Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Season Tasting

I've told it here many times: I like season! - that is, I advocate for buying product in season and not out of it. I've just arrived from Malaysia, which is truly a beautiful country. However, they have more or less only one season throughout the year. The Malaysians say that right now, there is more haze until the end of August, but that's only because the blokes of Sumatra are burning forests.

My first shopping trip in Switzerland led me to Migros, my favourite groceries store (among the affordable ones - I loaf the other major one [Coop] because it has far too many organic stuff). I was delighted to discover that the three summer season yogurts have arrived:
  • lime & green tea
  • kiwi & gooseberry
  • peach & passion fruit

This morning I went straight for the tasting and the result was devastating. I could not decide for a winner. I like them all. Everyone is unique and matches perfectly with summer. I reckon that my current mood will have to decide. Do I want to have it pleasantly zestful (lime & green tea), cross-grained acidulous (kiwi & gooseberry) or passionately fruity (peach & passion fruit)? Hey, it's good to have summer season!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Make Cheaper Love

Do you remember the commercial that Michel Gondry did for Levis? It was about the watch pocket. In it a teen goes to a pharmacy to buy condoms (this is in the 30s, all black and white). He gets some looks, but later goes to pick up his date, and is met at the door by her father... the pharmacist.

Finally, Migros preserves us from this kind of embarrassment and Migros helps to save some quid as well. The new M-Budget Condoms are available in the traditional M-Butget design. They are hard to be distinguished from a pack of anchovies or chewing gum. Only GSOA's* Make Love Not War design was better.

* GSOA: Group for Switzerland without army.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Things Change

I’ve thought that I’m on a kind of cruise in the Strait of Malacca by now but things changed quite rapidly after my arrival at Lumut last Friday. I was swimming in the pool when the word came through that the sailing has been postponed by about a couple of weeks, because there is no fast enough plane available for certain tests.

Now I’m sitting again in the lounge at Kuala Lumpur’s airport. This time, I’m waiting for the flight back to Zürich. Swimming in Malaysian pools is dangerous anyway. The other day, my colleague Hugo was almost hit by a dropping coconut.

This change of events allows me to spend some time with Gatín in Zürich, before I’ll heading to Siberia to participate together with Tigresa in a river rafting. I'm looking forward to both events.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Laid Back Cruising

My first brief visit to Malacca will be over in half an hours. I've been here to support an Organisational Level Maintenance course in the fancy subject Computer Based Maintenance (CBM). Unfortunately, the development of CBM for this project is not quite completed and I'm only familiar with parts of it. I did kind of a night flight with closed eyes. However, the customers seem to be happy with the result.

Luckily, Malaysia is far more laid back than Shanghai. Hence, I could kind of recover from my ordeal in Shanghai.

On the Chinese shipyard I had to sign a paper which confirmed that I've read the safety regulations. E.g. I agreed that I will not show up at work after heavy drinking on the night before. I soon learned that I was in peril on this yard. On the vessel, I was exposed to welding, sanding and painting on a daily basis. One day, a man’s shirt caught fire right next to me. The fire alarm was on anyway most of the time. One shirt (scratches) and a pair of trousers (paint and a strange oily substance) got destroyed during this setting-to-work.

But most important thing is, they have pools in Malaysia. Since I arrived here last Saturday, I've been swimming for 6½ hours at my average cruising speed of 1.3 knots. Do the math yourself.

However, this noon I'll travel up north to do some real cruising on a real vessel.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Shanghai and Me

There hasn't been an entry in this blog for quite some time. I have been to Shanghai to do some work on a shipyard. Shipyards are good at cutting and welding steel in order to build vessels. They are not the best place to go for internet access and I could not find an internet café. Maybe I did see one, but I have no idea how the sign for internet café looks like in Chinese. At least at the end of the stay, I could decipher "China" and "Shanghai". Luckily, Jackson Lim had taught me how to count to 9 with one hand in Chinese (this is different to the European way, e.g. if a European orders two beers using his fingers, he will get seven in China). I always got the number of merchandises I wanted.

