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New Directions

…no, this is not a post about Glee.  The title of this post is much more literal.

Since being in Malaysia, I’ve noticed a direct correlation between my frequency of posts and time spent here. [As time reaches infinity, posts = 0]

I could use work, lack of Internet or some other excuse as an… excuse, but it would just be an excuse. [A reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault] However, I can reason that the syndromes source is simply that the novelty of living in a new country is wearing off. Since I started Takeofftodeh at the same time, I have unconsciously paired the two. As novelty declined, so has my literary inspiration.  [Disclaimer: I love living here for many reasons, except for missing driving, seasons and cheese] While there has been no end to the new & exciting experiences, I’ve found that writing about them has become less of an enjoyment and more of a chore.

The reason I chose to write about taking off in the first place is because I though it could be a niche I could write about regardless of what I was doing. And perhaps it is a legitimate niche, but right now it feels a little to… for lack of a better word, “fluffy.” I don’t feel like I’m contributing anything of value – there are plenty of other blogs which have a similar sentiment – and they do it much better than I.

So I turn to you, my readers, or what may be left of you! to identify some area of opportunity in which you feel that there is little subject matter about and that I may be able write something that you could sink your teeth in – 100% beef – no stuffed animals. Ultimately it will have to be my own discovery, but it’s good to ask for directions every once in a while.

As you ponder this request, I’ll leave you with a photo from my latest dive trip to Redang, Malaysia.

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Der Untergang

Last night I went to see Der Untergang as part of a German cinema week taking place at a culture centre near my office. It’s not a new movie by any means (2005) and many of you have probably seen it;  though if you haven’t, you should.  It gives a compelling, more human perspective into the life of Hitler before his suicide and how his Nazi loyalists kept the faith right until the very end.

I’m not going to review the movie, you can do that for yourself. But I do want to leave you with the final quote of the movie, as I found it to be quite powerful. It was said by the Führer’s personal secretary, who was interviewed prior to the making of the movie.

“…and then I realized, it was not an excuse to be young and that I could have found the truth.

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The ‘Right’ Right of Way

To those of you who have travelled, I’m sure you’ve been a part of this equation at some point or another. (1 pub + X beers + 1 left-hand driver + 1 right-hand driver) = Argument about rules of the road. But equipped with little knowledge and a few soda pops, this argument typically doesn’t get anywhere. What drunken arguments do?

The evolution of the “right of way” is actually quite practical. In simpler times, when men got to play with swords, it was just plain sensible to keep to the left. Most people are inarguably right-handed, so this placed the right hand in an opportune position to offer a greeting or reach for the sword when approaching oncoming traffic. The use of horses were also more manageable since it is easier to mount and dismount a horse from the left, which in this case leaves the rider doing so on the side rather than in the middle of traffic.

In the late 1700’s large freight wagons were used to transport farm supplies pulled by many horses. The driver would position himself on the left so his right hand would be in a position to whip his horse power. Consequently, it was sensible that he insist traffic to pass on the left so he could ensure his wheels were clear. Napoleon and the birth of the American automobile further progressed the right movement. If you want the full history, go to www.lhdspecialist.com/history_of_lhd_and_rhd.php.

In fact during the 60’s Britain considered switching over, but the immense cost and conservative attitudes were too great to overcome. Being an island didn’t hurt either. Actually, if you observe the countries that have maintained the left of way, geographic isolation is common. I was surprised (but not after I thought about it for more than a second) to find that Canada drove on the left until about 1920. Of course Newfoundland didn’t change over until about 1950 (not surprising).

While the left of way can lay claim to being the original ‘rule of the road,’ the last time I checked I wasn’t driving to work in a horse (well I did own a Mustang…), nor did I carry a sword (chuckle). However, simply because the majority of the world drives on the right (about 66%) does not make it the better alternative.

After talking to some friends in the UK, it seems that pedestrian traffic actually yields to the right of way, contrary to their road rules. On the other hand, most of its left driving colonies apply the left of way in all forms of traffic. This has been confirmed for Australia, Thailand and Malaysia.

If we are arguing simply based on pedestrian traffic, both sides have an equal argument. Though we can agree that hands are more accessible when keeping left, most people are right-handed in all things – I’m thinking sports now specifically. A right shot or a right foot doesn’t play on the left-wing; they play on the right because it’s more natural to approach on the right. While I hate using “feeling” as an argument, I think you can agree that most activities “feel” more natural when performed on the right, walking included – sports are just an obvious example. To further validate my point, I’m left-handed (you’re more convinced now right?).

