Another Mt. Bike Ride

Hit the trails again today.  This time I headed for the mountains and gathered a few interesting images.

The Cabin in the Woods review

The Cabin in the Woods manages to throw the horror and comedy genres into a blender, and the result is a delicious product that's ridiculously fun and warrants watching at least once.
The Cabin in the Woods is a modern-day Army of Darkness. High praise, I know, but it's worthy of the title. There's not much I can say about the overall plot without spoiling all of the fun, so I'll keep it to the basics. The Cabin in the Woods follows a group of stereotypical college kids (the stoner, the sports guy, the scantily-clad hot girl, amongst others) that head to a cabin deep in the woods for a weekend getaway. Meanwhile, mysterious figures are keeping a close eye on the group and the chaos and bloodshed follows shortly after their seemingly relaxing vacation begins. 
I know what you're probably thinking. This is all too familiar and there's no reason why you'd want to see this scenario play out for the millionth time. I felt the same way after seeing the trailers and going into this movie, but that assumption is completely false. This isn't just another generic horror flick or something you've already seen before. The concept behind this film is ridiculously far-fetched in a good way and allows for tons of hilarious elements and creatures to be tossed our way. 
The film is being heavily pushed mostly as a horror experience, but it's the sharp writing and witty humor that makes The Cabin in the Woods so superb. It's absurdly funny, and that's something I've come to expect whenever the talented Joss Whedon (Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is attached to a project. The director of Marvel's The Avengers co-wrote and produced the flick, and there are plenty of standout comedic scenes that simply feel like a segment slapped with a Joss Whedon seal of approval. A Whedon vibe with banter is almost never a bad thing and there's plenty to be found here. Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard makes his directorial debut and has had an extensive history with Whedon, writing episodes for BuffyAngel and Alias. You can tell the two had a blast working on the script and the final product is one of the most entertaining movies I've seen in awhile.
While The Cabin in the Woods is going to keep you laughing the whole time, odds are no one is going to be having any nightmares over this one. It's not a scary movie, but that clearly wasn't the main focus of the film. I think it's important to note this just in case anyone believes this is a horror-heavy movie based on the trailers portraying it as such. The majority of the horror elements are indeed predictable, but I will confess that one jump scare did get me. At the same rate, keeping the trailers focused on the attempted spooks and not the smirks means you're going into this one without having the best jokes already ruined by the trailers, so that's a plus.
While the main characters are all archetypes, Whedon's ability to craft great banter and develop individuals breathes more life into these characters along the way. The tag team of Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford really steal the show. Unfortunately discussing their roles would severely take away from all the fun to be had with their scenes. Fran Kranz (Dollhouse) once again delivers as the goofy and comedic dude, while everyone else performs ably as well.
The final act of The Cabin in the Woods is truly something special. Attempting to describe it won't do it any justice. It's just something that needs to be watched to be fully appreciated. Things take a wild turn and the theater was in a permanent state of laughter and bliss as the events unfolded on the big screen. Oh, and how could I forget to mention the fact that there's a secret cameo thrown in there that sci-fi fans will appreciate as well? 
Simply put, I loved The Cabin in the Woods and had an extremely good time watching it. The CGI is a bit shoddy and it isn't all that scary, but it's hilariously fun and more than deserving of checking out on opening night.


(taken from my review at UGO)

Frohe Ostern und Kaffeeklatsch (Nr. 93)


