29 June 2010

World Cup Despair

Being Malaysian, I’d be rooting for any Asian team at the World Cup. Any country, as long as it was in the Asian Confederation and that includes the Australians these days. Why?

Well, it’s certainly not because any of the Asian teams play amazing, eye-catching football. OK, South Korea came close to something half decent in their game against Greece but the Asian teams are still light years away from producing anything brilliant. So, let me explain...

Good match last night, eh? Those Koreans definitely ran the Greeks to the ground didn’t they?

Yeah, amazing bunch of guys they have there. It’s like a team of Ji-Sung Parks running the show...

Hang on. Where are you from again? Malaysia isn’t it? Why aren’t your boys at the World Cup?

Errr...because we’re crap. We used to be quite good you know. Back in the day when they only allowed one Asian team to the World Cup, South Korea was that team BUT we were number two. Right behind them. Really...

You see, the only reason I want Asian teams to do well is because I want the Asian allocation at the World Cup to increase to a number where Malaysia would stand a good chance of qualifying for the tournament. Of course, I understand that being ranked number 146 in the world doesn’t help. Even if Asia had the full allocation of 32 teams, we’d still have a mathematically impossible chance of qualifying.

Well, at least we’ve got Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh over in South Africa. Oh, what a great job he does putting up numbers every now and again (although the electronic board thing can seem too heavy for him sometimes - more weight training perhaps?). That’s as close as any Malaysian is going to get to some really world class players...

27 June 2010

The World Cup up to now

Right, I might get lynched for this but here goes...

Ireland should’ve gone to South Africa instead of France? Yeah, right. OK, from a strictly football perspective, Thierry Va Va Voom Henry (having visited Croke Park in the first leg), could’ve been confused between GAA and association football.

That game still had to go penalties and no matter how great Shay Given is, there was still no guarantee that Ireland would’ve won the shootout. Les Bleus were merely being good hosts by ensuring that the boys in green went home to bed as early as possible. God only knows how long a penalty shootout would’ve taken that night in Paris.

And, do the Irish squad think that they could ever, ever match Les Bleus’ performances in Le Meltdown? Yes, looking at the group France were in, Don Giovanni would’ve certainly fancied Ireland’s chances of making it past the first round but seriously, even Roy Keane’s tantrums in Saipan would’ve seemed mild compared to the antics of the Black, Blanc and errr...no Beurs?

Yes, strangely enough, Raymond Domenech (maybe not that strange since it came from Domenech) chose not to bring along any players of Arab/North African origin into the French squad. OK, he might not have thought that Raul’s pal on the sidelines, Karim Benzema would be sharp enough or that Hatem Ben Arfa was plainly a headcase but leaving out Samir Nasri?

The way I see it, if he’s got space in his squad for the likes of Djibril Cisse he’s got not excuse for not bringing along any of the above players. Maybe Sarkozy told him they weren’t French enough and that’s why Henry’s gone around to meet with him. Ooh la la!

In the end, Sepp Blatter got what he wanted, France in the World Cup, entertaining the world. They definitely did entertain us all. Yeah, try beating that Irlande!

Sticking with knocked-out footballing giants (coincidentally also in blue), the Italians must’ve boarded their plane of shame to Rome by now. With those two out of the way, the path is now clear for Inger-land to claim their rightful place at the top of the world (where they naturally belong of course) and bring football back to its rightful home.

Yes, after clearly beating the merde out of Slovakenia Slovekia some lesser-known Balkan country, England are once again set to strike fear into the hearts of all and sundry. How could they not? After all, they’re kitman had recently found a stash of their old Empire Red jersey that turns midgets like Jermaine Defoe into Emile Heskey. Eh?

Of course, they still have to beat this little-known nation called Germany while a host of smaller nations like say, Portugal, Argentina, Spain and the smallest of them all, Brazil lie in wait after. Easy. Why wait? Get 2010 England etched on to that trophy now!

25 June 2010

Dental Appointment!

