Tuesday, September 30, 2008

it's a debacle

yesterday i consumed two double lattes on an empty stomach and then didn't eat lunch. this was not good. by the time i got home, i was nauseated and shaky. and then, i flipped on the t.v. and the bad news kept pouring in--another bank being taken over, sarah palin's debacle of an interview with katie couric. we watched the house vote on the bail-out package on BBC world and then watched stocks plummet. all of that, coupled with the excess caffeine gave me fitful sleep.

it astounds me how much damage one man can do to the entire world in just eight short years. i remember after the whole debacle (that's my word for this posting, apparently) of the 2000 election with the hanging chads and the banana republic voting practices in florida, thinking, well, dubya seems harmless enough after all. perhaps a bit dumber than a box of rocks, but overall quite harmless. two wars, a couple of hurricanes, an unimaginable financial crisis, a deficit that could make a sane man insane and a melted polar ice cap later, it seems i couldn't have been more wrong.

we listened last night to an in-depth reportage just after our 9 p.m. evening news on DR1. a reporter in the US talked to a lot of ordinary people in chicago who were having mortgage-related troubles. the woman in the studio kept asking him how it could have happened? she, like many, simply couldn't get her head around it. why didn't people see that endlessly remortgaging their house with sub-prime mortgages wasn't sustainable in the long run? why didn't the banks who gave these mortgages see it? was it because they were just selling them on to the next bank, so they didn't really care whether people legitimately qualified or not? it does seem incomprehensible. and yet there are a lot of ordinary people in a whole lot of trouble.

my overwhelming feeling is one of being relieved that when husband and i met, he was tied to his army job and i was a mere graduate student, thus i came to live in his country rather than him coming to live in mine. thankfully we live in a country where the realkredit (appropriate name, now that i think about it) institutions which grant mortgages are sensibly regulated and where their employees are not dependent upon sneaking your loan through for their own livelihood. yes, house prices were a bit inflated (especially apartments in copenhagen), and that market has come down to more sensible levels over the past year or so, but you just don't hear about people sitting in a house that's now worth less than the mortgage they hold on it.

husband has this rather harsh theory that the problems in this world really started when the masses got money. prior to that, decisions were made by an elite that, for the most part, were well-educated and well-read (they being the only ones who could read, for all intents and purposes). but, the masses got money and along with it, they wanted the right to decide things. this has caused an enormous dumbing down of the world to meet a lower common denominator, rather than raising the bar and expecting that with the decision-making power should come responsibility for becoming informed and educating oneself.  case in point: sarah palin, ordinary (and i do mean ordinary) person as potential vice president.

this election is very important. but whoever wins is screwed and frankly, so is the world. i think either way, we're looking at a one-term president, because no one can possibly excel with what they're being handed by bush and his clueless crew. they got us into this mess in eight short years, but who will get us out and how long will it take? meanwhile, the world looks on in shock, as if staring at the smoking remains of a train wreck. unfortunately, it's all too real. and, as paul valéry once said, "the trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be."

Monday, September 29, 2008

wondering on a monday morning

what will the week hold? a steaming pot of tea. autumn sunshine. crisp air. an exhilarating early morning bike ride. taking the train into the city for an interesting meeting. a trip to oslo later in the week. milky strong lattes. anticipation. excitement. liminality. potential. time stretching before me.

and i wonder:

  1. how long will i obsessively keep track of that little plastic thingie that protects the end of the power cord on my macbook pro?
  2. will i finish all of the half-finished articles i have written with only self-imposed deadlines?
  3. what will be the october happiness the indian gentleman in singapore promised? what if i don't see it for what it is and miss it!
  4. will the new order in the bedroom, where i work, lead to a new order in my mind?
  5. why are the country's cats attacking the country's postmen? and how silly do those guys feel when they go back and tell people (which they must have done or it wouldn't have been on the radio news)?
  6. will obama manage to beat mccain and save the US from what appears to be certain irrelevance?
  7. why can't i open that silly mac paint pot in moss? (that's mac cosmetics, not computers.)
  8. i need new glasses. (not so much wondering as a statement.)
  9. if i will find time this week to make myself a little coin purse.
  10. what i will do when i run out of murakami books that i haven't read.
what are you wondering this monday?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

lazy weekend at home

a blissful weekend at home. an autumnal sun is shining its golden light. we've managed to restart our energy for finishing the house. we sort of lost our steam after the big party and the place is far from finished, but our energy and creativity are returning.

the electrician was here this week, so we finally hung the fabulous tom rossau lamp in the dining room. the other one will go in the kitchen later today.