an diesem besonderen Sonntag gibt's heute mal kein BiWuBärchen in der Kaffeetasse, sondern das Blogflatterbärchen in einer Eischale, und das wünscht Euch:
... on this special Sunday we're not showing a BiWuBear in a coffee cup as usual, but the blogflutterbeary in an eggshell, wishing to all of you:
Jawoll, habt ein schönes Osterfest, genießt die Feiertage im Kreise Eurer Lieben und wenn Ihr Glück habt, dann war der Osterhase ordentlich fleißig und hat Euch etwas Schönes dagelassen. Und am Nachmittag dann solltet Ihr den Feiertag so richtig genießen mit ein, zwei Tässchen Ostersonntagsnachmittagskaffee und ein, zwei, drei, vier Stückchen leckerem Ostersonntagsnachmittagskuchen. Bei uns gibt es oberleckeren bodenlosen Käsekuchen! *schleck* Frohe Ostern Euch allen und eine schöne kurze Arbeitswoche und... oh, hallo, Hoppler, was machst Du denn hier?
Yes, have a Happy Easter, enjoy the holidays with your dear ones and if you're lucky, the easter bunny was busy and brought something nice to you. And in the afternoon you should celebrate with one, two cups of eastersundayafternooncoffee and with one, two, three, four pieces of yummy eastersundayafternooncake. We will be having a tasty cheesecake *yummy* Happy Easter to you all and a nice short working week and... oh, hi, Hoppler, what are you doing here?
Hoppler: Hör mal, meinst Du, das ist richtig, dass Du da als Bär in der Eischale hockst?
Flutterby: Ähhh, ja nun... ich bin ja hier nun mal der Blogbär und...
Hoppler: Schon klar, aber trotzdem ist heute nun mal Ostern, und das ist ja wohl eher der Tag für meinesgleichen, oder?
Flutterby: Na gut, bitte schön, hast ja irgendwie recht, tauschen wir also die Plätze!
Hoppler: Listen, do you think it's alright for you being a bear to sit in that eggshell?
Flutterby: Ehhhhh, why... you know, I'm the blogbear and...
Hoppler: Sure, but today is Easter, and that's the day for us bunnies, isn't it?
Flutterby: Okay, you're welcome, in a way you're right, so let's change places!
Naja, soll Hoppler doch hier den Osterhasen in der Eischale geben... zugegeben, er macht sich ja auch sehr gut darin. Ich werde derweil mal zu einem anderen Osterhasen gehen, einem, den ich echt zum Fressen gern habe...
Okay, shall Hoppler be starring as the Easter Bunny in the eggshell... I have to admit, he looks very fine in it. I will visit another Easter Bunny in the meantime, one I really love to bits...
... ach ja... Du bist so richtig was zum Gernhaben. Und erst das, was unter Deiner goldenen Haut steckt... höhö... *yummy*
*sigh* You're someone to cherish. And when I think of what's hidden unter your golden skin... harhar... *yummy*

Hartes Schicksal für Osterhasen, harte Arbeit für die einen - und die leckeren aus Schokolade haben keine Überlebenschance. Wie sagte schon Wilhelm Busch so treffend: "Es ist das Osterfest alljährlich für den Hasen sehr beschwerlich." So ist's - gut, dass wir keine Hasen sind! *zwinker*
A hard fate for the easter bunnies, hard work for some of them - and for the ones being made of chocolate there's no chance to survive. But as famous German writer and artist Wilhelm Busch said, Easter is every year very hard for the hare. That's true - we can be glad we are no bunnies or hares! *wink*

Liebe Grüße / Hugs

Green Forest Restaurant

Update ... I noticed today (June 2015) that the restaurant has a new name, something like "To Sae Restaurant", so I guess new owners.

I first saw the Green Forest restaurant over a year ago, when we took a walk up Monkey Hill (Khao To Sae) which is the big hill on the north side of Phuket Town with all the TV and Radio aerials on it. The restaurant was brand new then, we went in for a drink only and decided to go back "some time". As often happens, plenty of time passed, until a couple of weeks ago when I was driving somewhat randomly in town, thought about lunch and decided to try Green Forest.

Green Forest Restaurant

You can drive up the hill, although it's very narrow if 2 cars want to pass. Easy on a moped, or hey you can even walk up! I was kind of early for lunch and I was the only customer until about 30 minutes later when a couple of Thai guys arrived for what looked like a business lunch. I believe the place is much busier in the evening. I noticed there is a small stage for live music. But on this day, I had the pick of all the tables, so chose the best one...

Green Forest Restaurant, Phuket

Now, I am a little wary when a restaurant like this, which I am sure caters mostly to locals, brings an English menu with only about 20 dishes on it. They did. I ignored it, as they had already brought me a much larger menu with all the food in Thai and the drinks in English and Thai. I do object to restaurants having a different menu for foreigners, and I guess that because I was alone, they assumed I was just some tourist. I ordered from the Thai menu, although my Thai language skills are not perfect, I can read enough. My main choice was crispy fried catfish salad (Yam Pla Duk Foo - ยำปลาดุกฟู) and an extra dish of fried rice with prawns.

Pla Duk Foo

Mango Salad

(above) Yam Pla Duk Foo comes in 2 parts, though sometimes they are served on the same plate. The crispy fried catfish, and the mango salad. Together = perfect! And this one at Green Forest was very good, only 120 Baht, quite a big plate actually... I had ordered the fried rice because I thought the salad would not be this big!

Fried Rice

(above) And the fried rice with prawns - there are some prawns in there somewhere! 100 Baht, a little more than I'd normally pay for fried rice, but it was tasty.

It was a slightly hazy day, quite common in the hot season (March / April) but the views from the restaurant were good. You're facing south and have some view to the west also. Could see the hilltop temple on Sirey Island to the west and a good view over the southwest side of town towards the bay of Phuket and Sapan Hin to the south.

