26 February 2012

Liverpool Don't Usually Do Cup Finals...

...in the last five years or so, that is.

But when we do, we probably put up the best cup finals in the world.

Wembley, London 2012

Millenium Stadium, Cardiff 2006

Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul 2005 (the mother of all cup finals!)

Westfalenstadion, Dortmund 2001

Long may the party continue!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

14 February 2012

Vespa Down!

I'm not sure about anyone else but I'd normally be slow to adapt to change especially when it involves switching between driving my car on a regular basis and then back to a scooter. Naturally, the same applies the other way around.

So, after riding around regularly on my Vespa and then switching to the car on weekends (to haul the family here and there), I would still have the tendency to squeeze in between stalled traffic. Fortunately for me (and the family), this has never happened and we've escaped becoming a three-car sandwich.

Due to the recent horrid weather, I've had to opt for the car over the Vespa in recent weeks. And then as the rest of Europe continues to freeze, Ireland started to get milder and milder. Getting sick of sitting around in traffic jams, I felt that the time (and temperature) was right to switch back to the Vespa.

Ultimately, it was a bad decision - my mind and reflexes hadn't switched back to the level of awareness required for a scooter rider in urban conditions and so, on a damp and cold morning, my Vespa got friendly with a car. Of course, it had to be a taxi and so, what was a minor scuff mark on the taxi's bumper became a structural issue and what most would consider a nudge by my oh-so puny scooter became a cause for whiplash and all sorts of accident-related ailments.

Like I said, a mere scuff

Yes, it was entirely my fault and I was willing to pay for the damages myself but as soon as he came up with words like trauma and shock, I thought it was best to cut my losses and go down the insurance route. I'll probably be paying for it for as long as I ride a scooter but the last thing I wanted at that stage was the taxi driver getting his cabbie mates along to the party or a doctor's bill (dodgy no doubt) the size of a whole month's salary coming my way.

Anyway, the from the look of things, the mudguard's a write-off while I'm still waiting on news from the mechanic on whether the front fork is still safely useable. Hopefully, it'll all be sorted in the next week and I can get back to riding my scooter as soon as possible. Preferrably, avoiding wet conditions and...taxis!

07 February 2012

A Brief Look at the Lambretta LN125

A few weeks ago, while on the way back from my weekly grocery shopping with the family, I decided to make a quick detour and head towards Bikeworld.
The shop is (officially) the local sole distributors for Vespa scooters (except that they don't sell the PX...?), LML and now the new Lambretta as well. I had seen the ads on the new LN125 but never had the chance to take a look at it myself so, I used an old excuse (I desperately needed to get some 2-stroke oil for my Vespa or else it would explode!) and managed to convince the wife to agree to the quick visit.

Something tells me she knows I'm not telling the whole truth but plays along with me anyway when scooters are involved.

At just a couple hundred Euro below the 5,000 mark the Italian-designed, Taiwan-built Lambretta certainly isn't cheap especially for a 125cc scooter. One might argue that there's a premium to pay for the retro design and very unique badge but, it's even more expensive than a Vespa LXV125 which can be purchased brand-new for €4,250 (at the same shop too).

It gets even worse when compared to LML's new offering (well in Ireland anyway) - a 200cc 4-stroke PX lookalike for under €4,000. OK, it's an LML and not a Lambretta so we're comparing apples and oranges here but surely the 75cc difference in engine size makes up for what many see as a downgrade in badges?

Still, I'd be very keen on this Lammie (it is after all, a Lambretta) and hopefully, I'd get a chance to give it a test drive before I come to any final conclusions.

07 January 2012

Night Cravings

Having owned my Vespa for almost five years or so, I can safely come to the conclusion that the Vespa gets better when things around it get worse.

The scooter laps up emergency road closures, inexplicable new one-way systems, dodgy tragfic lights and even flash floods with relative ease. So, when it came to choosing which mode of transport was best (I've got a choice of three these days) to get to the nearest kebab place in the middle of a winter night, the Green Vespa was the obvious choice.

Mmmm...Who would've thought that some spicy garlic cheese fries could taste so good?

04 January 2012

Can We Stop Talking About Alfie Already?

Years ago in tropical, smoggy Malaysia, as soon as I mentioned that I intended to further my studies in Dublin, the general response would have been between:

  1. Isn't that place that's in the middle of a civil war and bombs go off every now and again? Isn't it? Why the hell are you going there then?
  2. Where? Wha?