then, i put up several test spots on the wall in the writing house to try to determine what color to paint it. i want it to have a very moorish feel and i've bought gorgeous anna maria horner fabrics for pillows and such, so i want to match the rich colors of those.

i got to smash up some lovely black tiles to make a mosaic for around and underneath the fireplace. very cathartic once i got past my squeamishness at smashing them with crow bar.  i came to a bit of a standstill yesterday and have to return to it today with fresh eyes. that happens sometimes.

and finally, a few blissful hours looking through inspiring books acquired in singapore last week.

although i like to fancy myself quite the career woman, it gives me an enormous sense of contentment to have a weekend at home, nesting. puttering around, cleaning, straightening, roasting a chicken, making breakfast juice with the juicer. there's just something about being home, sitting at the dining table on sunday morning with the sunday papers and a big pot of tea. maybe i appreciate it all the more for not having been here much for two weeks. absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

hope your weekend was a good one, wherever you were.

Friday, September 26, 2008

oh the places i've been and the things i've seen

what a week. i've been at the largest exhibition of shipping-related things in the world. everyone who was anyone to do with shipbuilding was there, from the smallest sub-contractor providing valves to the guys who make the engines, to the classification societies that approve the hull integrity, to the yards that do the actual building, to those who provide simulators to train the guys who will sail the ships. it was nearly 2000 exhibitors and, according to their website, 47,000 people came by to pick up pens and canvas bags and rubber ducks and penlights (many of them on wednesday, i can tell you). i hesitate to imagine how many beers were poured and snacks served. nearly every stand was serving drinks and snacks in some form. some more elaborately than others. i saw one with a chef doing the trendy molecular cooking (isn't ALL cooking molecular, so i don't really get that, but it's very trendy) as a kind of performance.

here are some of the sights...

main entrance hall
where all those engine guys were
a cute little propeller
this one shows in color the stress points
they looked so beautiful!
this one too. fascinating to see them this way.
one of the ideas for sailing greener. a sky sail for the long hauls across atlantic and pacific.
why shouldn't the fire hoses be pretty?
a safe and sustainable future?
not for this ice sculpture.
we had a new one delivered every morning.
virtual reality glasses to aid in hull inspections.
luckily that was a mannequin.
it would have been a bit much to stand there like this for four days.
safety boats and signal flags.
model of a ship from safmarine.
i really miss those guys!!!
here's a clever shipyard showing that they can build
luxury yachts AND military frigates.
and a front rudder for a 13,000TEU* container ship.
that's bigger than any out there are the moment.
the largest right now are 11,000 TEU.

very heartening to see that the main thing on everyone's lips was the environment. shipping is actually one of the most environmentally friendly methods of transport but it's so encouraging to see all of the stakeholders taking the environmental question seriously and not resting on their laurels, especially since 90% of the stuff in the world is, at some point, transported by ship. many, many innovations are on the horizon and it was breathtaking to see the sheer mass of engineering intelligence all gathered into one place. i love playing a small part in this amazing industry.

but i am glad to be home. i wish you all a glorious weekend.

* TEU is 20-foot container, so that means a ship that will hold an astonishing 13,000 20-foot containers.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

schöen tag

it takes so little to start a day off on the right foot. a "have a nice day" said to a stranger upon stepping out of an elevator, even if it was said in german, a language which i don't speak, i got the idea. it was a human interaction, an acknowledgement of my existence, despite the fact that the man didn't know me. he smiled and wished me a good day. and you know something, i think it will be a good day.

the exhibition hall is coming to life around me. our ice sculpture of a polar bear is frosty and already dripping, our stickers of the yield sign with a polar bear on it that say, "a safe and sustainable future?" are stocked up (they go quickly). the beautiful korean girls are passing by in their bright costumes. those girls in the silver bodysuits are in position, ready to hand out sweets. screens are being turned on all over the hall. the guys down the way have restocked their little blue rubber ducks wearing hard hats (i want to get one of those today). today, i will go around with my camera, taking it all in through the lens.

life is fascinating. have a nice day.

this may be why...

this may be why the repubs are winning on the anti-intellectual argument. but i must ponder it now. in my sleep.  quite possibly after some sushi and foreign travel. (read and you'll understand why i say that.)

back tomorrow with the usual drivel...

