Freitag, 30. Oktober 2009

It's over? NOOO, it's never over!

You know, Germany is just as curious a country as the USA is, especially when you just got back to it. Besides, I will go to many more foreign funness countries, so I should keep on writing here!

If you wonder why I haven't been posting a lot in the last few weeks before returning home, take a look at this video of my roomies - well, my fictional roomies ;)

I'm guest starring in Team Marco Polo's very own sitcom "Leo & Mike". And aren't I a pleasant character... not ;)

Donnerstag, 24. September 2009

The End is near: Post 100!

What? Only 10 more days?
Yes, it's true. My stay in Seattle is almost over and this is my post 100! Ready for 1001 posts?

I just got back from New Orleans last night with lots of moskito bites and a couple of pictures ;).
They will probably have to wait a bit though, because tomorrow, I am heading out to the North Cascades this weekend for camping!

I need to take advantage of being here in the Pacific North West, don't I?
I hope I can get some of that up before I leave, but I can't make any promises.

And on a side note for all those who don't know yet: The busy-ness (ha, pun!) doesn't stop with me leaving the US. Upon return I will start an internship in Social Media development at the Rhein-Zeitung! Just to make sure I don't get rusty with a break or something ;-)

Donnerstag, 30. Juli 2009

Intern? Slave? Same Shit, Different Name!

An intern's life is hard and many have compared today's internship system to the ancient concept of slavery.
At Filmateria, interns ARE slaves, seriously!

As TeamMarcoPolo produces new episodes of Florence and Rome, we all get drawn into the project. Today, I literally became the symbolic intern slave. Do you like my table cloth Toga?

We didn't get to actually shoot the scene today. I might be able to provide an update with an actual film still soonish.

Whereas I don't get paid for what I do in cash, I learn a lot on set, often get free food and drinks and I have plenty of fun. Of course part of the fun is that it is temporary ;-).

However, it does make me wonder if there were unknown advantages to being a slave under the Roman rule? Anyone got ideas? Might have been good for "Social Networking"? ;-)

Follow TeamMarcoPolo on Twitter to get more updates from the #tmpset!

Mittwoch, 29. Juli 2009

The Emerald City Scorched by the Sun!

Seattle is the city with the most rainy days in the US.
While that sounds like a great record, most people here refuse to call the continuous light drizzle rain anyway. Umbrellas and rain coats are for whimps!

Faced with other weather than the infamous drizzle, Seattlelites start panicking, however! Snow in winter comes as a total surprise blocking all possible traffic (although it has been forecasted about a week earlier).

Now Seattle is faced with a new, highly uncommon "threat": HEAT!
Thanks to global warming, a nuclear explosion or some other incredibly annoying phenomenon, Seattle is sweltering. Since the records have been established 1851, there has not been a single day in Seattle over 100 ° Fahrenheit (37.78° Celsius). (See CNN: Pacific NorthWest Heat Wave Catches Many by Surprise)

Today, the record has been broken! Seattle measured 103° F (as of 4:30) and the temperature is still climbing!

So what should you do on a day like this? You go to a film studio, where there are no windows, no air conditioning and many many hot lights to shoot a Kids TV Show called Team Marco Polo, of course ;-). Well, at least that's what I did.

Crazy? Well, it's for a good cause :-). We started shooting early this morning anticipating the heat, but it was still almost unbearable during the shoot, as Jonathan's face clearly shows. He was fully dressed and made up as Marco Polo in this weather!

Montag, 20. Juli 2009

OMG - I live in Washington!

I just got an Email about living in Washington and thought I'd share it! It is not a complete summary, but it gives a pretty nice idea about living here! Foxworthy is a Californian comedian!


If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't work there, you live in Washington.

If you've worn shorts, sandals and a parka at the same time, you live in Washington .

If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number, you live in Washington .

If you measure distance in hours, you live in Washington

If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you live in Washington.

If you have switched from 'heat' to 'A/C' and back again in the same day, you live in Washington .
If you install security lights on your house and garage but leave both doors unlocked, you live in Washington
If you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you live in Central, Southern or Eastern Washington.

If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a 2 layers of clothes or under a raincoat, you live in Washington.

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow and ice, you live in Washington.

If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction, you live in Washington .

If you feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash, you live in Washington.

If you know more than 10 ways to order coffee, you live in Washington.

If you know more people who own boats than air conditioners, you live in Washington.