As news about the island of Ireland would only filter to Malaysia rather slowly (remember, this was a time before Facebook, Tweeter, YouTube and the like), the first reaction would be relatively understandable. Plus, most of them were actually genuinely concerned about my safety and wellbeing so, I'd take some effort to give them an update on the situation in Ireland and assure them that I'd be safe for the duration of my stay.

As for the second response, I might as well have named a small village east of Timbuktu. So, to help resolve matters, I'd normally just say near London to which I'd get a long Oooooh reply in the affimative. Sorted.

More recently though, the two classic responses would normally be replaced with the fiscally-related:

Have you still go a a job there, ah? Wah...that place is in some real deep shit lah. You OK ka?
Or...with relatives and friends more used to reading Harian Metro and Utusan Malaysia rather than errr...any other proper news source, there can be only ONE response:

Wah...that's the place where that gay Malay dude got married his to his Mat Salleh husband kan? Eh, you must know him lah?
No, I don't know the now infamous/famous (whichever way you like to look at it) Ariff Alfian Rosli who armed with a tanjak has single-handedly changed Malaysia's view of Ireland. Congratulations for putting Ireland on the map Alfie! Tourism Malaysia and Tourism Ireland should give this man a medal for all the publicity work he's done for both countries.

There were mixed reactions to Alfie's treatment in the
Malaysian press.
Liverpool's defeat against City could have been a contributing factor

Now, I'll stop writing about Alfie and let you enjoy the totally not gay pics of a couple (did I say couple?) of Dublin-based guys just out having fun...

Apparently, some feel that Alfie looks quite macho

Another random couple on their travels

01 January 2012

Luis Suarez: Balancing the Probabilities

It's hard work being a Liverpool supporter these days. During the Benitez era, most of us were forced to take crash courses in the merits of posession/pressing football and zonal marking. Well, at least the ones who actually bothered defending the Liverpool manager against the seemingly countless bumbling buffoons schooled in football by the likes of Andy Gray and Richard Keys.

The knowledge proved beneficial when gauging the Spaniard's replacement. It made it easy to see that Roy Hodgson was clearly out of his depth, even if the press and the LMA were telling us the exact opposite. Give him more time, eh? Bah...

Then, as the club was dragged through the courts and financial circles by Hicks and Gillet, we again had to don our thinking caps and devour all the legal/financial mumbo-jumbo just so we could better understand what was happening with our beloved LFC.

If anything else, the whole farce makes us appreciate John Henry and what he has done for the club to date.

Now, just as things appear to have calmed down a bit, Liverpool supporters are once again faced with the prospect of getting out their reading glasses, highlighters and digging out the number of their nearest lawyer friend or relative.

On New Year's eve, the FA issued their much awaited full written statement explaining the reasons as to how and why Luis Suarez was charged with using abusive language towards Patrice Evra.

Although not a court of law, the burden of providing proof of the alleged offence still remained with the FA's Commission and Suarez's accusers. In this case, all they needed to do (according to the FA's own rules) was to prove that there there was a probability that Suarez actually commited the alleged offence. Probable, that's all.

The problem with this is firstly, the Commission didn't need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Suarez actually used abusive language, just probably did it and secondly, it falls foul of the FA's own rules on the matter. The written statement itself asserts that the FA and Commission agree that Suarez's alleged offence was a serious matter and on that basis, warrants a greater burden of evidence. Yet, this doesn't seem to have been the case when the Commission concluded that Suarez actually did commit the alleged offence. No real evidence. Just one man's word against another and a whole host of probabilities.

It gets even more interesting when looking at the facts. The report appears quick to point out that language experts were used in making the decision. Although I'm no expert on language experts and therefore don't have any evidence to the contrary, I just find it strange that both experts utilised are affiliated with the University of Manchester. Both. Manchester. As is in Manchester United. But hey, there's also Manchester City...?

I'm not saying that the two experts aren't totally independent and free from bias but isn't there a probability that they aren't to start off with. Surely, these two can't be the only South American Castellano Spanish language experts in the whole of England?

And then, there's the evidence itself. Although it's made out to be a clear conclusion from the experts (by the Commission and the media), when one reads the report in detail, it's clear that their findings are itself based on assumptions and again, probabilities.

Then, there's the fact that not one other United player heard Suarez using racially abusive language towards Evra especially when video evidence showed that the likes of David De Gea (clearly a native Spanish speaker who would've understood what was being said) was only an earshot away from where one of the alleged incidents happened. Was this seriously taken into account?

Probably not.

As a result, Luis Suarez remains guilty of an offence he probably did commit. Or was that probably not?
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