Monday, September 22, 2008

on dining alone

i'm on the road again. it's late afternoon and i'm contemplating what to have for dinner. i was only home about 27 hours, pretty much just enough time to unpack, do laundry, repack one suitcase (ok, i admit, i didn't really finish unpacking the other one), make invitations to a halloween party together with sabin and mathilde (and then husband joined in and made some extremely disturbing ones, which i will share later, since i forgot my card reader), go for a walk on the grounds of a nearby castle, finish my book, get some sleep, get up and make a lunch packse for the child (forget to give it to her and have to run it over to the school), go to the post office to mail goodies to my sis and pick up my RVK, which came while i was in singapore, buy some fab new black boots for fall, get myself to the airport, do a quick power shop there for a new fall coat (found a fabulous one at noa noa), grab a grande latte and board my plane. whew, that was actually a lot in 27 hours, no wonder i'm feeling tired.

however, it's now 5:30 p.m. and i'm contemplating some dinner. since i travel a lot, i'm accustomed to dining alone, although i always feel slightly apologetic asking for a table for one. why is that? what is it in us that makes us feel that dining shouldn't be a solitary activity? why does it feel a little teency bit sad to have dinner in a restaurant alone?

i always take something to read with me. and in many ways, i actually quite like the solitude. it's a bit less sad to ask for a solitary seat at a sushi bar (which i did several times last week), so i quite often go for sushi. i would do so anyway, if i'm honest. however, this time, i'm in germany, so i'm thinking sushi isn't really the thing. what does one eat by oneself in germany? a brat? sauerkraut? weinerschnitzel? a bit of spætzel? in my jetlagged state, i'll admit that none of that sounds good.

i find myself dreaming back to my last dinner in singapore. in a lovely sushi restaurant, the name of which escapes me, mostly because i think it wasn't written in english at all, only in japanese.  i sat at the sushi bar and at one point, realized i was lightly humming due to the wonderfulness of the food. because i was by myself, i could ponder japanese aesthetics and how beautifully presented sushi always is. all of the details are just so spot-on. actually, in the same way that danish design in furniture and lamps and such is spot-on. the two are actually quite similar. both pared down to the essentials. you couldn't follow those thoughts through to a connection if you weren't by yourself and able to ponder it all in your head. so, dining alone does have its advantages.

but, tonight. not sure i'm going to be pondering german aesthetics.  but, there's always people-watching and general observation. that's something you can do more intensely when you're alone and don't have to explain to your dinner companion. tho', husband and i do like to make up stories about all of the others and it's not as fun to do that in your own head. but, observations are cool. for example, at the japanese restaurant, several times i observed people looking quizzically at their food when it came like it wasn't what they expected. i also realized that the primary decor in the restaurant was dead tree branches painted white and i wondered if feng shui was over. or if it has just evolved while i wasn't paying attention? maybe it was just so late nineties/early noughties.

for dining alone, there's always fast food, but i very, very seldom choose that option. somehow those big chain restaurants, which i usually avoid like the plague, also seem like a good option when i'm by myself. outback steakhouse, TGIFriday's, california pizza kitchen. actually CPK is a good dine alone option, because they have lots of small tables and somehow that feels less lonely to sit at a small table.

i usually consider eating in the hotel restaurant to be a cop-out and only to be chosen at last resort, but i have to admit that with the jetlags getting me down at the moment, i just might have to go for that option. what do you do when you dine alone?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

a perfect autumn day

i arrived home very early this morning. another of those jarring transitions from 30 degrees, high humidity and smog to the clear, crisp, sunny fall weather in denmark. it's about 15 degrees, light breezes and sunshine. THE perfect weather for donning my new gap sweatshirt (from the boy's section, why don't they make non-zip hoodies for women anymore?), some walking shoes and going mushroom hunting in the forest.

i had to take some pictures of the last of the summer flowers using my new macro lens. there was already frost once while i was away, but in the greenhouse, it only got down to 3 degrees, so the dahlias are still going strong.

i doubt the melons will really get a chance to be ripe before the real frost comes, even in the greenhouse, but they look pretty now anyway.

the hydrangea are finishing up, but i absolutely love them at every stage. they're wonderful!

the chocolate cosmos look so autumn-y:

the little japanese acer is a blaze of color:

and the rowan trees are loaded with their berries. i love to pick these clusters and make an autumn wreath for the door and this year it feels like i have the time and energy to do things like that again.

but first, a whole mess of these are going into the freezer so we can have an apple pie at thanksgiving:

i just love fall, don't you?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

i need a guru

walking along raffles blvd. early this afternoon, minding my own business, enjoying the sunshine and trying to remember exactly how far that art museum was. early on, i noticed a 30-something indian gentleman walking the same path. he had one of those little black turban-thingies on (i'm sure there's a technical term, but forgive me, it's midnight and i'm in bangkok, waiting for the next flight), but i took note of him more for his long-sleeved shirt, which was an ordinary, blue business-type shirt. i remember thinking that it was awfully hot for long sleeves. then, at a stoplight, he turned and asked me how i was doing. i said i was quite well.

