German Stuff

Whenever I meet new people and it turns out I am German, the response is usually the same. There is a little bit of awe about how well Germany is doing. Universally, everyone loves the cars. Most other countries save America start to rattle off a history of German Football greats. And that hence I should probably be a good footballer as well – which I have to vehemently deny, because I suck as football. The cars, I totally agree. We know how to make them, heck we even know how to make Italian cars reliable, like Lamborghini thanks to VW/Audi.
But look, Germany is so much more than great cars and footballers. We make nice motorbikes. Granted there was a phase in the 1980s when the term rubbercow fit the BMW, but present day they rock. But the hat that is Germany goes deeper. Besides beer we also make wine and pens, cameras, high performance optics. Now rather than going through a litany of things we make or brands we have created,let me try to simplify. Germans love stuff that fulfills a purpose at a high quality level for decades. If a German vacuum cleaner would fail to work after 20 years as well as it did on the first day, Germans would be upset. There are still companies in Germany that meet this high standard, but a lot have lowered their standards to save cost, yet they ride on the coat tails of “Made In Germany”. The still life below shows a little of the brands that still uphold that high standard.

And with that little declaration of love to and advertisement for my home country, I need you to stay sharp and continue to covet and buy German products.

Markus \m/

Journalistic Fleamarket

Today I don’t have much to write. And admittedly that in itself is not a first sentence that will make you devour this entry. Shit even the second and third sentence are not Pulitzer material. But I have a few smaller items that I wanted to share, sort of like a flea market of features.20130630-132001.jpg The blossoms whose name I still cannot remember, although I have asked a dozen time are blooming again in full force. Name or no name the bottom line is they look pretty and they smell like Summer. I have a bad day, two noses full of these blossoms and it’s all by-gones. If someone knows what they are called, please let me know.

We also have these flowers blooming – correct, don’t know their name either. They don’t smell, but they are as gracious as a ballet dancer on tip-toes and that innocent white is just fantastic to me.20130630-132446.jpg
Now that we have covered the flora, let’s move on, by picking up on a comment I made about the reptilian core in our brains, yesterday.

I studied up a bit and that’s what I want to share next.
20130630-132705.jpg So here is how it works: (I made this sketch for you for easier understanding)

Reptilian Core (Red): This is supposedly the oldest part of our brain. It runs the basics – the vital functions, such as breathing, heart rate, body temperature. Apparently it is pretty reliable, but compulsive. I think what this means is that it is the parts the protects a person under extreme conditions but it’s maybe also where the asshole in all of us resides.

Limbic (Blue): In charge of memories, positive and negative experiences causing emotions. Supposedly, it developed with the advent of the mammals. The Limbic is really what the Reptilian Core of marketers are really after – tapping into emotions to make people buy stuff. Maybe this is really what separates us from lower life forms, such as The Simpsons.

Neocortex (Green): the latest addition to our brain.It comes in two convenient hemispheres comfortably conforming to our skull cavity. The Neocortex developed when the primates entered the playhouse of evolution. It is in charge of abstraction, making conclusions, creativity, learning and consciousness. Clearly the conscience part of consciousness is still under development in a few of us, not to say it is a bit retarded for a few humans. Not sure if this is the parts that makes us the crown of creations, it makes us care and manipulative, compassionate and cruel, it makes us talk about being rational in an irrational way:”Shit, I am totally rational, you don’t know what your are talking about, M.F.!”

But this is not about judging. In fact the brain section is now closed and we move on to breakfast, the one I enjoyed this morning at the RMA Institute on Soi 22. It’s a great little place that consists of an outdoor eating area and an enclosed one-room art gallery. Everything you consume there is made fresh, which takes time. When the place is buzzing it can take some time to get food. In order to prep the customers for a longer wait and to provide he kitchen staff with a reprieve, they put up this cool sign.
I love the idea of making up this story and everybody wins.

With that, our little Fleamarket is closing. Stay sharp and don’t be afraid of the Reptilian Core, just listen to the Johnny Cash Song “The Beast In Me” on American Recordings 1. It tells a story of the journey the Reptilian Core can take a man on.

Markus \m/

Walk From The Light

On a recent trip to China I was surprised to see that there are areas at times that are devoid of people.20130630-083450.jpg I know that what comes next maybe very philosophical at best far-fetched at worst. The person in the upper left corner walks away from the light – an affirmation of life. You know as in:”Benji walk towards the light, old boy. Walk towards the light.”
What really caught my eye is how the light fades into a V shape as it flows down the stairs. Secondly, how the lady walks on the far side of the stairs next to the handrail, while most western men, including me, walk in the middle of the staircase….like we own the place. It’s really fun when someone just like yourself comes at you in the opposite direction. The reptilian core in the brain kicks in, assess the next move – can I take this guy or do I evade……please advise. When the reptilian core takes over your higher evolved Neocortex and Limbic are tied up and gagged in a dark abandoned dungeon of your sub consciousness, where the much older and stronger reptile in you put it before it took over the situation.

