Oh Back In The Day…

…when an egg cost 2cents. The headline was a favorite of my grandmother, when she wanted to tell me about the occasional flashback to back in the day, when things were different. The second part of the sentence was my rude interruption, which usually made her laugh with her head cocked back. Now, I am now seventeen anymore and I have a different appreciation for things from back in the day…..like the iPhone 3G, remember that? That was awesome.
Seriously though, on our recent trip to Germany, my father in law was showing off his collection of two still functioning coffee grinders. That is stuff from back in the day. Your search for shiny plastic designer shaped surfaces will be for naught, just like the search for a power plug. Hardwood, metal and elbow grease, that’s how you survive centuries.
Back in Bangkok, partaking in the daily grind, I found another relic from yesteryear. Actually, it is a reverse lemon. You see a lemon is an item that seizes to serve its purpose prematurely. For example Italian cars from the seventies were so lemony, that the staples used to hold the car prospectus together were rusting before you left the dealership. This however, is a reverse Italian lemon (because it still runs and is NOT rusted through) – a Lancia Zeta. And you guessed it, the vintage, too is Back-In-The-Day. What’s more, the body now has patina instead of rust.
This car is Bad-Ass. No front bumper, aluminum sports wheels and attitude, that a Honda City wouldn’t even dare to dream of….ah, he’ll, neither does a VW Golf or A Ford Fuckus.
See, this is just peaceful loveliness. The cracked paint which is about 3 millimeters thick, look at the frames around the light, that is real metal. Stir in years of use, blistering heat, punishing humidity, the occasional downpour, let simmer for about 35 years and the result is what you just saw – automobilistic passion dressed in real patina.

And with that entry we bid the fifth month of the year adieu / sayonara / und Tschüss.

Stay sharp for June and the Summer that we enter now.

Markus \m/

The Mother Of All Traffic Jams

It had to come this way. There I was shooting of my mouth how everything was just honky-dory in Bkk. And today it all fell apart. The mother of all traffic jams visited Bkk today. Coming from the north, using a false sense of security it lured drivers into the city. Drivers even got decently through the Din Daeng toll booth, just to get stopped in their track out if sight if the toll booths. It took me 35 minutes to drive 50km and 90 minutes for the last three – I could have crawled faster on my nipples. The “women of ill repute” on Sukhumvit could have services drivers with open doors, that’s how bad it was.
And if course it was H.O.T. HOT!
But it had nothing directly to do with the coup. No, today was payday and so everyone and their brother streamed in to spend the riches.

Stay sharp.
Markus \m/

Thai Ingenuity

Rather than making a long and winded entry I’ll be brief. This construction worker demonstrated great resourcefulness. With a hardhat and a sheet if plywood – no, not cardboard – he created a piece of hyper protective, water-repellant headgear.
20140528-122202-44522823.jpg To the lone genius “I salute you!”20140528-122203-44523082.jpg
I really do salute you. Carry on and may your neck never break when something, anything hits that giant plyboard parasol.

To you my dear readers, please try yo stay at least 5% as sharp as this guy.

Markus \m/

Staircases And A Little Vanity

Finally, Bangkok, frustrated from the Military coup, its leaders inability to solve the countries problems and most importantly by it’s very limited shopping opportunities has finally received a shopping mall where the majority of the population cannot even imagine the numbers that are used on the price tags. Welcome to Central Embassy (yes, there is an angel choir singing in your head) a temple for those with the tiniest of self confidence and self definition, yet with the most magnificent of credit cards and fullest wallets. You see, this is place where you can only spend money in good conscience, that someone else earned – never your own hard earned money. So, we want for window shopping and to grab a bite. The bite – and it was not more than a bit for the price of a meal – we grabbed at a place called the “Water Library Brasserie”. Very Artsy Fartsy and exquisitely underwhelming, yet overpriced, while taste was rather unimaginative. Your cooking prowess should be based on more that truffle taste and smell. Truffle butte, truffle sauce – underwhelming, unimaginative. But the highlight of the day was the $10 bottle of water the waiter presented us with, because the cheaper water $1.3 to $6 was not available – how f#%^ing convenient. It is either a sign that natural resources are getting more scarce, when a liter of water is four time the price of gasoline in Europe or it’s just simply frivolous. But enough of that place, if you choose to go thee you might as well flush your money down the toilet or burn it.
Anyway, so this new super posh luxury mall is finally open for business and the thing that impressed me the most was the architecture – everything else is really blant and uninspired.
There are few cool views of the different levels. The architecture shows influences of the native American South Western Adobe style with its rounded edges and sinuous shapes – very nice.
I like the spacious layout and the fact that a lot of natural light floods in from the top through a glass roof
20140525-173435-63275428.jpg And of course the people love it, because it is new – novelty. We did not see many people in stores making purchases. Bit people made selfies and twofies and three fries and god-knows-what-other-fies. It is a good place to spend a few hours walking around wondering who would spend $100k on a wrist watch and then with inconclusion sip a cup of coffee at Starbucks the only store with “moderately” priced goods in the entire mall.20140525-173436-63276693.jpg

Knock yourselves out, but stay sharp.

