29 December 2011

I Remember Why I Do Not Go to Xmas Parties

December. As well as being the (politically correct) Holiday Season, it's also the season of endless partying.

I've got nothing against partying. In fact, I do enjoy the odd party now and again but when it comes to partying around this time of the year, I'd rather stay at home and keep as warm as I can.


Here's a couple of reasons:

1. The weather
Cold, icy, frosty and snowy weather isn't actually party-friendly weather. Whatever destination you're headed to, it's normally not worth risking life and limb to get to. The summer was made for partying, not late December.

2. The people
Nothing wrong with people in general. It's just the ones you do your utmost to avoid at work seem to be the ones that you end up being stuck with whenever the party/dinner/drinks come along.

3. The food
Being Malaysian, this particular item would naturally come way at the top of any party. Unfortunately, around these parts, it's more of an afterthought. And, if you're like me and more often than not would have to opt for the vegetarian option then, things get even worse on the food front. The vegetarian fare at Xmas parties normally consist of some spare roasted spuds, mashed carrots, boiled garlic cloves or some sloppy pasta, straight out of the can.

4. The tux
Now this might not apply to everyone particularly the girls but year on year, I cringe at reading 'Black Tie' written on the Xmas party invite. OK, I completely understand when the ladies go through all the effort of getting their hair done, their tan on and their bodily hair waxed off. In the end, they actually look better. Well, most of them. For the dudes though, the same doesn't apply. Yes, we don't fork out as much but the fact remains that guys spend a load of money just to look like they belong on the set of Happy Feet (or even worse, a horrible parody of 007 himself - yes, I'm talking to you dude in the white velvet tux).

I hope I'll remember this lengthy note-to-self to remind me whenever I feel the need to blend-in and sign-up for next year's round of parties.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

08 December 2011

A Different Kind of Journey

Normally, I'd merely go through Phoenix Park on my way to work. On the Vespa, the 5 miles or so to get to the park from home is effortless and depending on traffic, would take anything between 5 minutes and 15 minutes. Not actually a long journey by any standard but, it's a little bit different when you throw away the old 2-stroke engine and replace the pressed steel frame with what basically is two wheels stuck onto a couple of aluminium tubes welded together.

Yes, on one cloudy and mild Saturday morning, a friend of mine and I set off on a bicyle journey. At first, we weren't sure of our destination. All we had in mind was to do as many miles as we could within the hour or so that we had that morning. Fed up with going around Blanchardstown, I came up with the idea of cycling all the way to Phoenix Park.

My cycling buddy (let's call him Sam) looked at me in disbelief.

Both of us had only recently started cycling as a way of getting some exercise. Football was out of the question as we didn't have enough numbers among our circle of friends to get a decent five-a-side game going. Not on a regular basis anyway. Plus, the last time we experimented with expanding the circle, it went horribly wrong. All this of course ignores the fact I'm totally crap at football anyway. So, we turned to cycling.

Sam was still staring at me as if I had just suggested that we compete in the Giro d'Italia or something.

I know a short cut...
I tried to reassure him with my local knowledge and after a moment deliberating on the best (read shortest and least hilly) route, we were on our way.

Next objective: Dublin City Centre!

02 December 2011

Now Here's An Idea for a Paint Job: The Harimau Malaya Vespa

The Vespa LX150 was done up by Piaggio's Malaysian distributors Naza Primera with the aim of latching onto the wave of excitement around the Malaysian football team's recent achievements.

All well and good (and very bipartisan which makes good business sense) but then the distributor apparently went and ruined all the good reputation it gained from the Harimau Malaya Vespa by doing a follow-up which is not the greatest of ideas, to say the least.

I've accepted the fact that riding a Vespa leaves me open to being labeled or associated with mods, skindheads, hipsters, crazy-dude-who-thinks-he's-in-sunny-Italy and what not. All of which I'm fine with (to an extent) but now thanks to Naza Primera,  I might also run the risk of being identified as an UMNO goon and that is something I'd want to steer clear off. Maybe Naza Primera could gain from this major marketing cock-up - they could end up selling Vespa-branded hi-viz vests with Not an UMNO Member printed as big as possible on the back and front so that no one, absolutely no one can mistake a normal dude enjoying his ride on his Vespa as a member of the extremely evil Lord Vader's 501st Legion UMNO.

Pics nicked from the Star Online, Ammboi Dot Com and the Malay Mail Online

20 November 2011

Radio Killed the Video Star

On a day when three former Liverpool players in the Chelsea squad looked more likely to score (well, at least on paper) against their former employer, it was ironically, the single former Chelsea player in red who settled things at the Bridge this evening.

This fixture a few seasons ago would have been akin to watching a mind-numbing game of chess with both sides trying their utmost to choke their respective opponents to a premature footballing death. The underlying principle behind both teams being something along the lines of, if the other team can't score, we can't be beaten.

None of that today though. Today, it was as if both Dalglish and Villas-Boas were intent on outscoring each other on the pitch. The result of that was unsurprisingly, the most exciting Chelsea-Liverpool game in ages.

And, the other ironic thing about it is, I didn't get to watch a single live minute of the match. Yes, I followed the whole thing live but without an expensive cable subscription or a decent computer (my old laptop officially died a few weeks ago which also explains my recent blogging hiatus), I had to resort to different means of following Liverpool - good old radio.

Thanks to BBC 5 Live an a random radio app that popped up on the App Store, I managed to hear every minute of the match without any sudden crashes or suffer lengthy waits while the streaming thing buffers. It feels awkward but nice at the same time. Sort of like reading a book where you'd have to picture what you're reading. Not bad I suppose as a last option.

18 November 2011

The Pedestrian Strikes Back

Finally, some common sense from those in authority on all things road and traffic related.

