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Monthly Archives: October 2010

A few months ago, I blogged about a graphic element (a “cursor”) that is deployed by Swiss in all their cabin print materials, check out my earlier post Minimalist Graphics.

Our flight back from Antalya, Turkey to Zurich was by Swiss.  I could not resist snapping a picture of their waste bag in the pocket in front of me.  Notable here is their effort to broadcast the purpose of the bag in five languages.  The last word “rument” is in Romansh (the fourth official swiss language which is related to Latin and used only in the southeast corner near Austria and Italy).  I guess the words are intended to serve also as a design element.  After all, it is probably not a good idea to depict on the bag a person throwing up (in a cartoon-like style typical of the flight safety and evacuation information card).

I must have been bored.

If you know the equivalent word in another language, let me know by leaving it in the comment section.  If I gather enough of them, I will make a post about them.

I am still bored.

Comme des Garçon’s video for their new fragrance is done by The Brothers Quay.  It’s gotta be one of the creepier perfume advertisement out there.

Yet the video matches the brand.  Comme des Garçon’s line of fragrances are unconventional and always interesting.

This is an interesting covergence.  I like  “2” by Comme des Garçon.  It smells somewhat like a certain cabinet filled with aromatic Chinese medicines.

And back in the 1990’s, I really liked The Brothers Quay’s stop motion videos, e.g.,  The Epic of Gilgamesh and Street of Crocodiles.  Short clips of it were used as MTV station’s video jingles.  You will recognize it when you see it.

I am always curioys about the promotion of fragrances  – how does one convey the sensation of one sense (smell) by other senses (sight and sound, and touch if the container is included) ?  The task is even more difficult when each perfume contains a blend of many fragrances and every person will likey have a subjective impression of each of them.  And there are so many competing brands (including the designer’s own effort from last year) already in the market.

I would like to think of this promotion of Wonderwood as an antithesis of the promotion behind certain perfumes like Paris Hilton’s line of fragrances.  The promotion must have been successful as she has been marketing a new fragrance per year since 2004.  See the rest of her line of fragrances including two for men here !  The photo below shows her debut – the power of celebrity, they can sell anything, right ?  For more examples, see this wikipedia entry:  Celebrity-endorsed perfumes.

All-inclusive resort buffet food à la Club Med- nothing special but it was fresh, healthy, well-presented and plentiful.  The fruits are exceptional – we had so much watermelon !  I also liked the make-it-yourself salad bar – basically baskets of vegetables and herbs, chopping board and knives … fresh parsley and dill with juicy tomatoes, lettuce, in garlic-infused olive oil and charcoal-grilled meats … that was my lunch for several days.

Other notable items:  freshly handmade pasta, tuna steaks, BBQ chicken, assortment of colorful meze, …

This is the second of my three summer readings – I have not finished the third and we had to come home.

This is a short paperback travelogue based on the author’s travel with his son to Japan to learn more about manga and anime.  He interviewed the authors and publishers of several hit mangas and anime – Akira, Mobile Suit Gundam, Grave of the Fireflies, My friend Totoro, etc.  Although the covered mangas were extremely popular back in the 90’s and can rightfully be considered as classics, the discussions felt a bit shallow even though the author was admittedly just trying to discover the subject himself.  A discourse about the origin and possible meanings of “otaku” (お 宅) was interesting.  The author is a two-time Man Booker prize winner, nominated again but did not win this year. This book is however slight both in story and style.  Not bad but not recommendable.  The cover shown above is that of the UK edition which is what I read.

We spent a week at Club Med Kemer located in the southern mediterranean coast of Turkey.  One thing we did not find out until after we booked the trip is that this village is known for its party atmosphere.  Apparently, there was one every night, by the pool, near the bar, in the amphitheatre or at the nightclub.  It is definitely not a family vacation destination.  The clientele are mostly in their 20-30’s, many singles from France, Belgium and quite a few from Russia.  The day after we arrived, they hosted a foam party in the afternoon.

Club Med staff are called “GOs”, or Gentils Organisateurs. Guests are “GMs”, or Gentils Membres. The resort is known as a village. The resort manager is called the chef de village (Village Chief).  The GOs mingle with the crowd at dinner, hang by the bar to break the ice, and lead some group dances.  On certain days of the week, the guests are asked to all dress in a certain color, in support of some theme, e.g., all white, or red and white – colors of Turkey’s flag.  Although most of the GO’s can speak English, the DJ/MC used mostly French – “Allez Kemer, ALLEZ!” or “On ne va pas fatigue”.  They throw in a few catchy phrases in English – “Are You READY ? – Yes yes YES !”.  The nightly entertainment shows were kitschy with some funny moments and quite a bit of audience participation.  We made some friends during the week.

White night, poolside dinner.

Overall, it was fun.  We wished that we were 20 again.

This is one of the three books that I read over our vacation at Kemer this September.  The choice of leisure books I read these days are mostly governed by availability.  I loaned this book from Lausanne’s municipal library which has a surprisingly decent number of English books.  They also have the French version of this book on the shelf.

Douglas Coupland is known for having coined the term “Generation X” in his 1991 debut novel (which I have not read).  I read his later fiction about Microsoft employees – “Microserfs” – which according to Wikipedia was published in the same week Microsoft released Windows 95.

The novel is named after The Beatle’s song of the same name.  The song reference was inspired from a moment in the author’s past.  This book examines “loneliness”.  It sounds like a down-er, but it is not.  Quoting from the book jacket:

Liz Dunn is 42 years old and lonely.  Her house is like a “spinster’s cell block” and she may or may not snore, – there’s never been anybody to tell her.

New York Times reviewed it and said:

Eleanor Rigby dwindles chapter by chapter into a high-art twist on chick lit — aiming for bittersweet but tasting at last suspiciously of artificial sweetener.