Koh Sirey Temple

View from Green Forest Restaurant

Will go back, probably... the food was good, the view is great, BUT I object to the English menu and my bill was slightly padded. The catfish salad on the menu was 120 Baht, on the bill 150 Baht. There is no great issue with an extra 30 Baht, it's not going to bankrupt me, and I can't be certain that it was not an honest mistake, but the face of the waitress who rewrote the bill told the story. She took about 5 minutes to rewrite it after I kindly pointed out the error. Happy to give Green Forest a second chance. Maybe wait 6 months and the staff will probably be different. I do recommend this place for sure, but hate someone trying to pull a fast one. Thai people always check their bills.

Green Forest Restaurant - Location Map

View Green Forest Restaurant in a larger map



bei uns zeigt sich  der April momentan von seiner sehr angenehmen, sonnigen Seite - soll ja aber am Osterwochenende schon wieder vorbei sein, darum habe ich gestern die Gelegenheit genutzt und bei uns im Garten geschaut, was sich inzwischen so tut. Auf Euren Blogs sehen wir ja oft, wie viel weiter die Natur bei Euch im Süden schon ist als bei uns Nordlichtern, vielleicht wecken unsere Fotos ja nun Erinnerungen bei Euch nach dem Motto "Ja, so sah das vor ein paar Wochen auch aus bei uns... " (LOL)
... at the moment April is showing its nice and sunny side - but according to forecast the good weather shall already be over during the easter weekend. So I took the opportunity yesterday to have a look in our garden, to see what's going on. On other blogs we often see how far nature is already in the southern parts compared to us in the north, but maybe our pics are raising some memories like "Yes, that's how our garden looked some weeks ago..." (LOL)

Vielleicht liegt es ja an meiner Flatterbärchengröße, aber ich mag winzige Blümchen gern... und dieser Klecks Scillas (Blausterne) ist für mich das perfekte Blumenbeet.
Maybe due to my Flutterybearysize I like tiny flowers very much... and this spot of "scillas" is in my opinion the perfect flower patch.
Hier in den Narzissen komm' ich mir ja fast vor wie im Dschungel-Camp... Ich bin ein Bär, holt mich hier raus... *grins*
Among these daffodils I'm feeling like being in the jungle... Dr. Flutterstone, I suppose... *grin*
So ist das schon besser... gut, wenn man Flügel hat! ;O)
That's way better... I'm lucky to have wings! ;O)
So ein Sonnenbad auf einem Fliederzweig ersetzt jede Hängematte...
Who needs a hammock when he can have a sunbath on a lilac branch...

... oder doch lieber in der Nelkenkirsche???
... or would it be better in our "carnation cherry tree"???  *oooops, don't know how this tree is called in English, so I've made a 1:1-translation*

He, das ist jetzt gemein... das Foto war doch nicht für den Blog bestimmt... *uffa* Hab' mich beim Landeanflug in die Magnolie etwas verschätzt... *menno*
Hey, that's not fair... this photo wasn't supposed to be shown on the blog... *uffa* I was a little mistaken while landing in the magnolia... *rats*

Unsere Sternmagnolie macht sich langsam bereit für ihren großen Auftritt...
Our "star magnolia" prepares for the big show...


Birgit meint gerade, ich könnte auch als Clown beim Zirkus anfangen... *grins* Aber einen hab' ich noch für Euch - mein Lieblingsblümchen im Garten. Schaut mal:
Birgit says I could get a job as a circus clown... *grin* But there's still one more to show to you - my favourite flower in our garden. Have a look!

Eine Narzisse in Flatterbärchengröße. Wie toll ist das denn???
A daffodil in flutterybearysize. How cool is that???
So, genug Blumenbilder mit Bärchen drin... nicht, dass der Osterhase sich nicht zu uns traut, weil sich hier ein Bär im Garten rumtreibt *kicher* Ich wünsche Euch ein tolles Osterwochenende!
That's enough pictures of flowers with a beary in... maybe the Easter bunny will otherwise be afraid to come to our house when there's a bear in the garden *giggle* I wish to all of you a fantastic easter weekend!
Liebe Grüße / Hugs

Two Nights of Rain in Phaya Mengrai ...

The last time it rained and the air became breathable I took the opportunity to ride the Ninja, so this time there was no debate.  Yesterday afternoon I got on the Trek and hit the trails.  The mountains were once again visible in the distance and breathing deeply did not cause one to cough and gag or eyes and nose to burn with irritation.  There were puddles to be avoided in places but generally the trails were thirsty enough to have absorbed all the water from the torrential downpour the night before.

I decided on one of my older trails with only gently rolling hills, where I expected not to come across major burn scars.  There were a few burned patches though, where the rain had washed away much of the ash and deposited a new layer of leaves on the forest floor.  I found the image interesting so stopped to photograph the area.

