the polo shirt story

What’s this?

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Blog material.

No, seriously – what you see here is my broken Tusker polo shirt.

Bought this One-Way XXL shirt sometime in 2006 and after only 4 months in use, the collar suddendly fell apart. Obviously, there’s something to the one-way name that didn’t quite appear to me when I coughed up the mbeca for this Tusker goodie. Also, “XXL” is meant to be read: “this shaat will shrink once you hand-wash (!) it at 30°C”.

A tailor in Embu even tried to fix it the other day but it just wouldn’t work. Apparently, the collar went into early retirement.

I am the polo shirt guy. That’s why you’ll hardly ever see me in t-shirts. BarCamp Nairobi shirt? Africantees.com? Naaa….no polo shirt (no collar), no deal with JKE.

Actually, I just bought this polo shirt because of the TUSKER logo, but then: I wouldn’t mind if there was “JKE” on it instead, as long as it comes in a good quality. Something that will stay in shape after washing (and mind you, I am not using any dryer), won’t expand like those many Made-in-Bangladesh clothes as found @ H&M & Zara and that’s still affordable.

What’s the best shirt then? I hate to admit it, but I quite like these Ralph Lauren classic polo shirts because – if original – they’ll just be as solid as Barbour wax jackets.

The other day I decided to get a used (ati, I am cheap..) RL polo shirt from eBay and…well…

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…baaad idea. What you see above are two RL polo shirts in size XL. The turquoise one is my old one, the black one on top is the “new” used one from eBay. Can you see the difference? Atiriiri…how am I supposed to cover my Tusker belly with such a short shaat?

So, because I know I am not the only one out here with peculiar dressing habits, let me ask you: is there any brand out there you can recommend? Any polo shirts that will just remain in shape after the 20th washing and that come without any stupid logos or brandings? I know you folks from the USA will laugh about this, but there seems to be a difference between the clothes you can buy in Europe and those you’ll get in the US. Even if they are all made in some low cost countries.

@Bwana Kobia: polo shaats @Africantees and I’m your next customer! :-)

Naaaaaaarf!

My colleague has an iPhone.

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Kiku’s Realm on an iPhone

Interesting fact: the iPhone will be officially available in Germany via T-Mobile (the only network in Germany that supports EDGE) from November 9th onwards. Rumour has it that it will at least cost a monthly fee of EUR 50,- which will include some free airtime and free sms. Plus the subsidized cost of the phone, of course, which I think will settle somewhere between EUR 299,- and 399,- [update: it will be EUR 399,-].

The other alternative is to import it from the US and hack it yourself – this is what my colleague did. Some of these phones are selling for at least EUR 400,- on eBay Germany (most of them for something around EUR 550,-), but he bought it in the US, had it sent to someone who just came over for a visit and hacked it last night. He just showed it to me during the lunch break and I have to admit: the iPhone scores exactly where my Nokia N95 has its downsides, namely the interface / usability, speed and and internet surfing experience.

Coming to an interim conclusion of my first hands-on impression: if you’re into surfing the net via Wi-Fi and if your network provider supports EDGE technology, if you’re not the MMS person and want to use e-mail instead, if you hardly ever use the phone’s camera and just want a great substitute for your E61(i) or Blackberry…then the iPhone is the right phone for you.
All others who need more multimedia functions may go for the N95, but frankly said: if I could swap the internal GPS on my N95 for a much better battery runtime, a much better browser (both browsers are based on Apple’s Safari core!) and a brick format (no movable parts = less problems), heck – i would immediately switch phones. Comparing the N95 with the iPhone isn’t fair, though. They just happen to compete on the same market but were made for completely different user groups, I think.

Oh, and the best thing about his deal: he just spent something like EUR 280,- on the phone due to the awesome exchange rate to the US-$. With EUR 280,-, I won’t even get a Nokia E61i… and THAT is sweet. An iPhone for EUR 280,- while the N95 currently retails for EUR 559,-!

@Mental: you may want to go for the iPhone…
@Mathias: kannst Du mir bitte ein iPhone mitbringen? :-)
@Bambi: *sigh*…please? prrrreeeezzzzee?
@CK: there you go…

[Update]: Ok ok ok…Bambi says NO! to the iPhone (NO! as in NO!), and since Bambi also is the Minister of Finances @ Kiku’s Realm, I’ll have to stick to this virtual (but nevertheless also neat) desktop iPhone realized through Adobe’s AIR tool:

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[UPDATE 2]: CG just sent me a link to macnotes where it says that the tariffs will include a flatrate for EDGE and all T-Mobile hotspots. Hmmmmm… The iPhone lacking UMTS (3G) support may be ignored with a flatrate for T-Mobile hotspots, but still: all tariffs are just too expensive. And besides – even since the iPhone doesn’t support MMS – selling sms for 0,19 EUR is just sooo…1990s. T-Mobile and Vodafone both have great coverage and network speeds, but their approach to consumers is just an insult day after day.

the luggage story

There are a million subjects one could blog about – and while I prefer those that add a value in some way or another, I sometimes get carried away to turn this page into a tumbleblog.

Social networking services like Twitter, Facebook or even the commented links on Delicious often help to substitute these tumbleblog-tendencies in me, but there’s this question I’ve asked myself lately which just requires some feedback:

What’s the best baggage (luggage, case, travel bag)?