Road safety campaigns have always focused on car drivers and motorcyclists but seldom (or is that never?) on cyclists. So, it was about time something like this popped up. If anything else, it in a way justifies all my rants towards the growing number of annoying and increasingly dangerous cyclists. Better late than never.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

16 November 2011

The Number 46

To many, the number 46 has different meanings. When I was young, it meant that my father couldn't sell off our banger of a Peugeot 504 and replace it with something that would better suit our growing family. We initially thought that it was the fugly ochre paint job but after speaking to some of our more superstitious Chinese neighbours, we were reliaby informed that it was the car's number plates that was the problem.

Apparently, the number 4 equates to death and the number 6 was something unfortunate like a worm or snake. Combine the two together you get roadkill or Death Snake or Worm of Death. Completely fine if you're a hairy biker looking for your next terrifying ride but for a family saloon in Malaysia, the car was as good as scrap metal. To make things worse, my Dad's car had the number 46 on the plates not once but twice. Death Worm. Death Worm. Dammit...

Anyway, other than killing a few chickens and a cow, the old car served us well until Daddy finally found someone desperate enough to take the car off him, a good 15 years later. By then, I was in my teens and the number 46 meant something different altogether. Election posters with Tunku Abdul Rahman's picture (in his iconic Merdeka pose) started to appear everywhere I went. There was political upheaval in Malaysia and Semangat 46 (or Spirit of 46 Malay Party) was the era's Keadlian (People's Justice Party). Being in my early teens, I didn't have a clue as to what was going on. All I wanted to do was grab some of the campaign flags and turn them into a cape or two for my superhero costumes. And, that was the end of that.

Fast forward another decade or so and the number 46 made a re-appearance. Coincidentally, it came in the familiar colour of yellow (the same as the now defunct Semangat 46) but instead of being seen on posters across town, they appeared on the backs of numerous motorcyclists in Malaysia - all wanting to be like Moto GP sensation Valentino Rossi.

That was then. A couple of weeks ago, the number 46 took on a new meaning. Well, a new-ish meaning as Piaggio unveiled their Vespa Quarantasei (that's how you pronounce 46 in Italian) retro concept scooter.

Finally, after years of mucking about with half-baked attempts like the ET autos, LXs and to an extent the new GTs, Piaggio have finally upped their game and come out with an original idea. From the pictures that are now widely available on the web, it's quite clear that Piaggio have gone back to its roots (hence the reference to 46 being the year the first Vespa was born) and taken on board loads of functional design cues from the scooter tuning community.

As examples, the two-seater that looks like an old-style Vespa single seat configuration is definitely a standout while the curved front mudguard to accomodate the front shock looks like it came straight out of a German tuners head.

All that's needed now is for Piaggio to throw in a 200cc engine into it and actually make the damn thing.

09 November 2011

If There Was Ever Any Doubt

How bold of me to ever question Ireland's finest weather forecasters? They said we should expect freezing temperatures at the end of October/early November but all that ever appeared was torrential rain followed by flash floods and then some unusually mild weather (for November that is). No frost and snow was a no show.

Until last weekend that is. I woke up to a bright and sunny morning ready to head into town to join in the Eid celebrations at Malaysia Hall. As usual, it was a mad rush to get everything ready but when we eventually got out of the house, we were greeted by a frozen car. The frost that clung to the car wasn't actually the type you could easily melt away as soon as the car's blow heater was switched on. No, this was a more hardcore variant of frost that required a good bit of scraping and a decent amount of elbow grease to get rid of.

Thankfully, things have gotten a bit milder since then but still, it was a good reminder for what was to come. There was no doubt about that now.

30 October 2011

The Halloween Horror Show That Never Was

After a week or so (some might say SIX plus ONE days) of making life a living hell for some of my misguided friends, colleagues and acquaintences (plus the odd random dude), it was time for the wheel of (mis)fortune that is the Premier League to turn yet again.

As a Liverpool fan, I am well aware that karma hasn't actually been on our side of late. Yes, we get lucky enough to sign a master tactician of a manager and almost immediately after tasting the miraculous joy of Istanbul, we're sent to the depths of footballing abyss thanks to the previous American owners. Now, we're back afloat again although still no where close to where we'd like to be.

So, prudence was a key skill to survive the weekend especially since there was a visit to The Hawthorns who just happen to have a former Liverpool manager organising things.

The vultures (or should I say Devils) were hanging around looking to pounce on news of a conceded goal or even worse, dropped points. Anything really to re-gain a bit of lost pride while at the same time, inflict some pain on their bitter rivals.

Thankfully, that never happened and Liverpool walked away with three points, two goals and nothing conceded.

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26 October 2011

The Night Dublin Stood Still

A whole month's amount of rain fell on Dublin on Monday night. A whole month. In a night.

Roads turned into rivers as Dublin's rush hour traffic was brought to a standstill. Yours truly on the other hand, isn't in the business of hanging around inhaling toxic fumes from all the cars. Sure, I was soaked to the bone on my old Vespa but at least I was moving along which on Monday night wasn't just a simple task of filtering through traffic.

At certain stages of the journey, I certainly felt that I was on some sort of extreme adventure scooter challenge involving riding a half-submerged Vespa in and out of gushing water, climbing up footpaths and navigating through layers of wet leaves so slippery I might have as well have been riding on frozen lake. Oh, and did I mention that this was all done while I was blind-folded.

OK, not exactly blind-folded but it certainly felt like that with a constantly fogging up helmet and the incessant rain pelting directly into my eyeballs.

As horrible as that might sound to some, I wouldn't have it any other way though.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

24 October 2011

Louis Vuitton Lid

Nope the recession isn't over just yet and the picture below isn't suggesting that I'm off on a shopping spree buying all the designer goods that I can get my hands on.

It's just a good spot to park my Vespa when I'm in the Grafton Street area.

Normally, I'd park the scooter there and walk away without even noticing the items on display in Louis Vuitton preferring to look across the street where Tower Records is located instead or head towards the ATM a few feet away. Actually, I try to avoid that particular ATM if I can as it constantly smells as if someone's taken a leak around it on a regular basis. Maybe there's some sort of pee-for-cash scheme going on here that I'm not aware of. Hmmm...

Anyway, while stopping by to get some winter essential gear for the kids, I couldn't help but notice the item that was on display in the designer store's window.