I am not a fan of superstition but it can serve a useful purpose sometimes as shown in another image where trees have been blessed and rapped in the saffron cloth of Buddhism.  If such exercises help to save a few trees or prevent a beautiful rock outcropping being turned to gravel for construction, then I say go for it.

Another reason for choosing the path I took was to photograph a nearby boondoggle that I had been intending to document for some time now.  One could almost label it the playground from hell as the thorn bushes have overtaken the area and made getting these shots tricky.

Arriving at home a couple hours later and with plenty of digital space left in the camera I walked around the yard and gathered a few shots of fruit on the trees, that I had previously missed.

I thought about taking the Ninja out today but yesterday, as I neared home, I came across the first pack of little urchins throwing water on the unsuspecting.  Songkran starts early around here and will continue for the next two weekends and perhaps on to a third.  Not a great time to be riding around on a motorcycle.

Wolverine's Best Battles

He's the best there is at what he does, and what he does is very, very bloody. James Howlett/Logan/Wolverine has appeared in thousands of comics, and in the pages of those books, we've been treated to countless impressive fights involving the X-Man. Wolverine's decades of dedicated training under some of the best combatants has turned him into one of the most dangerous street level characters in the Marvel 616 universe. Having claws that can cut through almost everything and a virtually unbreakable skeleton doesn't hurt his odds, either. His rogues gallery (Sabretooth, Cyber, Lady Deathstrike, etc.) consists of plenty of characters that can give ole' James a fight worth watching, but Logan's A-list status means the Canadian also gets to go toe-to-toe with dozens of familiar faces in the Marvel Universe. Wolverine has been in hundreds of throw downs, but here's a collection of my favorite one-on-one battles with him.  Did your favorite not make the list? If so, please be sure to share the issue and why it's your favorite.

VS Crossbones, Fear Itself: The Fearless #7

It doesn't matter if you're one of Captain's greatest villains or just a random thug, bullets will never cut it against the runt. The heartless mercenary Crossbones (Brock Rumlow) took on Wolverine and the outcome left a major mess for the janitor to clean up. Crossbones is known for being a tough guy, so the villain pumps plenty of rounds into Wolverine before even recognizing that his tummy has been sliced open by Wolverine's foot-long claws. Instead of making a run for it, Crossbones arrogantly blasts a few more bullets into Logan, but Wolverine's healing factor and adamantium is too much for the thug to overcome. James slices Crossbones's gun apart and then, without any remorse for his human enemy, thrusts all six claws through the baddie's chest. Luckily for Brock, Hellstorm conveniently shows up and burns Wolverine. A small dose of magic later and Crossbones is back to full health, but the emotional scar of getting his ass handed to him by Logan has to hurt. 

VS Silver Samurai, Uncanny X-Men #273
Wolverine and Kenuichio Harada (Silver Samurai) go way back. Despite slashing and stabbing each other apart, they hold a mutual level of respect for one another. Harada's power lets his blade cut through virtually anything, but luckily for Wolverine, that weapon isn't putting a dent on his adamantium. Even when Harada lands a killing blow or two, Logan's healing factor gives him quite the unfair advantage. This 3 page fight in Uncanny simply rocks. Both land plenty of brutal strikes before Wolverine breaks Harada's arm and has him at his mercy.

VS Omega Red, X-Men #5
There's no shame in losing to Omega Red (Arkady Rossovich). The guy's death spores can kill a person in mere moments and his carbonadium armor and coils make him an absolute pain to deal with. But Wolverine? He spits in the face of impossible odds. Despite being outclassed by Arkady, Logan makes it a fight worth remembering. The Canadian dukes it out nonstop with the Russian super soldier for nearly 18 hours before finally going down for the count. James eventually gets his revenge, though. A few years ago the runt baseball tossed the m-blade (a sword that negates healing factors) right into Omega Red's heart, allegedly killing the '90s villain.

VS Hulk, The Incredible Hulk #340
Hulk and Wolverine have a long and blood-soaked history, but one battle stands out from the rest. Believe it or not, Wolverine actually tried to avoid this legendary battle at first. Hulk kept egging him on, and one thunderclap later, it was time for the warrior's waltz. Todd McFarlane's work makes this classic battle in the woods a gritty visual delight. Wolverine draws first blood on the grey brute and even takes him down with a horrific stab clean into Hulk's chest. But Logan's not the only one with a healing factor, and the two rush back into their dance of death. Wolverine's internal thoughts in the captions add a nice layer of depth (dealing with man vs. beast; the pain in his body and all that jazz) to this must read Hulk vs Wolverine battle.