… Did I just read chick lit without realizing it ?

It’s a good read.  Don’t let the comment put you off.

I am starting on another one of his books, this one titled:  “JPOD”.

We had a really busy summer – first, moving from Neuchâtel to Lausanne, then a string of business trips, and then a big 3-month project which was due in the middle of September.  We did not have a summer vacation and just managed to take a few day trips when IT was visiting.   I really needed a break.  So we decided to go for a beach vacation before the weather gets cold.

We had neither time nor energy to put a trip together ourselves.  Club Med offers all-inclusive packages, food and board plus transportation, in warm locations only a few hours of flight away.  So it was easy to decide.  This Club Med village is located in Kemer, Turkey which is comparable to Cancun in many respects except that it is smaller and less developed.  As a destination, Turkey is, to Europe, very much like what Mexico is to the US.  The nearest big city to Kemer is Antalya (40 miles away) which was where we landed.  The area (aka Turkish riviera) claims 300+ days of sunshine per year.

Kemer is surrounded by pine forests which lead up towards the Taurus mountains (see first 2 photos).  The resort is located just outside of Kemer on a private stretch of the coast line (very tight security).  There are four beaches, three platforms for launching waterskis and wakeboards, an open air amphitheatre, 2 restaurants and a big and a small swimming pool.   We had the sun, sea, sand (or more accurately pebbles), and the smell of pine, the entire week.  Every day was at least 34°C and mostly cloudless.  The seawater is notable for its color which was deep blue, and its buoyancy, presumably due to high salinity.  We found it effortless to stay afloat and can swim in deeper water for much longer periods.

Poolside dinner in preparation (above) and buffet area (below)

Here are a few snapshots taken on the two days in mid-July when our stuff from the US was delivered to and unpacked in our apartment.  We had been separated from our possessions for more than 6 months and could barely remember what we have in these boxes (more than 200 !).  Through this process, we recognized that many of our stuff are not important, old, or useless – some totally forgettable – we are just lugging them around for the sake of possessing them.   Before we put them away, we are going to throw some of them out (or will I? – I know Sue will).

To bookend this story, follow these two link back to the posts Packing Up Edgewater and Moving Out of Edgewater, added in March 2010, with photos of these boxes when they were packed in our US home and loaded onto the container.

The Ritz-Carlton in Washington DC (L St and 22nd NW) put this Bath Menu in its guest bathrooms (they do not have a spa in that location).  While having a butler draw a bath of nice warm water in your room sounds like a traditional luxury, the $50 charge is ludicrous.  But the concept and execution of the menu is certainly creative – combining DC themes with soapy bathwater.  Click on the image below to enlarge it.

In case the print is still too small to read, the menu offers The Inaugural Bath (blue bath salts), The Capitol Bath (lavender and a after-dinner drink), The Cherry Blossom Bath (rose petals, aromatic calming bath salt, champagne, strawberries), and The Politically Correct Children’s Bath (bubble bath with tub toys, Finding Nemo bath book and crayon).  The guest have to make a reservation two hours in advance. I wonder if the other Ritz-Carltons in the area (Georgetown, Tysons Corner or Pentagon City) have the same sales pitch.

I stayed at the hotel for an entire work week and have to say that the staff provided a very high and detailed level of service.  The painting below was in an elevator lobby – they leave the apples artfully scattered beneath it for the guests, and as soon as a guest takes one, it is replaced immediately.

While I was there, the hotel held, adjacent to our meeting room, an event for the best young chef of the year which was organized by the Food and Leisure magazine; and a full day training course for new National Football League agents.  Interesting crowds.

I was in Washington DC for a week of meetings and trainings.  The consultant is a foodie and befriended the owner of Sushi Taro, a Japanese-owned restaurant near Dupont Circle.  Our group of nine went there and tried the omakase (raw fish tasting menu).  While we were there, the food critic at the Washington Post was visiting and sat at the sushi counter all by himself, we were told by the owner.  I thought critics are supposed to visit the establishment incognito.

We went all-out: ordered extra Toro, grounded our own wasabi using a piece of rough shark skin, and I had my two pieces of uni sushi (after a “uni drought” of several months in Switzerland).   It was good – recommendable.

You may have noticed that the color of the pictures shown here are a bit off.  I wonder if there is something wrong with my monitor or I forgot to adjust the color temperature.

Vevey is about 20 minutes drive from where we live, and like Lausanne, also located on the bank of Lake Geneva.  It has a food museum, known as the Alimentarium.  I believe it is sponsored by Nestle, the world’s largest food manufacturer, the headquarters of which is located there.  The museum offers a set lunch which showcases Swiss ingredients and techniques, and each course is explained by the chef who assembles the dish in front of you.  The restaurant, La Verrière, is of cafeteria style – so after each dish we return to the chef to pick up the next course.   The dishes were special and beautifully presented, the flavors delicate, the explanations interesting, and it was inexpensive.

If and when I find the 1-page menu, I will update the post with the names of the dishes.  The last two pies are not part of the set lunch but they were on display in the cafe.

It has been a while since I posted food porn – well, here are some links to my earlier food porn posts: our first food porn entry, Telepan in NYC, and DBGB.  Have a second helping.

The last museum that I “visited” in the Kunstareal was Museum Brandhorst which features 20th and 21st century art.  Unlike the Der Moderne which was mostly monochromatic concrete and glass, the building is colorful.  The facade of the building by Sauerbruch Hutton looks like an abstract painting, as if it is an advertisement of what is inside.  I was exhausted at the end of this brief “exterior” tour of the Kunstareal München.  I definitely want to come back and savor every one of them in a more leisurely pace.