A Louis Vuitton motorcycle helmet.

I didn't bother asking whether it was really for sale or was it just for display purposes. Even if it was for sale and there wasn't a recession going on, I still wouldn't be caught dead in the thing.

Some might think otherwise.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

18 October 2011

The (Not So) Friendly Derby

Most of us are well aware of the Friendly Derby. Although matters on the pitch are far from friendly, it makes the casual observer wonder why in the world the Merseyside derby is given the Friendly label. Look a little closer and you'll realise that it's the fans that give rise to the derby's name.

Football fans in blue shirts mingle freely with their counterparts in red be it at Anfield or across Stanley Park at Goodison. As far as I know this happens no where else in the football world. Yes, other football clubs might have sets of fans where the father supports one club while the son supports their cross-city rivals. The same goes with brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles and the best of friends - all separated because of their differing choice of football club. It's a normal enough situation worldwide but it's only in Liverpool that one can see the two sets of fans mingle almost freely on match day.

It doesn't mean the rivalry is of a lesser grade though. Far from it, the familiarity and closeness with the other side is what makes the pain of defeat so much harder to take.

So, what about the non-Merseyside based Liverpool fan?

The same applies but with a key difference - the taunts come from those in red shirts too. Not from down the East Lancs but from faraway places like Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Japan, etc. where like on Merseyside, fans from the other side can be those close to you.

And, the rivalry in this case is seldom friendly.

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10 October 2011

Dawn of A New Age

A new addition to the stable. And no, its not a scooter. I consider it a "performance upgrade" for the average, slightly "big-boned" scooter enthusiast.

I have to say, the improvement in performance won't be apparent in the short-term so we'll have to wait a little while longer before any conclusions are made.

In the meantime, I'm delighted to grab every opportunity I get to re-live my childhood years.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

08 October 2011

Steve Jobs Wasn't Known To Be Into Scooters But...

At least he made technology work for us normal human beings as opposed to the other way around.

To prove my point, here's something that my iPhone conjured up (with a bit of help from WordFoto) within a couple of minutes.

Not bad I suppose given that I have zero artistic ability.

06 October 2011

Ingenuity, Born of Necessity (and the Threat of Utter Boredom)

I sensed that all was not well as soon as I kick-started my Vespa that Monday morning. The engine sounded a bit rough but I pulled the throttle anyway and proceeded to head into work. Less than 5 minutes later, while stopping at a set of lights, the engine cut out. I initially thought that it was my mistake - releasing the clutch too early while the Vespa was still in gear or something. So, I gave it another kick , made sure to give it a mighty rev and assumed things would be back to normal.

My solution didn't work and I knew then that I was in trouble.

Having had the Vespa for a while now, I knew to check for the regular culprit first i.e. dirty carburetor. Obviously, no amount of kicking would resolve the problem there and then. So, I pulled the Vespa aside and at the first chance that came along, I pushed the Vespa to the other side of the road into a nearby hotel car park. At least in the car park I'd have a bit of privacy while I inspect the Vespa's internal organs.

It was then that I realised that I had my work clothes on. Nothing fancy but still, I didn't want to get them all sweaty and greasy that morning. I reached for the contents of my jacket's inner pocket and gave the recovery service a call. I was 5 minutes away from home but, the service was free and I was hell-bent on getting some of my insurance money back that morning.

That plan didn't work either.

Seemingly, the recovery service was so busy that morning, it would take about 3 hours before they could get a van out to where I was. Not wanting to risk dying of boredom in an an empty car park in the middle of practically nowhere, I decided to have a go at the thing right then.

To cut a long story short, after some fiddling around with the carb and experimenting with the choke, I managed to get the Vespa safely home. Oh, and that includes cutting out about three times along the way as well as probably doing less legal things at a few traffic lights.

Definitely better than hanging around doing nothing for around three hours.

04 October 2011

Analogue Time Travel Makes Bold Bloggers

This happens to me all the time and by that I don't mean that I'm some sort of Marty McFly driving around in a souped-up DeLorean nor am I genetically prepositioned to randomly jump butt-naked in time.

That's all too complicated for me. No, for me, all that's needed is my dear old watch and a month that doesn't have a 31st day that ideally, comes around a weekend when I'm away from the laptop and calendars becoming somewhat detached from time and dates.

Put simply, I don't notice that the second day of the month stays as the first day and the third day of the month is frozen in second and so forth. And so today, on the fourth day of the month (the watch still says that it's the 3rd of October), I start writing my first entry of the month...

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30 September 2011

Lies, Damn Lies and Myth-Busting Documentaries

I happen to come across this NY Times blog entry while looking out for news on th Vespa. The blog's title was an immediate eye-catcher sheerly because it didn't make sense. Surely the bike is far greener than the car?

Well, seemingly not. According to Mythbusters, bikes (and I assume scooters like the Vespa are included in this) are actually more detrimental to the environment than cars. Yes, according to their seemingly accurate, scientifically obtained data, although cars are obviously the more fuel-thirsty of the modes of transport, the bike actually causes more of a problem by producing a larger amount of noxious pollutants.

Myth, busted. Yay!

There you go. All those fools (yours truly included) riding around on their bikes and scooters in the cold and wet thinking they're doing their bit for the environment have actually been duped into believing an urban myth. But still, it didn't make sense.

So, I decided to apply a bit of logic using my own commute to work. I normally ride to work on my old PX125. Being a 2-stroke contraption, this Vespa definitely won't win any environmental awards. You don't need fancy emissions equipment and a white coat to realise that what's coming out the Sito Plus isn't actually noxious - you can actually smell it. Ah yes, nothing's more refreshing than the whiff of 2-stroke early in the morning, for about half an hour or so.

Half an hour?

Yes, half an hour and on a bad day, maybe 45 minutes. But, what if I drove? Based on previous experience, in rush hour traffic on a normal school day, it would take me at least an extra hour to get from the suburban Dublin into the city centre. Did the guys at Mythbusters take this into account? Wouldn't the extra hour of being stuck in traffic produce more pollutants from the cat? Yes? No?

