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...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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.

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