Archiv für Juli 2009

barber shop

I guess everybody knows that the classic ‚massage parlor‘ has a slightly ’sketchy‘ touch to it with prostitution being illegal in most south asian countries as well as China. Here in Shenzhen you can find them basically anywhere in all price ranges and of course they offer you a massage with ‚happy end‘ as well. I read in an article a while ago that in Iran, of course prostitution is illegal there as well, you can find places where you do a marriage for time spent with the ‚prostitute‘ and cancel it afterwards. It’s completely ridiculous but it seems to be legitimate enough for the state not to interfere in this business.
But as the title implies I didn‘t want to talk about a massage parlor or prostitution in general. Yesterday I went to get a haircut at one of the many barbershops close to my house. I decided to take the ‚full program‘ and was instantly taken upstairs where I got a head massage first. As I already learned before a head massage (just like the foot massage I did before) doesn‘t only include your head. They start off washing your hair, then massaging your head. It keeps going with a face wash including massage and all ends with a back/shoulder/arm massage. After some very relaxing 45 minutes you keep wondering ‚Didn‘t I actually come here for a haircut?‘…Of course they cut the hair as well and I think even did a pretty good job for me. After that they wash you hair again and style it very precisely with a hairdryer. So in the end you spend almost 2 hours just getting a haircut for a price where European barbers would just pick up their scissors. It’s a great adventure that I can highly recommend.

nuclear powered studying

The following piece is a text that I copied from a Chinese-German language book (therefore it’s in German…sorry about that for those who won‘t be able to understand it). It really reminded me of a website my brother showed me a while ago called ‚Retro Futurism‘. It’s a collection of really utopian illustrations from the 50s and 60s. The text below talks about the use of Nuclear Power first for submarines and then tells the reader that scientists in America have also made plans to build planes and trains powered by nuclear energy. Quite a lovely idea that fortunately enough didn‘t come true.
The book was printed in 1990 by the way…

-lichen Treibstoffvorräte wegfallen, die heute auf längeren Reisen mitgeführt werden müssen. Das Gleiche gilt auch für Atomflugzeuge. Die Belastung der Maschine durch einen etwa 60 oder 70 Tonnen wiegenden Reaktor wäre durch den Wegfall des beträchtlichen Gewichts der bishergen Treibstoffmenge durchaus erträglich. Der Atomantrieb kommt vor Allem für Großflugzeuge, zum Beispiel für die auf Transatlantlikflügen eingesetzten Maschinen in Frage. Nach amerikanischen Entwürfen soll als Brennstoff Plutonium verwendet werden. Der Dampf, der durch den Reaktor erzeugt wird, treibt vier Turbinen von insgesamt 56 000 PS an, die auf die Propeller wirken. Das Plutonium, das selbst nur wenige Kilogramm wiegt, soll für 5 Millionen Flugkilometer ausreichen. Es wird bereits an Plänen für Flugzeugatomreaktoren gearbeitet von denen man sich für Non-Stop-Langstreckenflüge mit Überschallgeschwindigkeit viel verspricht. Ebenfalls in den USA sind bereits Pläne für den Bau einer Atomlokomotive ausgearbeitet worden, die eine Leistung von 7 000 PS entwickelt und etwa 52 Meter lang sein soll. Sie würde nur 5 ½ Kilogramm Uranbrennstoff im Jahr verbrauchen.


Last weekend I was in Yangshuo (about 700 km north-west from Shenzhen) which is one of the ‚must-see‘ places of China. Most travelers who come in from Hong Kong go straight there without stopping in between. And I really have to say that it was worth going there (despite the crazy night bus rides). The landscape sourrounding Yangshuo is really amazing. We spent most of the time cycling through the rice fields along the river with regular stops to go swimming or take a bamboo raft to lazily float back the way we came.
Before we went I was reading an article about ‚HDR‘ (High Dynamic Range) photography and of course had to try it since I found out that I can easily do it with my own camera (read more HERE). The trick is simply to shoot a range of photos (in my case always 3) of the same scene but all with different adjustments (one image too dark, one too bright and one correct). With the help of a computer you can then create an image that has all three ‚lighting layers‘ calculated together. Of course the output looks slightly unrealistic but the idea is to get closer to the perception of the human eye. A digital camera creates a really high resolution today (even my 3-year-old camera) but it is far from creating an exact image as the human eye does. HDR is a nice way to get at least the different shadows and light situations into one photo that we immediately see when we‘re looking at basically anything. Now of course the resolution is a different thing and I‘m sure it will still take a while until technology is that far.
Below you can see three example photos. I didn‘t play around with colors too much so the outcome I think is still quite natural.
I should finally get a tripod to have some more precise results.


Twizzle – Barefoot Girl

Yet another very lovely summer tune from the album ‚Soda Fountain‘ that came out on the free online label ‚Comfort Stand‘. It’s definitely worth a look on their website. Some of the music is rather experimental but that’s the perfect place for this music then.
Download the Album here


HOME from martin de thurah on Vimeo.