Had a visit to the dentist recently. Fortunately, I wasn't the one seeing the dentist. My daughter has had a horrible toothache for the past few days so, it was about time she went to see the dentist. I never liked seeing the dentist. I just don't like the idea of someone poking metal bits into my mouth especially when you're helplessly lying on a chair with a spotlight directly in your eyes.

Anyway, even though I wasn't the patient this time around, I was still reluctant enough to bring my own daughter to the dentist. I didn't have much of a choice though. It was either that or sitting in a car with two screaming boys for about an hour.

My dear wife, understanding that I needed some encouragement to overcome my fear of dentists (don't know where she got that idea from?) gave me a call as she waited for me in front of the dentist's place.

You'd better come here quick! There's a very nice Vespa parked in front of the dentist's place.

Really? What is it...?

At this point, I realised I wasn't going to get an accurate answer. Of course, my wife is never one to disappoint...

Errr...I dunno but it's blue and very pretty!

Obviously, it's not a classic Vespa. In fact, it's a 2010 LML. Almost brand new by the looks of it. Still very nice looking though. Like the wife said, very pretty.


I've always been put off the white wall tyres on a relatively new vehicle like the PX or LML or for that matter, any vehicle that was made after the 60's but for some reason, the white walls on this LML looked just right. I might just change my mind about getting white walls on my own not-so-classic Vespa.

The white wall tyres' reputation as pieces of rubber turds don't help either with their infamy. So, now determined to find some decent white walls (and change the world's views on these pieces of rubber), off I went to scour the world wide web for some decent white walls and to my surprise, I found these ones at the Scooter Center (there's a pull-down menu for the 3.50-10 version on the page).

I've been using Heidenau K58s for almost two years now and to date, I think it's the best tyres I've used. Seemingly, the Schwalbe Weathermans are equally as good (it better be at that price) so, that would have it in my good books for a start. Added to that, the fact that the tyres are tubeless makes it even more attractive as I'd finally be able to get some proper tyres for my yet to be used tubeless rims.

Now, if only some Nigerian general would lodge a ridiculous amount of cash into my bank account...

Oh, and the dentist appointment didn't turn out to be too bad either.

23 June 2010

Help! Upgrade needed

I own a computer. A laptop, if I were to be more accurate. And, if I were to liken my computer to an animal, mine would be a dinosaur. Like most dinosaurs we know of today, my computer lives in that netherworld between life and death – a fossil. OK, mostly dead but occasionally popping up in some desert in the middle of nowhere just as a reminder that it was once the bee’s knees.

Yes, my computer (if you can call it that these days) is nearing the end of its life. It’s pretty much on life support at the moment. I’ve got a fan/cooler thingy plugged into it but as soon as I plug it out, it gets all asthmatic and refuses to work.

The memory modules on it have been upgraded to as much as it can take while I think I upgraded the hard drive to its now oh-so glorious 40GB capacity!

It’s not like I demand high-end usage out of it. I don’t use it for gaming nor do is use it for any fancy graphics work. It’s strictly for browsing the www and even at that, it fails horribly. Some days I could get away with a good hour or so out of it. Other days, it won’t even start up. Firefox works sometimes. Safari, even less so. I’ve not bothered installing any other browsers for fear that the thing might just implode, leaving me computer-less. And that would be a horrifying thought.

So, having endured the pain for so long, I’ve decided to end my misery and get myself an all-new computer. But which one do I go for?

Since I’ve started blogging recently, the ability to blog would be my base requirement. I know it sounds like a pretty basic requirement but if you’ve been working on the piece of fecal matter that I’ve had to work with all this while, you’d understand.

Next up would be the ability to mess around with images with relative ease. Relative ease being the key words here so, that should bring the specs up by a few notches. As a continuation of that, handling video without strange beeps and whirrs coming from the computer’s innards would be nice as well. I’d finally get to properly edit all that video footage that’s been lying around the house, collecting dust. All untouched and rarely seen again ever since they were first taken. A few of them almost a decade old at this stage.

