30 August 2010

Rome wasn’t built in a day but...

...Pekan Trolak probably was. Have you been to Trolak? It’s a dead end, literally. Traffic can’t actually get through Trolak and one would have to do u-turn to get out of the town, an act that wouldn’t take too long since all there is the local Penghulu’s official residence, a post office that doubles as tyre shop (or something like that) and a barber, if I’m not mistaken. That’s it.

All this then conveniently brings me to Rome. OK, not really, but the official word from Liverpool Football Club is that Rome wasn’t built in a day and so, we should be patient with the current manager, that’s if, it was clear that he was trying to build Rome, not Pekan Trolak.

Eh? Hang on. Wasn’t he brought in to steady the ship and keep the team intact rather turn the club into another work-in-progress?

You see, I’m trying very hard to like Roy Hodgson’s regime at Anfield. Honestly, I am. After all, the Liverpool manager deserves all the support his predecessors received during their respective tenures at the club. The recent signing of Raul Meireles does certainly help as I was beginning to wonder, how in the world the Liverpool manager could think Christian Poulsen was a like-for-like replacement for the all-action Javier Mascherano.

Very much like when Rafa Benitez wanted to shore-up the defence by buying experience in the form of Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Hodgson was keen to do the same with the midfield hence, the acquisition of Poulsen. The two of them would be used in the Europa League, the Carling Cup, the FA Cup and probably against the League’s lesser teams when the manager opts to utilise the kids rather than Melwood’s finest. Makes complete sense.

But then, that’s where the similarity ends when it comes to these two managers’ transfer policies.

If it’s not clear already, I’d like to say that I like Liverpool’s previous manager. He didn’t compromise. Not when it came to his transfer policies. Either he‘d fork out tens of millions for the amazing talent he’s been eyeing for a while or he ends up spending a pittance for some unknown entity like say, David N’Gog, Jonjo Shelvey or Daniel Pacheco, even Lucas Leiva. Yes, at the moment they’re no world-beaters but at the very least, they have the potential to turn into magnificent players, at very reasonable costs.

Hodgson on the other hand, looks like he values experience. His track record certainly speaks for itself. Nothing particularly wrong with that really but when it comes at the expense of the selling Liverpool’s younger talents it starts to become a problem.

At the time of writing, Fulham’s Paul Konchesky looks like his on his way to Liverpool. I’m a fan of Konchesky and believe he is one of the more under-rated leftbacks in England. Unfortunately, it appears that on top of the usual cash amount, it will cost the club one Lauri Dalla Valle to obtain Konchesky’s services.


Pacheco’s name might be known by many at the moment but Dalla Valle wouldn’t be too far off either. The 19 year old Finnish striker is well-known to be one of Europe’s brightest talents and it looks like he’s on his way south to London while Konchesky at 29, makes his way North.

While there’s no guarantee that Dalla Valle would fully realise his potential over the coming years, I’d rather be patient and wait for Rome to be properly built with some of the world’s more exciting talent rather than look forward to a Trolak filled with a bunch of ageing Poulsens.

For the sake of the club, I’m hoping Roy really knows what he’s doing.

Note: No offense was meant towards the residents of Pekan Trolak. My experience of the place was almost 15 years ago at this stage. I'm sure the place is a bustling metropolis these days...

28 August 2010

Visor Down

For some odd reason, thing just tend to happen to me on Fridays. Maybe its because its the end of the working week here and I tend to go a bit off those days, delighted in the fact that I get to lay in bed for an extra hour or so during the weekend. Or, maybe my luck just runs out on Friday.

Anyway, there I was rushing back home on another Friday. Normally, I'd like to go on chillax mode and not hurry it home but grey clouds were starting to gather that afternoon and along with the clouds came gusts of wind that could take a person off their feet in an instant. OK, maybe not fat old me here but it definitely did that to my other half not too long ago.

