from always sunny CA.

Markus \m/

Early Morning Sunday Imagery

For the last few weeks I have been wide awake at around 5:30. This is great during the week, because I can go swim or run or practice Yoga in the morning before breakfast and do not have to hurry to get to work. There is something to be said to start a day properly – sweat to start, the shower, then breakfast and still have enough time to do one thing at a time and not falling into the hurry trap.

Unfortunately, this habit found its way into the weekends as well. So today, I was ready to tear out trees at 5:40 in the morning. I felt like browsing through some unprocessed photos and work on few.

The first image I found was on my phone. Some of you may roll your eyes, that i am still taking images occasionally with a phone – I know it’s bad form. For a few of you this is the only camera you have ever known – clearly then you are barely out of your teens. Well, lemme tell ya, back in’ne day…

Seriously now, there is an abandoned building on Sukhumvit, that is up for sale. And because no one really cares, it is plates red with advertisements for things I don’t know. This one is just a bunch of portraits of locals, I suppose. What I like is the little red pre-school bag (it’s not a slip, people) that apparently one of the motorcycle taxi drives left there.

The second image is one that inspiration compelled me to walk back to and take is as I was on my way to work. It’s taken from the Ploen Chit BTS station at about 7:40am. What grabbed my attention besides the play of shadows and sunlight is the fact that there are all these lines moving toward one point, except for the bottom side of the escalator and the road at street level. I love it when the eye gets thrown curveballs such as this.

The third image I want to share today comes from my ever-growing stock of gear wheel alley images. This time you may explore the inside of a far axle differential. A few entries ago we have talked about why a differential is good, so I will save you the lecture….if you are interested, by all means I’d be glad to explain in more detail. So here we go:

To me, in this day an age of everything digital and smaller, lighter, cheaper, steel feels real. It provides a ground; it doesn’t break easily; it usually serves a very limited sets of purposes and serves them well for years; it doesn’t outdate quickly – compare that to your average smart phone or tablet. See, this is part of the human technology portfolio that’s been developed many centuries ago and has been refined, but not necessarily revolutionized or worse made obsolete. Yet, our world still relies on it to accelerate cars to 400km/h and move heavy loads many thousands of kilometers, today, as it did 400 years ago to convey wind power to move the mill stone to grind grains into flour. Yes, materials have changed, but the concepts are timeless and I find that beautiful.

Fourth – also in Gear Wheel Alley, I saw a sticker on a car wreck, promoting the NPP. NPP is the acronym for a party that a lot of people (may be especially in America) probably hope for: The New Politics Party. I have no idea what their program is or what their ideas are. But I reminded me of a party that my high school friend Sabine wanted to form back in 1988 – She was a visionary and now she is a child psychologist. Her party was the BAB, which is German for “Besser Als Bisher” (Better than Before). I also have no idea what her program would have been, but since she is a friend of mine, I would have been surprised if we would have found ourselves at odds on the majority of points. Be that as it may, evidently there are always people who are fed up with established politics and they are calling for new politics….may be even one with less politics and actually more care and justice for the people. Anyway, here is the New Politics Party.

And to close it all off – Superstition. A tree wrapped in many-colored bands of cloth to keep the spirits living in the tree at bay. I guess, having a picture of me taking the picture would have been post-worthy, too, writhing on my back to get the shot.

And as an encore in black and white….

Hm, yes this closes our little review of my early Sunday morning activities.

Now, before I forget, I also roamed around on iTunes on Saturday and saw that ZZ Top released an EP – TexiCali. Just four new songs – but no fat. If you like that rich, brown, distorted sound with which ZZ Top made its mark (again) back in’ne day, than you should like this release. The first song also has a funny video you can watch on YouTube, called “I Gotsta Get Paid”.

Now this is it.

Take care and in the words of Walter Sobchak:”

Calmer

Than

You

Are

!

Yours Markus \m/

It’s All Connected

It’s not easy here. Living in Bangkok, working in Thailand. Making an effort to learn and speak a completely different language, dealing with different social and behavioral norms.

There are many days when I am frustrated to the max. I still love what I am doing, because the highs more than compensate for the lows, but on a bad day the lows get to me. But then yesterday, on my way home as I gazed through the window of our car into the dark grey wall of cloud that enveloped Bangkok drenching the city, I realized that it is all connected. Nature throws you a pick-me-up, if you watch for it. As I made it to my apartment, nature had just finished cleaning, polishing and styling the city of Bangkok to present me with this view – and I felt picked up, frustrations and angers of the day washed away…..

I also have a B/W version of this image, that holds its own charm, but the sunset sky is not done justice in B/W. Funny, how a literal change of perspective can set you straight again…

Now,¬†of Bangkok, I like living and working here, but there are things about Thai culture and behaviors that I simply do not understand, nor do I think I will ever understand them. First and foremost the attitude towards education and expressing disagreement immediately followed by the attitude towards women….

But you know what, I just erased a big paragraph of venting and then decided this is not the time or place to air frustrations, regardless how big they may be.

Instead, enjoy the sunset as I did yesterday….

Look out for when nature throws you a pick-me-up, else you might miss it.

Markus \m/