Monday, December 29, 2008

The truth is out there

Transport minister Raymond Lim tempered expectations that falling oil prices will translate into a similar drop in fares, saying that there is no direct correlation between the two.

Public transport companies however always state that rising oil prices were the main reason each time they applied for fare adjustment to the PTC. Below are those statements, direct from their own mouth. SBS Transit seems to be using the same template every year.

So who is telling the truth?

SMRT

2008 - For FY2008, SMRT’s energy cost increased 18% to $89.7 million due mainly to higher electricity and diesel prices. Of the $89.7 million, electricity cost accounted for $47.5 million, an increase of 19% compared to FY2007. Diesel costs for bus operations amounted to $42.2 million, 17% higher than last financial year

2007 - Electricity cost has increased by 26.3 per cent from $31.5 million in FY 2006 to $39.8 million in FY 2007. Cost pressures posed by the sustained high price of diesel is further compounded by a 3.8 per cent increase in the cost of diesel for SMRT Buses, from $34.2 million in FY 2006 to $35.5 million in FY 200

2006 - SMRT is still facing cost pressures, particularly the large and sustained increase in the price of diesel. Diesel cost has increased by 40% from $24.1 million (FY05) to $33.8 million (FY06).

2005 - During the past 3 years, SMRT's operating costs have also risen because of the increases in the statutory and operating fees, as well as high oil prices that continue to affect our electricity and diesel costs.

SBS Transit

2008 - Fuel and energy costs have, for example, increased significantly in the last year.

2007 - Due to significant cost increases, including record high fuel prices and rising manpower costs

2006 - Due to significant cost increases, led by the continuing rise in fuel costs. In the last year, energy costs have risen by over 40%, or nearly $30 million, compared to the year before. From the end of last year, we have been further required to use only ultra-low sulphur diesel which costs more. This alone will increase our fuel costs by another $2.2 million a year. At $101 million, or 18% of total operating costs, energy costs have become our largest expense after manpower costs.

2005 - Due to significant cost increases, including an unprecedented rise in fuel costs. Fuel costs for buses alone have risen from $39 million in 2002 to $55 million last year. Oil prices, which started off last year at about US$33 a barrel, have been rising strongly and is now trading in the region of US$50.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Perfect

This is a quote taken from Good Will Hunting and it's something good to remember when you are in a relationship.

"My wife use to fart when she was nervous. She also does all sorts of wonderful amazing things. She use to fart in her sleep. Sometime shit happens and it went so loud it woke the dog up. She woke up and gone like "Is that you?" I said "Ya". I didn't have the heart to tell her. She's been dead two years and that's the shit I remember. Wonderful stuff you know. Little things like that but those are the things I miss the most. All the little idiosyncrasies that only I know about. That's what made her my wife. And she had the goods on me too. She knows all my little peccadillos. People call these things imperfections. But they're not. That's the good stuff. And then we get to choose who we let in our weird little worlds"

"You're not perfect sport and let me save you the suspense: this girl you've met, she isn't perfect either but the question is whether or not you are perfect for each other. That's the whole deal. That's what intimacy is all about. Now you can know everything in the world sport but the only way you'll find out that is by giving it a shot"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thailand and democracy

I am all for democracy which we can do more with here.

Having said all that, what the Thais are doing is simply wrong.

Protest all you want but you cannot hold someone else hostage. By crippling the airport, you practically deny someone else of their rights, whatever it may be. How can you profess to be democratic when your actions are contrary?

Democracy is not about chaos. That's is reserved for a revolution.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Jangan Pandang Belakang, in real life

Have you heard stories of ghost encounters where someone who drove or rode alone suddenly had a 'passenger' or a 'pillion' at the backseat in the form of a pontianak etc? Scary isn't it?

Well I got a story for you and this is scarier.

I was moving my movie reviews from Multiply over to this site and when it was time for the movie review of 'Jangan Pandang Belakang', I realised it did not come with a movie poster attached like all the other movie reviews I have so far.

So I went looking for one and I found something will give me nightmares for many years to come. Coincidence that I found it while looking for material for a horror movie? I think not.

Long story short, if this is were to happen to me, it would scare the crap out of me more than any pontianak can.

Think you're not afraid of anything? Then I dare you take a look at this

ps - I am not responsible for any distraught you may experience as result of this post.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What an ad

I was surfing through a metal website Keep It True and the thing that caught my eye was an ad right on top of it by a online Muslim marriage & matrimonial service company. Nothing wrong by right as metal music crosses all barriers but it sure reminds me of Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Ok, let's go through a short history of metal music to those who knows zilch about it.

Metal music is associated with rebellious attitude right from the attires to the way rockers walk and talk and the best icon to represent a rebel is satan himself. I don't have to explain as to why satan is considered a rebel do I? Well if I must, then read this

Anyway, that is why certain religious groups labeled metal music as satanic etc. Can't blame them as the devil or the like is often used in artworks. Reference - Iron Maiden's Eddie.

So back to the ad, right above an artwork featuring a couple of dead corpse and satanic figures, is this ad by Qiran.com, with a picture of a man and a woman in a tudung (not together of course if you know what I mean) with a tagline "Matches made in heaven". Now you see the why it reminds me of that song?

Anyway, like I said, there is nothing wrong actually only that it's weird, which brought me thinking how ads by google can go very wrong.

I experience it first hand on my own website. After I posted a review of the movie The Majestic, my website got filled with ads with the words Jesus all over the place, even on post that has nothing to do with religion. That could lead people into thinking that I promote Christianity somehow.

It's time that Google allow filtering by words.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Pick of Destiny

Can't believe it that of all the movies, I missed this one!

The Pick of Destiny is a musical comedy starring Tenacious D, a duo made up of Jack Black and Kyle Gass, two lovers of rock music who can play and sing really well with just acoustics.

Well the main attraction for me is of course the rock songs but this also officially becomes the first musical that I can actual watch and love!

Below is the first part. The rest can be found on YouTube. Watch out for Dio!

I'm out to the store to get the DVD

Friday, November 28, 2008

What you need to know about OPC

When you considered getting an off peak car, you've definitely heard of the benefits where the two main ones are

1. $17,000 rebate off the car price
2. $800 rebate of your yearly road tax

What the above means is that if the car you like in the showroom is listed at $55,000, you only need to pay $55,000-$17,000=$38,000.

