30 June 2011

Home and In Bray

This coming 16 July will be a historic date for all Malaysia-based Liverpool fans - Liverpool FC will be in town and it promises to be a brilliant occasion. Call it what you want but it's a win-win situation. Liverpool-starved Malaysian fans will finally be able to see their idols sweat it out in the equatorial humidity (or at least stand a chance of breathing the same jerebu-filled air as Gerrard, Carragher  and co.) while the club gets to spread its wings even further and re-affirm its commitment of sorts to the Malaysian market.

Back here in Ireland, we'll get the kids.

Not the kid above but the kids from Melwood and probably a few from the Academy as well. If  you haven't heard already, on 18 July, a Liverpool Select XI (that's what they were called the last time around to help sell tickets) will play against  League of Ireland's Bray Wanderers AFC

Will I go and watch the match?

I don't know. On one hand, it s a great chance to see the future of Liverpool play in front of my own eyes while on the other, it'll involve about an hour and a half round-trip to Bray on a Monday night. And that's before taking into account the torrential rain, thunder and lightning that'll probably come along in the second half.

28 June 2011

Heinkel Tourist: Under Repair

I spotted this Heinkel Tourist at Carl's a couple of weeks ago. Other than the ongoing repairs to the paint, it looked like a near mint example to me. I'd love to have one of my own some day but it'll have to wait until I get the couple of Vespa and Lambretta that I want first!

While admiring the Heinkel I couldn't help but notice the size of the windshield on the scooter. Absolutely huge and although I initially thought it would only suit a big scooter designed for touring like the Heinkel, I've seen at least one similarly large windshield on a Vespa PX unlike my own. In fairness, it didn't look too bad and in fact it looked quite good. Must give it a try some day...

26 June 2011

The BBQ-Weather Strikes Back

As if to mock my rant on Friday evening, Saturday and especially today turned out to be absolutely gorgeous days. The car's thermometer even showed that the temperature was 26 degrees (Celsius) at midday. Whether the thermometer was right or wrong didn't matter. I certainly felt that way.

How foolish of me to have ever doubted the Irish summer? Hmmm...

Anyway, seeing that my bike jacket hadn't actually completely dried, I took the opportunity to properly dry the thing out in the open. This might not be a big deal to most people around the world but I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is probably a once in a season opportunity for me to do so.

My Dainese jacket was starting to smell worse than a wet dog and now, that it was out in the open, it certainly looks even worse. The jacket's sleeves were frayed beyond decent repair, its original dark brown was closer to a horrible patchwork of khaki and light brown while some of the buttons (around the lower ab region - I wonder why...) were merely holding on to its dear life, waiting to be released from its impossible daily task.

It was time I placed my favourite jacket into semi-retirement. The Corazzo Tempeste has been out for over a year now and looks like a good option. Theoretically, it should give the same level of protection, comfort and warmth as the Dainese while at the same time, double as a decent enough blazer of sorts. I was expecting to fork out on delivery costs to get the jacket from a UK dealer but I spotted a couple on display while on a visit to Bikeworld recently. Wasn't actually in the market for a jacket then but I think I'll give them a call next weekend. If their price is right, I might pop over and give the jacket another try...

24 June 2011

What Is This Thing Called Summer?

Some days the weather here makes me wonder, what is the Irish word for summer? Well, judging by the past few weeks, I wouldn't be surprised if the word was synonymous with rain. Or hail. Or something along the lines of getting your balls wet and half-frozen while your face is continuously pelted with God only knows what.

Today's Friday and like most Fridays in these summer months, I have the opportunity of cutting the day short on the condition that I had done the required number of hours for the week. This week I had surpassed that requirement by the end of Wednesday. Not surprisingly, an hour or so after lunch time today, I was raring to go. Then, I looked out the window.

Half an hour, I told myself. Half an hour and it'll all go away.

At the same time, there was a collective sigh from the far side of the office. Needing to stretch my legs, that was enough of an excuse for me to head down in that general direction.

This rain couldn't possibly last that long - I kept trying to convince myself while taking the few steps to the opposite end of the floor.

When I got there, three or four of my colleagues were already deep in conversation. They turned away from the computer screen that their eyes had previously been glued to (I gathered that it was rainfall radar) and looked at me with a look of sympathy. I knew then there was little chance of me staying dry on my journey home.

Oh, and before I confuse anyone, the Irish word for summer is actually Samradh. And yes, those are winter gloves you see in the picture above. Didn't think I'd be needing them in June.