All of a sudden, I could hear something that sounded like glass being smashed into pieces. And then, something came flying towards me. A shard of glass I thought, if what I had just heard a split-second ago was correct. Not wanting to end up like Felipe Massa, I sort of half-swerved and half-ducked but the object still hit me. Thankfully, I was wearing my full-face helmet and had my visor down that afternoon so, all the Unidentified Flying Object left behind were deep scratches on my visor, just above my right eye.

Phewww...that was a lucky escape. Initially, I thought it was something like a glass bottle that some drunken idiot had left on a nearby footpath but Monday came along and I was proved completely wrong. Something was not right that morning. The headlamp's light was shining just a bit too brightly and when I finally arrived at work, my suspicions were confirmed. That bottle of Smirnoff was actually my Vespa's headlamp glass which was now completely missing. Gone.

Whatever it is that caused it to break into a thousand tiny pieces, I don't think I'd be able to figure out anytime soon but after getting over the frustration, I decided that this was a good chance to get the Vespa a long-needed upgrade. The older versions of the PX have decent enough lighting but as the days get shorter, I'd be doing most of my commuting in the dark and in the pitch black darkness of winter, the headlamp's only as good as a candle in a darken room. Not good enough when roads are slippery and car drivers' attention might be lacking.

So, after a short call to confirm prices (reasonable for a change), I popped over to a local dealer and within half an hour was out of the shop with my new PX Disc halogen headlamp. Bright, bright lights even in midday.

Obviously, I'd be straying away from my Vespa's original look but I'd rather go with safety rather than authenticity on this one. Now, all I need now is some protection for my all-new headlamp from any debris on the road, especially since central Dublin might end up like one humongous construction site over the next few years. 

26 August 2010

SIP Tubeless Rims

I caved in. I just couldn't take it anymore and somehow, in my head, I justified to myself why I needed to have the rims even though there were already a perfectly decent pair of ScootRS tubeless ones lying in my living room.

Having copped that the rims were back in stock after a long, long wait, I quickly grabbed my credit card and quickly punched in my details. I have to give it to SIP though. That single green bar with what seemed like a warning of sorts (This article will soon be sold out) when you hover it, did the trick for me. I was so frightened that I would miss my one gleaming chance to get my hands on these rims, I ditched everything else and placed my order. (Note: A week on and it still says the same though).

Polished aluminium. Mmmmm....

SIP valve caps. A nice touch

That was late last week and when Monday came along, DHL were at my door with my rims (along with some other freebies that the good guys at the company decided to throw in the box). It never ceases to amaze me how companies like SIP shift their stuff to customers so quickly but what didn't amaze me this time around was the missing hexagonal and dome-type nuts that were meant to be included with the rims. In fairness, one of the rims had them in its box but the other one clearly didn't.

I immediately went online and popped a complaint to the company. I wasn't expecting much but by Wednesday morning I had received a text message telling me that the nuts had been delivered. I checked my email and there was an email reply from the company saying that the missing nuts were on their way, all within 24 hours after I put in my complaint. Now that's what I call customer service. German efficiency is definitely a well-earned reputation.

Engineered in Bavaria. Made in the People's Republic of China. Or maybe Taiwan?

Now, all I need are some good tubeless tyres to get me going on these rims...

24 August 2010

Liverpool 2010/2011: Dismantling the Rafalution?

It's not yet staring into the depths of the abyss or a downward spiral kind of situation yet but it certainly felt like that  last night. Seeing Alberto Aquilani on the stands rather than on the bench on Thursday night was sort of a precursor of things to come. Soon after, it was announced that Aquilani was on his way to Juventus. Thankfully, only on loan but still, I'd prefer for him to stick it out at Melwood rather than in Turin.

Ah well, there's no point in crying over spilled milk. Of course, as I write this, there's still some milk in the glass albeit on the verge of tipping over - Javier Mascherano. The fact that he went AWOL on Monday night said it all. He was on his way and there was nothing that could be done.

OK, keeping Mascherano was always going to be an uphill battle so, that was reluctantly set aside. There was after all, a game to be played against (possible) top four rivals and potential title challengers, Manchester City. Fifteen minutes into the game and things were looking decent. Gerrard was spraying passes all around the pitch and the defence had a good shape about it.

