Northern Thai Funeral

I paid my last respects to my friend Ekkalak yesterday and today. Sunday and today were the culmination of what norther Thai bereavement etiquette dictates we arrived yesterday afternoon, in time for the last Buddhist ceremony at Ekkalak’s parents home. Ekkalak’s parents while very modest seem to be pillars of the community, based on the crowd present. It was a tough evening, as my heart goes out to Ekkalak’s wife and his family. Their world has been shaken at the foundations, especially Ekkalak’s wife I feel for.
In front of the house were an elaborate paper, wood and cardboard pagoda to house the coffin and next to it a beautiful shrine in honor of Ekk’s life.
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I had mentioned last week that Ekk was a unique human and definitely a unique Thai, in a sense that he displayed his sense of humor openly, he could be a prankster, he expressed dissent, yet offered better solutions. Ekk had a pretty infectious laugh and a permanent smile, which made it fun to be around him. He had a very good relation with his parents – mama’s boy, but then which son isn’t? – and his siblings. He was the middle child following a seven year older brother, preceding a two year younger sister. But I digress, a very large community bade him his final farewell as we proceeded from his parents hoke to the cremation site.
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And after the final respect had been paid, the last gifts to the monks were given and the last chants gave way to silence, the coffin was carried to the stack of wood and Ekkalak’s corpse was set on fire.
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I decided to take a single image early in the fire, as I did not want to watch my friend being turned to ashes and possibly see charred remains of him, which could cloud the last images I have of him. The memories we made when we rode 2 weeks ago in the pouring rain up to Khao Yai – that’s how I will remember him. His laugher about my goosebumps as we sat at lunch at the visitor center, because when you ride a motorbike in the rain and you are soaked when, you get cold even in Thailand.
I will remember how we asked for an extra hot Cafe Latte at the Noen Hom Café, because we were so cold from being oh-so-wet. I remember him walking around this cafė barefoot leaving footprints all over, because his “water proof” motorbike boots might have leaked just a tad.

Oh well, may you find peace now and turn up in our memories every now and then.

Markus \m/

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Drink Milk Campaign In Thailand

In 1997, I did my grocery shopping at a Lucky’s supermarket in Pacific Beach, CA. The place was just a short skateboard ride down Turquoise. As I stood by the register to pay my goods, I saw a postcard with the Van Halen brothers drenched in milk. On the bottom of the card it said:”got milk”. That was an awesome advertisement campaign.
Now, Thailand is embarking on its own milk promotion campaign. But it is not quite a cool and imaginative the original Got Milk campaign.
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The message in Thailand lies on how happy the cows are. They receive real grass, corn AND fresh water, get massages, have a sleeping pad on which they can listen to music. I wonder if you play different styles of music if you get different products. Say you play the cows reggae,do you get milk shakes? If you play heavy metal will the udder churn the milk and you milk butter off? Finally, there is even a nice man who reads stories to the cows. May be these aren’t stories, but maybe they are scientific texts or papers on milk product economics and in an effort to make cattle farming even more humane, the cows have a say in what to do with their mild and how to market it best. Clearly, the possibilities are endless.
But seriously, the milk campaign in Thailand is an effort to actually promote human growth – as in body height. Thailand has one of the lowest annual per capita consumption a of milk in Asia. Now, as I have worked – albeit briefly in advertisement photography – I would cancel the happy cow campaign and replace it with the following.
A typical Thai Muay Thai fighter post fight with a glass of milk and a typical weightlifting “farang” , with bruises a black eye and a front tooth missing. The tag line on the bottom of the page would read:”Thai Milk Delivers A Punch!”

Don’t thank me, just Do it, Now!

Stay sharp.

Yours Markus \m/

More Low Tech Defeating High Tech

I have spent a few entries talking about low tech and how it still has a place in out times and society. But on the sly, my Thai co-workers have developed a cheap, reliable and stylish low tech device to put the brakes on government spying focused on mind and thought reading. The device comes in two sizes and works wonders.
Like, I tried to read the thought of some of my staff and I couldn’t at all, nothing, nada.
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When they take the device off, I read them like an open book. When I asked a volunteer to wear the freshly charged device, the individual thought:”why the hell me?” With the device in place, I could not get a read at all. The device was off and the individual thought:” I can’t believe Markus made me wear this. His powers of persuasion are awesome. Good thing he didn’t photograph me.” The last part, though is not true, because. I did take a mental image in 3D and color.
The second image of the government blocker shows a larger size, but with the same functionality. The device is entirely made from surgical stainless steel in a painstaking manual high quality process.
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The device makes application of the neuro-magnetic field sciences and is rather trivial in its realization.
Good, I am glad I was able to share this important piece of news with you.

Sayonara and stay sharp.