VS Sabretooth,  Uncanny X-Men #213
If I could only read one Sabretooth (Victor Creed) and Wolverine fight, this brutal mesh of claws and stabs at the X-Mansion would be my pick. Victor humiliates Rogue and Psylocke before making his way to the main event: Wolverine. What happens next is one of the most epic stalemates in comic history. The two go blow for blow as they duke it out across the rooftops, plummet into the pool, and continue their absurdly violent bout towards the edge of a cliff. Both bruised and bloodied, Sabretooth tries to escape the X-Men by diving off of the ledge, but Wolverine quickly follows and grapples him before the two crash into the waves below.  In true villain fashion, Sabretooth manages to escape.

VS Deadpool, Cable & Deadpool #44
The merc with a mouth has a handful of solid encounters with Logan, but their swords vs. claws round at a HYDRA base is my pick. This 3 page fight is fairly short, but it's so very sweet. It gives both characters proper credit as they display just how skilled they are with their respective weapons, but ultimately, those two blades can't compete with Wolverine's six adamantium claws and the pointy things end up pinning Wade to a wall. The comedic banter from a Fabian Nicieza written Deadpool (Wade Wilson) is always a joy, too. Oh, and then there's Bob, Agent of HYDRA and Weasel in the issue.

VS Captain America, Wolverine: Origins #4
Seeing the American super-soldier and Weapon X project duke it out is a fanboy overload for many. Despite their popularity, these two fan favorites have only had a handful of fairly short fights, but their battle in Daniel Way's comic overshadows the other fights these two have had. Lasting multiple pages, the two A-listers inflict seriously damaging injuries on each other and Cap even slashes Wolverine across the chest with the m-blade. A legless Nuke (courtesy of Wolverine's claws) and the X-Men eventually interfere, but this melee is terrific. 

VS Spider-Man, Spider-Man versus Wolverine #1
The wall crawler is faster and stronger than Wolverine, but that didn't matter very much in this comic. Wolverine's confidence and flurry of claws made Spider-Man question his own abilities and even his own speed. However, the reason this throw down happens is the true gem of the comic. Wolverine is going to kill Charlie, a woman he cares deeply for. She's on the run from just about every government on Earth, and Logan was going to give her a painless end instead of torture from the KGB. But Spider-Man and his heart of gold step in and stops Wolverine before he can end Charlie's suffering. Spider-Man bashes Wolverine's face over and over against a tombstone, but he says the only thing the brutal strikes did was make Logan smile. They end in a draw, with Spider-Man's hands gripped around Logan's throat, ready to snap his neck, and Wolverine's fist under Spidey's chin, prepared to pop his claws. A helicopter shines a light on them, and in the confusion of the chaos, Spider-Man throws a blind strike when he thinks Wolverine is behind him and ready for more. Yet it wasn't Wolverine standing behind him; it was Charlie. Spider-Man ends up killing the very woman he just fought to save. Ouch.

VS Sabretooth, Wolverine #301
It looks like Sabretooth has returned from the dead just so he can get his ass kicked all over again... and I must say this is a jaw-droppingly good ass kicking. Seriously, it doesn't get much better than this. I'll let the page speak for itself. Stare at that image and enjoy just how awesome this victory truly is.

"It's a kind of magic..."


ja, dieser allseits bekannte Song von Queen fiel uns gestern ein, denn ein kleines Wunder war es irgendwie schon, als uns der Postmann gestern etwas zustellte, was wir eigentlich schon verloren geglaubt hatten. Unsere liebe Freundin Sans hatte bereits Ende Februar ein kleines Päckchen für uns auf die Reise geschickt. Natürlich war uns klar, dass so eine Sendung von Singapur bis zu uns eine Weile brauchen würde... aber soooooo lange? Ehrlich gesagt, wir hatten die Hoffnung schon aufgegeben. Und zu glauben, dass dieses Päckchen im Postnirvana verschwunden sei, war um so schlimmer, weil wir wussten, was drin war - einer von Sans' legendären Koffergärten, in einer Spezialanfertigung nur für mich. Es wäre ewig schade gewesen, wenn das nie angekommen wäre, aber nun... ist es hier, wohlbehalten und vollständig. Also - Biiiiiiiirgiiiit, schnell aufmachen!!!
... yes, this well-known song of Queen came to our mind yesterday, because it was kind of a little miracle as the mailman delivered something to us which we had already given up hope for ever receiving it. Our dear friend Sans sent a small packet at the end of February to us. Of course we supposed it would take some time for it to arrive from Singapore to our place of the world... but this looooong??? To be honest, we had already given up hope. But expecting the packet to have gone to mail-nirvana was even worse because we knew what was inside - one of Sans' legendary suitcase-gardens, in a special edition just for me. It would have been such a pity if it would have been lost, but now... it's here, safe and sound. So, let's go - Biiiiiiiirgiiiiit, quick, open it!!!