IKEAs TV-spots have always been really good in my opinion. This one doesn‘t fit in with the older and rather funny ones but it’s still very well made.

tropical beaches

If you look hard enough and with a little luck you are really able to find very nice places around Shenzhen. Yesterday Mark and I had another attempt to get to ‚Dapeng Fortress‘ an old walled-town that was a key battle site in the Opium War. A few weeks ago Johanna and I failed to find it since we forgot to bring our guide-book and couldn‘t explain other people about it. This time I just showed the bus stewardess my book and she came back to me with a nice little booklet (in Chinese of course) that described how to get there and had a ‚collection‘ of beaches and walking trails on ‚Mirs Peninsula‘ where the Fortress is situated. In the (new) city of Dapeng we had to switch busses and fortunately enough a nice Chinese man though not speaking a word of english explained us that he was going in the same direction by showing us his working ID of the Nuclear Power plant and pointing it out on the map. After visiting the old city we tried to get to one of the beaches that was described in the little booklet. We had to ask around a bit but found the right bus and were immediately surrounded by a group of young Chinese happy to be able to speak English.
At the beach we had the curious sight of the below. Since it was one of the few public beaches where you didn‘t have to pay an entrance fee it was used by photographers for (kitschy) wedding shootings. But it wasn‘t only one or two couples half of the beach was full of them. There were about 20-30 wedding couples in white and sometimes very colorful dresses. The Chinese we met explained me that it was very common to do this as the sea or the ocean is a very strong romantic symbol. And since there are about 1.3 billion Chinese it can be seen just normal too to see the couples as numerous.

view off the coast on ‚Mirs Peninsula‘

Dapeng Fortress

wedding photo shootings


I found a ‚nice‘ entry in my notebook today where I wrote down the encounter with a strange but funny guy in Turkey. I was in Trabzon, far east on the Black Sea coast, and was traveling without a guidebook so the tourist information was usually the first stop on arrival in a new city. In Trabzon I was asking my way to it with the help of my extremely poor Turkish to then meet a guy who would speak German really well. He was the Head of the Tourist information and for some reason had studied German for many years (though has never been there). The cheap hotel that fit my wallet was right next door so he took me there and even negotiated a price for me (even though that might sound suspicious the price was really fair so I didn‘t care). The morning of my departure he came again to say goodbye and ask me where I would go next. So I told him that my plan was to go towards ‚Van‘ stay there for a few days and then get on the train to Tehran. ‚Iran?‘ he asked me pulling up his eyebrows ‚Why do you want to go there? You know in Germany big democracy, Turkey..hmm…little democracy, Iran no democracy.‘
Sadly enough after „the most free held [elections] anywhere in the world“ (Ahmadinejad earlier this week) his statement proves right.

Locust adventure

We found this tough little guy up on the rooftop of our office building in the 26th floor yesterday during lunch break. In the back you can see the skyscraping office towers including the China Merchant’s Bank Tower (the tallest building in the row).

“Nobody owns marijuana, man.”

I already posted this on ‚‘ today but I figured I could as well just put it here. So here’s to you my dear brother who always thinks designers don‘t do anything except getting stoned…“Nobody owns marijuana, man.”

“Base ‘lights up’ pot-ential through creative reuse.”

Base, an award-winning international design firm, announces that its concept packaging design for marijuana cigarettes will be featured in the upcoming issue of PRINT Magazine, on newsstands in mid July.

The magazine’s design challenge was simple: “What would a pack of marijuana cigarettes look like after legalization?” In response, Base has come up with a clean and simple design strategy that recycles mass-produced everyday items popularly used by smokers to transport their secret stashes. The design proposal suggests that anything – from a film canister to an Altoids’ tin – once painted white and marked with the iconic five-blade leaf sticker could be transformed into packaging. The bold, black-and-white design frees the containers from their previous commercial branding.

By re-contextualizing existing containers, Base subverts the environmentally unfriendly cycle of disposable packaging, offering instead a “greener” message more appropriate to the world of marijuana. By offering many types of packaging, Base takes into consideration the many ways people roll marijuana cigarettes and the equally wide variety of people who smoke them. “There’s a whole ritual and tactile experience that goes with smoking, and we didn’t want to detract from that,” said Tom Greenwood of Base. Driving home the point that the design’s intent is simply to be honest to the pre-existing individuality of the product, Greenwood added, “Nobody owns marijuana, man.”

I found it on Lovely Package

Ghostly Swim

I came again across this very nice album today and couldn‘t stop listening to the two songs below.