As for the road tax, if you're getting a 1.8l car whose yearly road tax is $978, you only need to pay $178. If your yearly road tax is less than $800, for example $744 for a 1.6l car, then you need to pay the minimum of $50.

Quite a good deal isn't it? Well, you must understand that when it comes to the government, nothing is free.

Of course you are restricted from using the car from 7am-7pm on weekdays and 7am-3pm on Saturdays and the eve of 5 major holidays. If you want to use your car within the restricted hours, you have to use up the $20 daily coupon.

Apart from that, here is the thing most people do not know about, which is, where does the 17k comes from?

The 17k rebate is taken off the COE and/or ARF (Additional Registration Fee) which is basically a nice word for car tax.

What this means is that, if the COE for your OPC is 17k, then you need not pay for the COE but your COE value then is $0

If your COE is more than 17k, then your COE is worth the amount after 17k is minus off. So if your COE is 18k, then your COE is worth 1k.

What if your COE is less than 17k? Then the balance of the rebate will be taken off your ARF. So if your COE is 16k and your ARF is 10k, the balance 1k will be taken off your ARF, which will then be valued at 9k.

If your COE is 7k and your ARF is 10k, then after 17k is minus off, both your COE and ARF will be $0 value.

If the total of both your COE and ARF is less than 17k, then will not get maximum 17k rebate. What you'll get is the maximum of what both your COE and ARF totals up to. So if both of them totals to 15k, that will be the maximum rebate you'll get. So if the car price is 55k, then you'll have to pay 40k instead of 38k

Why is all data important? Well because this affect the value of your car later.

If you de register (scrap) your car later, you will get rebates based on how much tax (COE and ARF) you've paid.

For COE, it is pretty straight forward. The formula is

COE rebates = (COE paid/3650) * (3650 - days car is used)

For ARF rebates, which is called Preferential ARF (PARF) rebates, the formula is

Not exceeding 5 75% of ARF paid
Above 5 but
not exceeding 6
70% of ARF paid
Above 6 but
not exceeding 7
65% of ARF paid
Above 7 but
not exceeding 8
60% of ARF paid
Above 8 but
not exceeding 9
55% of ARF paid
Above 9 but
not exceeding 10
50% of ARF paid
Above 10 Nil


If both your COE and ARF is valued at $0, you will get no rebates when you de register your car. While you may not be de registering your car later on, this rebate (paper value) makes up part of the market value of the car when you plan to sell it off.

This means car A with COE and ARF is higher than car B will of course fetch a better resale value.

So remember, when it comes to the government, there is no such thing as a rebate if it is not taken from somewhere

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Back to bass it

I have not gone for jamming sessions for more than a year. In other words, I stop enjoying playing music.

Last Saturday I perform at a small concert as a favor for my old band mates and it felt really good although amidst the multiple mistakes.

Seriously thinking of playing again although the reason why I stopped the last time round is still valid.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Keep it personal

I always joke with my users each time their machines face problem that they should stop surfing porn.

Recently I attended to a machine that is down with virus. I said the same thing to the user but this time it's for real because there's porn everywhere up to the point I think he's needs some help.

Whatever it is, to me it's simple. What you do on your own time is your own business but keep it personal. In other words, never use company's resources and properties for stuff like this. Not only it is not professional, it violates policies even in the most liberal corporate organisation unless the business is porn.

He's given a warning and asked to report back with the violations rectified. I rather settle it at this level first but he's already in my black book.

New Mazda 3 / Axela

It's out and it's super nice lah!

http://www.netcarshow.com/mazda/2010-3_sedan/

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Different?

When you want something different, is it really that different?

Humans are an interesting species. We look different, we speak differently but yet at the core of it all, everyone wants the same thing. No?

Take for example religion. We may have different faith or an atheist but don't we all look for something or someone to approve us? Even those who worships nature wants mother nature, although non-existant physically or otherwise, to approve of what they do. Even satanist wants satan's approval. Yes, we do good deeds (or bad, depending on your faith and take on things) because we believe it benefits (or harms) in general but at the same time we feel good about it and subconciously, we want it to be approved or want some form of confirmation that what we did was right.

Then there is how we present ourself. Those who wear normally are telling everyone else that they don't want to be stared at. They are telling others of the existance of their personal space, their space to be left alone. Those who wear differently attract stares which also achieved the same objective, telling people that they exist and they too have their own space. Those who wear to impress yearns for a space, thinking they don't have one in the first place. Personal space.

Some prefer security while others live a dangerous life. One side wants to ensure they can survive while the other wants to live it. It's all about how you want to die. Die a miserable death or die miserably knowing you didn't live your life to the fullest.

You want a challenging job while others look for a mundane one. Aren't we all simply wanting to stick to doing something?

Some like blue, some like green or red or yellow. They're all colors, no other terms to describe it.

Demons

No, not Angels and Demons and no, not supernatural stuffs Azmi has a third eye for.

It's those skeleton in the closet, if you prefer to call it. Eveyone has it, one way or another and fear that it may come springing out that keep us on edge. After kept hidden for so long, you wonder how scary it still is.

Sometimes it is good to let it run wild, eliminating the surprise factor. Of course letting it out scaring the crap of those around you will definitely raise mountains of questions. Trying to explain why it's there in the first place can be daunting enough.

But at least let another, if not more, within the circle. They can help relate to those who have no clue of its existance, when you're unable to.

They're not that scary, when you know you're in control.

Taxi booking system

It is supposed to make getting a cab more convenient but turned into passengers' nightmare instead, and money making machine for some parties.

Put it this way. If you're a cab driver, you would do the same thing. When you know demand is high, especially during peak hours, you just need to refuse street pick-up, knowing passengers are at your mercy, and just wait or maybe don't even need to, for booking calls instead and ending up with additional money.

We passengers have no choice but to call if we desperately need one. Ever wondered why a cab can respond within few minutes after you've made a booking call but before, you waited for way more than that?