then, he told me i had a lucky face. having intentionally not put on makeup, i laughed a little bit at that one, but i did thank him. then he said, "you think too much, you should relax because your three stars will come together in october. october will be a very happy month for you." i gasped a little bit. could he really tell that i was thinking too much, just walking along BESIDE me and a little behind on a busy street in singapore? he also told me that i would be very happy living in singapore. then, he asked if i'd ever been to india. i told him i had, several times (i neglected to mention i wasn't that fond of it). then he showed me a picture of his guru. it was rather blurry and he pointed to a little face in the upper right of what appeared to be a class photograph of an entire class of gurus. then, he gave me a bead, asked me to keep it and be happy. especially in october.

isn't that weird?

weekend whimsy

my sis sent the most hilarious link. apparently lego is making some commemorative people for the 30th anniversary of the little bitty people legos. the article says they won't be for sale to the public, but i think we should start a grassroots campaign so that lego makes them available. check them out:

amy winehouse
i don't know if it's just a spoof or if it's true, but how hilarious either way! ya just gotta love lego!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

pure potentiality

as i embarked on this trip, i had the notion that when the time came to head home, i would no longer be in the liminal space, i would be able to see the paths ahead and know quite clearly which one to choose. that hasn't happened. after a week in singapore, i have the same questions for myself:

  1. can i live in disneyland, even if it does have embassies? and even if it's safe and clean? and there's no chewing gum in sight, so that means i won't find it stuck to the carpet like i do at home?
  2. is this place that giant mall i've been dreaming of?
  3. is it worth the risks? being part of a new venture is extremely appealing and i do feel that i believe very much in the project and that i could contribute significantly to its success, but will we be happy living here?
over this week, as the waters have remained murky, i've been discussing it all with husband on the phone. my impression is that he has grown keener on the idea as the week has progressed and he's actively planning where to store some of our things (all that driftwood we've collected), gleefully scheming about what to throw out and looking into the tax implications. 

i think i hoped for a bolt of lightning to strike and give me the feeling that i just KNEW what the right answer was. i've pondered a little bit how i tend to make decisions. pretty much, i take in the facts, mull it over (usually for a couple of minutes, tops) and then make a decision based on gut feeling. but my gut seems to be silent in all of this. perhaps it's in a sushi-induced coma. it's not telling me anything one way or the other. where are all of those voices that are usually chattering away in my head? how am i supposed to decide when none of the usual factors are there?

part of it is because things didn't get any clearer this week. i still don't know the terms. i still don't know the terms of the other possibilities that are on the horizon (and one more came up this week in a totally random phone call, so that muddies the waters a bit as well). and that's surely why i'm not coming to any answer. 

so, husband and i continue to speculate as to how it will all turn out, like a CNN broadcast, in the middle of a potential story that might not even be a story, while waiting for the facts to roll in. and we continue in the liminal space. suspended in a state of pure potentiality.

in the meantime, if you want to see something totally weird that i saw today, go here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

singapore vignettes

standing in the wonderful max photo in centre point mall, to which i had returned to shop for a macro lens after buying my camera there last may. deeply authentic elderly chinese man at the next counter buying a very high end professional camera. he's got longish grey hair and on the very tip of his chin, a wispy little beard consisting of a handful of 6" long greyish-white wavy hairs. he turns to my nikkor 15-200mm lens, which we had just fitted back on my camera after i tried out several macro lenses (settled on a nikkor AF-S micro 60mm f/2.8G ED). he took a large magnifying lens out and held it up to the small print on my zoom lens. he looked carefully, made some clucking sounds, turned to me, gave me a thumbs up and said, "vely good." i was proud.

* * *
in a cab being taken to wheellock place. to make conversation, as we neared it and i saw the sign, i said, "oh, i've never been here before." the cab driver shook his head and began lecturing me about using the word "never." he said i should say, "haven't ever." saying the word "never" would apparently keep me from going to heaven when the time came. or so he said.
* * *