Da ist er nun, endlich, ein Koffergarten von Sans nur für mich!!! Ich hab' echt ein bisschen Pippi in den Augen... *schnüff*
Here he is, finally, a suitcase-garden from Sans just for me!!! I'm getting quite sentimental now... *sob*
Seht nur, wie toll und liebevoll das gemacht ist. Sans ist wirklich eine Zauberin - und sie hat netterweise auch gleich eine Widmung dazu geschrieben: "Fluby's garden". Meiner, meiner, meiner!!! Ach, ich bin das glücklichste Flatterbärchen auf der ganzen Welt! *freu*
Look how fantastic and lovely this is done. Sans for sure is a sorceress - and she was so kind to dedicate it to me: "Fluby's garden". Mine, mine, mine!!! Ah, I'm the happpiest fluttery bearie in the whole wide world! *beamswithjoy*
Und weil bei Sans jedes Detail wichtig ist, zeige ich Euch auch noch mal die Außenseite (nicht wundern, ich hab's auf einen Deckel gestellt, um es besser fotografieren zu können) - meisterhaft mit Rost bearbeitet und mit jeder Menge Erdbeerstickern... nur für mich!!!
And because as far as Sans is related every single detail is important, I'm showing you the outside, too (had to put it on a box, so it was easier to take pics) - a gorgeous rusty finish (what else to expect from the Queen of Rust, proud member of the elite club of rust connaisseurs) and a whole bunch of strawberry stickers... just for me!!!
Dear Susan, once again - thank you so much for making this piece of art only for us... eh... me (teheeee). We will treasure it forever and it will get a place of honor in the garden of my strawberry cottage!
Euch allen einen schönen Osterendspurt - hoffentlich habt Ihr besseres Wetter als wir, bei uns ist heute Graupel angesagt... Aber wen stört schon das Wetter, wenn er so einen tollen Koffergarten hat?! *schmunzel*
To all of you a great countdown to Easter - we hope the weather is better at your place as it is around here, we're having a mixture of rain and snow today... but who cares about the weather, when he owns such an outstanding suitcase-garden? *smile*

Liebe Grüße / Hugs

Willkommen im April

habt Ihr denn alle den 1. April hinter Euch gebracht, ohne veräppelt zu werden? *zwinker* Was uns angeht, gestern hatten wir Glück, dafür hat uns heute unser Internet mal wieder verlassen, vermutlich auch eine Art von verspätetem Aprilscherz oder so... deshalb sind wir nun etwas spät dran mit diesem Post. Aber auch ansonsten fliegt die Zeit ja nur so dahin... schon wieder ist das 1. Quartal des Jahres vorbei, wir haben April und Ostern steht vor der Tür. Na dann, schreiten wir doch noch zur allmonatlichen Aktualisierung unserer Kalender. Gentlebär, der ich bin, habe ich natürlich wie immer unseren Sprüchekalender übernommen.
... did you manage to get through April 1st without being the April's fool? *twinkle* We've been lucky yesterday, but today our Internet left us once more, looks like a nasty attempt of playing us a late April's fool trick... that's the reason why we are a little late with this post today. But in any way time flies... the first quarter of the year is already gone, April's here and Easter is in sight. Okay, let's get down to business, as alway the calendars have to be updated. Being the gentlebear that I am, I was helping Birgit and updated our "wisdom-calendar".
Was haben wir denn da in diesem Monat? Ein schönes Foto, finde ich. Ich tippe mal auf einen französischen Schloßgarten an der Loire... falls jemand von Euch zufällig weiß, wo das Motiv herstammt - ich lerne immer gerne was dazu. Und der Spruch des Monats lautet: "Alles ist möglich mit dem Glauben an das eigene Tun." Und schon wieder keine Angabe, wem wir diese Weisheit zu verdanken haben... diese Kalenderhersteller gehen aber ganz schön lasch mit dem Urheberrecht um... ;O)
And what do we find this month? A lovely picture, in my opinion. I guess this is a castle's garden in France, near the Loire... if anyone of you knows where this motif is situated - let me know, I'm always interested in learning something new. And this month's saying is about everything being possible if you believe in what your doing. They don't tell us who is responsible for this nice thought... these calender companies don't seem to take the copyright to seriously... ;O)
Aber wie immer habe ich natürlich noch ein paar nette Sprüche für Euch zum Monatsstart rausgesucht. Und eine gute Adresse für kluge Gedanken ist ja immer der Konfuzius: "Der Mensch hat dreierlei Wege klug zu handeln: Durch Nachdenken ist der edelste, durch Nachahmen der einfachste, durch Erfahrung der bitterste." Und Sir Isaac Newton kam zu der Ansicht: "Was wir wissen, ist ein Tropfen, was wir nicht wissen - ein Ozean." Oha, trösten wir uns lieber mit einem wunderschönen Gedanken von Jane Austen: "Nur weil uns ein Stück vom Glück fehlt, sollten wir uns nicht davon abhalten lassen, alles andere zu genießen."
But as usual I've searched some more nice thoughts of wisdom for the month's start for you (No quotations in English, I'm trying to get the meaning in my simple words!). Always a good adress for clever thoughts is indeed Konfuzius who  found there are three ways for man to act smart: After thinking would be the most noble one, imitating the easiest one, and by experiences the hardest one. And Sir Isaac Newton came to the conclusion: What we know is just one drop, what we don't know is an ocean. Oooops, let's search for comfort with a beautiful thought written down by Jane Austen: Only because we lack of one piece of luck, we should not stop to enjoy everything else.

