STM going off the grid to recharge!

It’s been a rather long start to the year here in Shanghai. In fact let me give you a better description of what I have been doing.

Imagine running an army.

Imagine everything from deploying the tracks, tracking their progress, ensuring they have the right weapons, uniforms and helmets. Making sure they have lunch every day, correct menus and water for their trips. Imagine having to order every piece of equipment, every tank, every gun and every bullet. Imagine have to check and monitor who has survived, who needs to be replaced and who is not up to their job and then what happens to them. Imagine having to continuously find new troops and train them while simultaneously have to stay on the front foot in the battle.

Now imagine doing all of that in CHINESE!

My job is pretty similar without the bloodshed I guess (even sometimes that’s the same) so when I tell you it’s been a long few months (sure I’ve had a few escapes recently) but really its time to go off the grid, drink a F*&% LOAD of champagne and stare at the most beautiful things imaginable!

The Chinese government is nice enough to take two holidays and move them together so pretty much the whole country gets the Mid Autumn Festival off for a week!

So if you see no new content for a bit, this is where I’ll be if you wanna come ask for it Ill be in the pool villa at the epically sexy Alila Villas in Uluwatu Bali. . .

For some sun . . .

Afternoon cocktails . . .

And finally where i will rest my head at night :)

After a few days of recharging in the mountains its down to the beach to my ABSOLUTE BEST HOTEL CHAIN THE WORLD. THE W!!

The spa if the weather turns south . . .

The desk to get drunk and read (the 17 000 books I have stored up to get through)

And again not a bad place to rest my over indulged liver at night . . .

If you are starting to hate me just a little, remember, firstly I really don’t care because believe me I have earned this excursion and secondly, Ill be in BALI BABY!

See you soon!

The new Aston . . . ‘We’re not worthy, We’re not worthy’

Aston Martin has been my dream car for as long as I can remember. I mean its James Bonds car for goodness sake!

The truth is I’ve been taken by the ‘fancy’ of Ferrari and Lambo as everyone does immaturely. I’ve been sucked into the sexy advances of the R8 and of course been pulled by the fact that Tony Stark has this as his car of choice. I have been wowed by the, as Jeremy Clarkson puts it ‘bonkers’ designs of the super cars from Pagani, Mercedes’s brilliant SLR & SLS update as well as the Porsche Carrera GT (this one makes me feel particularly, eh um, aroused) and I’ve even, at one stage, allowed the opulence of Rolls Royce to infiltrate my dream brain.

After all this deviation though I seem to come back to Aston. It reminds me of a business man that is showy but just enough to appear confidently cocky but in an endearing, rather than a repulsive, way! It has the practicality of an everyday car with the sexiness of a high end sports car and performance enough to get the blood racing if the opportunity presents. It smacks of old, educated and wise money rather than Nouveau Riche rappers.

For me this car is the epitome of sexy and elegance with high performance and I think if you can find that combination in anything you buy it, marry it or invest in it!

So why all the preamble? Well here is the new 2013 Aston Martin DB9 . . .

Sure it is not a massive evolution from the old one but what it has done is taken parts of the Virage and combined them with touches of the DBS to create a magnificent next step in the DB9 evolution. Under the hood it has all the sexy things you want to see. It includes the powertrain and chassis tweaks which were originally developed for the Vanquish. The DB9 is packed with a 6.0-liter V12 engine that produces a lurid 510 horsepower. The standard models come with carbon ceramic breaks and it has a paddle shift gearbox that I think is finally right! We will have to see how loud the Top Gear team whine when they test it out though!

It oozes style in the coupe version, which I always prefer, but roof down in the convertible version it has to be one of the best cars to be able to drive around Sea point, Ipanema beach or even London city centre on the two sunny days a year. Without question Aston have once again not opted for massive changes but have just made enough necessary changes to power and style to get a slightly more potent and aesthetically relevant car to take this model forward.

You must admit it is magical!

All I can say is Bravo and I cannot wait to see this $184000 beauty in the flesh!

Office for any occasion . . .

Our business is one of the relative familial variety so my father had always made a point that our family would eat meals together and we would never discuss business, he also believed there were more important things in each others lives and didnt want business absorbing this precious time. One day we were having a family lunch and the conversation turned to business between my eldest brother and I, as was customary my father would tell us to stop and discuss more enjoyable things, to which my brother replied “Why, sometimes we find discussing work recreational and we enjoy it!”

That seemed to stump him for a while but the truth is we did and we do.

The reason I tell you this is to explain two points about me. The one is that I don’t see a separation between work life and other, they have been so intertwined in my DNA for so long that I believe both sides of a person can function together. The second point is that I’m ever so slightly OCD. I don’t have to switch the lights on and off 17 times every time I enter a room but I just like my shit to be setup in a specific way and ready to operate fully.

With the amount I travel it becomes rather annoying to continually construct and deconstruct and ‘office’ every 10 hours in a different place, so you can imagine my excitement when I came across this . . .