Taxi company earn part of that booking charges as profits other than to cover operating calls. 17 million calls were made to Comfort alone in 2006, and proud of it as it was record breaking. Multiply that by $2.50, the cheapest rate and you easily get $42.5M. I do not know how much each party earns but it no small sum.

If taxi companies are truthful when they say profit isn't a factor for implementing the system, then they would have no issues in doing away with it, would they? Only then you will see the same number of cabs on the road regardless if it is peak or off peak periods. However, I have taken a cab ride where the driver was grateful to the system. He admitted that cabbies do abuse the system but also mentioned that with the system, they roam aimlessly around less. I do agree in a way.

So how do we go about this issue? Obviously scrapping the system altogether do cause a certain impact. If drivers drive aimlessly, they might rather wait and that will make passengers somewhere else wait too. We need a system that allows both parties to find each other.

Fact is, we already have the system. We just need remove the money-making part of it.

1. no one should profit from the calls.
2. cost of a call should only be sufficient to cover operating cost

This way, knowing that they will not earn a single cent from the calls, drivers will know which location is currently hot with passengers to pick up instead of driving aimlessly. As for abuse of the system by passengers, any cancelled calls will result with the number banned from calling in for a certain period.

This can be done. Question, do they want to?

Relations

My mom always nagged me about how distance I am from my relatives, especially my cousins. She always reminds me that blood is more important than mere friends I have.

I cannot deny that my relatives (some of them) were the ones who were there for my family during times of need. They were the one who helped out in many ways when I don't even have bus fare to school. For that I am eternally grateful.

Problem is, I don't meet them except once a year during hari raya, or when there are ceremonies like weddings etc. We're like NS buddies, only to meet during in-camp trainings. Other times, we're like perfect strangers. We don't call, chat or sms like my friends and I do. We don't live like how my parents did when relatives stayed close together within the same kampung etc. In that situation, my cousins should be the obvious choice as friends. Now, I sometimes don't even know where most of them live.

Futhermore, they are all well to do and don't need any financial assistance whatsoever. I can't think of anything else I can do to repay them or show my gratitude. Will it suffice to simply show my face around and pretend that we are close?

On the other hand, I meet my friends almost everyday. We enjoy each others company. We are also more open and frank with each other. With my relatives, I show a fake facade, that everything is fine, no animosity even though I can't stand some of them. I am pretty sure they share the same opinion. How do you pour out your emotions with someone you barely meet once a year?

At the same time, I cannot deny friends will not be there forever. The status can change from buddies to someone we used to know. I experienced that before when most of them got hitched and their new family a priority. We no longer even meet for a cup of coffee, like we used to. I can understand that even though it does pisses me off. Compared that to my relatives, whom I am not even close to begin with, there is no reason to get pissed off.

Today an event happened that made me feel closer to my friends. The thought of losing any of them got me quite emotional. At the same, another event relating to one of my aunt made me feel how I must strengthen my ties with my relatives.

So the question is - who should be of more priority? friends you always meet but may become ex at some point, or relatives who you seldom meet but can never remove the link - blood? It's like married with kids - your status can turn ex wife/husband but you can never be ex-father/mother to your kids when you get separated.

Secrets

Watched an episode of Raymond last night. It is a good one, as always, with the other episodes. While hilarious as it is, it brings about a very important message.

This episode is about Amy's mother Pat who secretly smokes. Robert finds that out one night and one thing leads to another, it becomes a day of revelations for the whole family.

Pat smokes because it is hard living with Hank who is a pretty hard ass on rules

Hank goes out at times and blow up fireworks because he cannot stand Pat's timid nature.

Raymond drives around the block at times before he comes home to face Debra, while making funny faces to mock Debra.

Debra eats chocolate the whole day while waiting for Raymond to come home everytime he makes a mistake.

Amy gots so pissed off with Roberts OCD that she turns his toothbrush the other way round, opposite of what Roberts always does.

Peter hates the neighbour's cat that he goes to the backyard and barks.

Initially everyone was shocked to hear each other's relevations but later agreed that it is better to have an outlet to let go of their anger rather than letting it go at the person causing it.

That is when Marie stands up and chided everyone for doing what they do instead of talking to each other, like Frank and her do. Raymond then questions her claim that they are a good example. If you watch ELR, you'll know that Raymond is right. There can't be any other couple gone wrong other than Frank and Marie.

But Marie then says a line that makes absolute sense.

"Do we smoke? Do we blow up fireworks? Do we bark like a dog?"

So talk or keep secrets. You choose

For drivers wannabe

Below are the main things wanna be drivers need to take note of.

There are two types of driving licence in Singapore.

Class 3 - all transmission cars
Class 3A - automatic transmission cars only

Before you start your lessons either in centres or privately, it is best to have a feel of driving first. For that, you may have to treat your best friend who owns a car to Swensens or equivalent . If you are confident of handling a car, you will not waste time in re-taking a certain lesson again after you enrol.

Things you can learn through your best friend

1. What to do when entering a car.

This is important even though it don't look like it is, seriously. When a tester sees that you look like a season driver and know what you are doing, your test will tend to be a breeze. Things to do are

- put on the seat-belt and adjust it
- adjust the driver's seat
- adjust the mirrors

Do all the above adjustments even though it already fits you. The reason why is simply to show the tester that you do check for all those things before you drive which is a good and recommended habit.

2. Learn the basics of how to move a car

For auto

- both hands on steering wheel
- use right leg to step on brake pedal
- use the left hand to change to gear to D (drive). Right hand still on steering wheel
- use the left hand to release handbrake
- put left hand back on steering wheel
- release foot brake
- use right leg to step on accelerator

Unless you are a stunt driver, never use your left leg for anything when it comes to automatic cars. Using left leg to step on brake and right leg to step on accelerator is the worse if not moronic way to drive.

Putting both hands on the steering wheel before you move off is very important, trust me. Try to move off with only one hand on the steering wheel during a test and see what happens.