There’s also the question whether I join the hordes of Steve Jobs converts and switch to one of the Macs. At first, my initial impression was that Macs were just for iPonces but after the good experience I’ve had with iTunes, an Airport Express and an iPod Mini, I’ve slowly warmed-up to the Macs although I still wasn’t fully sold at that stage.

That quickly changed as soon as I started messing around with a friend’s iPhone recently. After a couple of minutes on it, I was hooked. Absolutely hooked. Intuitive is a common buzz word when one is trying to sell tech-type stuff like this but, in the iPhone’s case, I personally think that all the hype is justified.

Having experienced the iPhone, I’d definitely consider having one of the iMacs on my shortlist of things to buy. When will I finally get myself that? I don’t know. With this bleeding recession going on, that shortlist is a bit of a misnomer at this stage.

21 June 2010


I've looked at this same door for at least once a week, every week for the past three years or so. It's meant nothing to me except for what it says right on the tin - a shed where all the garbage (or refuse) is accumulated until the bi-weekly collection.

Nothing special about the place really. Like any other similar places, it can really stink on warm and humid days, especially towards the weekend when the garbage bags pile up. At some stage during the shed's life, the management company decided to reduce the unpleasant smells by planting a rosemary plant right beside the entrance but really, did they seriously think that the rosemary would help?

Anyway, like I said, there's nothing to the place. Just a refuse shed with a door that clearly says Refuse (just in case some less intelligent being decided to sleep there instead). Or so I thought, until last week, that is.

A friend of mine from back home was visiting recently and for some odd reason, as I was about to put out the garbage, he decided to take the short walk with me down to the refuse shed. As we approached the door, I could see him holding back a smile. Curious as to why a seemingly sane person would get even a tiny bit of delight from what basically was a room full of garbage, I asked him the obvious question.

He pointed at the sign on the door and chuckled.

Sepultura, bro. You know, Refuse...Resist?

He looked at me as if my head had tilted sideways and another one was about to pop out. I got what he was saying straight away, of course. Sepultura and Max Cavalera's later incarnations would be listed as one of my favourites so, I found it suprising that I didn't connect the two together all this while.

The picture above is from the cover of the band's 12" vinyl release of Refuse/Resist. They say a picture tells a thousand words. Well, I think this picture is the definition of just those two words. Absolute class.

On a different note, today's meant to be the longest day on the calendar - the summer solstice. Could never tell the difference though. All it means to me is that it's like the beginning of the end for all this brilliant weather we've had recently...

19 June 2010

The Battle of Ireland: Bombtrack Live

On hearing Bombtrack for the first time all those years ago, I'd never imagined that I'd get to see Rage Against the Machine playing it live one day. The closest thing I could hope for was a local band covering it at a local gig. Probably somewhere like the old Malaysian underground haunt, Piccadilly Disco in Damansara Jaya or upstairs at the S&M Shopping Centre on Jalan Silang.

In fact, I vaguely remember an attempt by a band in those years, complete with hidden guitarist, just in case some curious onlookers decided to steal their famous intro!

Of course, nothing beats watching the real thing so, here goes...

Apologies for the shaky video. I couldn't help myself from jumping about. Added to that, some eejits thought that it was the best time to walk out and get themselves a pint the very moment the song was about to start so, some evasive manuevers were called for. Oh, and sitting almost a mile away from the stage doesn't help either!

17 June 2010

My Water Moments

This is my scooter. As you can see, it's pretty much a bog-standard Vespa. A PX125 to be exact. And, because it's standard, like most scooters, it travels on land. Mostly on tarmac, sometimes on gravel or even grass but somehow never on water. Or in it.

Maybe, if I had some sort of all-proof macho but at the same time, ultra-slim device, I'd be able to change that. Something like oh, let's just say...the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX5.

No, the TX5 isn't some sort of new CNC-machined bolt-on addition to the PX's 123cc engine. It certainly wouldn't transform my humble scooter into one of those state-of-art non-submersible Scorpène class submarines (or would it? Hmmm...).