Stay sharp and watch the Reptilian Core

Markus \m/

Another Knock…

I was in China last week, because that’s where you need to go if you wan to have something build in huge numbers at the lowest cost…..or so analysts, who barely know where China is on the map, want to desperately make you believe so. But this entry is not about people who pass judgement without ever assuming responsibility themselves.
No, this entry is about my grandma. At the tender age of 96 years and 9 months life finally left her body. I heard about it right after I touched down in Bangkok on Friday on my way home from China.
I chose the phrase of life leaving a body, because my grandma’s spirit had left her a few years ago – somewhere between 2007 and 2009. My grandma was born in 1916, a proud resident of Germany’s last Empire (with emperor and all)….well just by 2 years. Nonetheless, I remember many times where she held her heritage up high – until I did he math and then told her, that she was only holding on by the skin of h teeth. She was speechless, which didn’t happen often.
She was my last grandparent and the one hat had the most profound impact on me. She read the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn to me when I was little. I would visit here when I came home from swimming. She would always have a nice cup of tea and an exquisite piece of chocolate. Initially my grandma lived in Hamburg in the north of Germany. There is a big harbor with big ships and all sorts of cool things that make little boys wide-eyed. I remember, we would go to the Hamburg city park and float my little toy sailboat on the pond, then we’d feed the squirrels and ducks with peanuts and bread-crumbs. These are some of my earliest memories of my grandma and they are all very fond. And my grandma, similar to my own mother was rock solid in her belief and faith in me. If she would have been a guy, he would have been great in bar brawls having my back….not that I am a brawler at all, I just making an illustrative comparison.
My grandma was also very independent. She drove VW beetles with stick shift. The last one she had was a 1500 with 50HP, rear wheel drive, Summer and Winter and she could drive. She had guts. The man she married after the love of her live died in WWII was a phycisist – he knew how to drive a car, but didn’t have a license, but liked to correct, since he was also a teacher. My grandma did not like that. She had her own way of dealing with that kind of nonsense. She developed a bit of a lead foot, because her husband had a sensitive stomach. Turns out when you are swallowing your own puke, you don’t dispense much advice….smart, huh? She loved her Beetles and confessed to being a VW Girl. Then in 1978, my dad – her own son-in-law – somehow managed to talk my grandma into buying a Ford Fiesta. The car drove but she had actually eyed a VW Scirocco. Clearly a compromise she made but she mentioned the Scirocco to me…I might have brought the topic up occasionally, so we could reminisce about what could have been, had that Ford Fiasko (proper Germans refer to the Ford Fiesta As Fiasko) not crashed the party. So getting back to 2009. In 2006 I did a photo session with my grandma. We were having a conversation – shooting the shit, bashing Ford – and I shot a 36 exposure roll of Kodak Portrait 160. These images captured my grandma very well. Unfortunately they are in storage. My grandma started to complain that she was starting to loose sensation in her fingertips and toes in her mid eighties. It saddened her, because she loved doing crafts, like knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching and tapestry making (which saved me in third grade home-arts class). When the loss of sense station continued to progress and she realized what the ultimate outcome would be, she told me “that her body was betraying her”. His is still haunting me, because she knew that she would eventually suffer from dementia, unable to recognize people. When My cousin and I visited her in 2009, we were both shocked by the empty eyes. A heart was still beating, but my grandmother was gone, she did not recognize her two grandsons anymore. Over the years I would still visit her when I was back home in Germany, but she became increasingly dependent on her live-in household aid.
She was my grandmother, I bade her farewell that May Day in 2009 and on June 21st her life finally ended. I will continue to cherish the memories I have of her and be thankful formal the time and love she has given me.
So tonight, I am not asking you to stay sharp, but I ask you to hug your grandparents instead.

Markus \m/

Markus \m/

Size Does Matter….Puts You In Your Place

A few more images from our harbour trip. As I mentioned earlier, we got up close and personal with the boats. They become especially impressive when they are not loaded and thus have a high draft.
The following images show the Primrose (like anyone, including me knows the Primrose), she floats so high, that her lateral jet – used to make these behemoths more maneuverable – is about one and a half meters above the waterline.
We came head on to her in our little river boats and it is a threatening feeling – puts a man in his place.
Alright, I will Yoga now a bit, because a limber mind lives in a limber body.

Stay sharp
Flexibly Yours
Markus \m/

Bangkok Rainy Season

Yes, rainy season is upon us in Bangkok. And while you may get wet, it also makes for the best cloud tower spectacle imaginable.

ThunderTower_SmallI tok this image last Saturday at about 15:00 (3pm) – pretty nice. ABout half an hour later it started to pour like it was the end of the world – I mean: “Get the arc out, man”-bad. Fortunately, these down pours never last long.


Cheers, bedtime now for me….and you stay sharp.

Markus \m/


Of Big Boats

In late April we rented a boat to do a river aquatic photo safari on the Chao Phraya. We left all the tourist stuff behind us and went instead down river to the container port – think second season of the HBO show “The Wire”…there is grit. And because this is Thailand and not the US or Europe, where you have drones on you in no time as soon as the radar detects you, we got up close and heavy on the boats – such as this boat, which was running under the Russian flag. This boat is pure heavy metal; with a bit of rust, chains, ropes and big anchors.

Anchor-Small TiedDown-Small



Alright there you have it. Until the next – which will be sooner, now that I have found my inspiration again.


Stay sharp

Yours Markus \m/