walking through the food court of a mall. passing places specializing in indian food. malaysian. korean. japanese. vietnamese. chinese. danish ice cream and pastries. food from myanmar. thai food. noodles only. pizza. chocolates. vegetarian. burgers. outback steakhouse. starbuck's.  literally anything you could possibly think of, including green tea donuts. singapore is a melting pot of food cultures. a food paradise. and yet they're all so tiny. but constantly snacking. i saw a guy eating bacon as he walked along.  just a little bacon snack.
* * *
a paradise of sparkling shoes
(i did get a couple of good ones after all)
* * *
getting in a cab and asking for the pan pacific. the one suntec one since there are apparently others. it's a mad cab driver who must have been new. his english was iffy at best and he began trying to explain that there were two ways to get there and asking which i wanted. i had no idea. one was the short way and one the long. i chose the short. then he started going on and on about ERP. still don't know if he thought i was selling software or what? he asked where i was from. i said i lived in denmark. he asked if that was near new zealand. i said, not so much.  he was going on and on about how he would show me the singapore fire. i was a little alarmed that he was going to take me to a fire, since i just wanted to go to my hotel. turned out he was talking about singapore's version of the london eye, which is called the singapore FLYER. he then went past the entrance to my hotel. i pointed this out. he was very apologetic and went around the block. only to pass the entrance AGAIN. another round around the block, him apologizing the whole way. i was in a good mood, so i just laughed. it was an absurd ride.
* * *
hoards of birds settle into the trees along orchard road at sunset. the air is alive with the din of bird chatter, but it's difficult to catch sight of them. creates the eery feeling of being in a hitchcock film.
* * *
elevator culture: hurry up and get in because as soon as the doors are opening, one of the locals is standing there, pressing the closing button and your chance will disappear quickly.
* * *
on CNN Asia: paid advertisement on the virtues of setting up your business in MICHIGAN. i think this is a sign of a world turning upsidedown. the balance is shifting and we are but witnesses.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

could i be any worse?

...at surreptitiously taking pictures in places i probably shouldn't take pictures (like the posh takashimaya department store on orchard road). i cannot frame from the hip to save my life.

it's a shame too, because those were such super pretty, sparkly shoes.

i could tell you about some charming encounters i've had with the locals, but since i stayed up ridiculously late last night, i'm too delirious to do so today, so they'll have to wait 'til tomorrow. if i forget, ask me about the magnifying lens, the whispy goatee and the great singapore fire...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

closer to vanuatu than answers

i'm no closer to any answers on my can i live in the mall that is singapore if i have a really fulfilling job, make tons of money, can bring my family and use it as a jumping off point to vanuatu dilemma, but i'm having a fabulous time.

1.  i've eaten sushi (and botched up photographing it because i was deliriously tired).

2.  and some other really gorgeous food.  those little golden rectangles are delectible pockets of mango and thinly-sliced scallop that were light, crispy and quite simply heavenly. the veg is rather spinach-like and is stirred together with a gorgeous sambal olek chili sauce and garlic. totally awesome and a good alternative to sushi if one must.

3.  and wondered to myself whether i could actually allow myself to eat sushi at every meal while i'm here (i chose something else tonight, as you can see, so i did not go with this option, tho' there's still a lot of sushi left in this city and i will have more before i leave).

4.  i wondered what the heck this was:

the waitresses were using these, i think it was some way of communicating to the cooks what had been ordered because they would come, stand in front of it, select a few and disappear around the corner.  fascinating, in any case.

5.  i've marveled at the sheer number of people wearing false eyelashes (i will try to surreptitiously take pictures of some of them tomorrow). 

6.  i've visited two scrap supply stores (read: heaven) and bought a few cool things (read: stamps, rub-ons, something fabulous called washi tape and yes, pretty papers). and i've spread it all out on the desk in my hotel room:

7.  i popped into the gap, bought a great dress (follow link to the very dress) which i already wore today and got a $10 (SGD, not US, tho' they're worth about the same these days what with the utter collapse of the US economy under the stewardship of the republicans...but i digress) gift certificate, which means i will have to go back.

8.  i viewed the new nano, but they were out of purple, so i restrained.

9.  i bought the new issue of martha stewart living. (sigh, i do love martha, despite the damage she's done to my psyche (what with the ironing the tea towels and all) so much that i paid $13SGD for it.)

10.  i bought thomas friedman's new book, hot, flat and crowded (tho' my version looks nothing like this picture on amazon) and listened to him being interviewed about it on CNN. it sounds like it's gonna be great, but i'm finishing this first. (my version looks like the one in the picture.)

11.  i've memorized the piece on CNN about whether or not south africa will be ready for the world cup in '10. dang, they repeat themselves a lot.

12.  i have yet to lens-shop for a macro lens for my beloved D60.