Shanghai is not the best place to go for tourist purposes. Within a couple of days one has seen what’s worth to. The huge amount of new skyscrapers is amazing, I have to admit. Although, only a few are interesting from an architectural point of view. Surprisingly, there were some Art Deco buildings. On one of my long walks through the city, I discovered a breathtaking Marine Hospital in a small side street. However, the general tendency in the construction business is towards the sky:

Another surprise was the huge number of green areas. If there is the possibility to make 2 square meters of park, the Chinese build one and they keep the city clean like Zürich once was. This is me in one of the bigger parks - that is, the People’s Park:

Zürich’s car drivers like to complain about the urban cyclists (although, Zürich’s cyclists obey the traffic laws as far as reasonably possible). Zürich’s car drivers should try two survive in Shanghai’s traffic for more than five minutes without a scratch on their precious tin can. Shanghai’s traffic is hideous. Everyone - that is, zillions of cars, busses, lorries, two-wheelers, cyclists and walkers (I haven't seen inline-skates, skateboards and kick-boards) - behaves as reckless as possible. Even on the Huangpu River is rush hours 24/7 (without navigation radars and position lights). This is a snapshot of Xuijahui Square on a lacy weekend:

As it could have been expected, all the world brands have already arrived in Shanghai before me:

Yesterday, I arrived in Melaka at the Strait of Malacca in Malaysia. I'm not yet quite sure what my task here will be. Nevertheless, I reckon I'll find out on Monday. Until then, I'm enjoying the pool.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

2nd Stopover

I've just arrived at KLIA airport in Kuala Lumpur. It's my second (after Amsterdam) and last stopover on my way two Shanghai. The flight was a bit humpy but apart from that business as usual. That is, meals at odd times and detached off any season. The flight entertainment toy was broken at my seat, but I did not change because I’m reading the new Tom Wolfe (I’m Charlotte Simmons). Hence I got not distracted from my read by a movie with bad picture and sound quality. The most sensational thing was that on the last leg, I was sitting on the upper-deck of a 747 for the first time in my life. There it has nice little compartments between the seats and the windows - very practical indeed.

I’m hope that my colleague Holger will be on the flight to Shanghai (as planed). I have no information whatsoever on my stay there apart from my return ticket to Kuala Lumpur on the 18th of June. That is, now hotel reservation or business contacts.

The weird thing about this trip is that in the end it’s all paid by Thailand, a country I haven’t been to apart from another stopover at Bangkok airport last year.

By the way, I got distracted form the book on the flight despite of the broken entertainment system. I could not stop thinking of Gatín. I miss you already.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Big Mistake

I had to learn that one of the big mistakes in my life has been to show a cold shoulder to lamb shoulder. This evening, Gatín surprised me and my brother with an exquisite version of this meal.

Tigresa missed not only this dinner because of a strange romance with a wary and shy bloke, but also a Penfold Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2000. Someday, she will learn to set the priorities right.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Start Breeding Now!

If you haven't got children, you should start breeding right now. But before that you have to buy Blinking Lights And Other Revelations by Eels.

Why do I command this? It all started with a blog by Stoipi, where he recommended this new record. Stoipi is an nice bloke with an excellent music collection. Nonetheless I did not rush to the shop at once, however I did put this record on the watch list. Some days later, a journalist called Philippe Amrein wrote in WOZ MUSIC: "Blinking Lights is a reason to set children into the world in order to one day tell them and the grandchildren what a great band Eels were." I was still not quite convinced, but I bought it anyway.

Today, to recover from a shopping stampede, I listened to the entire double record for the first time and I'm flabbergasted. It's like standing in a rain of diamonds - painful yet wonderful.

Even though you shoud consider it, I don't insist that you start propagating. But if there is one thing one has to do this year, it's buying Eels' Blinking Lights And Other Revelations.

Shop 'Till I Drop

I like buying groceries, however, I loaf shopping everything else. But today, it had to be. I needed:
  • shoes
  • a suitcase.
To warm up, I went with Gatín to the market in Oerlikon. We bought strawberries from Thurgau, chanterelles for a salad and a lamb shoulder and all the veggies necessary to roast it for a candlelight dinner on Sunday evening. Still and all, the best buy was the bunch of flowers Gatín bought for me:

At eleven o'clock, we headed downtown together with Tigresa for the essential things. We did not know it yet, but it turned out to be a long (6 hours) and a difficult (I behaved outrageously) experience.

I had to buy a suitcase, because my beloved GLOBE-TROTTER suitcase had been damaged on my last trip to Asia somewhere between Malaysia, Vienna and Zürich. My suitcase is made of vulcanised fibre board, which is light as aluminium, yet as hard wearing as finest leather. We are talking about 300£ per case. It had been damaged on the base side. Something hard and sharp must have hit it. The suitcase is usable, but I prefer not to take it along on a flight anymore.