Not for long though. The game was never going to end up scoreless but it was the way Liverpool played that was more worrying. Being beaten by three-goal margins isn't a common sight to most Liverpool supporters but it wasn't surprising to see why.

First off, the team needs to press a lot more. All this men-behind-the-ball stuff is ridiculous especially against a team that can clearly move the ball around well, all over the pitch. And, this isn't some sort of personal opinion BS that I've decided to throw in, just to criticise for the sake of it. It's a reality of modern football. All the good teams do it. Even the oh-so amazing Barcelona do it and will continue to do it better if when they get their hands on Mascherano.

Then, there's our beloved captain. To put it bluntly, Gerrard cannot play in central midfield. He just can't. No matter how many times he tells the press that he can, don't believe him. Yes, he has all the capabilities to play in that role but for all his prowess, lacks the tactical discipline and tends to switch-off now and and again especially on the defensive side. He'd do well in crucial Cup ties or against smaller teams but against teams in the upper tier of the league, he's better off playing in the hole or on the wings where he has less responsibility.

Of course the problems don't actually end there but if ever Hodgson needed to prioritise, the top of his list should look like this:

Find exorcist for Fernando. Quick.

Yes, where is our Fernando and what have you done with him? It got so bad on Monday night that if a passerby dropped in the match that night he might have thought that he had been transported back in time to 2005 when Milan Baroš was leading the line for Liverpool. Seriously.

All joking aside, it's just one match that was bound to be tough. Certainly helps put things back into perspective for the it's-all-good-times-now brigade out there. To me, the real good times in recent years was being crowned European Champions in Istanbul followed by an FA Cup win a year later, followed by another European Cup final and topped off by the club's highest points tally for decades in 2008/2009.

If Hodgson even comes anywhere close to any of that, I'll be a happy man. A very happy man.

22 August 2010

Fridays in the rain

Fridays are great. By around lunch time, I'm bound to get that weekend buzz unless I'm up to my eyes with work. That hasn't seem to be a problem these days. One of the perks of the recession, I suppose. And of course, I'm constantly reminded that it's close to the weekend by the now resident idiot of the week who just loves to cause a nuisance of himself/herself by blocking off the motorcycle spot. Nice one.

Anyway, Fridays are also the one assigned casual day at work. Not a big deal really but it does mean I'd get to freely mingle with the general population without people being able to tell from a mile away what my I do for a living. With that freedom available, I'd normally want to make flying visits all over the city centre for various reasons.

The only problem with that is the weather in Ireland. Well, more specifically, the rain. You see, riding around on the scooter has its benefits but as one might have guessed, it has its disadvantages as well. So, to mitigate the ever-present risk of getting wet I'd seldom leave my armoured, waterproof trousers behind. The trousers are great really but sometimes, just sometimes I wish I don't need to walk down Grafton Street looking like Space Cop Gaban.

OK, I shouldn't be too shallow. After all, safety should be my main priority but still, there must be some way where I can have the best of both worlds?

Well, if it's any help to anyone out there facing the same dilemma as I'm in at the moment, there might be some sort of solution. Theoretically, that is. First off, in the form as protection, one can make do without the bulky armoured trousers and go with Knox's Flex Lite knee guards instead. Admittedly, you're not as protected as you'd be in proper trousers but I'd say they'd be great for short trips around the city centre where there's no chance your speedo would be going above 40-50km/h anyway. The other good thing about these knee guards is that they could be used in warm and humid places like Malaysia and India as a cheaper alternative to full-blown armoured trousers. As one might gather, the trousers can get really uncomfortable in hot/humid conditions as well as cost a fortune for people over there. Better something rather than nothing, eh?

Right, that's that angle covered but I'm still exposed to the weather and whatever it decides to drop on me? For that, I have one solution that will get a resounding Nooooooo! from most scooterists out there. Yes, Tucano Urbano's TermoScud could be the solution especially if you don't mind looking like a fat pregnant woman on a wheelchair. Nothing wrong with looking like a fat pregnant woman, I'd just prefer not to look like one, if that's OK.