I haven't watched the whole episode yet but I suspect this very basic but fundamental fact could've been conveniently ignored.

It doesn't make a difference to me though. I'd still prefer my Vespa any day over my shitty car.

28 September 2011

The Best Day of the Year

...and I'm stuck at work followed by a PTA meeting that most probably won't finish until very late in the evening. Yes, after a non-existent summer, this day, the 28th of September is the first proper summer day of the year. And, I can't get out and enjoy it.


But Ireland is a weird old place. Earlier this month, there were reports that it would actually snow in October. October!

Hard to believe when I look out the window and feel the warm(?) autumn breeze in my face while just above all the city centre office blocks, a cloudless blue sky.

26 September 2011

Twenty Years Ago

Twenty years? I can't believe twenty years have gone by since the height of grunge, teen angst and all.

I still can't play the drums like Dave Grohl, never actually grew my hair long like Kurt Cobain but hell, I still remember the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit.

More on this soon...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

24 September 2011

Suarez Sideline Storm

The problem with geniuses is, they're all a tad bit insane. It's probably just nature's way of balancing things out a bit.

This clearly applies to Liverpool's own Luis Suarez what with the ear-chomping thing in Holland and to an extent, the unashamed celebrating in South Africa.

The thing is, it's not a carefully hidden secret so, the little Lucozade-kicking tantrum that happened on Saturday shouldn't come as a surprise to all especially Damien Comolli and Kenny Dalglish.

The King indicated that he had the issue well under control during his post-match "happy days" comment on Suarez so here's hoping that all this is just what it comes across as - an emotional response from an extremely committed player who wants to give his all to the team.

Who won't even think of heading off to sunnier climes in the south come January...

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22 September 2011

Déjà Vu

Watching the Brighton v. Liverpool match last night, I felt a sense of déjà vu. I came to the conclusion that after the horrible result against Spurs, even if Liverpool could do everything right, things would still be all wrong.

If we won last night, it would just be against a Championship side. Nothing worth shouting out loud about. God only knows what would've happened if Liverpool actually lost that match. We won the game scoring two in the process - the first one from Craig Bellamy and the second from the now oh-so clinical Dirk Kuyt. One brought in on a free while the other one isn't actually a spring chicken. But even that was seen as a negative with Suarez not scoring (even though he did provide the assist for Bellamy's goal) and Andy Carroll playing the role of benchwarmer.

Useless. Useless all of them. They wouldn't be fit to polish Vincente's boots.

Then again, it must be a good sign. Reminds me of the days under Rafa Benitez when no credit whatsoever would be handed Liverpool's way no matter how well the club was doing. It was Liverpool against the world (well, most of the media actually and some idiotic people who call themselves fans).

And you know what? I kinda like this feeling. In a strange way, it somehow seems right.

20 September 2011

Sneezing in the Wind

I hate getting colds. It's not the fact that my nose gets all stuffy, I sneeze constantly, my throat gets throbbingly sore and aches start to spread across my body. Oh, and there's the headaches as well.

No, all those pleasant things aren't the worst bits. The worst bit is that even though I'm as sick as can be and reduced to a zombie-like state, the world doesn't look upon it as a medically certifiable type of sickness. Take the day off and you're a wimp. Oh, his got man flu. Don't take the day off and your colleagues look at you as if you've got slabs of dead fungal skin falling off your face.

And if that isn't bad enough, I have now discovered a new low in terms of the effects of the common cold.

Ever tried sneezing with a full-face helmet with visor down while riding a Vespa at around 50-60 mph? Well, I have. Quite a lot actually seeing that I commute to work on a daily basis over the past four years. Fortunately, all the sneezing that I've done up to this stage have been limited to the polite, one could say, almost silent variety. A quiet personal achoo and that's it. No harm done.

My luck must've run out yesterday morning. On the way to work with my newly acquired cold (just in time to mark the transitional weather that accompanies autumn), I struggled breathing while trying to desperately balance the falling snot from a runny nose. Then without warning it came...

A mighty saliva-spewing, booger-blowing, head-jerking sneeze. ACHOO! The Vespa swerved slightly on the greasy tarmac and the car behind slowed down to keep its distance. Instinctively balancing the scooter back on the straight and narrow, I quickly realised that all was not well - my visor was completely covered in phlegm and I couldn't see a thing. And people say wearing an open-face helmet is dangerous?

Now, where did I put those anti-bacterial wipes...

18 September 2011

Red Card Lane

Heart break lane? Most certainly too. Must've certainly been for Pepe Reina. God only knows when was the last time he let in four in a single match. Maybe none in the League during his time with Liverpool. I vaguely recall once in a Champions League encounter against another London club a few seasons ago but we ended up scoring a couple ourselves. I need to check the stats on that.

White Hart Lane stn platform signage
Today's stats though were like this: 1-0 down and 9 men left. The scoreline at full-time was inevitable. Spurs didn't actually look like they were in the mood for being merciful earlier today.

Was it a referees' conspiracy in response to the King lashing out at their current standards after the Stoke game?

Was it a combination of an ageing/constantly-injured back two combo?

Was it the absence of Stevie Gerrard?

It didn't matter. The result was a bad one and there can be no excuse. Absolutely none.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

16 September 2011

Vespa PX: Zebra Crossing and Protesting

A nice Vespa parking spot that was unintentionally created when a zebra crossing was painted diagonally across a street.

Being on a Vespa or for that matter, any motorcycle, one tends to be more creative with finding spots for our trusted metal steeds. Cars and even bicycles get their own assigned spots but, when it comes to scooters and motorcycles, there's absolutely nothing.

And, even nothing looks like it may be taken away from scooterists and motorcyclists because some nerdy pencil-pusher working for the EU thought it would be a good idea. I'm keeping my diary free next weekend for the protest in Dublin.

Down with this sort of thing!