Yeah, what kind of travel bag(s) are you using for your travels? Non-wheeled luggage? Wheeled luggage? 2-wheeled? 4-wheeled? Backpacks? Duffels? wheeled duffels? Sports Bags? Trolleys? Spinners?….aiii – the classification in itself is confusing to a point where you just end up thinking: no way, maaaan, anything spacious will do.

Well, does it?

Now, let me pls rule out that I am by no means going to use those *insert politically incorrect term here* bags for my luggage. At least not for my next flight! :-)

Having said that, let me tell you about my Koffer-history. I grew up on using 4-wheeled upright Samsonite lightweight suitcases. My father for some reason one day decided to go for more durable cases, and back then during the early 1970s, he decided to switch from old-fashioned, fibreglass 1960s styled cases to modern Samsonite suitcases.
These Samsonites used to be nice up until the early 1990s when more and more people started travelling and suddenly even the local supermarkets starting selling decent trolley systems. And while my old Samsonite actually weighs around 6kg alone when empty (!), it weighs around 30kg when filled with normal clothes. And hey! I am tall. Tall people have bigger clothes = need for space = *should* be allocated a higher luggage weight quota. Reaching those 20kgs is a pain whenever I pack my stuff together for a longer journey, and while I often end up having around 23kgs, I am always extremly annoyed about the fact that the box actually consumes a 1/4 of the allocated weight quota.

Clearly, something needs to be done about this.

Way back in 1997, I spent my first salary on a 2-wheeled Eastpak Warehouse travel bag like the one below.

eastpak warehouse

This bag is just awesome as it offers a volume of 140 liters at a decent size of 84x45x38 cm. Yes, 38 cm width which means you can comfortably pull this bag on a narrow train aisle.
The downside of course is that there’s a chaos in this bag (you can actually just throw everything in it and move on) and that the pulling-mechanism is somewhat annoying. If you’re 6ft4 tall, all you want is long enough luggage so that you don’t have to dislocate your shoulder whenever you want to reach for your luggage. And: this is Germany. We do have a lot of US-American brands on our market here, but there are many more interesting products from the States which aren’t available here. The backpack for my 15,4″ notebook actually is a High Sierra model I was given by a friend last year who bought it in the States. Imagine I had checked ALL available laptop backpacks on sale in Germany, and none of them was good enough. Again, if you’re a tall person, finding the right luggage that uses the space provided by a longer back may sometimes be a tedious taks.

Back to my bag which has been used intensively since 1997: Just the other day while flying to Sweden, I saw this older US-American couple in front of me who were apparently touring Europe and who had very nice trolleys. This trolley technology is just perfect, and when you look at how the market for travel accessories developed over the recent years, you’ll see that more and more shops are offering those trolleys in different sizes, shapes, materials and weights.

So I started my search with the typical “what if I had enough money” question so see what’s the best product out there – and then move on to a more affordable solution.

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These RIMOWA trolleys, either made out of aluminium or polycarbonate are sexy indeed, but while the alumium ones only look good (and still weigh almost as much as their fibreglass counterparts from Samsonite, Delsey & Co), the polycarbonate ones are a wobbly affair. I just don’t trust their stability as I’ve seen quite a few “refurbished” polycarbonate RIMOWAs for sale on ebay that all had the same problem: a broken corner. Quality? Well, RIMOWA gives a 30year guarantee on their products – which explains why you would spend at leat EUR 270,- on a 82l suitcase which just weighs 3,5 kgs. Nice gear, but not for me.

So I continued my search and came across this model by Eastpak (huuuh! again?) which basically looks like my older Eastpak bag with the difference that it’s a little bit smaller (105l vs 140l) and comes with a few smart details such as the trolley function and separated compartments:

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Eastpak Godfather L, 78x40x30cm, 105l, 3.8kg 4,8 kg! It’s 4,8 kg instead of 3,8kg as declared on Eastpak’s website & the flyers/badges that came shipped with this bag.

Is this my next bag for the coming years? Will my 3-weeks-luggage fit into this system and be my ultimate travel gear which I can pull from here around the rest of the world? That is: travelling for me includes everything from a comfy taxi ride, small aisles in trains, careless luggage handlers at airports to carrying this bag through never-ending stair cases and having it on my laps for a 5h ride in an over-crowded matatu. And then of course there’s this hotel across town, which means I’ll have to pull this baby through the neighborhood on never-ending streets with questionable sidewalks…

Obviously, trying to find the perfect equipment for a mixture of all those tasks is worth blogging – and a perfect distraction from other, much more important tasks that I am good at procrastinating (and which have kept me away from blogging lately, damn it..).

So what does your luggage look like? Any feedback is appreciated! :-)

the NYJets bucket

Dear Friends,

is it so bad with wine in the US?

I only recently registered with viddler.com and stumpled upon this video today (hey, here in Europe we love wine :-) which is just…uhm…..ZeFrankstlyed-crazy. I LOVE that kind of crazy, personal marketing blabla as well as the humour that comes along. (because you would NEVER ever find this kind of entertainment within our serious Germany. Aii, you know what they’re saying about Germans and humour? Well, there u go…)

Also, it’s interesting to see how a company easily benefits from facebook applications. If I had such a product, I think I’d do the same. Smart.