If you stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the "Walk" signal, you live in Washington
If you consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it is not a real mountain, you live in Washington.

If you can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle's Best, and Dutch Bros, you live in Washington.

If you know the difference between Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon, you live in Washington.

If you know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Abiqua, Issaquah, Oregon, Umpqua, Yakima and Willamette, you live in Washington.

If you consider swimming an indoor sport, you live in Washington.

If you can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food, you live in Washington.

If you never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho, you live in Washington.

If you have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain, you live in Washington.

If you think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists, you live in Washington.

If you buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time, you live in Washington.

If you actually understand these jokes and forward them to all your Washington friends, you live or have lived in Washington."

Do you live in Wshington? Feel free to add to the list!!!

Freitag, 17. Juli 2009

Cities of Japan I - Osaka and Kyoto

The Heart of Kansai

Home base during my two weeks in Japan was Osaka, Japan's first (temporary) capitol, located in the Kansai prefecture. Osaka is well-known for its down to earth, talkative people and its Okonamiyaki. Osaka is also home to a great museum, the Osaka Museum of Ethnology.

Although none of the original structure remains, the people of Osaka cherish their little palace. It is sorrounded by sky scrapers in a quiet little palace park with a plum garden.

Young and old alike come to the palace garden to relax and take a break from the other 2.7 million people in Osaka.

Most of those can be found in the entertainment and shopping districts, of course. With its little canals, Osaka (deliberately) recalls an Italian city. A recent city publicity campaign titles Osaka as "Japan's Venice".

However, when the clock strikes 10, life slowly fades from the streets to the small bars and clubs of the city. The young Americanized shopping and lifestyle crowd vanishes.

As the consumers recede, the less fortunate business men set up their temporary habitat. The box homes are built quite elaborately every night. Many of these men (I've never seen a woman) were doing comparatively well before they lost their jobs during the recession.

Sleeping on the street is not a problem in Japan though. I have never felt so safe as on Japanese streets, at day or night. Crime appears(!) to be completely absent. People hardly lock their bicycles or worry about items unintentionally left somewhere. They will still be around when the owner comes back. The moderate climate in Osaka supports the street sleepers, and card board is supposedly very warming.

Kyoto, another one of Japan's former capitols is a little smaller than Osaka and is home to the traditional side of Japan. It is literally covered with shrines and temples, another old palace...

... and "Japanese" Gardens. Arashiyama is part of the Kyoto prefecture.

Actress Scarlet Johannsson hopped these stones for the movie "Lost in Translation", lost in the traditional, calm and quiet atmosphere of Kyoto.

However, even in Kyoto you will feel the pulse of a thriving economy as soon as you leave the religious sites.

Montag, 13. Juli 2009

Internet Giants and Small Geeks - Google Meetup in Seattle

Google and the simple geeks - Google Meetup Seattle ©pcbritz
Google and the simple geeks - Google Meetup Seattle ©pcbritz

Google is taking over the world! Next Stop: Fremont

One of the advantages of living in Seattle: Adobe, Amazon, Boing, Expedia, Getty Images, Microsoft, Starbucks are... literally... just around the corner! That means, when they have something new going on, you're the first guinea pig to try it out.

Currently, Google is starting a national PR event series to "connect to the users while the corporation is growing". Tonight was the first "Google Meetup" in Fremont at the Red Door. On the agenda: a free drink and some Q&A.

Generally a good idea, they will have to work on the concept. While sitting and chatting with the Google hardcore geek fans was fun and nice, it took 1,5 hours for the questioning to start. Sparks flew between the Google geeks and the Google user geeks, however, they were not very well prepared for questions on security and issues that were interesting to the more "general" public like "our grandmas and fathers and sibling out there" that Google supposedly wanted to connect to.

I'm still sceptical about Google's privacy handling and the fact that the company collects a lot of personal information about its users. I'm just uncomfortable with giving up that control and Kathy Gill's remarks at the meeting about security confirmed that I am not alone among the super nerds.

I'm curious to see where Google is going with these events and if their attempts to connect with customers will actually go national or even international. the first step is made.

Update:Check this Link for issues of security with google. Nice article I read a couple of days ago!

Sonntag, 12. Juli 2009

Big in Japan - Technology

The Portable Thumb Gym

Japan. The country with the beauty ideal of Marasmus - is not known for its strong and muscular people. But in the strength of one muscle, they probably outrun the rest of the world: their thumbs!