No it is not a braai (or BBQ for my more foreign friends) but rather a travel office, granted designed more for campers, and the like, than people like me but I’m pretty sure there is a Louis Vuitton one on its way shortly which is more my style.

It is based on the brilliant kitchen design by the same team which is intended for those who have similar needs like all-in-one, portability and easy to use but of the kitchen variety but in more of an outdoor / camping / research / earthy way! It 120 weighs 37 pounds (17 kg) and sells for US$1,995. The 55-pound (25-kg) 240 will set you back $2,495. It has power packs, solar panels and is made from industrial strength composites so you can literally be in a plane crash and ready to read mails after you get that tree branch out of your chest! Oh yes, and of course it has detachable legs in case you have found a comfy tree stump to really set up shop!

All in all I think it’s the start of something really special – it just needs to be slightly prettier, designed on the outside by TUMI and have a lift up handle and wheels so I can take it as hand luggage and we are all set! In fact if the powers that be could have this bag and the TUMI ALPHA carry on could have a love child, that would be the ideal evolution for this thing!

Fridays GIFt . . .

We know this week has been a little poor in terms on content but we promise next week we will try be a little more focussed!

Until then here are a few little GIFs from around the universe to make you smile . . .

Cause sometimes you just need to smash a boob in your face!

Chameleons and their water . . .
This immediately led to Shakira’s pregnancy!
Wait for it . . . . aaaawwwww!
Enjoy the weekend everybody!!

Them Mines . . .

What a mess we find ourselves in a month or so after the biggest police massacre since the dark days.

We have miners still striking, threatening and killing people who get in there way. We have police scared to protect whichever side they are supposed to be protecting. We have a government who as usual is doing nothing to resolve the issue but rather taking wild stabs at solutions like charging the miners with murder (so far so good guys!), we have the unions who actually are not sure how to press forward for resolution and we have a resurgent JuJu Malema who has found his new soapbox to spew pollution from (and here I was thinking we had dodged this bullet!)

This situation is like trying to disarm a nuclear weapon with a sledgehammer, by ten people, all at once!

My view is actually quite simple. Miners, past, present and future are critical not only to companies but to countries, to our country and its economy, of that there is no doubt. They have been unsung heroes for decades and on their sweating, bleeding broken backs we built a nation. Never forget that. We treat them like dirt, we make them live in squalor and we pay them scraps. You can see why JuJu and his new political party, disregarded morons from the ANCYL, are licking their lips. They have the best reason to promote violence and chaos and to be fair I don’t blame them. Fortunately we know JuJus intentions and his selfish aspirations (as well as his love of bribery and corruption) so we know upfront that he is using this situation to gain a voice and assume power again.

I shudder to think how many more people would be supporting him if his poisoned nature hadn’t come out already! The simple answer is he must be stopped, silenced and withdrawn from this equation immediately. He will spew lies and filth until he has brought this country to its knees and he will do so not for the good of those he pretends to serve but to further his own agenda. His must be removed and it must be now!

The question I still have unanswered in my mind is why has the government been so pathetically scared to get involved? Why are they not mediating and brokering peace in this bloody battle, and why on top of it all are they not regulating the salaries and the living conditions of these underground thousands? The government has the power to make sure that these people have basic living conditions, a salary that they can live on as well as education and healthcare of basic enough standards to uplift their families and children so maybe the next generation will escape this sub ground prison!

The government once again has stammered around so much that we have a madman dictator inciting violence at every turn so the ‘boers’ will come to the table, we have miners killing and being killed and we have no real way forward, not to get mines back on line nor to get the miners the extra money they need.

The real problem or danger here is that people all around the country are watching how this plays out. Workers from factories to stores to plants will watch and see if they can join on this bandwagon of wanting more and if this happens the domino effect may be one that could cripple the nation for a period of time.

What a mess we find ourselves in and sadly a government with an absent leader means we are a long way from solving this problem, especially with someone like JuJu leading the call for and ongoing mining revolution (as I’ve always maintained id still like to see him spell that)


France in Shanghai or the other way around?

As I have mentioned before I have a serious crush on tasting menus for a million reasons.

Recently in Shanghai I found a great little culinary institute that takes 20 chefs from France (and Europe) and brings them to China, it then enrols 20 Chinese chefs and gets both nationalities to train together to create cross pollination of friendships, learning’s and all that shmushy stuff!

The reason I love this so much is that once a month the students need to create a themed tasting menu (last month was all things mushroom) and this month was all inspired by, my elixir for life, coffee. The students prepare everything from the courses, ingredients, wine parings and the tables . .

So after a warm up smoke on the terrace and a few glasses of Champaz just to get the juices flowing, we were off!

Now after this meal and the vino that accompanied it, I was well relaxed, full and in the mood for a well brewed double espresso to round it all off! The problem is, firstly, I wasn’t quite used to the 8 hour time swing from my London excursion a few days prior (which I suppose did its fair share of damage!) and secondly I didn’t actually click that each and every course was coffee infused!!