14 September 2011

Death of a Glorified Typewriter

My computer is dead. It didn't come as a surprise as it has been on the computer equivalent of life-support machines for a while now. Wires connect the laptop to auxiliary cooling fans underneath it while around it, an array of external hard drives hummed and clicked on command to send much needed data to the laptop. The common mobile phone would have three or four times more storage capacity than my now deceased laptop. That's how old it is.

If it was a human being, it would be like an old age pensioner being forced to work the graveyard shift at an inner city McDonald's.

I tried a couple of years ago to do the right thing and donate the laptop to a charity that collected and sent laptops to schools in less privilleged parts of the world. A sort of retirement home for computers where computers aren't worked hard by their users for viewing live online football or not-so-legally downloading five or six movies at the same time. Unfortunately, even the charity wouldn't accept my kind donation as the laptop was deemed to be potentially harmful to children. Yes, it wasn't only old, it was also considered toxic.

So, maybe it was time for it to go. The computer is dead, long live the iPhone (or possibly Mac?).

12 September 2011

Vespa, Grounded

A few weeks ago, there was Irene. Irene seemed threatening and very dangerous but she was causing havoc across the pond and was no where close to Ireland.

Then, at some stage last week, I was made aware of Katia. As opposed to Irene, Katia wasn't thousands of miles away but was making its way across the Atlantic and actually threatening to smash into Ireland with a bang. Well, last night, that appeared to have happened.

I woke up in the middle of the night and immediately noticed the howling winds, the banging of windows and doors left open while car alarms blared their distinctive tones in the distance. Not wanting a repeat of my previous encounter with gale force winds on a Vespa, I re-set my alarm an hour earlier to give me enough time to catch the bus instead.

I woke up this morning hoping the worst was over and I could continue with life on the Vespa. I peered out of my balcony window and spotted a neighbour's blue Coleman on my second floor balcony. It must've been blown there by the wind overnight. The decision was pretty much made for me at that moment - no Vespa commuting until this hurricane-like weather blows over.

10 September 2011

Carra On

A few years ago, I would've been apalled by today's result, a 1-0 loss at the hands of what most would deem to be a lesser team. Today, I accepted the result as unfortunate. It wasn't anything to be ashamed about. A draw would've been preferrable. A win, delightful.

Yes, things change. More so in football especially its players.

Even players like Jamie Carragher who has had such an illustrious career with Liverpool. In the match against Bolton, there's no denying that his error allowed Bolton to pull one back late in the game. Then, it was all good. Liverpool had a three-goal cushion and Bolton weren't actually worrying the Liverpool defence. We'd still end up victors. It was a once-off anyway and would most likely not happen again. Or so we thought.

Today, Carragher committed what can only be described as a rookie error in the penalty box of all places. Liverpool were duly punished. If Carragher was a rookie it would've been totally acceptable. One could blame inexperience for the error but that just isn't the case here. It's not experience that's lacking, it's plainly just age that's catching-up on those legs.

The good thing is, the decision on whether Carragher starts or not isn't actually his to make. That decision belongs to the man who in recent weeks has relegated the club's under-performing record signing to the subs bench without much fuss.

So, I have no doubt im mind that if any amount of ego needs to be put aside and the right decision needs to be made at European-level, it will be made.

08 September 2011

Rue Britannia

This Saturday, Liverpool will be paying a visit to one of the most intimidating grounds in the league, the home of Stoke City, the Britannia Stadium. I used to despise Stoke solely because of their boring, park-the-bus, one-dimensional incessant aerial bombardment of their opponents, especially my beloved Liverpool. But, over the years, I've grown to respect the club, its fans and its manager, Tony Pullis for what they've achieved over the years. After all, they only play route one hoofball because they have to, against the (ironically-labeled) bigger teams. I'm sure they do play good football whenever they can.

That however, doesn't change the fact that a visit to the Britannia normally equals an agonising amount of frustration. And, it doesn't get any more frustrating than a mere two points extracted from visits to Stoke-on-Trent in the past three seasons. A mere two points.

Added to that, we've lost the Anti-Stoke himself to Wolfsburg during the summer while Stoke have strengthen their midfield with added drive from Honduran Wilson Palacios and even more aerial prowess via Liverpool old boy, Peter Crouch among others.Yes, Crouch has been criticised for not taking full advantage of his height but at 6 ft 7 in, Jay Spearing will still need to jump another three feet to stand a chance of getting to a static Crouch's forehead.

Fortunately, Liverpool these days have a far different side and there's no question that it's a more physical squad. Also, interestingly Daniel Agger has never had the chance to feature in this fixture since joining Liverpool so if selected on the day, he definitely would offer a different option to the Liverpool back four. If that doesn't work, there's always Sebastian Coates who might feature at some stage if Rory Delap's throw-ins get increasingly threatening. He certainly looks like he can at the very least, do a Kyrgiakos with ease.

If the win at Arsenal shows that this season's Liverpool can mix with the big boys then, taking three points at the Britannia will send a message to Premiership that this Liverpool side are potentially real contenders and won't make the mistake of stumbling so easily when faced with lesser clubs as the club has often done in the past.

In the meantime, I'll be reading and analysing a Liverpool legend's new personal website. Should definitely be a good and very enlightening read.

06 September 2011

...And Out Come The Gloves

The winter gloves to be exact. Yes, it's September and officially the end of summer here in Ireland. And, just in case one needed to be reminded of the fact, the weather changed from bad to worse, right on cue. Strange, because that seldom happens when winter turns into spring or from then on to summer.

There's no snow (yet) but some mornings certainly feel like winter

To accompany the weather there's always the pretty fallen brown leaves which aren't so pretty when they turn into slippery death traps around corners. Even if it is possible to avoid the leaves, there's always the slightly frosty and extremely slippery roads. All that is of course awaiting a poor old Vespa rider after the main obstacles - part-time drivers doing the school run and douchebag drivers all of whom magically appear this time of the year.

C'est la vie, I suppose.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

04 September 2011

Eid Bloatedness and The Way of The Tiger

The one thing I've begun to dislike about Eid (or Hari Raya as it's known in Malaysia) is the one thing that was missing during daylight for the preceeding 29 days - food. Yes, all the feasting has left me feeling extremely bloated lately. It's not that I hadn't expected it or indeed feel ungrateful for the food. Far from it. I've actually just made a conscious effort to eat as little as possible when visiting friends and relatives to avoid any complications.