But, being water-proof, it would make it possible for me to snap pictures of my Vespa underwater(!) in the off-chance I ever fancied taking a ride at the bottom of that lake in Taman Tasik Titiwangsa. OK, it'll probably need a larger flash (don't think that low-light environment thingy would be any good) to see through all the garbage at the bottom of that lake but you can't deny that it'd be a dead cert for Scootering magazine's centrefold. I'd be like a scootering hero. No, a legend. The Loch Ness Scooter.

People's grandkids would be talking about that picture this demented Malaysian dude once took on his scooter at the bottom of some murky lake.

I'd be so famous that Datukship awards would be flying in from every corner of the country. I'd be cutting ribbons to officially open yet another shopping centre in suburbia (probably at yet another place called Damansara something, something). I'd sit at high tables at complete strangers weddings. Even Harun Salim Bachik would want to be my friend and together, we'd rid the world of its troubles, ushering in a lengthy period of World Peace.

Sadly, if by some mysterious reason the powers-that-be decide that all this is not for me, they might just not hand me over that TX5, forever dooming us all to eternal damnation!


15 June 2010

Scooter sightings

Ah, the sun. It brings out the best in people. It also brings out the best in previously hidden vehicles. Convertibles would eagerly get their tops down (probably only the second time this year), all sorts of hairy weekend warriors start to fill the streets with their two-wheeled contraptions and of course, as if to complete the Mediterranean-type weather, they'd be lots of scooters about too.

Had been eyeing this smallframe at Carl's place for awhile now. Good to see that it's finally on the road. A Vespa 90 Racer if I'm not way off the mark.

This PX at its usual spot outside Hogans. Seen here with the Green Vespa.

LML amongst the bicycles

I had my camera out last weekend as the probability of finding some rarities parked on footpaths were quite high.  Unfortunately, all I could find were the scooters above. Maybe there was something on that I didn't know about. Maybe people were just staying indoors to catch the World Cup.

Maybe I'm just starting to run out of things to write...

13 June 2010

Where were you in Istanbul?

I certainly know where I was but, that's a different story for another time. The stories that come out of that miraculous night in Istanbul just never ceases to amaze me. This one's about a mate's visit to the museum at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza or more commonly known as the San Siro.

I was shown the picture below and was surprised to see a Liverpool jersey displayed at the San Siro especially, in the Inter half of the museum. If it was at the Rossoneri end I'd understand but in the blue & black end?

It turns out, the embarrassment inflicted on Milan was too hard for them to bear after Istanbul, that they passed on the Liverpool jersey that was gifted to them to their co-habitants at the San Siro. The funny thing is, it still produces a smile (and the odd chuckle) from the Interista staff working at the museum every time they explain this oddity to visitors.

If you look closely, the jersey is actually from the later 2007 final in Athens but it still gives the same hurt (Milan) and cheer (Inter) anyway.

I suppose, it's good to know that Liverpool's win that night over five years ago doesn't bring joy to just Liverpool fans around the world.

11 June 2010

A trip to the mountains

The initial plan was to head to Clonmacnoise but driving for that length of time with kids in the car wasn't actually my cup of tea especially since I was still recovering from Rage Against the Machine's gig from a few nights ago. A closer-to-home option was preferred.

The Gateway

So, having turned back the clock musically (with Rage), I decided to do the same with a visit down to Glendalough which was last visited about ten years or so ago.

The Round Tower

The ancient monastic site was errr...as expected, unchanged from back then. Unfortunately, our visit there was cut short as the kids started to get scared being in what basically was a graveyard! Plan B was to pop over to a more child-friendly spot a quick drive up the R755, the Upper Lake.

