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Month: October 2009 (Page 1 of 2)

Krispy Kreme: coming to Thailand

Some food news that will be of interest to Thailand-based gluttons lovers of calorically dense American snackfoods: Krispy Kreme doughnuts are coming to the Kingdom.

AP: “Krispy Kreme expanding into Thailand

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corp. said Thursday it has reached a deal to expand into Thailand with 20 new franchise locations over the next 5 years.

Reuters has the press release: “Krispy Kreme Awards Franchise Development Rights for Thailand

The official Krispy Kreme site is here. There’s more on Wikipedia here.

There are currently Krispy Kreme stores in South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. No word yet on when the first Thailand store is due to open.

Question: How will Krispy Kreme do in Thailand, which has many Dunkin’ Donuts and Mister Donut shops? For the history of Krispy Kreme in New England — Dunkin’ Donuts territory — see this Boston Globe story.

Replicating a first class Pan Am 747 cabin — in a garage

Wall Street Journal:

Fliers nostalgic for the golden era of air travel might want to book a trip to Anthony Toth’s garage.

Mr. Toth has built a precise replica of a first-class cabin from a Pan Am World Airways 747 in the garage of his two-bedroom condo in Redondo Beach, Calif. The setup includes almost everything fliers in the late 1970s and 1980s would have found onboard: pairs of red-and-blue reclining seats, original overhead luggage bins and a curved, red-carpeted staircase.

Once comfortably ensconced, Mr. Toth’s visitors can sip beverages from the long-defunct airline’s glasses, served with Pan Am logo swizzle sticks and napkins, plus salted almonds sealed in Pan Am wrappers. They can even peel open a set of plastic-wrapped, vintage Pan Am headphones and listen to original in-flight audio recordings from the era, piped in through the armrests.

Mr. Toth, a 42-year-old global sales director at United Airlines, has spent more than 20 years on his elaborate recreation of a Pan Am cabin, which includes a few economy-class seats, too. All told, Mr. Toth estimates he has spent as much as $50,000 on the project, which he hopes someday to turn into a museum.

(Emphasis mine.)

What a story. And don’t miss the slide show.

A World Cup in Southeast Asia?

The Bangkok Post has this short item:

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) country members are ready to jointly bid to host the Fifa World Cup in the next 13 years, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said at the 15th Asean Summit on Sunday.

And here’s more from the Jakarta Globe:

Hua Hin, Thailan. Southeast Asia may make a coordinated bid to host the soccer World Cup, with countries sharing hosting rights, a senior Thai official said on Friday.

“Together we have 580 million people, together we would rank as the fifth-largest country in the world,” Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said. “Why not?” The deadline for submitting bids for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals passed last February and it was unclear whether the Association of South East Nations was looking beyond those tournaments.

Asean groups Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Brunei, the Philippines, and Indonesia, which has submitted a bid to host the 2022 finals.

Eight of the 10 countries could each host a group of four teams in the competition, Korn said, adding that Japan and South Korea had set a co-hosting precedent in the 2002 World Cup.

(Emphasis mine.)

Pok Pok on the Travel Channel

Pok Pok, the Thai restaurant in Portland, Oregon that I’ve mentioned before, was featured on the Travel Channel program “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”

The segment is embedded below, and you can find it on YouTube here.

(Via Oregonian and Thai food expert Austin Bush, who points out that the show was filmed during characteristically rainy weather.)

Around the web: e-books, images of Saturn, tennis in Asia, the science of shaving, and more

Here are some disparate items that have caught my eye of late:

  • Does the Brain Like E-Books? [New York Times]

    Is there a difference in the way the brain takes in or absorbs information when it is presented electronically versus on paper? Does the reading experience change, from retention to comprehension, depending on the medium?

  • Living in a ghost town [Bangkok Post]

    Thousands of civil servants had to move from Rangoon to Naypyidaw when General Than Shwe announced the transfer of the capital in 2005. Almost four years later, this soulless city still lacks the amenities that one would expect to find in a capital. And this is unlikely to change soon

  • Asia Gets No Love [Wall Street Journal]

    Why the Top Pros of Tennis Give the Region a Miss

  • Got a #tip? Gawker Media opens tag pages to masses, expecting “chaos” [Nieman Journalism Lab]

    Gawker Media is unveiling an innovative and unruly twist on traditional reader forums this morning. The new feature, part of an otherwise modest redesign across the company’s nine blogs, could transform tag pages, typically little more than archives of old posts, into commenter free-for-alls and transparent tip lines.