For manual cars,

- both hands on steering wheel
- right leg step on brake
- left leg step on clutch pedal
- use the left hand to change to gear to 1st. Right hand still on steering wheel
- use the left hand to release handbrake
- put left hand back on steering wheel
- gently release clutch pedal until you feel the engine change and hold it there
- release brake and use right leg to gently step on accelerator pedal
- release clutch pedal as step on accelerator until the car moves without stalling

3. Check car reliability

The only thing you need to check is the foot brake. Move off a little and then step on the brake to get a feel of how good or bad is the braking. This applies even when you got your driving license, especially when you drive someone else car or a rental car. Failure to do so may result in the car either skidding or the car behind banging into your car or your car banging into the car in front.

I rate the importance of this point as 10/10

4. Learn how to turn the steering wheel while making a turn

There are many ways to do this. Some *cough* can even do this with one hand. But to do this correctly and according to requirements to pass the test, the cross hand method is the only method until you get your license.

To turn right, use the right hand to turn the steering wheel while the left hand to guide the steering wheel. Once either hand reach the 2 o'clock position, release that hand from the steering wheel and grab the steering wheel at 10 o'clock position.

To turn left, it is the total opposite.

5. Learn what to do before making a turn

This is also 10/10 in terms of importance, before or after you got your licence.

- check rear view for incoming vehicles on the side of the turn you plan to make.
- check your side mirror for incoming vehicles on the side of the turn you plan to make.
- signal your intention and signal correctly!
- check blind spots on the side of the turn you plan to make.
- make the turn

6. Learn how to straighten up the car after a turn

The important thing is to keep to a lane. If you make a U-turn, your car must stay within the second lane from the right after the U-turn. Your car cannot cross over the line on the right side of that lane. For a filtering turn, the car must not cross over to the second lane from the left.

As it is illegal to learn on the roads without a qualified instructor, that is all you can learn through your best friend
For the list of Swensens, check here

What is the use of COE then?

The COE was introduced as a measure to control the number of vehicles on the roads. The ERP on the other hand was introduced to shape traffic conditions.

Both are useful tools, no doubt, but how effective are they if not in the right hands?

The purpose of the COE is simple. If the roads here can handle 200,000 vehicles and currently there are 180,000 vehicles on the roads and 10,000 more are scheduled to be de-registered by the next COE bidding exercise, then only 30,000 COE should release by then.

By this logic and with all the tools and statistics available, LTA should be able to make sound judgment whether to increase or decrease the number of vehicles on the roads by manipulating the amount of COE to be released in the next exercise. In other words, the roads here should not be congested. When that is achieved, the implementation and usage of the COE has achieved its objective.

Now, say certain stretch of roads are congested even when the above is achieved. This can happen because a large number of motorist prefer to use some stretch of roads more than the others. When the situation is as such, ERP is the right tool after no other solutions like road widening or building of additional alternative routes, could solve the congestion. By implementing the ERP on that stretch of road, it will disperse the motorist around.

Logic is simple - there are more than enough roads, don't just use this stretch. Spread out.

But what happens when ALL the roads congested? How and where else can motorist spread out to? This happens when the number of vehicles keep increasing despite the roads here unable to take in the increase as a result of improper implementation of the COE that in the end simply becomes a source of tax revenue.

With the roads unable to cope with the increase of vehicles, ERP will not help in any way whatsoever because there are no where else to spread the motorist around. So the gantries are there simply to collect payment because motorists have no other alternatives, except to not drive their vehicle.

Is the CTE still congested? Yes. Is the ERP still there? Yes. Has the increase solve the problem? No.

There are just too many vehicles on the road and this is the problem that should be tackled right from the start. That however is now much harder to do because of the flawed way the COE bidding exercise have been carried out all these while. Simply put, it is not possible, one day, to have no COE to be bid for. Too many parties now will be affected if that day comes.

When the COE system was implemented, it was meant to control the number of people buying their own private vehicles and hence free the roads up.

Then the ERP was implemented to spread motorist around and hence free up congested roads.

Now the ERP charges and the number of gantries keep increasing because more and more roads are congested.

What is the next step of action with the failure of both tools? - Not all vehicle owners can drive as and when they want.

So motorist were made to pay for the COE because that will allow the car to be driven around but now told to keep it at home.

Best sales job ever.

Just one of those days

I was driving off after the late night karaoke session and my mind was working on the route home. I settled for the CTE instead of the PIE.

As a driver, each time I got my route right, it gives a certain kind of satisfaction knowing my way well, which is an important part of driving.

It did felt that way, until I just got into the CTE, when I remembered I wanted to go Johore to pump petrol. PIE would have been a better choice.

Needed to pump some petrol before I cross over anyway (3/4 tank rule), so CTE would lead me to Shell at Upper Thomson. Not a bad decision afterall to use the CTE as I can easily join the SLE back to proceed to Woodlands checkpoint.

Along the way, I remembered that I can redeem my Shell point for $20 worth of petrol, so when I finally reached Shell, I pumped exactly that amount, which coincidentally is the exact amount of petrol I needed.

When I approached the cashier with my intention, I was told that I can't because after 5% discount, the total price is $19 and to redeem, it must be more than or equal to $20. Another blunder. Paid up and continued my journey.

Going in and out of Johore was a breeze, as it should at 2am in the morning.

While in the car, waiting to clear I/C at Singapore side, I felt hungry and I could only think of McDonals. Normally I would go this drive thru at Yishun but clever me thought it would a little out of the way home to get there, even though it is along Sembawang Road.

Kind of sure Woodlands Centre has one, I thought it would be the best choice as I can join back the BKE easily to get home. Turns out to be a bad choice as it was not open 24hrs.

The nearest outlet from there would have to be at Woodlands Civic centre so that's where I went. Another bad decision. Again, not open 24hrs.

Next nearest is at Admiralty and I am very sure it does operates 24hrs as I've been there before in the wee mornings after midnight shows. Just my luck it was closed then for God knows what reason.

Shaking my head in disbelief that I can strike out 3 times in a row, I felt like slapping myself when I remembered that I should have just went to the one at Sun Plaza the first time round. It's so near my place and I'll burn it down if it stops operating 24hrs.

Thinking my ordeal is finally coming to an end, seeing that it's open, the vision of Ronald laughing at me came flashing past as I was told that double cheese was out. I was so pissed off that I don't even bother to think of getting something else. I just want to get home and find any fuel accelerant and return back to burn the place down.