Upper Lake, Glendalough

Some of the locals

Again, taking the trip as a Vespa run scouting trip, a detour was in order as we headed towards the Wicklow Gap (which included bits of the Braveheart Drive). Climbing up the mountains was a bit of a struggle even in the car while the return trip was a decent enough  downhill roller-coaster-type ride. I'd make sure that I get more torque on to that old Vespa as well as an upgrade to some good disc brakes, if I can afford it.

The view from half-way towards the Wicklow Gap

A few thousand miles south of all this, something more important just kicked-off, literally. Oh, yes. It's that event wives, partners and girlfriends the world over dread every four years. Enjoy the football people.

09 June 2010

The Battle of Ireland: Setlist & Some Pictures

It was more than a bit surreal to have the same fella I went to Singapore with all those years ago to buy my first RATM t-shirt, visit me all the way from Malaysia (via most of the Middle East, Continental Europe and the UK) on the same day I was about to go to my first ever RATM gig. I still had the same t-shirt and wore it to the gig with some degree of pride.

We arrived at the O2 on the Luas which, was a pleasant surprise especially since the station was literally a stone's throw away from the venue. The place itself was very professionally run. Too professional in fact as it somehow lost its rock concert feel.

The Gallows at the O2, Dublin

Anyway, The Gallows were halfway through their set when we finally made it in (and after getting the obligatory official tour t-shirt). The punk band's set was then followed by a band that I've never heard of before, Gogol Bordello. Their brand of music was particularly refreshing and definitely set the tone for what was to come next.

 Gogol Bordello at the O2, Dublin

Rage was never going to be disappoint as soon as they came out. Their setlist was mostly made-up of their self-titled debut album with only a few songs thrown in from Evil Empire. A good choice I think, as I've always preferred the first album when compared to its successors. Here's the full setlist as I remembered it (apologies if I got some wrong as this is totally from memory):

Bombtrack (that intro never sounded so good)
People of the Sun
Know Your Enemy
Bulls on Parade
Township Rebellion
Afrika Bambaata cover: Renegades of Funk
Bullet in the Head
The Clash cover: White Riot (The Gallows covered I Fought the Law)
Guerilla Radio
Sleep Now in the Fire
Wake Up

Kicked-off with what sounded like the old Soviet anthem
Killing in the Name Of

Rage Against the Machine - who else could it be?

And of course, no Rage set would be complete without Zack de La Rocha's messages of solidarity to the oppressed denizens of the EU (particularly in Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece) and support for the brave souls trying to break the cruel blockade on the people of Gaza by the regime in Israel. End the Siege, now!

Raging till the end

All in all, a brilliant night that could've been even better if I'd only gotten myself some standing tickets. I'll try to get the few videos I'd taken, uploaded in the next few days.

07 June 2010

Helmets and 2 Stroke

After a few years of Vespa ownership, I've noticed that there are two things that would a sure-fire way to start a debate amongst scooter enthusiasts. The first thing being one's choice of helmets. Full-face or Open face? The pros and cons. Basically, does style trump substance?

I don't know the answer to that but, what I do know is that the other thing that is prone to debate in the world of scootering is the choice of 2-stroke oil. More specifically, whether it's semi-synthetic or fully synthetic.

Even such authoritative sites such as Scooter Help shy away from the answer to that question. Scootering magazine on the other hand, is quite clear on where it stands on the matter, advocating that their readers use the highest quality, fully synthetic 2-stroke oil for their scooters. Seemingly, this is very good for the engine's lubrication and also for the environment.

So, in keeping with the magazine's advice on the matter (and ignoring the advice of seemingly more mechanically-minded people), I've always stuck with high quality fully synth oils for my scooter. When I first got my Vespa, I opted for Castrol's TTS. I knew even back then, it was a bit overkill for just a Vespa but hey, Halfords was only two minutes away from where I live and it was convenient for me.

Then the recession came along and I was looking to trim the budget as much as I could. Not surprisingly, the amount spent on the Vespa would take a hit. At €3 less than Catsrol's offering, Rock Oil Synthesis 2 became the oil of choice.