But then, Tucano Urbano's Italian and the Italians normally know what they're doing when it comes to looking good. So, how can this be? What sort of dark arts have convinced normally good-looking Italians too look like bloated women while on their scooters?

Seemingly, not much. From what I can gather, the onus for scooterists in Italy (and much of the Continent) is to look good as soon as one steps off one's vehicle of choice. It doesn't matter how awful one looks like while on it. It's the complete opposite with the attitude of scooter enthusiasts around these parts but at least, I now understand why products like this actually exist and amazingly, sell quite well. Beats looking like Japanese alien exterminator walking down Grafton Street.

For the record, I haven't actually bought myself both products but as soon as I get the chance, I definitely will.

PS: I've just been made aware that there's a problem with leaving comments on this blog. Apologies to anyone trying to leave a few words here for the past few months. I've tried to correct this to the best of my abilities. Hopefully, it' all OK now and we can finally start some two-way communication going here...

20 August 2010

Killing Two Birds With One Stone

I've always liked Lego. Even these days when I bring my kids a long to the toy shop, I'd head straight to the Lego section. So, it wasn't surprising to me or my wife that while planning for our holidays next summer (hopefully), I somehow ended up on the Legoland homepage.

The first Legoland (yes, there's a few of them) that came to mind was the one in Windsor, England. I had done some work around the area over the last few years and I was relatively familiar with the place. A safe bet and a good Plan B if all else fails. Of course, one couldn't just ignore the home of Lego in Denmark but something else caught my eye while browsing the site - Legoland Deutschland.

Germany, although not your traditional tourist haunt does seem to be the most economically viable option in these times of recession. It's within the Eurozone so, there'd be none of this exchange rate nonsense, flights from Ireland to Germany always seem on the cheaper end and now, one other thing.

Yes, that giant Lego man standing over the town of Gunzburg in the middle of the map, is where Legoland Deutschland is supposed to be.  While looking at the map and the accompanying directions, it was quite evident to me that Munich was the closest city. Then, something else came to mind. What else was around the area?

I knew Landsberg am Lech sounded familiar. The fact that it was conveniently located halfway between Legoland and Munich (well, sort of) made it even better. The kids (and errr...Daddy too) could have all the fun at Legoland and I could squeeze in half a day somewhere to pop over to the home of SIP Scootershop. It's not Pontodera or Mauro Pascoli's legendary Vespa museum but it's certainly close.

Now, all I need to do is save up for the flights, accommodation, scooter goodies(!) and what not. Oh, and there's also the small matter of finding something that might interest the wife while in the area to make it the near-perfect holiday plan.

Any suggestions?

18 August 2010

Typical. So very typical

We had brilliant sunshine over the weekend. It was probably well above 25 degrees. A heat wave by local standards. That's not very typical though. So, after crossing-off a good number of items on my ever-growing To Do list, I reminded myself that my good old Vespa was in need of a wash and you couldn't dream of a better day to do it.

It's not that I clean my Vespa out of vanity or anything. I get it cleaned (once in a while) mainly for practical reasons. Yes, I don't use de-mineralised pure water or something like that to clean my scooter. The aim is merely to avoid kids being able to write Help!Clean Me in the dirt-covered surface of the Vespa, that's all.

If I can avoid that, I'm a happy man. Well, that and if I could rid the Vespa of some troubling grit. A combination of grease and grit had stuck to the frame like glue and I was starting to get worried of the long-term damage it might cause to the steel of my workhorse. Oxidised metal a.k.a. rust comes to mind.

I gave it a good scrub a few months ago, right after the last signs of ice and snow but for some reason, there was still some annoying grit stuck on the scooter. There was no other way to get this horrible combination off my Vespa but to invest the princely sum of €2 on the good old jet spray.

The jet spray did wonders to the chrome and paint job along with revealing some new scratches that had previously been hidden away under all the dirt. As soon as I wiped the Vespa dry, I went off exploring in my garden shed to look for a can of some leftover paint from a few years ago. Some yoga-type maneuvers and a toothpick later, I was finished. A good spin around the estate made sure the scooter was blown dry.