A decidedly underwhelmed
Markus \m/

P.S. The images I took also look nice in color and a little new art-deco…






I Hate To Eat My Words

Thursday, May 22nd
17:30 Update:
Since 16:00h today, the military has seized power. So much for my entry from yesterday….a coup and yes I can spell foot-in-mouth (I just did).
On my way home right now. So far everything quiet, radio stations seem synchronized. More when I get to the city.
20:00 Update:
My first curfew since I was like 10 and the first ever imposed on me by someone I don’t know and that might be enforced with lethal force.
Just saw a soldier, though, who was smiling politely.
21:38 Update:s
Yes the soldiers are out and about reminding people that there is a curfew imposed starting in 22minutes. On the bright side this could be THE opportunity to skate or race bikes through the city without hitting anybody……ah, dreams.

Friday, May 23rd
6:00 Update:
I got a lot of encouragement and enquiries about the situation in general and our well-being in particular. Thank you for your concern. While coup in recent history is usually associated with tanks, guns and the sounds of chaos, this is not the case here in Bangkok or Thailand as far as I can see. The situation her is different from any of the Arab Spring states. People are not fighting for their basic freedom from despotic regimes or dictatorships. Thailand, albeit a young one, is a democracy. I still view the unrests as a manifestation of the birth pains as Thailand is trying to find its place in the world. The country is under tension, because there are people desperately trying to hold on to a system that has it’s root in the century old feudal system and then there are those who want to have equal opportunity, that comes with gender equality, proper education. Especially, the latter ones are frustrated and fed up with the feudal based systems this one also comes with bribery and corruption. In my almost four permanent years in Thailand. I have been in contact primarily with the ones seeking opportunity – in fact, those are the people I have deliberately hired and developed.
To make a long story short: we will be careful, if you promise to not worry too much. We have faith in a new Thailand and so should you.

Martial Law In Bangkok

Yes it is true, the Thai military has stepped up to end the cowardly attacks that apparently supporters of either side launched at the other side. And I think that stepping up is a good thing. It is not a coup as may be some foreign press agencies would like to call it, but it is a statement that thee can be difference of opinion in which direction should go as a country, but that these differences can’t justify violence to weaken the other side or to sow even more discord that if unchecked could lead to even more violence.
I live in Bangkok and I am not afraid to go out, neither is my wife or my friends who live here, too.
Now, it’s not all roses. It would be a good thing, if the politicians in Thailand would remember what their purpose is as politicians at the most, if you will the most naïve level. Represent, address the countries problems with imaginative solutions that benefit ALL Thais, ALL taxpayers and not just a very limited subset of the populous. I realize that this is a huge task, but I think Thailand has deserved high hopes and big visions and a competent leadership to fulfill its vast potential. A potential that goes far beyond the well-known current stereotypes.

OK, in summary.
Martial law: yes
Bangkok: safe
Traffic: surprisingly good
Challenges ahead: many and big
Potential pay off if challenges properly tackled: huge
This author’s optimism: vast, because life is. Lot easier, when you recognize there is water in the glass, rather than bitching about the water missing.

Stay sharp and add water to the glass in your and everyone else’s glass.

Markus \m/

Ins And Outs

I have a couple of loose ends; that is to say, that I have a few non related short stories that in itself wouldn’t warrant an entry, but under the umbrella of a high fallut’n (is a mid-western term fir which I hope my friend Emily will add a comment and shine with her English major by explaining if I have properly spelled this word and used it correctly in a sentence) title I can lump them all together.
A few weeks ago we were in a boat again and I felt like Leo…
With us was a friend from Minneapolis, with who I have worked for almost 13 years. And since 1998 he has always looked like “The Dude” of the Big Lebowski.
This is a great graphic of the dude, courtesy of an unnamed artist – thank you for that unnamed artist, I would love to give you full credit if I knew who you are.

And then this is the real life dude anno 2014 and just pike the fictional character and good man…and a thorough engineer.
Finally, while on our birthday tour through Europe, my cousin and his (now) wife did a twofer – wedding and 50th birthday in one event. The wedding was the gift to the birthday guests. It was awesome…..an excellent time with family and friends, some of which I hadn’t seen in 30 years.

So that about sums it up. Stay sharp.

Markus \m/