I've been using Rock Oil for over a year now with no problems. While there's a bit more smoke when compared to the TTS, it does have less of a distinctive smell. OK, the smell produced by the TTS might not be as nauseating as the Putoline Strawberry variety but on a warm and humid day, it can get up your nose!

Then, SIP came along with their fully synthetic oil. All it took me to get their oil was a free delivery voucher which meant that their oil was almost €4 less than Rock Oil. Quite amazing really when you think I'd be now getting my 2 stroke from a warehouse a few thousand miles away rather than a bike shop only 5 minutes away from where I work.

I'm sure to be lectured on this at some stage. Something along the lines of, I should support my local dealers (and indirectly the local economy) by buying local, blah, blah, blah. But, why should I? Why should I have to fork out my own hard-earned money to support someone else's excessive profits or their inability to reduce their own costs? I'd be OK if it was a bit more expensive but, slapping another 50% on the price and blaming it on VAT and shipping is just a really bad joke.

I'm no charity and until that changes, I'm buying what's cheapest out there. Anyway, I'll see how I get along with my new choice and report back on this.

05 June 2010

Nunca Caminarás Solo, Rafa

I hope the idiots out there are happy now. Idiots.

If the club don't find a replacement who's at least as good as Benitez, it's looking like one hell of a downward spiral for Liverpool Football Club.

Hang on, who else in their right mind would put up with the utter nonsense that the former manager had to put up with?

One can also argue all they want about Benitez's qualities. In my book though, if the man can make Djimi Traoré (yes, Djimi Traoré lest any of you out there forget) a European Champion, he IS a certified legend.

All the best Rafael Benítez Maudes. You'll be truly missed.YNWA, Rafa.

03 June 2010

Eh, what's this?

This thing has been at the back of my mind ever since I read about it a couple of weeks ago. Do I keep the self-imposed integrity of this blog or do I sell-out for merely a free CD?

It's been annoying me big time. Like that small piece of beef that's been stuck between your teeth after a good meal. The toothbrush is no help and no amount of deft hand manevouring would enable one to floss it out. Not unless you've got a hook as a right hand like say...errr...Captain Hook.

Sticking with annoying things, Owl City (why that name?) who has been a radio sensation of sorts (to the point of annoyance), has now released his second full album, Ocean Eyes. Yes, seemingly not content with annoying the hell out of casual radio listeners with the single Fireflies, the young man from Owatonna (pun intended) is out to prove to the world that he's no one-hit wonder with Umbrella Beach and Vanilla Twilight thrown in the album for good measure.

So, the dilemma is well and truly over. As you can see, it doesn't take much for me to succumb to the devious ways of Universal Music's marketing execs back home in Bolehland. All it takes is a free CD and I'm yours. The way I see it, if I've got Nuffnang banners selling Fish Pizza that resembles something a cat puked after eating some bad fish fingers, I might as well write something to get myself a free CD.

So, there you go. I hope you're happy now Michael A. Fredericks!

01 June 2010

Dodgy Valve Replacements

A couple of weeks after sending out my request, my new replacement valves finally arrived in the post all the way from Vietnam.The valves were very well packed. In fact, too well packed that it took me a while to unwrap the thing from its packaging!

Anyway, I thought it was a simple thing to do, this whole valve replacing lark. After a few attempts at trying to pull out the old chrome ones, I gave up before I did any serious damage to the tubeless rims. Surely, it can't be this difficult? Let's hope good old YouTube has some answers...

Sticking to all things Vespa, I finally found an excuse to buy stuff from SIP using the free shipping vouchers that came long with the 25th anniversary edition of Scootering.

My excuse was that I had ran out of 2 stroke oil and with SIP coming out with their own fully synthetic oil recently (seemingly based on powerboat technology?), I just had to give it a try.

Unfortunately, either I was too daft to understand how to use the free shipping voucher thingy OR SIP just conveniently forgot to mention that the free shipping thing was only valid for your next order. Bad SIP.

Ah well, I suppose it's another excuse to order more stuff from them in the very near future.

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