I am those who is kind of anal about getting what I want. I ever travel here and there looking for Dreyers ice cream around the same time too before. So I made up my mind that I should just go to the very first outlet that came to my mind when I first thought of MD - the drive through at Yishun.

When I made my order at the ordering booth, I can vision myself doing an Ashton Kutcher, whacking that thing silly should I hear anything else other than "Please drive forward".

It took a while for them to give me my two double cheese after which I was told that I had to wait 10 mins. I almost lost it. I felt like reversing back and stepping on the accelerator hard and ram the place down. Turns out it was a internal prank they played on one of the workers there.

Got my double cheese and I drove off, eating one along the way.

Guess no "And then?" this time round


Keep it off the road

Recently, a friend riding with his girlfriend was involved in an accident caused by a drunk who crashed his bike into them. Although the injuries were pretty bad, it could have been worse. Thank God they both are recovering well in hospital. Can't say the same for the drunkard as last heard, one of his knee is busted.

Since insurance company don't pay for DUI related accidents, my friend is not able to make a claim against him. Only way is to make it a civil case but what's the point when the guy has nothing to claim against?

It's common that riders/drivers drink and ride/drive but when you do till you can't handle your machine, then you better stay put till you're sober or get someone else to get you home. It don't matter that you have no intention to be the cause because when it do happen, time can not and will not turn back and it make all go away. Riding/driving while drunk will make you the most dangerous rider/driver on the road.

Don't drink and ride/drive because it may cost a limb or a live - Me

Mastercard

To me, best friends are those who will not judge you even if you are at a naught with them. They will, after voicing out his/her opinions, in the end respect the choice you've made. They will help you out in anyway possible as long as it do not go against their principle. If they do, they will refuse you frankly and politely. If you've made the wrong choice, they will simply accept that it's just a bad choice and then help you out in choosing the right ones after that. If you've made a mistake, they will learn to accept that it's a mistake and help you right what went wrong

I've made a vow.

If and when I have children, my wife and I will try our best to be their best friend and do all the above, so that we will be one they will turn to for advice, for help, for them to share their joys and sorrows and whom they would rather seek to share their secrets.

Because at the end of the day, if your children decide to put you aside in things that concerns their emotional well being, then you're no better than a stranger who only gives them shelter, food, clothing and money. When they can find it elsewhere, they'll leave in an instance, especially if it comes with more than just material provisions. That is when your children starts to avoid you, rebel against you, hates you and make parents' worse nightmares come true.

Like Mastercard's ads say - "There are certain things money can't buy".

And money can't buy a true best friend.

Attention

My morning passenger was a kindergarten teacher before she is a principle of a childcare center now. She also does volunteer work with kids suffering from cancer at KK. At her age, there is little doubt that she has an abundance of experience dealing with kids.

The main thing she said that is required when dealing with kids is patience and there is no compromise. That's pretty much common knowledge which is hard to disagree with. Even though dealing with adults requires patience too, kids on the other hand are innocent. They don't have any evil plans. They're just being themselves. In that sense, patience with kids will not be returned with betrayal.

I asked her why are certain kids slower than the rest and she said, although sometimes it is caused by genetics, a lot of times, it is caused by upbringing.

She cited an example of an 18 months old kid who was reserved and spoke little when he was brought in by his parents. His father was almost to tears describing his anguish at how he is not able to invoke much response from his son.

She handled this kid personally. She had him in her office and engaged him while at the same time doing her own work; talking and playing with him. Initially he was as what his father described him; keeping to himself and did things on his own and spoke not even a single word to her.

After sometime and much perseverance, the first word she could get out of him was her own name. From then on, he was a cheerful kid.

Naturally the parents were happy with the change. However, it then turned into a problem because the kid would want to go to 'school' everyday, even on weekends and would turn into his old self when he's not at the centre.

When told by the father of this, she asked about the condition at home.

It was only then that she knew the kid stayed with the grandparents and the parents only visits him and not take him home at the end of a work day, not even on weekends.

Hearing this, it was pretty clear where the problem lies.

So those with kids, or planning to have one, hope this is good read. It may take loads of patience, but like mentioned, an innocent mind has no malice and will only adsorb what's good. That is all they need when at that age. Not TV, not PS2, not distractions from the very thing they need - attention.

How to wade off rangers when motorhoming

Quoting some guy from the internet

Just ask the rangers politely to "define camping". Not one has ever been able to tell me in ten years of motorhoming, especially when you are only sleeping in your vehicle.

One ranger in Broome got so frustrated trying to define what camping is to me. It went something like this

"What is camping?"

"Well, camping is when you light a fire"

"Not doing that!"

"Ummm camping is when you put up a tent"

"Not doing that either!"

"ah! camping is when you sleep in your car!"

"during which hours?" I asked

"well, from the time the sun goes down til it comes up again" he said

"so if I sleep all day and stay awake all night then I am not camping, right?"

At this stage he jumped in his 4x4 and roared off in despair. So know what I mean.

The other trick is to speak in a foreign language and he will back off quick. No point giving you a fine because he knows he will never get it paid. It takes practice, but it works a treat, provided you can stop the wife and kids from laughing.

Heartbreak letter

A translation of Surat Putus Cinta

A love letter similar to the stage of a tapir's pregnancy.

In the ultra violet gloom of the seventh month that shines light underneath the feet of the red skies, suddenly I recalled the nostalgic eureka of our past love that we smudged together. Your presence, together with hydrogen molecules, straightened all the mess that entangled my intestines. It also taught me the meaning of turbulent and sombre yearning.

You also taught me the meaning of love, sea lion, polar bear, penguin, mountain goat, mee rebus, chendol, corridor, pencil box, shoe lace and flower pot. Then, we were like Nobita and Sizuka or Kurt Cobain and Rafeah Buang that can never be separated. Sadly, our love that got full coverage even to the planet Ziku tempted separation ending with the whole centipede farmers in Burma disappointed. You left still as KL was preparing to host the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

In reality, the separation was caused by the massive scale of rubber trees cut down in Klang Valley. When you left, I suffered when I contracted sinus and hepatitis Q without warning. Your absence forced me to wear safety helmets all the time as a precautionary measure. I could not believe what had happened. It was as if I slipped from the earth's orbit and thrown to space, where earth's gravity had no effect on me no more, after I tripped on this love that dragged till rubber-set. My life's journey darken as if trapped in a dark cave, accompanied by needle like stag lits and stalagmite.