Markus \m/

Fire And Brimstone Technology

A few days ago I wrote about the lower tech industry I am in now. And it is true, it is lower tech. But that does not mean that it is less exciting. These days I work with plastic injection machines and die cast machines. And the die cast machines in particular can be still fire and brimstone technology. The crucible (the name alone in stills respect) can still be gas fired and the gooseneck may also be completely gas fired with an open flame grid. Sweat beads start to form instantly on the forehead of anyone closer than one meter. But these low tech machines have one big advantage over a lot of the high tech gadgetry – reliability.
This machine is probably +30 years old, but it still does what it is meant to do. Quality this machine produces depends primarily on the mold quality.
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Look at it, big, solid, beefy, polished rails used to open and close the tool to eject the part. As win lower tech machines, there appears to be more time, supported by the little chair in the lower right corner. Old stuff and low tech does not mean necessarily obsolete and useless, all it means is that it is not as easily to operate as an iPhone.

Stay sharp
Markus \m/

P.S.: I need to give credit where credit is due. The image was taken by my friend Suththichai, while I did the post processing. Suth demonstrated great presence of mind, while I walked past the machine not even looking at it.

More Satellite Images From Toolinguria

The old toolings I started showing earlier today are revving my fantasy and imagination. So I decided to show you a few more satellite images from the country of Toolinuria. This is the neighborhood, called the Gateway (get it “gate”). It is the gritty part town and also the most historical of the Toolinguria’s largest city Molybdenopolis.
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In the center of the shot you see the roof of the old opera house. Maria Callas celebrated successes here, but in the 17th century, Nicolo Paganini supposed by was playing his violin so virtuoso that the violin erupted sponatanously in flames. This incident inspired a Dutch immigrant to America 200 years later to write a piece for the guitar, called Eruption. The immigrant’s name was Edward Van Halen…..true story!
The old opera is now used as a concert hall.
To the right of the old opera is a live music barbecue bar. Progressive as Molybdenopolis is, the barbecue selection covers meat and vegetarian offerings. Just like the music, the food is basic but oh-so-good.
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Here we see student housing and the Rec Center from the top. In the early 19th century these buildings housed the miners and their families. The neighborhood bears witness to a time that would rather be forgotten by the families with long bloodlines in Molybdenopolis. The owners of the mineral mines paid 70% of a worker’s salary in housing and company currency and the remaining 30% in Toolinguria’s official legal tender, the Chamfer € (pronounced with a guttural CH as in “Chanukah” or “Chach, I am such a schlemiel”). The workers were in essence forced to spend 70% of their income at the company store. The prices were non-market prices and wee set by the owner families, thus making the wealthy even wealthier. A scheme successfully copied a few years later by amongst others the steel baron himself Andrew Carnegie.
Well, this concludes the news from Toolinguria and it’s Capitol Molybdenopolis.

Stay sharp
Markus \m/

Coping And Skype

I am sitting in my car on the way to work. Slash is blasting from my iPod, trying to numb the pain, suppressing thoughts, blanketing the process of coming terms with Ekk’s death. I am writing blog entries, because that is a rather mundane task of which I hope I can still do it well enough. I am wandering to Skype to see if any of my friends in America are online, ready to listen to my thoughts, to my lamenting. Then it hits me, I see Ekk’s icon, he is online. In his picture he is staring at me waiting to be called. I am not delusional, I am not trying to call. But the sheer idea, that something of any dead person can stay “alive”‘in cyberspace, can stay alive online is somewhat comforting. Because how often does it happen that people are online on Skype, but they forgot to log out or they are away from their terminal – whatever that terminal may be. You know there are present, they are just not picking up for what ever reason. This might be a good mechanism for “weaning oneself off a person”, rather than facing this deep and final cut of alive, laughing, heathy and kicking and a week later shattered and dead.
The human mind is a wild tool, it lies to you, build facades to help a person process events and emotions, while at the same time it tells you that what it is doing is fake. But this fake construct serves a purpose – a crutch to help you cope.

Stay sharp and enjoy everyday with all the people in your life.
Markus \m/

At The Junction Of Art And Industry

I have spent the first part of my professional engineering life in high technology. Clean rooms, creativity in abundance, top of the line equipment, a lot of fun and high demands for technology delivery. This was a great and exciting part of my life. Now, I have switched industries and I see a lot more of classical production machines – metal die casting machine plastic injection machines, painting and pad printing machines, mills, lathes, drills, welding. And it is great, too, albeit a lot more basic. It is less about inventing new technology and more about running established technology most efficiently. Today, I am showing you a few images of what happens when old tools for this old technology get discarded.
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What you see here so colorful is a discarded plastic injection mold, that has spent quality time in the Thai rainy season.
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Here discarded molds remind me of an arial shot of a North African mountain village where the observer sees the roofs of the riads. And finally another satellite view of old molds. The negative space (gaps between the tooling) is reminiscent of the donkey cart wide streets and back-alleys of any Maroccan medina as you can find it in Chefchaouen or Meknés, while the positive space occupied by the tooling represents the riads.
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And with that I bid you farewell for today. I am still reeling over the sudden death of my friend Ekk, but. I hope that time will continue to heal all wounds.

Cheers and stay sharp
Markus \m/