Unfortunately, as much as I try, the plan never works when I'm being eyed by my hosts who insist that I stuff myself with the maximum amount of beef rendang, pulut and other Raya delicacies. The result of all this is a grotesquely bloated round belly.

I was going to give up on finding a solution to this Eid "suffering" when as luck would have it, I paid a visit to
 Dublin Zoo earlier today. At the zoo, I had the pleasure of seeing the tigers being fed. Now, before you start imagining the zoo staff throwing in large chunks of meat into the enclosure to the lazily waiting tigers, stop. The folks at Dublin Zoo have come up with an amazing feeding arrangement that gets the big cat fed but also gets the animal some exercise at the same time.

The idea is quite simple really. Get a big chunck of meat and dangle it high up a pole. Unleash tiger and let it work to get the meat up the pole. Yes, like their smalller, more domestic cousins, tigers are also equally adept and climbing up things like poles...and trees. Yes, I've always thought that if I was stuck in a Malaysian rainforest and just happened to come across a hungry tiger, I'd climb up a tree to safety. Well, today's tiger demonstration certainly throws that plan out the window.

Anyway, the tiger eating plan seems like a good one i.e. combining eating with exercising. So now, it's up to my eager hosts to have poles to hang their lemang and rendang for next Raya!

Not going to happen, is it? Dammit...

02 September 2011

Money Doesn't Grow On Trees, You Know

Growing up, I clearly remember constantly getting the above reply from my Mom every time I got creative with my requests. This would normally involve asking for the biggest and greatest pirate ship in the Lego catalogue or a battery-powered Lego city train, complete with the Lego city!

Rejection in the above-mentioned manner would follow all too swiftly and until this day, I still am not an owner of a pirate ship or train set.

Ironically, what I am an owner of is exactly what my Mom said didn't exist - a money tree.

No, it doesn't actually spit out Euro notes like a malfunctioning Bank of Ireland ATM but it does look like the common currency of trade used in China quite some time ago. Jade is still very much highly valued to this day and the plant's likeness to jade is probably where it got its name back in the day.

Still doesn't help me with getting my Lego though.

31 August 2011

Five-a-Side Fluidity

Watching Liverpool matches since the King himself, Kenny Dalglish took over has without a doubt been extremely refreshing compared to the dark days that immediately preceded it (and to an extent, bar the Benitez era, even the previous decade).

I'm sure it's much more than a case of "go out there and play ball lads" but it certainly seems like that - the five, six and some times up to eight offensive players look like their enjoying themselves playing five-a-side footie. It's not yet Barcelona-type 1,000 passes football but once the players gel, I'm sure it would pretty much get quite damn close. I'm sure it also gives the opposition some headaches. In the previous match against Bolton, Suarez constantly dropped deep with the space being filled inter-changeably by Downing, Henderson, Kuyt and Adam. The movement off the ball was fluid and almost instinctive, it was an absolute joy to watch. Hell, even Martin Skrtel who must've liked what he was looking at in his unusual rightback role, joined in the action and looked like a completely different player.

On the other hand, being a fan of the Arrigo Sacchi approach employed by Benitez, I do feel a bit uncomfortable with the deep-lying defensive line. It's not an issue when the team is playing well but against opponents  who are pro-active and are good at carving-up space (normally the bigger clubs and clubs on the continent), it can get a bit nervy and in theory, without a good link player can isolate the team's offensive element resulting in hoofball. Of course, this is just my preference on the matter. When implemented well, this safety-first approach with the defence has been proven to be effective i.e. Chelsea in the Mourinho era. Clearly, Steve Clarke has had some influence on Dalglish's tactics with regard to this but could it also be because of Jamie Carragher's lack of pace these days?

It'd be interesting to see whether a different high-line/compact approach would be taken should there be a difference in personnel.

Talking of personnel, it's good to know that Liverpool have signed Sebastian Coates. The player himself looks like at a steal at the price being reported but what's more important is the fact that Liverpool appear to be getting the type of players that the club actually wants. No more third or fourth choice players because we have had to sell first or plainly because we didn't have enough funds in the first place.

29 August 2011

The Green Vespa Delivers: Kuih Raya

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to those celebrating in Malaysia and Eid Mubarak to everyone else around the world.

It's a time of forgiveness so, I'd like to take this opportunity to offer my sincerest apologies to anyone I've offended during the course of the previous twelve months, either through anything I've typed here or in person.

PS: Mabe it's about time I invested in a Givi box or one of those retro cool Prima cases for all these deliveries. Must speak to the wife about this soon.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

27 August 2011

All-New Look Scootering

Popped into the local Eason's earlier today on the way to the supermarket. I thought that I'd take a quick look at this month's Scootering, to make sure that I don't miss anything too obvious in the scootering (almost missed the announcement of the 200cc LML last month).

I was pleasantly surprised when I found this month's issue - a new look magazine with more pages and a bound cover to replace the old staples. Oh, and a selection of stickers one or two of which are bound to find its way on my Green Vespa's glovebox.

All that's just superficial of course so, it'd be interesting to see what real improvements can be found within. For that, I'll have to actually flick open and read the magazine....

25 August 2011


I've had this buried in draft among my other posts for a couple of months. I'm glad I came across it a few days ago. This time it's being published so at the very least, it'll be sort of a little reminder for me not miss the movie come this October (hopefully).

Even if the movie turns out to be of the B-grade and straight-to-DVD variety, a good dose of that miraculous match in Istanbul should help prop things up.

23 August 2011

Want a Quicker Scooter? Why Not Try a Bicycle (Wait, what?)

With the start of the new Premier League season and my ever-growing interest in engine-less two wheel contraptions, it can seem like my interest in scooters specifically, my dear old Green Vespa is on the wane. On the contrary though, it's actually very much the opposite.