22 June 2011

21 Days Later

No, that's not a typo. This entry isn't about finding out that London is infested with zombies after being in a coma for 28 days. It's about scooters, as usual. More specifically, scooters for kids or balance bikes that look a lot like ultra-funky Lambretta GPs to be exact.

Unfortunately, some people/companies seem reluctant to even sell their own stuff and would rather give excuses or blame delivery companies.

I'll leave it at that for the moment.

20 June 2011

Kids Can Be So Honest

So, so brutally honest. Here's one of the things that my kids got for me for Father's Day (with the help of their mother as their accomplice, no doubt):

Admittedly, a little message on a bottle that hit too close to home. It's a good thing the bottle's contents were quite good. While on the topic of contents, the kids will soon learn that they'll need to be a bit more diplomatic when it comes to selecting their Daddy's gifts next time around. Either they learn quickly or they won't stand a chance of getting anything that comes out of these bad boys...

Well, I can dream, can't I?

18 June 2011

Saturday Summer Time Serenade

I was in the middle of looking for some videos for the kids on YouTube (the two Trains-formers clips by James Farr being the current favourites) when I came across some videos by a band that bears more than a passing resemblance to a Hare Krishna troupe called Young the Giant. This tune in particular stood out as it would be great for those bright and warm barbecue weather days.

Now all I need are a couple of Mojito mocktails and for a few days like in the video to come along...

16 June 2011

The Minor Disaster That Is the Liverpool 2011/2012 Third Kit


Why not yellow? That hasn't been done for a couple of seasons now.

Why not green? Admittedly, it's not the most popular colour but at least it's not cyan or whatever shade of blue they insist on calling it to reassure Liverpool fans that it's not blue.

A nod to Liverpool's past they say? My foot. Sounds like a bleeding PR cover-up to me. Even if the intention was a nod to 1892, why didn't Adidas come out with a proper Blackburn-esque jersey? Why this half-baked, recycled Marseille design? Oh yes, to maximise profits by minimising design costs. Well, they'd have to start selling shirts first before they can make a profit and I'm certainly not buying along with a good bunch of other Liverpool fans out there.

L'OM or Liverpool?

Am I being petty with the choice of colour on a Liverpool shirt? To an extent, yes but this to me is more about the principle of the whole shirt design thing. It just says that Adidas are plain lazy. And to think I'd feel a bit sorry when Adidas gets replaced by Warrior next season (especially after they played a blinder by coming out with the amazing 2011/2012 away kit a couple of months ago). What a disappointment.

Liverpool 2011/2012 Third Kit pic: The LFC Official Online Store (just in case anyone gets confused as to which one's which)
Olympique de Marseille 2006/2007 Home Kit pic by: Edu and improved by Poke2001

14 June 2011

Probably the Most Expensive Vespa Super Ever

As with most people, I have a tendency to wander aimlessly on the interweb with the hope of finding that piece of news/article/blog that just might keep me occupied for the next fifteen minutes or so. OK, maybe more if it's a really good one.

Earlier this week though, my exploration of the www actually had a purpose. I was on the hunt for a scootering bargain so, no internet auction site was left unsearched and no dealer website that was known to me was visited without having a browse through their Used section first. It's not that I actually had the money in the first place, it's just the overwhelming feeling that during these recessionary times, there might be someone out there who is worse off than I am, who could do without their scooter. The scoot for sale would ideally be one that had been lying idle like a living room ornament for the past 2-3 years. More of a Celtic Tiger accessory akin to a Louis Vuitton man-bag rather than an actual vehicle for transportation.

Yes, a find like that would suit me, if it came at the right price as I wouldn't feel like an opportunistic hyena taking it off someone's hands who actually needed the thing to get to work or to buy groceries for his/her granny on a regular basis.

So, it was while I was doing this (re)search that I came across this bargain of a find...

Click on the picture for a larger view
To those less eagle-eyed out there, you can click here to be brought to the page in question or if the page has already been pulled-down (I wouldn't be too surprised) or if you just couldn't be bothered, here's some details:

The scooter for sale is a "pre-loved" Vespa Super 150 which appears to have been less than faithfully restored going by the Piaggio-branded crashbars and the 10" wheel conversion (the Super came with the smaller 8" wheels as standard), to mention just a few. All that its lacking is some bright yellow stand boots to make it an infamous eBay special look-alike. Hmmm...

Even if it had been faithfully restored with all-NOS spares, nuts, bolts and all, there is still no justification for its whopping €7,000 price tag. Yes, that's €7,000 which is roughly USD$10,000 or just under GBP£6,200 or just over the very affordable price of RM30,000, at current exchange rates.