The condominium of love that we build from bicycle mudguards and helicopter rotors were destroyed when you had a change of heart. It was clear you were no longer you when Malaysia launched MEASAT-1 satelite to space. Since then, you always ran away when you bumped into my brother in law. In the end, I realised that I was no longer needed.

Since you're gone, I'm always by myself, conversing with the papaya tree to fill up my time. Sometimes I tie carbonated drink bottles to the house pillars to make it look nicer. I will daydream all day in the fridge thinking about you who disappeared without a trace. I tried playing badminton while eating mee hailam to forget you but it was of no use. So I burnt the washing machine and beat the crap up of 4 of my neighbours' ducks as a sign that I was not the one who was wrong.

Why? Why my love? Why did all these happened? Why, after you stole my heart, you burglarized away my love and murdered it till you're killed in a tragic love accident. I felt squashed by sacks of stones that fell on my back. The suffering you've caused is too much for me to handle, as if I had to carry 75 monitor lizards and 386 baby monkeys. And now all my hope are broken to pieces as I feel like I've fallen from the KL Towers and crushed by the Petronas Twin Towers then stuck in between the gap of the LRT track and then ran over by the Komuter train till I was shredded to pieces. Oh! So tough are these ordeals.

Now it is all over. I know who I am - just a normal human being who likes to eat instant noodles. I am not McGyver, McDonald's, Superman or Kesatria Baja Hitam. Nor am I Ultraman that you've always dreamed of. I am aware of my inadequacies and the lack of public amenities in my area. No need for regrets as rice has turned to capati and the sardine can in my grasp has it's expiry date smeared. It's all so sad and all your gifts including a submarine engine have been cut to pieces to feed the cows.

Even though everything is over, here, on top of this rubber tree, I will wait for your return. As long as I can breathe, as long as there is SOGO the shopping complex, as long as there's sandal shops in Argentina, as long as Metallica has not disbanded, I will still wait for you till the sun splits to eight. Lastly, I took a final decision to wait for the electric pole in front of my house to bear fruit. When it does, I will post them to you. Would you like that?

Reversing a stupid mistake

I never liked F1 because it is racing in the pits instead of on the tracks.

The faster the tyres got changed, the faster the fuel got pumped, the higher are the chances of the driver winning the race. And since actions in the pit are considered part of the excitement, my 1st paragraph don't sound so wrong.

Compared that to its motorcycle equivalent, MotoGP, where the race is really on the track as pitting in is a choice and not a requirement, it's a do or die situation for the racers and not the pit crews!

Nevertheless, the recent night race, although considered a stale idea as MotoGP had its first night race in March this year, hence not too much to utter the word copycat somewhere along the line, is still a good development for Singapore, I hope.

Maybe those who road hogs may finally learn to get the hell out of the way. Maybe the ah bengs and the like will realise that their cars might as well be fixed with speakers to emulate the exhaust sound of the F1 cars rather than to 'cheng' them up and in the end still go like snails.

One thing for sure, it proves that he is wrong for chasing the race out of Singapore back in the 60s and now probably swallowing his pride for saying so what if Malaysia hosts the F1 way earlier.

As for the race track itself, I believe most drivers gave politically correct answers when interviewed. Wait for later interviews and we'll know what they really thought of the track.

Personally, I think there are simply too many bends, slowing down the whole race. If it was up to me, I would not make the track turn left after Suntec Convention Centre but instead after the Civilian War Memorial resulting in longer straights down Suntec and towards the Padang. The cars will get to brake later hence reaching higher speeds than it managed to last night. Two bends less equal more speed.

I really pity those who paid to for the tickets facing the floating platform. Not only did they get to see the cars for like one second, they also missed out on the real potential of the cars - that is going fast, and not like some cars going into a garage!

So all in all, congrats for a successful event, although I am not sure how the amount of money the government poured in (reportedly $100M) to reverse the mistake, benefits the population as a whole.

As for me, going Genting then Sepang for MotoGP is still much more exciting.

Sepang - MotoGP 2008

Made the move around 6+ in the morning when the guys arrived but not before one of them asked if they can smoke in the car. I refrained myself from doing that even when I was smoking. Trying their luck I guess.

Topped up my car a bit for the 3/4 tank rule and then to Woodlands Center to convert some cash to RM. Topping up was all for nothing as the two customs officers manning the station were sleeping. Traffic on both sides were practically smooth. Then it was straight to the highways where we stopped at the first R&R for breakfast.

While the guys were taking their smoke break after the breakfast, I met with my future relatives to be. What a coincidence. Lucky I was behaving.

Then it was straight to Sepang. Yan was v-com so he stayed awake to accompany me while the Burn sailed to dreamland and Wan to King(diamond)dom come.

It was quite a jam as we reached the toll booth near Sepang. As I did not top up my T&G card earlier, I asked if it can be topped up even though I knew it was not at a 'Tambah Nilai' (top up) booth. Not surprising that the answer was no although it baffles me that they still deduct from what balance was left in my card while I paid the rest in cash. They can deduct but they cannot top up?

It was slow reaching the track with the jam and all. Parking rates still RM5 but the parking lot looked like some plantation. We saw a van stuck in the mud and it was scary to think the same were to happen to Axela if it rained later on. This is one of the things I feel SIC really need to work on.

Queue for the tickets was not that long but super slow and being under the hot sun just made it worse. The sleepyheads queued, kind of a punishment while Yan and I continued our TC session. Lucky us.

This year there's more booth with more varieties of bikes and of course anything that got to do with bikes. Bought a cute Kawa T-shirt for makcik.

There was BMW for one even though they don't race in MotoGP. Their booth had a lounge with drinks for owners who were specially invited. Membership has it privileges I guess.

The 125cc race was ongoing when the rest cam whored with the bikes on display while I just looked around with what was on display and what was on the display .