OK, I have to admit, ever since the start of the season I've been going on about Liverpool this and Liverpool that but that's only normal and comes with the territory. The bicyle thing on the other hand, is definitely abnormal and there's a good reason for that. Let me explain...

Over the past months, I've come to the conclusion that no amount of tuning with my Vespa would result in a significant enough performance increase. Not enough to justify the price that I'd have to pay to buy the necessary parts, get it installed and then pay someone who actually knows what he's doing to properly install the thing. All that and there's still no guarantee that the whole experience will be hassle-free.

And that's the most important bit - the level of hassle-freeness of it all. At the moment, (except for an annoying YSS rear shock that I plan to throw into a skip as soon as I get the chance), my Vespa's back to its normal reliable self. And, with all reliable things that just works, one tends to leave them be. It stays in the background and just does what it's meant to do.

Anyway, back to the topic of performance. This is where I (unsuccessfully?) attempt to justify my recent unfaithfulness to my Vespa when I secretly look at its slimmer, less greasy and lower maintenance cousins online.

Unlike the Vespa, the bicycle is more of a fitness tool. Yes, the plan is to use the bicycle on shorter trips - to the shops, the gym, etc. while at the same time reducing the Vespa to the commuter role with the odd longer journey thrown in. This is not necessarily a bad thing as I would theoretically lengthen the life of the Vespa and also improve its performance. Performance? How so?

Well, by using the bicycle more often, I would in theory, reduce my own weight. Less weight equals quicker Vespa. Quicker Vespa equals happier rider. A win-win situation. And that, beats any tuning kit/performance exhaust that's available on the market today.

21 August 2011

Going British: The Story So Far

Turn the clock back to this time last year and the buzz among football fans was that Liverpool were back on the right track by appointing an English manager to replace Rafa Benitez. Fast forward a couple of months later and it soon became clear that English doesn't necessarily translate into a good thing. At least not automatically when it comes to Liverpool.

A change of manager and another couple of months later saw Liverpool continuing the Go-British policy albeit with players by spending vast amounts of money on new acquisitions. Luis Suarez aside, most of Kenny Dalglish's big money acquisitions since his appointment have hailed from the British isles.

This is not necessarily an issue as each manager would have a preference on where he sources his players. Like Arsene Wenger, Gerard Houllier preferred French or French-based players. Understandably, Benitez would come to rely on Spain and South America when looking for talent. It's only human nature, I suppose and so, if Dalglish wants to look for his players in every corner of Britain (with a well-known soft spot for Ireland) then why not?

The matter appears to have reared its head during yesterday's match against Arsenal. Stewart Downing aside, Liverpool's big money British players on the pitch appeared to have been quite disappointing. Worse still, it all appeared to have been at the cost of Liverpool's foreign contingent with the obvious ones being Luis Suarez and Raul Meireles both of whom were eventually directly involved in Liverpool's two goals that afternoon.

Things however need to be put into perspective, starting with the two players mentioned above. If one were to do the math, it's quite clear that the only break that Luis Suarez has had this year is the two weeks between the end of Copa America and the start of the season. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Suarez needs a bit of a rest. Even if that means being reduced to 10-20 minute cameos for the next games. The same would apply to Meireles who unlike Suarez, didn't play in the Copa but appears to be turning into a midfield version of Danny Agger when it comes to injuries. Both Meireles and Agger bounce back well after their respective injuries but still, the situation needs to be managed. After all we'd definitely prefer if they weren't injured at all.

Then there's the British players themselves. Carroll clearly isn't a centre-forward in the Torres and Drogba mould so, without any close support (the type that Suarez and possibly even Gerrard can offer), he can at times appear to be a bit lost. Not entirely his fault is it? Speaking of support, Jordan Henderson appeared to have been given that role against Arsenal. Although he didn't do anything spectacular, he didn't do anything particularly wrong either. So, if supporters were patient with Lucas at the early stage of his development, then why shouldn't they be equally as patient with Carroll and Henderson?

19 August 2011

All Filler, No Killer

Word on the street is Arsenal are there for the taking tomorrow. At the last count, the team that will represent the London club tomorrow would have at least three inexperienced teenagers in it. The club's captain has finally gone back to his Catalonian home, his ready-made replacement of sorts is on the verge of heading north while the club's most high profile acquisition during the summer will not even be on the bench, having just met Joey Barton recently. All does seem to be in quite a mess there. Or so it seems...

Of course, Liverpool supporters should know better. Applying a modest degree of caution would be wise as after all, this is the same Arsenal whose manager appears to have the knack of finding replacements for his lost key players almost immediately after losing them. This is the same Arsenal that will probably have Andrei "I-scored-four-goals-in-front-of-the-Kop" Arshavin in its midfield tomorrow.

For Liverpool, the time for filling-up the squad is over (OK, preferably bar one or two additions in defence). It's time to go for the kill.


Even more important than tomorrow's match is the quest to reveal the truth of what happened in Hillsborough over two decades ago. Basically, if you are reading this and happen to be a UK citizen or UK resident (there must be a good bunch of UK-based Malaysian Reds that fall into this category), please do your bit and sign-up to the petition here. If you've had your head buried in the sand lately and  haven't heard what's been going on around this matter, you can get some background information here.

17 August 2011

Vespa PX: Cross Process Mullets

Yes, it's been a slow ideas day. Actually, a whole slow month. Wonder what I'd do without my Camera+ app at this stage. I think this particular pic has that 80's feel to it. Obviously the PX helps and to add to the feel, maybe a couple of dudes running around in mullets would've been nice.

I would've liked a mullet of some sort when I was growing up. All the cool dudes had them and I couldn't afford not to be cool. Not that my Dad ever listened. We used to head to Chandran the barber together and get identical 1940's haircuts while listening to Engelbert Humperdinck. But now, when I'd rather do without a mullet, my hair keeps reminding me of my childhood desires and tends to mulletise without much effort. It comes naturally when the hair at the top of my head keeps getting thinner by the day (or plainly refuses to grow any longer than half an inch) while the ones at the back keep getting longer and longer.