Mux Mool – Night Court

Deastro – Light Powered

You can listen or even download (yes it’s LEGAL) the whole album right HERE.

cage people

Johanna just sent me an article about the ‚cage people‘ of Hong Kong. In this ridiculously rich city a system of cheap housing has been established that is affordable even for the migrant worker (the rent here is among the highest worldwide) but can definitely be seen as humiliation. The living-space of these people, as the name already tells, is limited to a cage that looks a lot like a dog cage. I guess that’s the most convenient way for the city administration to deal with this problem (although the houses are usually private-owned) and not have a huge number of homeless people which there are in fact almost none (but I suppose there is another reason for this as well).

old man in front of his rented cage that he calls ‚home‘

The New York Times published an article already in 1996 that you can find here.

The ‚Tagesspiegel‘ published a German article about it. Check here.

cantonese market

We go to this market pretty much every sunday since it’s just a few minutes away and extremely cheap for European measure.
I think it really isn‘t the worst market you can have in ‚Canton‘ but it sure is interesting to see all the treasures offered especially in the meat and sea-food ‚department‘.

I didn‘t bring my big camera so the quality is only ‚reasonable‘ but I still like these photos.


Beirut – Postcards from Italy




(I can download the Youtube video watch it and then copy the Link from the website if you wonder now how I can still see this video)

the Great Firewall

I wrote about it before a couple of times and just came across another article on BBC about the whole web censorship issue in China. The most recent article talks about the software that is called ‚Green Dam‘ and which is now being pre-installed on every new computer sold in the country. The official objective of the program was to restrict access to pornography with the use of a color filter as well as a ‚blacklist‘ of words. As China is known for its web censorship concerning any opposition it is of course clear that the real objective is different. First tests of the software even revealed that the color filter does not apply for dark-skinned people and the blacklist contains words that are far from being used exclusively in the world of pornography which would be for example the word ‚essence‘.
It seems that it is yet another step of the government to gain more control of the virtual world though ‚bloggers‘ already commented on the out-dated technology being easily bypassed with certain (half-illegal) tools. The biggest concern with all this is that this software costs the chinese tax-payers around 40 million RMB (~ € 4,5 million ) but as long as they simply accept their fate and don‘t complain about it the government can go on passsing these enforcements.

As I also wrote before the access to Youtube is blocked in China as well (along with other popular sites such as ‚‘) so I tried to find a way around. The website ‚‘ worked in Turkey fairly well and at least gives me access to most sites including Youtube. ‚TOR‘ is another open-source project that does basically the same (and without any pop-up advertisement) though it’s being a lot slower as it uses an own version of the Firefox browser. But with both versions ‚Youtube‘ is still not working properly. I can access the site but when I try to open a video the next stage of the Great Firewall comes in and tells me that my ‚Flash‘ player is out of date or ‚JAVA script‘ not activated (which is both not correct). In the end I probably just have to wait until I get back to Europe to finally use these services again.

the cockroach massacre

Disgusting isn‘t it? Well if you thought that this is here in China you thought wrong I actually took this photo in Bolzano right in front of the university. I found this lovely cockroach right next to my bicycle one day. But of course we have them here, too. And the number is not too low. You can find them running in the streets in front of restaurants at night. We didn‘t have much trouble with them in the flat and as we keep the flat reasonably clean it really was alright so far. Well yesterday we had two and we could only kill one. I‘m sure the second one will show up again but where is the important question. It’s not that I like them I do think they‘re nasty little animals but I was completely freaked out not by the appearance of a cockroach but rather by the hysterical shriek of my flatmate. So I decided to get the ‚chemical disaster‘ today. I wasn‘t sure whether I should get the facial masks along with the practical half a litre spray can but couldn‘t find them right away so I ended up with the spray only. We‘ll see how that will work out but I sure hope that I don‘t suffer a heart stroke because of my flatmates phobia or die of cancer caused by the chemicals.


Wilco – She’s a Jar

I was looking for another song from this album but couldn‘t find it. This one is just as good. It comes from the last album before the death of the singer ‚Jay Bennett‘ named ‚Summer Teeth‘.


It is true I ‚redesigned‘ my portfolio website. I really liked the old one but it was a pain in the ass updating it since it was all hand-made. This one is a little ‚dull‘ compared to the one before yet offers a lot more to me. No special design though more content…I like…It will probably still take me a while to upload all the photos I would like to see online but for now it’s already a lot.

And I could even register the domain ‚‘ a while ago so now my website can be reached through this domain as well as ‚‘.

comments/critics/etc are more than welcome

When you open this blog with the famous Internet Explorer (unfortunately this is still the most-used browser worldwide) you can see this little note underneath the menu on the right. That’s where the counter is supposed to be which doesn‘t show up but instead tells you to get Firefox. I think that’s quite a funny way to convince people of something else than IE.


Ratatat – Seventeen Years

Ratatat was at the Fusion Festival last weekend and I had some difficulties to get there so I decided to at least share another song. It’s the opening song of their first (self-titled) Album from 2004.