In terms of vehicular transportation, I think it’s completely dependent on the vehicle. If you didn’t notice, we currently drive cars. Now, assuming you are a ‘good’ driver who drives with two hands on the wheel and maintaining that most people are right-handed it would be sensible that a vehicles controls would be to the right of the driver – what was once a whip is now a stick-shift. So it follows that the same reasons people moved to the right of the road originally still exist.

Yes, people have the capacity to be ambidextrous and obviously have the brain capacity to operate a vehicle using their left hand for the controls. But, if we are going to choose one over the other, it seems that right hand driving is the more sensible option. And let’s be honest, the RIGHT of way sounds better (unless you don’t speak English).

So before you Take Off give right-hand cars a reason to exist.

 

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Socks

This is the actual quote:

“There is one item of G.I. gear that can be the difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt. Socks. Cushioned sole, O.D. green. Try and keep your feet dry. When we’re out humpin’, I want you boys remember to change your socks whenever we stop. The Mekong will eat a grunt’s feet right off his legs. . . Two standing orders in this platoon: One, take good care of your feet. Two, try not to do anything stupid, like getting yourself killed.”

 

 

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Shoes

Shoes

My sandals broke; and, after pushing a car uphill for about an hour, my shoes resemble chewing gum rather than footwear. (Don’t buy Quicksilver shoes.)

I am reminded of the advice Lt. Dan gives Forrest upon his arrival in Vietnam – always keep a clean pair of socks on you, it will save your life (or something like that). Now, I typically don’t wear socks with anything but formal wear, but the point is still relevant. Your feet are important appendages that rarely get the respect they deserve. I mean, they are literally walked on like surfs whenever we feel like it.

I am not a freedom fighter

I’m not suggesting we stage a coup d’état – I mean c’mon, it’s nice having them under us. But I do think they deserve proper working conditions. They deserve at the least fresh water; sunlight; a massage every now and then; and most importantly, good footwear.

True Story

I backpacked across Europe for 4 months in nothing but a pair of Sanok sandals. (Settle down ladies, I was wearing clothes too…  [Earmuffs Grandma] most of the time. *wink) www.sanuk.com/ I was originally going to mount them and sell them off when I become irrationally famous, but I just threw them out. Poor decision, they deserved better.

All joking aside, those $50 Sanuks put my more recent $20 Spring bargain section that I flirted with the sales girl and got them for $10 sandals to shame. In fact, every time I thought I was clever and saved money on shoes, I have later regretted it. Shoes are one of those items that you seem to get what you pay for.

So, the next time you Take Off, make sure you have proper footwear on. As for me, I need to go shopping.

Post Script

If you like laughing, check out this viral video from about 2005.You’ve probably seen it already, but it’s a classic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCF3ywukQYA

 

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Raw Cuts

Alright, I admit the first episode was fairly raw – and not in the good way. But after going through the process, episode 2 is more to style, content and quality that you can expect from future episodes.

In fact, this episode is so raw that it Vimeo is having issues uploading it for some reason. Until that time, it is up on the URBN Tv facebook page for you to watch. So check out the link below and take a 3 minutes break. Also, I would love to hear any feedback you have so please comment below if you have any ideas.

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150157103480774&oid=183944258310826&comments

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The Right of Way is Left Out

Life in Kuala Lumpur is much like life in any other large multicultural city, except for one thing…

Like ants, we march every day – we march to work, through hallways and across the street. In order to do so efficiently we have developed a very simple system called “the right of way.” Since birth, we of the “western” world are trained to adhere to this silent code of transportation. We do it moderately well.

It works like this.

In the likely event you come across another sentient being during your travels, steer yourself to the right side of your plane of movement to avoid an awkward shimmy shuffle that would otherwise follow.

It gets more complicated.

If you are travelling in a channel where the relative velocity amongst vessels is constant, maintain your position to the right to allow faster moving vessels to pass.

Are you ready for a mind explosion?

There are parts of the world that do not practise this fundamental transportational law. In fact, they learn the opposite. More insulting, they argue that it’s the “right” way! How ignorant. People have been moving the right way for centuries. I don’t recall any reference, in any text to a left of way.

It’s high calorie travel without the flavour.

In an increasingly borderless world that facilitates the movement of thousands of people between nations, I fear the eventuality of a nuclear sized seizure in international commuting. Like a McChicken fed artery, the veins of traffic will be clogged with a circus of sideways waddles, shimmy shakes and clumsy bumps.

There is a simple solution.

I move that we create an international tribunal to end this debate once and for all. We must come together to preserve our ability to move from one place to another. Otherwise I am seriously going to run into somebody over here – and it’s not going to be pretty.

So, before you Take Off, practise the hallway shuffle and the stairwell jig, because you’ll probably have to dance.

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