Maybe it's merely a page that was put up on the first day of April that Ducati forgot to take down or maybe, just maybe, underneath all that Italian steel and filler lies a Ducati Monster waiting to surprise its new owner. Maybe.

12 June 2011

Jordan Henderson: Midfield Statistics

Naturally, after asking who Jordan Henderson is, any Liverpool supporter (or your curious football fan) would ask what this English youngster could offer to Liverpool's midfield. Unsurprisingly, no matter how many times   people are reminded of the futileness of labeling a young player as the next [insert name of successful/legendary player], comparisons continue to be made amongst fans between Henderson and the current crop of players at Liverpool. It's human nature and unavoidable I suppose. So, here we go...

Being English, comparisons were made with Stevie Gerrard primarily because of his all-round energetic play and athleticism. But then, it became clear that as Henderson didn't contribute as much in terms of assists and goals (compared to an average Gerrard season), that comparison was thrown out the window.

In the 2010/2011 season, according to Guardian Chalkboard statistics Jordan Henderson made 4 assists in the League.

So, if he isn't a Gerarrd-type midfielder, he must be a midfielder of the volante variety, like Liverpool's Player of the Season, Lucas Leiva or even Javier Mascherano. Again, I had this assumption checked to the statistics and it reveals that Henderson, at an average of 4 tackles per 90 minutes played falls well behind in terms of what is required as a defensive midfielder. OK, maybe basing Henderson's effectiveness in terms of tackles is a little bit unfair as not all defensive midfield players actually need to be an all-tackling player to do his job. Some good positioning and vital interceptions can be as important to one's team as well. But again, 74 interceptions amassed in the league last season don't seem all too impressive, for a defensive midfielder that is.

Now that the assumption that Henderson will contribute defensively in midfield has been debunked, comparisons began to be made with Liverpool's more creative players. There was some talk that Henderson could have the potential to be a pass-master like fan favourite, Xabi Alonso but I sincerely believe that those sort of comparisons could be a bit premature and unfair on both players. At a completion pass rate of 74%, Henderson falls well short of even Lucas' average last season (which exceeds 80%) but one could also argue that it is the quality and not the quantity that matters. Admittedly, this is very true and although hard to pin down with numbers and statistics alone, a quick look at the chalkboards reveals that the majority of Henderson's passing is in the final third of the pitch and bears a resemblance to former Liverpool target, Charlie Adam.

On average, Henderson made 52 passes per game. Not very far off the Liverpool average for midfield players.

Although the pattern of passing can be swayed due to the fact that Henderson was deployed as a right-sided attacking midfielder, it seems quite obvious now why a player of Henderson's quality was acquired. It appears to me that Henderson would be slot in as a link player to shore-up the current crop of players which, one could argue consist of only Maxi Rodriguez and Raul Meireles. And, with all but one game played in the league last season, one could also say that Henderson represents a very dependable option.

Of course, the statistics only tell half the story and more importantly are statistics for the player's time at Sunderland, not Liverpool. What is clear is that Henderson is very much a raw talent that has bags of potential. Who knows what more he can offer when he plays with quality players around him. The way things are going this close season, it looks like there'll be more of those to come in the coming months.

10 June 2011

The Green Vespa, Now in White

Some of you (who arent't totally colour blind) might have noticed a slight change with the Green Vespa lately - well, since last night to be exact. Tired of the dark, old and seemingly oh-so-2009 colour scheme, I opted for something bright and white for a change while attempting to maintain the simple and clean look. And also because, I've been reliably informed that viewing a brown and green site on your computer isn't that great because colleagues at work can spot from a mile away that you're obviously not doing any work.

White in theory, is great because it looks more business-ey so, you stand a chance of getting away with taking a sneaky peek at this blog. It's either that or someone might think that you're glued to the Harakah Daily or the like...

Not the Green Vespa. Obviously, because it's not green

So no, the Green Vespa i.e. the scooter itself hasn't been resprayed white and is still in its two-tone green form. Actually, I wouldn't mind getting the old Vespa a respray but current priorities lie elsewhere. If only switching a Vespa's colour is as easy as switching a blog's colour scheme. The picture above is of another scooter (a rebadged LML by the look of it) by the way. Just thought I put it in to confuse the weak-minded beings out there.

Now that all this messing with Blogger templates is out of the way, I can finally focus on Liverpool's surprisingly early exploits with transfers this summer. I definitely won't be hearing any of those whiny complaints about the lack of transfer market activity this summer. And, just for that Monsieur Comolli and his team deserve a light pat on the back, Jordan Henderson or no Jordan Henderson.