Exhibit A: Only in the 80's could this have been considered cool. The boy in the pic is not to be confused with the writer. Thanks to the wisdom of his father (with the help of Chandran and Engelbert Humperdinck), he never had a mullet.

Hmmm...Yes, maybe the Vespa pic is fine as it is, without mullets floating around.

Kyle Plante Mullet pic by: Lifetouch

15 August 2011


I've never been a fan of cyclists. Not all cyclists though. Just the annoying ones who think they own the road and cycle around town as if it's some sort of God-given right that they need not obey the Rules of the Road. OK, maybe even not those ones. Hell, if they suddenly get the urge to be flattened by a Ford Transit on a rainy Monday morning then fine. It's their choice. Don't blame me if your preference is to be friendly with the latest roadkill.

Unfortunately, over the years, there's been a growing trend of cyclists who fall into the above category. Hence, my growing dislike for these cyclists and sometimes that even includes the innocent ones.

Ironically for me, I've taken a liking to bicycles of late. It's probably because my kids are at a bicycle-riding age which in turn, gets my inner child all excited driving me to leap out and grab my old Raleigh BMX and cycle hands-free downhill in front of my parents' house.

Reality normally kicks in at this stage and I'm reminded that I would probably bend the frame of my old BMX beyond repair. If I could still find it, that is. So, I came to the conclusion that I needed to get myself a bike. A brand new one would be quite affordable (especially with the Bike to Work Scheme) but as flashy new bikes tend to disappear into thin air in Dublin, I thought that a good second-hand bike would be best.

And so, the search begins.

13 August 2011

It All Begins (Sort Of)

I knew there was something not right this afternoon. It was just all too good to be true. Even before the season started I knew the opener against Sunderland wasn't going to be available on the telly (except for Setanta Sports) and so, had accepted the fact that it was either the local pub or freely available (but not entirely reliable) online streaming.

Considering the pub was out of the question (at least for the next twenty days or so), a bunch of us were resigned to watching the match online - buffering or no buffering. This was certainly the case until about half an hour before kick-off where we were reliably informed that we could watch the match on our iPhones via the Setanta Sports Ireland app. It would cost me the princely sum of €7.99 for 1-month subscription but taking into account the fact that Setanta were going to show three Liverpool games over the next month, the amount didn't seem too expensive.

No, nothing didn't seem too expensive especially since I was paying to watch a new and improved Liverpool. On paper, in all my years of supporting Liverpool, I've never seen a Liverpool squad with such depth, width and balance. Surely, this would be one of those rare, frustration-free seasons where I could just sit back and watch the Red men pound the opposition into submission especially at Fortress Anfield. Surely...

Unfortunately, even before a Liverpool player could kick a ball, things started to turn pear-shape. Instead of  a panel of football pundits discussing the upcoming match, I was greeted with a puppet Mourinho yapping away on my iPhone screen with a vague message...

Unfortunately the scheduled content is unavailable due to mobile broadcasting rights

WTF? Now you tell me? After I've forked out my hard-eared money? An outright swindle by Setanta.

Needless to say, it was a mad rush to the closest laptop to find a decent streaming site. Ten minutes later and after some start-stop buffering action, I was right on time to catch Charlie Adam's peach of a freekick and Suarez's finishing touch. Goal!

From then on, everything seemed to have gone to plan except after the break. As if to echo my disappointment with Setanta, things were beginning to look bad on the Anfield pitch as well. It appeared as if every single man on the pitch simply switched off for the second half. Of the new signings, the previously athletic and composed Henderson went missing. Adam who before the interval was spraying passes all around the pitch like a Xabi Alonso in tartan, struggled to complete 10-yard passes to next player in red. Stewart Downing who started working on proving his doubters wrong within the first couple of minutes of the match appeared lost. Instead of keeping the team's width he drifted ineffectively in and out of the centre without any real direction. Jose Enrique who looked solid as the solution to Liverpool's leftback woes was beginning to appear shaky an uncertain in the tackle.

Dalglish must've spotted the downward trend in performance as he opted to steady things with the introduction of some experience in the form of Kuyt for Henderson and soon after, Meireles for Suarez. Maybe it was opening day nerves or maybe it was lack of match fitness (or sheer exhaustion for the South American contingent in the team). Whatever the reason, a 1-1 draw against the likes of Sunderland at Anfield just isn't good enough.

Not for Liverpool. Not this season.

11 August 2011

The Crazy World of Scooters

We could blame LML for where we are at the moment. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Indian company saw a market for the classic P-Series design. They snazzed it up a bit with some funky colours, slashed the price (relatively easily done when the scooters are made in India), tweaked the exhaust (to make it compliant with European emissions laws) and sold thousands of them around the world.

Piaggio soon realised this but before it could do anything in reply, LML came out all guns blazing with a preemptive strike - LML did the impossible. Well, at least in 2-stroke classic scooter terms. In late 2009, the Kanpur-based company launched a 4-stroke version of the classic scooter and by Spring 2010, the 4-stroke machines, for better or for worse, were making headlines in Europe. Emissions issues effectively solved and LML looked set to re-enter countries where 2-stroke machines had been completely banned.

Six months later, the much awaited reply from Pontodera finally came with a re-release of the PX. Disappointingly, other than a few cosmetic changes and the addition of a catalytic converter (to comply with emissions laws), Piaggio didn't add much and were seen as choosing the lazy option. Unfortunately for Piaggio, LML weren't actually done just yet.

As soon as they launched their 125cc and 150cc versions of their 4-stroke engines there were rumours going around that they were planning on coming up with a 200cc version (250cc even if you believe some rumours) of the steel-bodied scooter and last month the rumours proved to be true. In Ireland, orders were already being taken for the 200cc LML.

Not wanting to be outdone by LML once again Piaggio are seemingly looking to get their own 4-stroke version. But only in 125cc and 150cc versions. Whether true or not, this piece of news can only be good for the world of scooters.

Then there's the crazy goings on with the other crowd that's looking to re-launch the Lambretta.
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