The Green Vespa was errr...Green again, clean and above all, grit free.

But not for long though. Monday came around too quickly (as always) and along with it came the rain as some sort of heavenly pay back for the good few days that we've had recently. Typical.

After a half an hour ride back from work, the Green Vespa was once again a shade of brownish dirt green. Dammit. Ah well, it looked good while it lasted...

16 August 2010

Liverpool Class of 2010/2011: Initial Thoughts

Yes, yesterday’s opening game ended in a draw but how did the Liverpool XI really perform on the day? Well, to start off, it looked like Hodgson had stuck with the tried and tested 4-2-3-1 formation with Gerrard playing the old Alonso role and Joe Cole occupying the Liverpool captain’s position of last season.

So, let’s continue from the back. OK, Reina’s blunder towards the end of the match was definitely a negative but was at the same time universally agreed to be very uncharacteristic of the man. Surely, he’ll bounce back from that so, no real issue there.

Being the first game of the season, it was evident that Hodgson wanted to play it safe at the back so, the inclusion of Agger at leftback was no surprise in order to counter Arsenal’s aerial threat with new boy, Chamakh and Vermaelen proving to be constant threats throughout the match (one which eventually led to Reina’s above-mentioned howler).

One major change that not surprisingly, pleased Sky’s Andy Gray was the change from the zonal marking system to the mano e mano system that’s more comfortable with the British pundits. No complaints there as both systems has its own merits but I do hope we’ll be able to see some concrete stats at the end of the season, just to lay this particular debate to rest if at least, for a brief moment.

Johnson looked more comfortable and with a season now under his belt, his partnership with Kuyt looks like it’s developing into a very promising one. Kuyt was his usual Energizer Bunny self so, we couldn’t ask more of him really. The same could be said of his teammate on the other side of the field, Milan Jovanović – a hard working player who looked like he has decent technique as well as a very mean shot on him. I can see him being a crowd favourite very soon.

Speaking of crowd favourites, Gerrard definitely looked enthusiastic with the central midfield role he so desires but maybe there is a case against him playing in that role. Yes, he might be fine if paired with an all-action Mascherano against a relatively soft Arsenal central midfield but against tougher midfield pairings (and with lesser partners), he’d potentially struggle. Maybe it’s first day nerves or maybe Hodgson does want his captain to play that way (considering the circumstances). Whatever it is, I hope it’s done for the good of the whole team and not to please certain individuals.

It was pleasing to see Mascherano in the starting line-up although based on his recent performance with Argentina, I had no doubt that he’d perform to his usual high standards. It was even more pleasing to see such good banter between him and the Anfield crowd on the day. Maybe, just maybe, between the crowd’s support, Hodgson’s man-management skills and the lack of funds at either Inter or Barcelona, our Javier might just decide to stick around for another while. Who knows?

Pepe Reina on the other hand, would know how one blunder (or reckless tackle to be more specific) could turn Joe Cole’s otherwise decent day into a very bad one. Before that, he did well but I get the feeling that he’s still struggling with his fitness, as on many occasions it looked like even the young Jack Wilshere had Cole in his pocket. Hopefully, the appeal will be successful and we’ll be able to see more of Cole sooner rather than later.

And, last but not least, we have the very much under-appreciated David N’Gog. Whatever criticism you pile at him, the young man still just does his job which is, to score goals. He’s had a decent start as well with four goals already this term. OK, three of them came via FK Rabotnički but credit is still due where it’s due. I’m hoping he keeps it up and continues to improve.

To sum it up, the draw wasn’t a major disaster (especially against the likes of Arsenal), there weren’t any disruptive radical changes and the good dollop of enthusiasm all-round can only be for the better.