Ich wünsche Euch einen wunderschönen April, schöne Ostertage und dass Ihr Euch ganz im Sinne von Jane Austen nicht abhalten lasst, den Frühling zu genießen!
I'm wishing you a fantastic April, happy days of Easter and - in the thought of Jane Austen - don't stop to enjoy spring!

Liebe Grüße / Hugs

Kaffeeklatsch (Nr. 92)


zum Abschluss unserer Jubel-Woche gibt es heute noch einmal einen außergewöhnlichen Kaffeeklatsch... Nachdem letzte Woche Singa P. Ore, unser Gastgeschenk für Sans, in die Kaffeeklatschtasse geklettert war, ist diese Woche selbstverständlich Earl Grey an der Reihe, unser Gastgeschenk für Rosanna.
... at the end of our celebration-week we will host another extraordinary "Kaffeeklatsch"... Last Sunday Singa P. Ore, our gift for Sans, entered the "Kaffeeklatsch"-mug, of course at this Suday it had to be Earl Grey's turn, our gift for Rosanna.

Birgit wusste, dass Rosanna gerne Tee trinkt und die wunderbaren Teecozys in 1:12-Größe, die sie meisterhaft bestickt, waren eine weitere Inspiration für Earl Grey. Inzwischen hat er sich in seiner neuen Heimat in Genua schon richtig eingelebt, so wie's aussieht, macht der Gute jetzt jeden Tag einen Kaffeeklatsch mit Tee... hat sich jedenfalls ein Plätzchen in einem schicken Becher gesichert. Wenn Ihr mögt, dann schaut hier auf Rosannas Blog. Unser Fluttercino, der ja auch sein Zuhause in einem Kaffeebecher hat, behauptet jedenfalls, dass wäre sehr komfortabel... nunja, wollen wir das mal glauben, ich bärsönlich ziehe ja mein schönes Bettchen in meinem Erdbeercottage vor... *zwinker* Übrigens - wir haben ja diese Woche einige Gruppenfotos hier gezeigt - eins haben wir noch *grins*:
Birgit knew Rosanna loves drinking tea and another inspiration were her beautiful teacozys in 1:12-scale, her embroidery on these is breathtaking. In the meantime Earl Grey feels quite at home in Genua, it looks like he's having a "Kaffeeklatsch" with tea every day now... he found himself a place in a beautiful mug. If you like, have a look at Rosanna's blog - here. Our Fluttercino, living in a mug himself, says they are indeed very comfortable... okay, let's believe this, I bearsonally prefer my lovely bed in my strawberry cottage... *twinkle* By the way - we've shown a lot of group photos this week - well, there's still another one *grin*:

Auch im Namen von Earl Grey - das hat er mir vor seiner Abreise nach Italien extra aufgetragen - wünsche ich Euch einen wunderschönen Rest-Sonntag und nachher viel Spaß bei ein, zwei Tässchen leckerem Sonntagsnachmittagskaffee und ein, zwei, drei Stückchen leckerem Sonntagsnachmittagskuchen. Und wie immer wünschen wir Euch natürlich eine tolle Woche - für die meisten ja mit einem Arbeitstag weniger! Ach ja, und passt schön auf, dass Euch keiner in den April schickt! ;O)
We're wishing to all of you - also in the name of Earl Grey who asked me to do him this favor before his departure to Italy - a beautiful Sunday and later on much fun having one, two cups of tasty Sundayafternooncoffee and one, two, three yummy pieces of tasty Sundayafternooncake. And as always we're wishing you a fantastic week - for most of you with one working day less! Oh, and not to forget - watch out for April's fool! ;O)

Liebe Grüße / Hugs

Paradise is Still Burning ...