When we finally got to the grandstand facing the starting grid, the 250cc race was about to start so we just stood there till the bikes past the first corner. I never liked the sound of two strokes. It's like a loud mosquito flying all around.

We then went to the opposite stand, which is a common thing to do hear after each start, as there's more to see over there. Burn tried to prove he is the best sports photographer there is by trying to get pictures of the bikes zooming by. Considering his came and the venue, he made pretty good attempts.

A couple of their friends came later on and joined us. The more the merrier.

After the race, we went to get some drinks before we pushed ourselves through the crowd to find some seats on the stairs for the MotoGP race. It's worth it to get cramped up together with BO all around and knowing you are possibly in between someone else's crotch.

The sound of MotoGP machines are just music to the ears. The start is always the part to look forward to when all the machines on the grid screamed at the same time and the floor you're standing on vibrates to the tune of the noise. This is something you can never experience on the TV.

Once the bikes sped off to the first corner, which was like in a split second, and seeing all bikes past through safely, we ourselves raced to the opposite stand as did many other spectators. Again, the stairs were the only place we can find. Considering the crowd this time, it's a gift. The K1 grandstand was practically full. That kind of give an indication of how the numbers are rising every year.

This time Burn knows where he and his camera stood. Still his persistence is commendable in the face of futility.

A few laps later, it's pretty obvious Rossi was going to win. He was simply mind screwing Pedrosa, tailing him all the way, looking for the spot to do it. Then Rossi overtook for the lead right in front of our eyes! Awesome.

After the race ended, during the victory lap, 3 drunken f***ers climbed over the fence and tried to stop Rossi. Lucky he managed to avoid hitting them or worst injuring himself considering it was on the straights with only walls on both sides of the track. They tried to escape and the crowd was angry and so were the marshalls who stopped them from fleeing. I'm sure the 3 will wake up sober with body aches later. We were like a couple of kay poh kids who kept going back to see the commotion and at the same time shouting like everyone else. Police came after a while and apprehended them.

As expected the queue to leave the 'carpark' was super long. Smart me thought that I could beat the queue by going to the front by cutting through some perpendicular lanes, which I did, only to realise that I was at the very lane where the van got stuck earlier and the same thing almost happened to us! I realised the 3 guys berat dosa so I asked to them alight and walla, Axela worked her magic.

Lucky for a pakcik who showed us the way, we almost waited for eternity behind a bus that was actually parked on the roads.

Tank was empty so it needed topping up. It was expected that the station nearby would be packed but not that packed! Since it is a pay-first-then-pump system, even the queue pay was horrendous! Realising we might have to wait for eternity, I asked an attendant who was a bangla if there are any other stations nearby and he can only answer with 'Aku tak tahu' (I don't know) to all my questions, obviously not able to understand a word of malay except for "Aku tak tahu".

I approached a local and in no time we were pumping at another station nearby. From there, the signs were pretty ok and we were on the highway soon after, avoiding all the jam. Turns out ok I guess.

We stopped at the first R&R for lunch we badly needed. That was when I realised I just finish a rally with Axela. She was never this dirty.

Again, the place was packed. Lots of food but everyone had almost the same thing. I was still hungry so I told the guys we're heading to A&W later on at Ayer Keroh Jejantas. Topped up my T&G card before that.

When we got to Ayer Keroh, we were back in the car as soon as we got off because it was packed! Some customers even ate outside the restaurant. If not because I can't stand queues, it would have been a good opportunity to bag one of those mugs home.

Not giving up, I decided we will stop by one at UTM near Skudai. Burn took over the v-com duty and good boy did not sleep to accompany me.

It rained a little along the way although I hope it was heavier. At least it would clean Axela a little but considering my tyres, a heavy rain could be dangerous so I guess orang atas thought of me. Syukur nothing happened throughout the journey.

Found my Awie Unplugged and we sang along the way to some good old tunes like Bernafas Dalam Lumpur. Nostalgic moments.

When we reached the toll at Johor, I saw an empty lane which states 'Tunai'. Since it was empty, I decided to switch. At the toll, I tapped my T&G card that I topped up earlier. That was when the Abang there said "Tunai aje" and realisation arised to how useless my 3 passengers were for not reminding me before I switched lanes!

We reached A&W UTM and Jojo si manis served Yan while I was served by another staff. Lucky Yan (muahahaha). Everyone had the same thing, again! Float, coney dog and curly fries. Yummy!

On the way back, we stopped by Mobil for the last pump and the guys got an attendant to clean Axela a little. I never got my car cleaned by an attendant ever so tipping them is naturally foreign to me. Wan came to the rescue. Terima kasih.

Jam on both sides of the causeway was not so bad and we're back at my carpark around 10+. A tiring but worthwhile trip. Thanks guys for the company and Axela for not failing me. And not forgetting makcik for the prayers.

The good, the bad, the internet

I saw a TV show recently on how youngsters and teenagers abused their internet privileges and got into a whole lot of trouble.

In my line of work, the internet is more than just a useful tool. The abundance of priceless and practically free information (apart from the internet access charges of course) complements my ability to perform the tasks in the office. The internet is like a huge brainstorming session or a technical seminar where attendees can come and go at any time.

At home, online videos and music makes relaxing after a day's work more enjoyable. News at your fingertips keep you well informed. Alternative medias counter the propaganda by the state news by giving you a better well balanced view.

Of course, that is just the good side of the internet. Gambling, dangerous ideals like racism and terrorism, and pornography (although some might say that is the good stuff ) are abundant too; bringing into the cyberworld sexual predators, sex scandals, exposure of private videos and pictures, spread of extremism and so on.

Apart from that, chat rooms, blogs and forums can become an addiction that is similar to era of Tamaguchi a few years back where people lose their jobs, neglect their studies and even family responsibilities.

While trying to respect privacy, parents have to go through the nightmare of not knowing if their kids are up to something they will regret later on, even more so for parents who don't even know how to turn on the computer.

Education and being open about the good and bad of the internet is vital. Trust between parents and their children will be the base of a healthy use of this powerful tool where kids will prefer to share with their parents on the things they do online and respect the responsibilities entrusted to them. Parents have to play their part too, by taking the game of catching up on this technology seriously.