Speaking of Liverpool's latest acquisition, I (along with thousands of Liverpool fans around the globe) were curious to see what more the man could actually offer to an already decent Liverpool midfield. So, off I went on one of my statistical player analysis. Will report back on the results as soon as they're ready. Until then, enjoy the site's new look and hopefully, it won't get you into trouble at work...

08 June 2011

Vespa PX: Into the Sunset

I'm useless with cameras but with an iPhone in my pocket these days, I feel that I always stand a chance when it comes to taking decent pictures. With a camera, I'd imagine a picture in my mind and shoot but the end product is seldom to my liking. With an iPhone, I'd have to try really hard to make a balls of any picture.

The exact same thing happened when taking this picture. I was heading back home one evening- a journey that brought me west, straight into the setting sun. With no sunglasses or a tinted visor, I struggled with the glare and was about to complain about my luck when I realised that the whole setting would make a great picture. I picked a spot and slowly rolled my Vespa to the side a road, stepped off the scooter and snapped: Decent picture in an instant.

06 June 2011

Vespa PX: Black & White - An Update

I thought my boing, boing Vespa days were over when I had my dodgy old shocks replaced by a pair of brand new YSS shocks. The difference with the new shocks was amazing especially with the front one but only after a few weeks, the rear started to become problematic again.

I was quick to assume that the culprit was the rear tire but that was absolutely fine. After having a closer look, it was clear that the source of the issue was the barely two-week old rear shock. The shock had gone soft after only a few miles of normal commuting  i.e. no crazy off road stuff or for that matter giant potholes either (one of the advantages of having two heads of state visiting is that the roads around town get a bit of long overdue TLC).

A quick, short-term solution was to adjust the setting from its second slot to the second last slot which seems to have worked. Very stiff but at least I don't feel like what I can only describe as riding on patches of oil and grease all the time. Still, shocks like these shouldn't go soft that quickly so, I've gotten in touch with the Scooter Center to see what sort of reply they come up with. I'm hoping it's a good one and that the warranty that the shock came with actually means something.

04 June 2011

Searching for Sudafed

Mission unaccomplished. 

When around these parts, it appears that people only get sick (or in this case, an extremely stuffed-up nose) during normal working hours. If one gets sick any time after six then your chances of finding a pint of Guinness are far better than finding a decent decongestant.

Blows nose. Signs off for the night.

02 June 2011

Vespa PX: Old Rack, New Tasks

There I was looking around Carl's workshop while he looked into why my previously so reliable Green Vespa kept cutting out every time the engine was in idle or when I pulled the throttle while in first gear. My own quick fix was to replace the spark plug (which looked like it needed changing anyway) but that didn't solve the problem. So, for a day or two, I made it to my intended destination by revving the scooter like mad before releasing the clutch in rush hour Dublin traffic.

Maybe, from now on I'd be more sympathetic to all the rempit revving their hairdryers back home, annoying everyone around them and impressing no one but themselves. Who knows? Maybe like myself, it could just be that their rides were constantly cutting out too and they didn't actually mean to be the little pieces of manure to society that they are. It's not their fault after all, eh? Nah. Don't think so.

Next in line was the carb and while Carl looked into that, my attention was to other bits and bob that were lying around the shop. There were a collection of engine parts, some old but seemingly still usable seats, a collection of some quite tasty looking Vespa frames (old, older and one or two that probably belonged in a museum once restored to its former glory) and some shiny pieces of chrome racks collecting dust in one corner.

After playing around with the carb's idle screw, the Vespa was running smoothly again. I couldn't resist and asked whether there were any rear racks amongst the tangled pieces of tube metal. A quick look around the spot revealed that there was at least one, an FA Italia rear rack and for the quoted price of €30 it was mine, fixed to the scoot and all. All it needed was some cable ties to hold it in place (to stop the rattling from one of the broken springs), a wipe down and some chrome polish. 

I was never keen on getting a rear rack on my scooter or for that matter, anything that would just add unnecessary weight to the Vespa. But for €30, it was worth the experiment especially since the rack could be classified as more of a necessity these days. Being a dad to three kids, there's always the chance that I'd run out of something to eat at home. The scooter's humble glovebox is fine if I was just buying food for myself but with three kids and the other half as well, some more luggage room was needed.

Earlier today, we ran out of milk so, on the way back from work I stopped by the local supermarket and headed straight to the dairy aisle. I instinctively went for the 2 litre bottle but then I remembered that I had a rack on my Vespa. With some elastic straps or a luggage net, I could go bigger. Why should I stick with a mere 2 litres when I could go for the 3 litre option instead? Hell, why not 5 litres and I could save myself another trip or two to the supermarket. Why, the possibilities are just endless...

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