They might have competition from African countries like Simbabwe, but I don't think the Thumb Piano requires quite the same download speed.

Every Japanese has at least one cell phone with lots of "bling" hanging from it to make sure the mostly ugly square bricks attract enough attention. Cell phones are cool, you see?

Since it is impolite to talk on the phone when people around might be disturbed though (ie. in public and especially the metro), the texts fly in and out like there is no tomorrow.

In the time between the SMS, you can entertain yourself by surfing the web (running on the worlds fastest broadband in Japan), checking your emails, listening to music, shooting a video of your feet or you just draw out the antenna and watch TV (since even the most basic phone will come with a TV plan).

If you get realy bored waiting for someone to text you, you go to a museum, zoo or other attraction. There you make sure to capture every moment and add some beauty touches to reality. Then you text this out into the world: "I saw a penguin on my cell screen". You may now relax and lean back while the flood of "Kawaaaiii" (cuuutte) texts flow in.

Museums have caught on the trend at last! And since some poor individuals run out of battery at times and foreigners often dare to come without electronic devices, attractions have started to give out their own! At the Muesum of Ethnicity in Osaka, I received a PlayStation!!

This English audio guide featuring a stone-henge domino game kept me distracted for the full 4,5 hours I spent at this incredible museum. It lead me from Oceania over the Americas, Africa and Europe , East Asia and finally Japan. I did not have to look up once, except to find the bathroom, which was not quite easy.

Where has the rest of it gone? Has technology failed here?

Fortunately, Tokyo was advanced both in its technology as well as in its software applications.

This iphone clone did not only introduce me to this utterly confusing city on my first morning, it also safely led me to the closest pot hole potty - properly labeled!

Bottom Line:
Japanese technology is fascinating - and the rest of the world has some catching up to do! Let's start with me: Who wants to give me a new i-phone for Christmas? I was a good boy, I promise!!

Do you have stories about Japanese technology? Let's hear it!! Comment below!

Donnerstag, 9. Juli 2009

Japan pictures

Alrighty, I've shrunk my pictures from Japan down to les than 5GB and am now categorizing them so I can make Blog posts that are interesting and topical. I will make one as an overview, linking to the others. Maybe I can even go back and forth? Who knows? ;-)
Anyway, pictures are coming - no panic!

Sonntag, 5. Juli 2009

Happy 4th!

Independence Day! Without Will Smith, but with plenty of "aliens"

Seattle is a very liberal city where Republicans would be put in a showcase to be observed like zoo animals (if they ever dared to come out). Accordingly, the level of patriotism is liminal during every day life - that is compared to other places in the US! You would think that would change on the most important holiday of the American people. But I've actually seen football games more patriotically tainted than the 4th of July at Gasworks Park in Seattle.

The most visible patriotism was displayed in a blown up head of Miss Liberty,

watching over "Kite Hill" and Lake Union, where a gigantic firework was arranged to celebrate.

The way the event was organized struck me just as much as a surprise. This kind of event would surely be brought to live by some sort of government office, right? To spark the love of Americans in their great country?
Ehhm... NO. The event was "private", put up by the bank that recently bought up the bankrupt (pun intended) Washington Mutual.

So what next? No government, no patriotism... how is this event properly American? Interestingly, it was actually hard to find "Americans" (people who where not obviously immigrants) in the crowd. Only after snooping around, could I find a bunch of "patriotic" white middle class American individuals.

Most of the visitors, however, where Indian, Mexican or Asian. And I'm not so sure if all of the "Americans" were proper Americans either ;-).

With all my expectations shattered, I got myself ready for a pretty unpatriotic and boring firework when hey, I was surprised again!
Spoiled from Swiss National Holiday Fireworks (Stein am Rhein has the best - I challenge you to convince me that there is better ones out there!), I am not easy to impress. However, the firework on Lake Union was actually really nice, imaginative and nicely choreographed to music as well.

In the firework, I finally caught a glimpse of that patriotism I had been looking for. My personal favorite: A rocket that had gone off course to explore the "final frontier".

Off-topic: I haven't forgotten about the Japan pictures. The folder is now down to 5GB ;-)

Montag, 22. Juni 2009

Working the Job

I started my internship at Filmateria Studios in Seattle today - I had completely forgotten that seven hours in front of a giant screen will completely fry your brain. And the jetlag doesn't help!
Anyway, it was a nice day and they all seem to be nice laid-back folks there.
I'll be working on the PR and Promotion of the Team Marco Polo project and hope to be able to do some editing while I'm there.