14 August 2010

Ireland v. Argentina: Just Messi-ng with Ireland

The fact that it was the first day of Ramadhan didn't deter me from going to this match. Seriously, even if you ignored that this was Ireland's first match in the all-new Landsdowne Road (or the Aviva Stadium, as its called these days), it's not every day that one would be able to see Argentina play. This wasn't some sort of Argentina B team though, it was the full squad. The real thing.
The Liverpool and the not-so Liverpool contingent
Still skeptical about the whole thing especially after the FAI's penny-pinching opening show (what in the world was it supposed to be anyway?), I was half-expecting Lionel Messi to only make a token appearance towards the end of the match but he actually started and played close to 60 minutes of the game. Of course, being Messi, he caused Ireland all sorts of trouble.

Ireland were completely outclassed by the Argentinians throughout the match but ironically, the only way Argentina could find a goal was through some dodgy decision-making by the match officials. Ángel di María's goal will be in the history books but his job on the night was made even much easier by the hapless Paul McShane.

After that, other than a few dramatic attempts by Ireland towards the end, the match just lumbered on. One of those games where if you were watching it on TV, you'd be channel-surfing. I didn't have the option so, I decided to focus on other bits around the stadium. Here's a few of them:

Clockwise from top left: Support from the relatives for Robbie Keane's 100th cap; unlike Michel Platini, Eamon Dunphy didn't get any boos from the crowd but this one improvised banner did stand out; the non-prawn sandwich support and the scoreboard.

At the end of the day, it was a brilliant night just because of its historical importance rather than anything else. The stadium is brilliant (feels more like a posh conference centre rather than a stadium) and would definitely be a fitting home for Irish rugby and football as well as the venue for the 2011 Europa League final, no matter which clubs play in it. Hopefully, I'd get free tickets to that one as well...

12 August 2010

Green Vespa at Work: Early Mornings

What's going on here? Did the wife kick you out bed...?

There it was, the obligatory remark from the office's security guard/stationery man as I walked through the front door of my work place. He seldom fails to put a smile on my face with his oh-so smart comments.

You see, I woke up early yesterday morning. Really early. To prove my point, I had breakfast at 3.30 in the morning. Yes, I did say early...

Having not much else to do that early in the morning, I decided to go to work. And, what a decision that turned out to be. Everything's so fresh early in the morning. Traffic was pretty much non-existent. People just seemed so calm. Traffic lights? Well, they're all for some odd reason, a shade of magical green - all the way. Even the scent of 2-stroke oil popping out my Vespa's rusty exhaust seemed different, but in a nice way.

I wanted to make a detour just to extend the early morning ride but my inherent kiasu-ness took over. I wanted to be the first at work at least, this one time. So, instead of taking a right or left, I headed straight to the office, confident that I'd get to my destination well ahead of my colleagues.

In the end, I was horribly disappointed. No, the car park wasn't full of cars but there were a few of them already there. Dammit. Don't these people ever sleep?

I'll be first one day. Nah, maybe not... I like my sleep too much.

10 August 2010

Reflecting on Ramadhan...and Zombies


Note to self: Do not stay up to watch a movie. No matter how good it is. Yes, you look at the time and say to yourself...

Hmmm...movie ends at 3 am. Then, straight to bed and wake up around 9-ish. OK, make that 10-ish. Good plan.

It never works. The kids are bound to wake up right after the movie ends. It takes anything between half an hour or an hour to put them to bed again and then the sun’s up. Sunlight creeps in between the curtains hitting you right in the eyes. You try to get to sleep but between the shining sun and the kids doing somersaults in the next room, your eyes just stay wide open. Good plan is now bad plan. Dammit.

That was the weekend. For the rest of the week, for your sins, you’re destined to walk the Earth like the undead. Running on auto-pilot. You’re a zombie.

Speaking of zombies, I just happen to come across SPAZ on my recent (internet) travels. Seems the Scooter Patrol for the Annihilation of Zombies have been around for awhile. Good idea.

Think I should join up at least, for that cool patch (or sticker) and of course, for my own safety. Maybe not, since I’m sort of a zombie these days. I’ll give it a week and some mega sleeping session. Then I’ll be cured. I’ll have an enormous migraine but I won’t be a zombie any longer. Yay!

PS: Ramadhan’s just around the corner. For those of you who are taking part in it (in whatever form), have a good one...