Needless to say staying awake through the night until 6:30 am the following morning will teach me to plan my caffeine intake a little better!

Oscar PISSED-OFFrius should be ashamed!

We’ve all had those moments, ones when we finish a race or get off a sports field and our instant reaction is an outburst of anger and complaint, generally because we know deep down WE are to blame. This of course is never instantly understood. Fortunately for most of us this ended during our teen years (then again I’ve never competed in global competitive sports so maybe I’m out of my depth here)

The long and short of it is Oscar Pistorius, global hero and icon after this year’s able bodied Olympics, fought his way through two years of courtrooms and committees to declare that his blades give him no advantage over anyone and therefor he should be allowed to compete in the Olympics. To his absolute credit he won the fights and he won over the fans, all over the world.

After a magical appearance at the able bodied games he turned his attention to medal hunting in the Para-Olympics (where he is the ‘Usain Bolt’), he stormed through the 200m heat setting a world record in the process. Moved into the final and as he coasted ahead with 80 odd meters to go, I’m pretty sure he took his foot off the gas and tried to soak it all in. What happens next however is unscripted, a Brazilian kid called Alan Oliviera, who no on has ever heard of, burns his way down the track and pips Pistorius at the finish.


Cut to what SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED . . .

Pistorius, hands hiding his face in bitter disappointment, tears streaming down his Olympic-dream-broken-face walks over to Oliviera, hugs him and congratulates him on his win! The world celebrates an underdog triumph and a superhuman performance to take gold – all the good and gushy stuff that the Olympics is always about! They both then take the podium and emotionally accept their medals proud to have achieved all they have!

What actually happened was a disgrace, Pistorius refused to congratulate the winner, stormed off to an interview and basically blamed Oliviera’s blades for giving him an advantage (slightly ironic, no?). In his view this is the only way Oliviera could have managed to achieve this time, was to have cheated, disgraceful, disrespectful and astonishingly bad form on the global stage!

When you lose, and ESPECIALLY if you know deep down it’s your fault, you don’t look for someone or something to blame, you don’t use the closest scapegoat to whinge and whine at. That’s not what champion’s do, that’s not what role models do and that right there was the defining moment of Oscar Pistorius’ s character for me sadly.

As a hero sometimes you need to learn to accept defeat as well as you embrace victory and especially for someone who has overcome so much in their life, to see them react like that is not only horribly disappointing for me but I think marred one of the greatest Olympic underdog victories.

Congratulations to Alan Oliviera, he ran a stellar race and he deserved to have his moments of glory! He deserved to smile and be congratulated by those he defeated instead of demeaned by a spoiled child.

I can only imagine the thrill of winning an Olympic gold medal and to do so by beating a global icon must be even more rewarding, in some way to topple your personal hero must be the pinnacle of every sportsman’s dreams, no one deserves their hero to turn around and say they cheated!

Have they finally found the solution?

I think the second oldest question (yes not entirely correct we know) facing mankind after, ‘why are we here?’ is the dilemma ‘How do I get a phone fully integrated as a camera or vica versa’?

Since I have gone back to iPhone I have realized that the late genius Steve Jobs got it almost right. The 4s really does take good quality (good enough for holiday snaps, social media and any kind of sharing) shots during the day and really good video as well. But as much as I want this to stop me from carrying around a camera as well as a phone, it doesn’t. On holiday or during special events I still find myself, especially at night, clinging to an out and out camera.

So has Steve been outdone finally by Samsung?

If you are looking for the short answer, NO!

What Samsung have done is taken a very fine camera shooting over 16 megapixels (they have been making really decent cameras for a while now!) and they have given it, really, a social media platform to stand on. It allows you to snap away and upload to FB, Twitter, Instagram and the like with full functioning like your smartphone has BUT and the, J-LO sized, but for me is that it doesn’t allow voice. So essentially without going any further I still have to carry two devices (and one of them is thins bulky thing!)

What these boys and girls at Samsung HAVE done however is really, just now, started to realize we need a solution for the two device problem and been brave enough to take a first real, post smart phone excuse, step. The only reason we are so skeptical is that the two devices they are trying to combine have both advanced really fast and so the combination will, absolutely, take longer to catch up (just as the tablet did) but it’s a start at least!

As soon as Samsung put their hordes of geeks to work I have no doubt this device will get slimmer, sharper and faster. It will get voice, email and everything else your sexy new Galaxy S III smartphone has and I think if they actually manage to get this right they may have a product that could finally tip the scales in their favour against their bitter rival Apple (in hardware that is – in court room battles its still all Apples ways).

Let’s be honest though, Mr. Cook over at Apple has BFG sized footsteps to follow in so he isn’t going to be sitting still and perhaps the announcements on the 12th (which I’m waiting around for like a kid the night before Christmas – or Hanukkah in my case) may yet again stretch the gap to laughable levels!

Either way you see it this has to be good for you and me, the early adopters, so sit back and enjoy watching these two giants push each other further and further ahead!

For an in depth review of the product itself always turn to the brilliant guys at GIZMAG