13.  and for the past couple of hours, i've been working in my art journal for the fabulous online course i'm taking.

i did a page called someday which listed all of the things that i will do someday (you know i'm a procrastinator):

and this one called need more, which listed all of the things i need more of (counterintuitively, not all were actual things, but stuff like patience, discipline, creativity and ideas):

and this one too which had only a little bit of journaling starting with i wonder...:

loving the SteadyHandFaultyHeart online art journal course (it's round 2) and it bodes well for singapore that i've had this spurt of creativity while i was here. and of course its proximity (relative to denmark) to vanuatu, where i will someday run away to. (in fact, i'm going to add that to my someday page.)

and now, it's ridiculously late here, so i'm going to go. catch ya tomorrow...do you think it's ok to have a list of 13 things? oh well, too tired now to care.

singapore sling

this is a singapore sling:
it only looks good in this tiny version, but i thought this poster version of it, which i found on google images, fit tangobaby's romantic notion of it as a retro drink, which it surely is. i've had one at the long bar (on my first trip to singapore lo so many moons ago), but didn't want to order one just in order to photograph it, as it's a bit sweet for me. tho' it contains gin and is sometimes called a singapore gin sling and we do know that i adore gin. however, it's just a bit too fruity.

it was invented sometime between 1910 and 1915 by a guy named Ngiam Tong Boon at the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel. it contains gin, cherry brandy and benedictine. it's a tad fizzy, so i think it also must contain some club soda or perhaps even 7-Up, but the recipe i read in some visitor's guide didn't really say that. it's always got a big bunch of fruit slices on the side and is served in a glass much like the one in the picture above. unless you get it on singapore airlines, in which case it's in a smaller more airline-y glass.

don't say i never teach you anything here on moments of perfect clarity. :-)

Monday, September 15, 2008

short list

things ya gotta love about singapore:
  1. hotel room contains one bible and one book entitled the teaching of buddha.
  2. they will bring sashimi to your room on a pretty little cart.
  3. you can eat it in your bathrobe.
  4. bath salts provided by the hotel.
  5. electronic gadgets galore.

hitting the wall

mid-afternoon the tireds hit and i became useless at the office so i headed back to my hotel. in an attempt to stay up 'til a normal time rather than falling asleep and sleeping for ten straight hours, as i strongly desired to do, i changed clothes (read: put on comfortable shoes) and headed out for a walk and a bit of shopping. i took a few uninspired pictures:

where i'm staying

where i'm working:
the famous raffles hotel:
home of the famous long bar, where the singapore sling was born.
and which might be the only place in singapore where you're encouraged to litter.
by throwing peanut shells on the floor:
tourist heaven:
and i realized something today, that mall i've been dreaming about all these years might be singapore. it's really all just one giant mall. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

five hours in bangkok

i'm not sure what to do with myself for 5 hours in bangkok, the song was about one night...but i've managed to find a cushy thai business lounge and a wireless connection and i am looking pretty damn good here with my mac, despite the fact that i didn't bring a comb and so my hair is a little, ahem, shall we say, tousled, from the night flight. it is a testament to the awesomeness of my haircut that it more or less looks ok anyway. thank you, maria from glasgow, you hairdressing goddess!

as i look around at the HPs and dells and even an acer in my vicinity in the lounge, i feel very happy to have invested in the mac. perhaps even a little bit superior. ok, more than a little bit, but i did say that i was shallow.

so, what does one do in an airport with so much time to kill? there's shopping. i've already looked around at a countless array of thai relaxation products (i restrained, tho' i was briefly tempted by an eye mask) and small stuffed elephants (also restrained).  i was literally the first one off my plane (i love sitting in row 1). this new airport in bangkok is looking more finished than the last time i was here (i last came through on the second or third day it was open). it is big and really very nice. but it could use a few more entertainment venues for people with long layovers--they could take a lesson from kuala lumpur where there's a cinema.

there's a spa here in the lounge and after a bit, i'm going to go and get a shoulder massage. or should i go for feet and legs? hmm, so many choices. it's good to be gold.

here there is less of the skin crawling feeling i had at the gate in copenhagen. the people here are  obviously business people. back there, it was obvious that most of the back of the back of the plane was going to be filled with sex tourists. you know when you see a slightly greasy-looking man with a mullet and a white sport coat the reason he's headed for thailand. yuck. makes me very happy that i'm just passing through. it seems to me that undercurrent is always present in thailand. the scent of seamy exploitation. gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

onto happier topics...people watching. there is a cluster of lovely thai girls in beautiful long silk skirts in a rich purple and lighter purple suit-style jackets tending the lounge. they are smiling shyly at the passengers passing through and chattering in an animated way to one another. isn't there something romantic about a language you don't understand that makes it seem as if people are having a really important conversation? i wonder what they're talking about...