08 August 2010

Get a Grip

After a disappointing time looking online for a decent seller that doesn't charge a fortune on postage costs, I decided to contact the manufacturer of the Grip-Lock directly. Having told my sad story about how difficult it was to get a hold of one of these locks in Ireland, the company decided to sell it to me directly, at a far more reasonable price.

The lock was posted the previous Friday and on the following Thursday, I had it on my table at work. That's a mere three working days (Monday was a public holiday in Ireland) to get all the way from New Zealand to Ireland. That's one hell of a postal service they've got there.

Yes, yes, postal heroes but what about the lock itself?

Well, my first impression was that it's definitely bigger than the pictures floating around the web. The description on the company's site doesn't help dispel this either - it says that it fits easily in pocket... I'm sure it fits in a pocket but not your ordinary pocket, maybe MC Hammer's pockets but definitely not mine.

Nevertheless, as I don't plan to carry it around with me all over the place, I'm just glad that it fits in my PX's glovebox, comfortably squeezing in between my lunch, a chain and a lock, the 2-stroke oil, some tools and God knows what else that found its way in there. It's also light enough but still has enough weight to come across as sturdy rather some flimsy contraption your 3 year old could hack into pieces in a matter of minutes.

Putting on the thing was a pretty idiot-proof affair. The lock itself came with a choice of three pieces of rubber spacer inserts. You choose the best one i.e. the one that fits snugly for your vehicle's twist grip, depress the brake lever into lock's slot, lock the errr...lock and there you go.

My PX has the factory standard grips on it and with this, the thinnest rubber spacer works best. I wasn't too worried about my plain old rubber grips but it'd be interesting to see whether the exposed plastic of the Grip-Lock would do any damage to the fancier type grips like chrome Sundance ones or one of those polished alloy billet grips. You'd have to be really finicky to complain but I suppose, people with bling grips on their scoots wouldn't want it scratched either, no matter how minor.

But does it do the job?

I don't know. No, really. The last time I checked, I haven't got any experience in stealing bikes or scooters but what I do know is that it's convenient. Very handy when you want to leave your scooter in a public spot for a while but don't want the hassle to get down on your hands and knees to use the chain and lock to secure your scooter. The only other lock that comes close to the Grip-Lock's convenience is the VE-CEM Handlebar to Frame lock but I wasn't to keen on the look of the thing.

Talking about looks, I went for the nasty bright yellow option. Grip-Lock does offer green among various other colours as an option but the last thing I wanted with my lock was for it to blend in. And, blend in it didn't. I didn't need to tell my mates that I had gotten a new lock for my bike, they immediately noticed it themselves. So, if normal, law-abiding people who have no intention of stealing my scooter (as far as could tell) noticed the thing, I'm sure most if not all of those low-life thieves out there would have seen it from a mile away and I hope, be discouraged enough from nicking it.

There you go. It's only been a few days but hopefully, I leave my Green Vespa safer and a bit more secure these days.

Oh, as an added advantage that was pointed out to me, the lock stops those annoying eejits who come along, sit on your scooter and then go mental at twisting the throttle, flooding the engine in the process. They won't be able to do that now, will they? Huh? If that still fails, unlock the Grip-Lock and use it to smack them in the face. Theoretically, that should stop most people.


06 August 2010

Where Not to Get a Haircut

I was in dire need of a haircut. Not that there was much hair on my head in the first place these days. It’s just that it had started to get a bit unruly and was starting to grow in awkward patches on my head. Sort of a cross between a Manchu-period Wushu master and Marouane Fellaini. In short, a pretty horrible combination.

So, off I went to the local barber. This particular place wasn’t a favourite or anything, it was just convenient. While the wife and kids went about the shopping centre doing their own thing, I could get myself a haircut, a friendly chat and some glimpses of football on the small TV hanging on the corner of the shop.

Normally there’d be a long queue for a haircut but if you ever wanted a good gauge to see how things are really going with the economy, your local barber would give a fairly good indication - it was empty. Within a few seconds I had my jacket off and was comfortably seated.