  • Cutting edge [The Guardian]

    Just what is it about adding blades that makes a razor better? Thomas Jones speaks to the scientists and technicians behind the latest five-bladed device and asks what next for the serious business of shaving

  • Saturn at equinox [The Big Picture] ((Via Snarkmarket.))

    Checking in with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, our current emissary to Saturn, some 1.5 billion kilometers (932 million miles) distant from Earth, we find it recently gathering images of the Saturnian system at equinox. During the equinox, the sunlight casts long shadows across Saturn’s rings, highlighting previously known phenomena and revealing a few never-before seen images.

  • How Peru is netting water supplies [BBC NEWS]

    They look like huge abandoned volleyball nets facing west towards the Pacific Ocean on one of the many hillsides in the Peruvian capital, Lima.

    They started as an experiment two years ago and now they are giving a lifeline to some of Lima’s poorest residents.

    The Peruvian capital gets an average of just over 40mm (1.5 inches) of rainfall a year but what it does not get in showers, it makes up for in fog.

  • ((Thanks to WH for the tip!))

    “Kludge – An ill-assorted collection of poorly matching parts, forming a distressing whole.”
    -Jackson Granholm
    Datamation Magazine February 1962

    There are as many sources for the word Kludge as there are jury-rigged mailboxes in the mobile home parks of America. Whether the source of the word is Gaelic, German, or Naval Acronym, we know them when we see them, and on this web site, we celebrate these iconic images of mankind’s eternal struggle to hammer square pegs into round holes (with duct tape.)

My CNNGo audio slide show about David Thomspon

You may recall my recent post about attending David Thompson’s Thai cooking demonstration here in Bangkok. I was there for CNNGo, a recently launched travel and lifestyle site that focuses on six Asian cities. ((In addition to the Thai capital, the site covers Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.))

I put together an audio slide show about the David Thompson event that you can find on the site here. And I’m embedding it below. Thompson talks about authenticity in cooking, what he finds appealing about Thai cuisine, and more.

If you have a look around CNNGo, you’ll also find a couple of my earlier contributions in the Bangkok section.

In one piece, I describe the best burgers in Bangkok. (( readers will recall that I’ve written about this before.))

And another item is called “The Siam Sunray: Chasing down Thailand’s ‘signature’ cocktail.” ((Again, this item may be familiar to readers.))

Matt Gross on The Splendid Table

Foodies with wanderlust, take note: Matt Gross, the Frugal Traveler for the New York Times, is featured on the Oct. 10 episode of the Splendid Table, a podcast about cooking and eating. ((Related posts: My favorite podcasts (June, 2007) and My favorite podcasts: updated (Nov., 2008).)) You can find the episode here, where you can listen to the entire show or scroll down to hear Matt’s segment.

Matt, whose work I’ve praised before, tells host Lynne Rossetto Kasper about his tactics for finding tasty food while on the road. I especially enjoyed hearing about how he discovered the best dishes in Ho Chi Minh City.

(Thanks to A for the tip.)

Thailand’s political crisis — from a quantum physics perspective

This event listing in yesterday’s Bangkok Post is, well, remarkable:

Here’s an open invitation to a new talk show-turned-seminar series called “Head + Heart Walking Together!” The first event, on the topic of “Crisis of Thailand and Beyond from a Quantum Physics Perspective”, will be held from 1 to 5.30pm, on Sunday, October 18 in the LT Room, Faculty of Law, Thammasat University, Tha Phra Chan campus. The speakers will be Sivinee Sawatdiaree, a physicist from the National Institute of Metrology; Attakrit Chatputi, founder of and the Thai translator of Fabric Cosmos; and Pramual Pengchan, philosopher and writer of Walk to Freedom. Thammasat law academic Kittisak Prokati will deliver a closing speech under the theme of “Scientific Worldview in Social Science”. Admission is free. For more details, call 02-613-2125 or visit

Note: The URL in the listing is Thai-language only.

Those of you who would like to attend the event can brush up on your quantum physics here.

(Bangkok Post item via Physics and Physicists via TheThaiReport.)

How successful was the Thailand AIDS vaccine trial?