my week ahead is on my mind, the anticipation of what it will bring. there's something delicious about anticipating the unknown. i always want to capture the feeling and not have that transition from unknown to known happen too quickly, which is strange because i'm otherwise an extremely impatient person. i feel the same way when reading a great book...i both want to skip to the end and to savor it and not have it come too quickly. i want to know now what the week will bring at the same time as i want time to slow down so it doesn't come too fast. oh wonderful, agonizing anticipation. whatever it brings, it will undoubtedly be interesting. it's fitting that i sit here in the liminal space that is an airport, feeling that i'm on the brink of something irresistible, new and exciting.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

leaving on a jet plane

in just a few hours, this will be the view out my window. actually, i'm not sure i have a window, as i usually ask for an aisle, but i can always go into the bathroom and take a new picture, that's where i usually do it anyway. SAS is one of the few airlines that orders windows on their planes for their biz class bathrooms. funny, that. actually, i'll have to wait 'til morning to take a pic, as my flight leaves at 22:50, so it won't be all sunny and cheery like the one above.  why am i rambling on about this minutiae, even i'm getting bored...

anyway, just wanted to say that i'm off and the next time i post, i'll be here. i've not stayed there before, but it looks pretty cool and it's on raffles blvd., so it must be right in the heart of everything! ya gotta like that! catch ya sometime tomorrow...

Friday, September 12, 2008

because i am shallow

because i am going to singapore tomorrow and i have a desktop iMac and because being seen with a dell laptop in the lounge is demoralizing to say the least, and because i care about how i look in the lounge not to mention in business class, and because i need business expenses for my business, and because my sister has one and she influences me, i bought one of these today:
i showed remarkable restraint in buying the littlest one. just a tiny little 15" macbook pro with a mere 2.4GHz intel core 2 duo processor (i know, they come more powerful, but did i really need that for the lounge?), and 200 GB harddrive. i've got 500 on the iMac, so it was ok that it was small. -ish.

now, if only i was pandion*.

*pandion is the class above gold on SAS. they are vague about how you achieve it. but i want it. bad. must fly more.

something i don't understand

i've not been too political here, although i have strong opinions about politics. i strangely haven't felt the need to share them too much. but, on the plane yesterday, i was reading the IHT and Thomas Friedman, Maureen Dowd, Roger Cohen and Garrison Keillor were all talking about the election. of course, it's their job to do so and not so much mine, my editorials run a bit more to the use of simulators and computers in general in the training of seafarers. however, there's something that i just don't understand...

it's something i've been thinking about for awhile, but especially keillor's piece got me thinking about it again...what is it about this anti-intellectual argument that works for the republicans? why does it work at all? what on earth is GOOD about being anti-intellectual? the only thing that comes to mind is that it's easy. it's easier to tout such beliefs and faux arguments than it is to actually educate yourself and make real ones.

further, why does this "average person" argument that the mccain people are making about palin seem to be resonating with so many people? i don't know about you, but i don't want my president or vice president to be an average person. i want them to be great, extraordinary even! i want them to be smarter and more experienced, more worldly and with a better network of really bright advisors than anyone else on the planet. it's a really big responsibility running the united states, it takes more than an average, ordinary person to do the job.

we've seen what the boundless mediocrity of an average guy could do with the place over the past 8 years. i count myself as very fortunate to have lived outside of the country that whole time. the country is mired in two unwinnable wars, it seems that the spreading of democracy to places that have no significant educated middle class isn't really working out all that well, the divide has grown ever greater between rich and poor, gas prices have quadrupled, food prices are rising, the dollar is worth about as much as the old italian lira, the economy is in the toilet, the deficit is out of control and a new cold war is knocking on the door because russia awoke while bush was occupied elsewhere. frankly, we don't need another average guy or girl in the white house, we need someone better. someone great even. is it too much to ask that it be someone with some functioning brain cells? dare i say someone a bit more intellectual, maybe? not someone who was miss congeniality in the miss alaska pageant and believes that jesus hung out with the dinosaurs and who firmly believes in sexual abstinence for teenagers instead of sex education, but can't manage to convince her own daughter of that argument. those just aren't the qualities i'd like to see in the white house.

and we will see her in the white house because john mccain is like 600 years old, has had cancer not once but THREE times and is never going to live out a full term in office. that's a pretty stressful job and it won't be good long term for a guy who is 73 years old by the time he takes office.

i wanted to see a woman president, but i can tell you that this right wing, moose hunting, hockey stick wielding, trailer trash wench from alaska was not what i had in mind.