Halfway through my haircut a boy popped in. Seeing that the only other barber in the place was working on me, the Boss himself decided to attend to the boy.

Things are looking these days, aren’t they?

Curious as to what the Boss was referring to, I had a second look at the boy seated a few chairs away from me. He was wearing Liverpool’s 2009/2010 away jersey.


The boy answered meekly but before he could continue, the Boss continued.

The club will definitely do well, now. They’ve got Roy Hodgson. He’s a good manager.

Ah, looks like the Boss is a bit of an optimist. Pre-season’s not even officially over yet an already the club has had a dream start, eh? Hodgson is a good manager and no amount of media spin could have earned him at least that accolade.

It’s about time the club got itself a proper manager. An English one. Yeah, put back the English in the English Premier League.

What? Yes, let's replace the manager. Not because he wasn't good but because his passport was different. There's a good idea. It got worse from then on though.

It’s time these...

The Boss took a glance around the room. I caught a corner of his eye looking at this one Asian customer, hoping I wasn’t listening or better still, couldn’t even comprehend English. I looked away and pretended to be looking at the repeat of Man City v. Inter game that was playing on the telly, hoping he didn’t say what I thought he was about to say.

...foreigners got out and stopped messing with English clubs.

There you go. He half-whispered it anyway. I bit my tongue. It wasn’t in my nature to do so but I did it anyway. I thought it was the safe thing to do at the time considering I had a pair of scissors and a few other sharp objects around my head.

Yes, get the foreigners out. Why stop at one Spanish fella. There’s a whole bunch still at the club. Yes, let’s get rid of Torres, let’s get rid of Reina, Agger, Skrtel and everyone else that’s not English. After all, they are ruining this club aren’t they? But why stop there? Let’s re-write history and change Bill Shankly’s and Kenny Dalglish’s nationalities to a more acceptable one just a bit south of the border where they come from.

I don't know what happened next but I must’ve sent out some sort of subliminal message to the Boss as he kept his mouth shut for the next few moments. A few snips later, I was done. I popped out of my chair, grabbed my jacket, paid for my haircut and headed straight for the door.

Thank you, Sir...

I heard the Boss say as I walked out of the shop. Sir, my foot. If he wants foreigners out so much, this one Johnny Foreigner was on his way out alright. I got out and promised myself never to come back to his place. Ever.

04 August 2010

Hello Atlantic Ocean

Yes, that's right. I've never come across the second largest ocean on the planet before. I probably flew over it at some early stage of my life but yes, last weekend was my first encounter with the Atlantic Ocean.

Having friends visiting over the weekend was a great excuse for the family and I to jump into the car and bring them along for the 260 kilometers or so drive west to the Cliffs of Moher.

Note to self: Next time I go on a drive, I'll make sure to remind myself that the AA Ireland Route Planner function should only be seen as a guideline rather than absolute directions to my intended destination. The same goes with relying on other people's un-updated sat navs. Unless I was feeling like doubling my travel time and getting non-stop Are We There Yet questions from the kids, just for the sake of it.

Would certainly drive you to do something like this, wouldn't it?

02 August 2010

Scooter Sightings: August Bank Holiday Weekend

Had a busy enough Bank Holiday weekend. But as always, the good old Vespa is seldom forgotten. Here's a few that popped up...

Now, where have I seen this Vespa before?

I have to say, I absolutely hated the GTV when it first came out but to be honest, for some odd reason, it has started to grow on me recently. This one's definitely a very nice specimen of the model.

Love the flyscreen on this PX. I wonder whether I could find one in green instead of the blue seen here? Also, I've always had doubts about white walls but the ones here look just right.

You don't see too many of these ETs in good condition these days, especially around these parts. I don't know about the windscreen on this one but it certainly completes the package here.

That's it for the moment. There was a very nice Mk 1 PX spotted at the airport but I didn't get a chance to snap a pic of it. Maybe next time. Oh, and the rest of the weekend wasn't too bad either. I'll have more on that once I've recovered in the next few days...

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