Seems like everyone is venting their spleen over the burning in Northern Thailand so why not me.  What I have noticed is that everyone seems to have their own limited perspective on the problem.  Most rant on about the government and lack of enforcement, while few have any recommendations that don’t border on the ridiculous.

One guy suggested that all you need is a couple of helicopters flying around full-time to douse the fires before they get out of control.  Okay that takes care of his village, now what about the rest of the region and our neighbors.  In a search for simple solutions we focus on overly simplified explanations of the problem.

Some say all the smoke comes from Burma and Laos.  Others blame big agribusiness and the growing of corn in areas like Mae Chaem.  Some say it is the rice farmers who are the culprits or perhaps the slash and burn hill tribe people.  Yet others blame their neighbors for burning their trash.  Some seem to think it is all the government’s fault, due to greed and corruption, or the educational system is to blame.

A few foreigners have cobbled together a poorly thought out petition to demand the end of the burning.  I am sure it made them feel less impotent but I am equally sure it will have no effect.  I heard of one guy who got perhaps a little too vocal in his criticism of his Thai neighbors and their penchant for burning so his wife took him for a holiday down south to avoid the linch mob coming over in the middle of the night.  She seemed genuinely concerned.

Composting of all the waste has been suggested but we are not talking of kitchen scraps here.  There are literally mountains of vegetation leftover after the harvest.  The corn harvest leaves not only stalks on the steep mountain slopes but also mountains of discarded husks at the processing sites.  Some say plow the stubble back into the ground.  Unfortunately many of the hillsides are far too steep for heavy equipment.  Even the hiring of the larger tractors necessary to plow waist high rice stubble back into the earth is expensive and would make the growing of rice even less profitable for small farmers.  Many indeed argue that burning helps control pests and disease, leading to a better crop.

As it is, villagers in my area can’t make a living growing rice but do it based on a longstanding tradition that one must grow your own rice.  It is okay for city people to buy rice from the store but it is not the done thing in the village.  To make a living they must go to find work in the cities and scavenge what they can from what is left of the natural environment.  Each year they encroach a little more into the forest.  They strip the streams and reservoirs of fish.  They burn the undergrowth in hopes of stimulating an abundant crop of wild mushrooms that can be harvested and sold at roadside stands.

The locals are quite ingenious in searching out leaves, bugs, frogs, crabs, snakes, fish, mushrooms and countless other edible delectables to supplement their diet without adding to their financial burden.  The environment ends up paying a price though.  Villagers are not immune to the seduction of modern conveniences and want what we all want.  They want transportation, communication, entertainment, electronic conveniences, a better house and perhaps a leg up for their children by sending them to better schools.  Everything costs money and the rural populace have limited options compared to their big city brethren.

As bad as things are in our village they continue to burn daily.  People will complain about the smoke in a very general way and then go off and light another fire.  Around here fires are not started by faceless figures in some remote location but by friends and neighbors.  Pointing fingers at individuals is only done in extreme cases as one cannot afford to do anything that could lead to being ostracized from the community as a whole.  The extreme interdependency in the village is the adhesive that bonds them together and makes things work.  At the same time it is what often holds them back when it comes to making changes.  They are mired in tradition and superstition unable to step over the threshold into a truly modern world.

One villager for example lost seventy rubber trees, by his estimate, due to his neighbor’s burning which got out of control.  He asked for something like 70,000 baht but I heard they may have negotiated that down to around 30,000.  Chances are the firebug doesn’t have the money so will try to avoid payment or he will have to borrow the money and go even deeper into debt.  That will lead the culprit to further disregarding rules and regulations in an effort to scrape together a few more baht here and there.

As you can see I am not claiming to have the answers to this problem.  I suppose I am suggesting that foreigners who think they have the answer are a bit more daft than I am.  I’m sorry guys but we are guests here and what we think or want carries very little weight.  Punitive measures focused exclusively on the poorest members of society, especially when they are the backbone of that society, are in the very least counterproductive and potentially destructive and destabilizing. 

Until someone can come up with affordable alternatives that don’t further burden the poor and take into consideration the complexity of what leads to this yearly burning and the resulting pollution, we are destined to suffer with this problem for years to come.  In my estimation, the talk and histrionics will continue until the rain comes.  Hopefully that will be soon.

With the government’s focus being primarily on the floods there will be no money allocated to the burning in my estimation.  If we are lucky some flood related initiatives could help stem the encroachment into the mountains as there is an overlap there between the burning and the floods.  The wife and I suffer from the smoke just like everyone else but I dare say we are not so simple as to think there is a simple solution to this problem.  So there you have my take on the burning of paradise.  Nothing will happen.