and yes, i chose that language on purpose, lest i became too intellectual in my arguments.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

of murakami, reality, home and possibilities

"it's no wonder you like to read books about reality, since you live so far from it." -- monica, starbucks, copenhagen airport, 10.09.08

my sister meant it better than it sounds. we had discussed murakami in the car all the way to the airport. i had said that what i like about murakami was his exploration of reality or rather realities. she said that likes how the language makes you trust those jobless, 30-something male characters. i was on my way to oslo, she on her way to chicago. they were calling me by name overhead, but i still had to get a grande latte.

what she was getting at was the crazy reality of our life at the moment. we've just (almost) finished getting our house the way we want it and now we're considering moving. not just down the street, but to another country. and at the moment, we don't really know which country. will it be norway or singapore? they sound diametrically opposed, but what they have in common is shipping. both are big locations for shipping. and i'm in shipping. and husband is considering getting into shipping as well. and there are exciting opportunities in both places. for both of us.

but it's all up in the air right now. theoretical. the stuff of pure possibility at the moment. and the subject of much conversation and speculation and scheming and imagining. how to make it work. scheming ways of having it all. it's hard to imagine parting with our house at the moment (i will definitely be taking that red smeg, no matter what, even if i have to sail it to singapore). but, could we afford to keep our house and buy another home? (that depends on the offers really and those are also theoretical--strong possibilities, but not definite yet.) norway is really, really expensive and if i think that, in comparison to denmark, it must be super, hyper expensive, because denmark is pretty expensive. if we had a house in denmark and an apartment in singapore, is that really realistic? how often will we get back and use the house in denmark?

in other words, where will life take us?

and this, combined with our home improvements, have had me thinking about home and what it means. and i'm not the only one, tangobaby wrote about home recently as did hele at truth cycles. it must be something in the air.

what is home, really? is it a place? a house? an apartment? fabulous red appliances? or is it a life lived together with those you love most? can anywhere be home, as long as those you love are there? could an artificial disneyland of a place like singapore really be home? or will it be the mountains of norway? or will we stay in the house that we have spent so much time and labor (not to mention money) getting exactly as we like it? which reality will we choose?

or is it really that we love dreaming towards some new possibility? that looking forward towards the next big thing is what we do, it's what makes us us. it's where we feel most at home, dreaming and scheming and looking at the next fork in the road and choosing which path to take. so perhaps that's my answer...we take our home with us, wherever we go. maybe it's not a place at all, but is within us. a reality that we make every day, as we live it and breathe in the possibilities.

i have to say i like that idea. and i'm looking forward to seeing how this all pans out as the picture gets clearer in the coming weeks.

* * *
and with jon stewart's daily show playing in the background, recapping last week's convention farce, i become painfully aware that my musings and considerations are luxury problems indeed.

Monday, September 08, 2008

a matter of perspective

i had a very pleasant lunch meeting to attend in the city today, so i went in a bit early and took the camera. my sister and i took 577 pictures total in about an hour and a half. there ought to be a couple of good ones to share in the coming days and perhaps we'll even let ourselves be inspired by tangobaby and go visit blurb and create some fabulosity with them there. stay tuned for that.

in the meantime, i decided that these were good words for a monday:

i'm not sure what these cubes with this phrase on it were really for, but there were several of them around the city today. i was so busy taking pictures of them, that i didn't really read the other sides of the cube to see what it was all about. but, as far as i'm concerned, they are words to set the tone for the week and frankly, for life in general. everyday we are met with the unknown and i've learned over the past week or so that i don't want to meet the unknown with fear and negativity, so curiosity seems like a good alternative. it's open and positive. who wouldn't want to be more open and positive? what a great message to send on the streets of copenhagen. and putting it backwards--a stroke of genius--you have to actively read it that way. awesome.

* * *

hilarious true story:  one of the officers i knew in my previous job has recently moved to copenhagen from singapore with his wife and child. although they are from india, they have lived in singapore for a few years now. apparently the wife is suffering from extreme culture shock in denmark, which is totally understandable. 

however, what's quite hilarious to those of us who grew up in places that are not india and all of the preconceived notions that go with that, is that she is shocked at the low standard of living in denmark. yes, you read that correctly--it seems the happiest people on the face of the earth have a low living standard in her estimation. 

here are a few of the reasons:
  1. hoards of people on bicycles. (can't they afford cars?)
  2. when you call a taxi, you may actually have to WAIT for one to come.
  3. people send their children to daycare rather than having a nanny.
  4. another child at the daycare hit her child and was not reprimanded with corporal punishment (said children were two and a half).
  5. where are all the nannies? (this nanny thing is apparently really bad.)
  6. and the maids? who will clean the apartment?
i wonder what she thinks of danish design? and she's gonna really be disappointed when she compares those dogme films to bollywood offerings.

it's amazing how things all boil down to one's perspective.