Obviously, it was not an easy task to find a replacement. The least I wanted, would have been one of these Tupperware on wheels. We could find something, that was suitable and practical, although, it will never be as good as the GLOBE-TROTTER. See the sensible on the left and the beloved on the right:

The next task were the shoes. The requirements were:
  • black
  • elegant, yet not too fashionable
  • useable on a bike with click pedals.
As I have anticipated, the only shop that was able to satisfy these requirements was Schuhhaus Gräb. This is probably the most antediluvian shoe shop in town. The salesladies are self-conscious yet highly competent. Never before, I experienced such an endeavour to find the best shoes for me. At the end, I took the bull by the horns and bought two perfectly fitting pairs:

At first, Tigresa was shocked by the unsensual selection in the woman's section of Schuhhaus Gräb. But suddenly, she found a jewel that will make her score tonight. I, on the other side, am unable to move my old carcass out of the house anymore. I'm far to exhausted.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A Way To Burn In Hell

Even though, I haven't got a car and use public transport and my GT all the time, I'll probably burn in hell for excessive fuel consumption. These are the scheduled flights for the next couple of months:
  1. Zurich - Amsterdam
    07.06.2005 LX724 ZHR-AMS 07:20-08:55
  2. Amsterdam - Kuala Lumpur
    07.06.2005 MH017 AMS-KUL 12:00-06:05*

  3. Kuala Lumpur - Shanghai
    08.06.2005 MH388 KUL-PVG 08:05-14:10
  4. Shanghai - Kuala Lumpur
    18.06.2005 MH387 PVG-KUL 10:15-15:30
  5. Kuala Lumpur - Zurich
    07.07.2005 MH010 KUL-ZHR 23:45-06:15*
  6. Zurich - Moscow
    13.07.2005 LX1326 ZHR-DME 09:50-15:10
  7. Moscow - Yakutsk
    13.07.2005 E3-191 DME-YKS 20:15-07:40*
  8. Yakutsk - Syrjanka
  9. Syrjaka - Omuliovka (MI8 helicopter)
  10. Omuliovka - Syrjaka (MI8 helicopter)
  11. Syrjaka - Yakutsk
  12. Yakutsk - Moscow
    24.07.2005 E3-192 YKS-DME 12:00-13:50
  13. Moscow - Zurich
    24.07.2005 LX1327 ZHR-DME 17:45-19:10.
Unfortunately, only the first five will be business class.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Cosy Teddies

Last Sunday, I was dragged into some teddy business. To my defence I can say that there have been quite some teddy bears in my life already, as one can expect from someone, who's first given name means bear and who's combination of all given names means divine bear. E.g, these seven bears, who were cought in Gomad Bed, were all purchased to support Zürich's Lighthouse:

Get your own teddy bear right now - it's never to late to adopt an ursine lifestyle.

Prepare Yourself

Tigresa & I are planning a trip to Siberia this summer (i.e. this mosquito season), which includes 4 domestic flights within Russia and Siberia (and two by helicopter). As usual, the Internet is rather helpful for preparation. That is, I've found some tips on that brought back some memories:
  • Some domestic flights still have Unreserved Seating, which often results in pushing-and-shoving battles to get onto the plane first. You may have to participate in order to get your chosen seat.
  • Forget any notion you had that you are a "customer". On Russian domestic flights, passengers - along with their views and their custom - are seen as slightly less important than hunks of meat, and are treated very much the same way, despite the high price charged for tickets.

Swiss Innovation

I spent the last couple of days on a business trip to Copenhagen and had the change to see the changes introduced since Lufthansa took over Swiss International Airlines. Obviously, the former system (Champagne in the front seats - thirst in the back) did not prevail. Yes, drinks and a warm snack were handed out (labelled "discover the taste of Italy"), however, it was a wee bit tiny. Hence, a carry-on lunch is still no bad idea for a Swiss flight.

But the most striking discovery were the dual-use vomit bags. They cannot only be used to collect parts or all of the contents of one's stomach, which was ejected through the mouth (usually in a series of involuntary spasmic movements). They can also be used to send the films with the holiday pictures to a photo lavatory. How clever and innovative.