New doubts have been raised about a seemingly promising AIDS vaccine trial that was conducted here in Thailand by Thai and U.S. Army researchers. The results were announced — and widely reported — in late Sept.

From the New York Times:

When AIDS researchers released results last month from a six-year trial in Thailand of a new AIDS vaccine, they said it showed some promise for new avenues of research, though they freely admitted their data was weak.

Now two published accounts citing anonymous AIDS researchers who were given confidential briefings about the trial results have reported that the data, released on Sept. 24, may be even weaker than the authors admitted — essentially, instead of being 31 percent better than nothing, the vaccine might be only 26 percent better.

And here’s the Wall Street Journal:

Researchers from the U.S. Army and Thailand announced last month they had found the first vaccine that provided some protection against HIV. But a second analysis of the $105 million study, not disclosed publicly, suggests the results may have been a fluke, according to AIDS scientists who have seen it.

The second analysis, which is considered a vital component of any vaccine study, shows the results weren’t statistically significant, these scientists said. In other words, it indicates that the results could have been due to chance and that the vaccine may not be effective.

(Emphasis mine.)

How to make netbooks run faster

The Asus EEE PC

Netbook nerds only:

My friend H recently asked a few pals for some tips on netbooks, the increasingly popular ((Asus is the netbook pioneer, but Dell and several other companies also produce these gadgets. And Nokia recently announced that they’re getting into the subnotebook game, as well.)) subnotebook computers that are cheap, lightweight, and great for travel. ((For at-home use, netbooks make for excellent dedicated Skype videophone terminals, as well.))

I recommended the Asus Eee PC, which I raved about ((One glitch that I’ve encountered recently with my Eee Pc, however: When I try to connect to a wireless access point, I get an error message that says, “There was an error setting up inter-process communications for KDE…Could not open network socket. Please check that the “dcopserver” program is running!” Does anyone know how to fix this? UPDATE: Oct. 26, 2009. I fixed this by resetting my Eee PC to its original factory settings. It’s simple — just reboot while pressing the F9 key. But make sure you’ve saved your personal data elsewhere first. Instructions are here. )) in April, 2008. And my brother M, also a netbook enthusiast ((M recently completed a Los Angeles to Buenos Aires motorbike trip, blogging and Skyping from his trusty ASUS Eee PC 901.)), kindly offered these tips for making Windows-based ((My Eee runs on Linux, but the newer versions use Windows.)) subnotebooks run more efficiently. I’m reprinting M’s suggestions here, with his permission:

I have an ASUS Eee PC 901, but few friends have the next size up, the 1000 series, and they’re very good computers. My computer looks like the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA. It’s a pretty sweet deal at $375.

It’s basically the same guts as the 901 but a bigger screen and keyboard, which is probably good. Honestly, I would only go with something smaller (like the 901) if you were travelling with it a lot. The 1005 is bigger but not by much — it’s still a very small laptop.

Sick battery life, too — not 10.5 hours, like they say, but a long time. So long that you don’t need to bring your charger with you. There are some cheaper options that are the same computer but with a smaller battery pack but longer battery life is infinitely better.

And yes, it runs Windows, but I have mine optimized to run pretty fast. Here’s how you can do the same:

  1. First off, you would want to switch out the RAM stick to a 2GB rather than the 1GB it ships with — around $30 and makes a difference. Like this one.
  2. And any windows computer can be a lot snappier if you slim down the installed programs and use alternatives to bad programs. Before you even start to use a new computer (or even if you have used it for a while) download and run Ccleaner to easily remove all the stupid software that comes pre-installed, that you don’t want or need, as well as removing ALL programs that run at startup.
  3. Google Chrome for a browser — IE is no good, and Chrome is much faster than even my beloved Firefox.
  4. Run Avast free home edition for antivirus (the price is right, and it doesn’t bog your computer down).
  5. Run Open Office for word and stuff (but be careful when you install it because it will want to install some other stuff too) — but only if you don’t have or can’t get a copy of real office. And if you can get a copy of office only install the parts you need.
  6. Get the K-lite codec pack with windows media player classic for videos (instead of windows media player which never has the right codecs and is a resource hog). This will play any video ever.
  7. If you have music on your computer run mediamonkey — it will even sync your ipod.
  8. And if you’re going to download torrents use utorrent – very easy and light.
  9. Those programs plus Skype and Picasa are all I have installed.

Thanks, M, for the tips. Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments.

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