Samstag, 13. Juni 2009

How do we continue? Nara and the Aquarium

Question to YOU! I could either post what I did during my stay in Japan chronologically (which I think might be a little boring) OR I could order it in sections (food, shrines and temples, museums, cities, sights, food, drink, food, food, culture, food, fashion)
What do you think? Let me know!!
Comment right here!!

Donnerstag, 11. Juni 2009

Expo Park and National Museum of Ethnology (Update)

Thursday. Awesome museum and a nice park commemorating the Expo of 1970. Details will follow! Can't just load up photos this time - I'd rather keep up the excitement ;-).

Although the Expo was almost 40 years ago, the park is still kept up very nicely. It invites to walk not only on ground level, but also above the hights of the trees. This was my favorite part of the part itself, although the natural pond area wasn't bad either.

My absolute favorite, however, was the Osaka Muesum of Ethnicity. I spent four hours with my English audio guide in exhibitions starting in Oceania...

... over America, Europe, Artica, Africa and finally Asia...

with a big section on Language and Music and finally: Japan.

My brain was absolutely numb after that, so I decided to chill and watch a movie about Japanese bull fighting (at which the bulls are fighting and no one dies!)
If you ever go to Osaka: SEE THIS MUSEUM!
Some things are a little confusing - or confused (such as setting up Mexican masks right next to Native American masks without explanation. Of course, these exhibitions can only give a tiny window into a culture. But for a culture junky like me, this museum was heaven!!
Where else can you learn about Chinese hand puppets...

... and how to wrap a Sari in one hour!

Castle and Museum of History

Osaka Castle was rebuilt after being destroyed like so many things in WWII. Osaka was the first Capitol of Japan... for a bit

Guy fishing from the walls of Osaka Castle

Training the future generation of warriors near the castle - A Kendo School

City Museum of Osaka History. From the strange roll, you have an incredible view of the castle!

See? View of Osaka Castle!

Beginning of the rain season - Or: The Umbrella Dance

Osaka - City of water. The city actually runs a publicity campaign that compares it to Venice.

Japanese sweets... a chapter of its own!

These were my Tuesday and Wednesday activities... I'm busy having fun, no time for much blogging ;-). Have some pictures, story will come later then...

Montag, 8. Juni 2009


Arashiyama is a part of Kyoto, which is known for its traditional Japanes style, temples and shrines. Kyoto was not as severely destryoed during the war as Osaka andd Tokyo and so it was able to retain its traditional charm.

We took the Hankyu train to get to the beautiful river and green hills.

The place is quite famous with Japanese tourists as well, as it provides a change for those living in busy cities like Osaka.

... although typically Japanese, they don't necessarily show how emotinally they are moved openly ;-).

We climbed up a little hill and had a picknick among important looking stones whose actualy meaning we were unable to find out.

So instead we watched the boats go up the river into the valley.

Down the hill on the other side, we crossed through a bamboo forest and came upon a temple.

The temple is one of many sites in Kyoto that is declared world heritage.

Of course you have to make sure you are physically clean before you can enter the temple to become spiritually clean!

First Impressions

I've had a weekend to discover a little bit of Japan now and I feel comfy here.
For most people it is apparently a big shock when they first come here and it is indeed an entirely different world. However, I like it a lot. People are nice and friendly (although extremely, sometimes overly polite, but coming from Seattle that's not new ;-)). Everything is clean and very organized (yeah, that's coming from a German...)

Saturday, Iris took me to DenDen City, where tons of cheap electronics shops are and to the heart of Osaka, the most noisy and busy part of town.

In a little back alley we found a Kimono place and ended up in a shopping frenzy, which we rounded up by a meal of Onokamiyaki (?I'll have to check back on that), a Japanese style pancake.

For the night, we met up with some of her friends for Karaoke.
Karaoke in Japan means you and a bunch of friends rent a room with Karaoke machine and go crazy singing without worrying about annoying anyone - much more preferrably than the stage-in-a-bar-version popular in Germany and the US.

On Sunday, we took the train to Arashiyama (near Kyoto) for some beautiful landscape, bamboo forest, temples and shrines and concluded the day with a Japanese style BBQ. More detail and pictures on that will follow :-)