Felix ElsnerFelix Elsner

“Yo Barry, you did it my nigga”

A throwback to better times: Larry Wilmore killing it at last year’s WHCA dinner.1

The nerve on this guy. Ruthless in spite of a tough audience, whom he’s got shifting uncomfortably in their seats.

Loved it back then, came back to my mind recently when thinking about journos sucking up to the big T. If only they had a shred of that bravery and total disregard for careerism.

It starts out innocent enough, well not really, Larry comes out of the gates storming with that “thugs” potshot, and then proceeds to lay into Obama, “not closing gitmo” & “raining bombs from long distances”.

The aside about Senate & House reps refusing to show up for work and get anything done has become all too real. I’ll have to admit I did not like him beating the already-dead Ted-Cruz-is-unlikeable horse and Obama’s ageing process wasn’t exactly fresh material. Media internals and the “Lemonade” fad rightfully bombed. Surprisingly, the C-SPAN-bashing still gets a few laughs every year.

Speaking of drones, Blitzer really can not take a joke, which is emblematic of the lack of self-reflection inherent in that crowd. No wonder that applause in the end started out way too polite.

Another sideswipe at the media moguls and their tendency to false equivocation(coverage of “all lives” dunces) landed hard with me; the “Panama Papers” one had me in stitches. He drove it home in the end (with an undeserved reconciliatory statement) so everyone could feel a little better and congratulate themselves.

Looking forward to this year’s dinner, and eager to know how the WHCA will cope with the move from the West Wing. Stay safe, yanks!

  1. Transcript here 

Minimalism is for suckers

  • You can’t repair your shit because you lack the tools
  • You cannot help out your neighbours, teach your kids
  • You have to rely on external service providers for everything
  • You un-learn how to to things yourself
  • You are unprepared for emergencies
  • It fosters short-term thinking
  • You own stuff to use it. Not owning stuff means not being able to do stuff
  • You make spur-of-the-moment decisions and buy bad products because you have no experience with the tools you need
  • Division of labour is great and all; sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands

Donating blood

Like voting and carrying an organ donor card, I consider it a duty as a citizen to donate blood. I recently did so for the first time.

The procedure is not inconvenient at all and everything is perfectly organized. Times to donate are posted at your local hospital’s website, you sign up at the front desk, fill out a somewhat extensive form, receive a soda to increase blood pressure, have a talk with a doctor to make sure you are fit to donate blood and wait a few minutes till a bed is available. It takes five to fifteen minutes for half a litre of blood to drain, then there is a snack awaiting you. Half an hour in the waiting room and you are back out.

There might be a slight feeling of dizziness afterwards, and doing sports immediately after is a nada. One is nearly fully back on track the next day.

Best about the whole affair is the appreciation you receive. There is even a small monetary compensation. The health services put a lot of work into incentivizing folks to donate, and it is sad to see the severe scarcity in blood banks.

I am looking forward to my next visit and hope others will do the same.

A bit of wisdom

There is no truth, only observation and opinion. This holds true for many occasions, including but not limited to discussions, journalism and and progress.

Back in Germany

The plane lands, the train takes you through familiar regions, and you expect to feel back “at home”. Life goes on, you are no longer the foreigner everyone looks at, you blend into the crowd, communication is effortless. 

You revisit the places of your childhood. You try to form new habits, find a gym, familiarize yourself with the complexities of German bureaucracy, talk to strangers and wonder why everyone wants to keep to themselves.

Meeting with old friends, seeing how much you have grown apart from others, and realizing who you really care about.

There is just… something is missing. Money is tight, and there is this nine-to-five life, a rut settling in. The next three years are going to be tedious and laborious, all just in hopes of reaping some benefit from my education.

2014 Taiwan bike tour travel report

It’s been a while since I finished this tour, but I still haven’t found time to write down the exact whereabouts, personal recommendations as well as most of my travel experiences.

Although the flight with Air China was booked way in advance, I still did not really know what I was getting myself into. Stepping out of the airport, the heat hit me and I was impressed by the politeness that I saw around me.

The first days after arrival I stayed in TaiwanMex in Taipei, bought a Lonely Planet and visited the sights of the city. Apart from the obligatory Taipei 101 and Chiang-Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, I stopped often and took a look at many of the curiosities the city had to offer. Sun-Yat-Sen Memorial Hall is quite nice at nighttime and lots of people gather for breakdance performances at the entrance to the building.

After I had found a bike shop willing to rent me a 2000$ bike for 5€ a day(get out at MRT stop Quilian, take exit 1 and after about 200m of walking on the road to the left of the metro, you should be able to see a carwash, continue and after a few meters you will find a small bike shop), I packed up and started riding. My first stop was the harbour city Keelung north-east of Taipei. The roads were congested and the heat made everyone nervous. I was so relieved to finally see the waves and followed the coastline to Fulong beach.
Along the way, I met many friendly cyclists from all over Asia, who followed the same route as me.

I slept at a small surf shack in Ciayi and took a surfing lesson the next day. The waves were ideal and everybody had a great time. You could already tell a typhoon was coming though.
After a night at a bar in Yilan I took my bike on the train to Hualien(Xin Zen). You should have somebody arrange it in advance for you or you might run into a conductor giving you trouble.
From there on my trusty bike had to endury the steep climbs of Taroko Gorge National Park. The first night was spent in Tianshiang at the Catholic Youth hostel. Not a single word of English was spoken, but luckily some friendly Malaysian guests there to save the day for all unsuspecting western travellers.
There is a beautiful trail called Luishui-Wenshan-trail near Tianshiang, crossing abandoned old bridges and going up and down the mountains. At this time of the year I had the trail all to myself.
Be sure to apply for a mountain permit beforehand.
The hot springs at the end are very convenient and I found them to be much more relaxing than the ones I found near Puli later on.

After getting some rest, I spent the next day struggling partly with the mountains, but mainly the worsening weather. Car drivers kept telling the storm was going to hit much earlier than expected.
The rain kept getting stronger and I was glad to finally arrive in Guanyun, having covered around 2000m of elevation and about 60km of serpentine after serpentine.
Back on the road after the typhoon, the streets were not as devastated as I would have expected them to be. The roadworkers, many of which came to the police station, the only building to have electricity and access to running water, did a great job during the night.

The last bit to the top of Highway 14 is just excruciating, in turn the descent is even more rewarding. The night was spent in Puli Guest House, the owner, a Japanese expatriate, was quite helpful in planning the next steps of my journey.
Sun-Moon-Lake kind of failed to impress me, so I continued without staying there too long. Lukang was nice, but the rest of Changhua couny and around just seemed boring and the infrastructure seemed to consist of long strips of indistinguishable roads and car shops.
The bus back to Taipei was on time, comfortable, allowed me to take my bike without a hassle, arrived quickly and made me wonder why transportation at home still does not work that seamless at all.

After returning the bike, getting some chores done and exploring Taipei, a bus took me to Kaohsiung and the night was spent at the interesting, albeit slightly touristy nightmarket.

To be continued.


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