In the midst of the inevitability of the surge of the use of the internet in the future, together with more uncertainties that will tag along, I feel fortunate it is not something foreign to me and I am glad that more and more parents are getting familiar with the dangers of it. More so, any knowledge gathered throughout the years should prove to be useful in the future, when it comes to my own family. Maybe someday I will do a pay-it-forward by volunteering in educating parents who are lost in this world wide web.

Calculating fuel consumption

If your vehicle do not come equipped with a trip computer, you can find out the fuel consumption figures by doing a simple manual calculation.

There are many methods if you ask around but I think this method should be the most accurate and simple to do.

What you need is to get a reference point. You can choose a marking on your fuel gauge but the easier way is to use the reserve indicator.

Once your reserve indicator lits up, reset your trip meter to zero. There is no need to fill up immediately. You can fill up at your earliest convenience.

When you do fill up, you don't have to fill up to the brim like some methods suggest. It is practically not accurate because of inconsistencies in what is defined as 'really full'. Some nozzles are longer than others etc. Also, it is a hassle.

Top up to an amount you are comfortable with. Once you have topped up, take note of the amount you filled up, in liters, not dollars. It would be easier if you fill up to a round figure.

Then travel as per normal until the reserve indicator lits up again. Take note of the distance you have traveled then divide by the amount of fuel you topped up.

Distance traveled/Fuel topped up = FC (km/l)
Fuel topped up/(Distance traveled/100) = FC (l/100km)

So say for example you've top up 45 liters and traveled 600km, then your FC is 600km/45l = 13.33km/l or 45/(600/100) = 7.5l/100km.

For the former, the higher the better and for the latter, the lower the better

It's that simple.

One tyre to rule them all

The decision to implement a single tyre rule in MotoGP didn't go so well with some fans and that includes me.

World Superbike (WSBK) and MotoGP, the two most prestigious two wheel racing series, differs when it comes to the availability of the machines raced. In WSBK, a minimum number of it have to be made available to the public for purchase. In MotoGP, it is the direct opposite. It must be a prototype hence not for sale while it is still being raced. This is the reason as to why both series can have the own fans and remain profitable without clashing with each other's interest.

WSBK implemented the one tyre rule a few years ago. This is to bring about a fairer competition among the teams as tyres are one of if not the most important factor for winning a race. By making it standard, no team will get preferential treatment from the tyre company by getting the best tyre they can provide.

I understand the reasoning but it is hard for me to agree with solution to counter the problem. We might as well race a single model of bike in that case.

By having many manufacturers, it brings about competition within them to come out with the best they can. By having only one of them, it's creating a monopoly and we know what damage that can cause.

WSBK appointed Pirelli as the supplier. It worked, surprisingly. Closer race and more competitive teams as a result. Somehow it became acceptable to me but only because I see the bikes matter more than the tyres. Fans watched WSBK to see which bike they might buy in the future. They don't come to see the tyres.

Now MotoGP wants to follow suit but this time I seriously believe they have made the wrong decision.

How do we get good tyres for our own personal use? It is the result of tests carried out by the manufacturer. Competitions are one of the most effective avenues for advancement in technology for any product, including tyres. By using the most punishing extreme conditions the tyres can go through, manufacturers can use the data collected to improve the knowledge that they have and then use them to come out with better products. This is the benefit, apart from exposure, that is vital to their total revenue.

With one of their avenues for exposure taken away, their revenue may go down as a result and that may cause them to totally abandon their pursuit of technological advancement, ending in a halt to their non profitable products range. It may sound extreme but Michelin and Dunlop may stop making tyres for sports bikes when Bridgestone becomes the official tyre supplier to MotoGP. With their names no longer associated with this prestigious series, it is possible.

To prove my point, have you heard of Michelin? I bet 99% would say yes. No surprise right?

How about Nan Kang? No? I am not surprised either.

So what is the alternative solution?

One of the main reason why tyres can cause huge difference in performance between teams is because some teams cannot afford to purchase those supplied to the main factory teams who has money in the world to buy almost anything.

To counter that, why not set a limit on the cost of a tyre? I am sure they can come out with a figure that will be affordable to all teams. This way, every team can get the same tyre factory teams are getting regardless from which manufacturer. Tyre companies do not take part in the series to make money from sales of tyres to the racing teams. They make money from ads; so limiting how much they can sell their tyres to teams will not affect them.

Even if some tyres are specifically made for a particular bike, it is way better for other bikes to use them rather than getting a 2nd rate ones which no one wants.

MotoGP is about the best of the best. It should apply to tyres too and not just from Bridgestone.

Pick It, Pack It, Watch It. For real, please

Starhub should be applauded for starting off a lot of services that benefits subscribers like per second billing, free broadband and free phone line etc. If not for them, we might still see a rigid competition with providers bullying subscribers as they like.

Recently they launched the Pick It Pack It Watch It ads that centers around the message that more choices equal more entertainment. While it sounds good, it is pretty much the same as before.

Bottom line here is profits and anyone can understand that clearly hence the need for rigid T&C. Question is, can they actually do better by seemingly losing at first but gaining in the end?

When they launched their mobile service with free incoming calls, the other players, even subscribers themselves thought they were crazy. See who is laughing now?

So if they were daring with their mobile services, why are they chickening out with their cable TV?

Starhub can actually get more subscribers by giving them more real choices. A lot of potential subscribers were put off by the way the price plans are packaged. Take for example soccer fans. If these group of people just want to watch soccer and nothing else, why force them to subscribe to Hallmark channel with the mandatory basics group?

From a business point of view, it is understandable that they need to have a minimum subscription plan just like every other service. They can, in my opinion, still achieve that by allowing subscribers to subscribe to any channels as long as they meet the minimum amount.

Currently, the minimum channels you have to subscribe to are 3 basic groups that cost $24. Why can't they allow subscribers to choose any channels as long as the total cost meets the minimum requirement of $24? Even if a subscriber fails to meet the minimum amount, they will still be charged $24.

This way, subscribers feel that they have total control of what they want to watch. They will not feel short changed for having forced to subscribe to channels they will never watch.

Take for example again the soccer fans. The sports group cost $25 packed together with golf channels that most soccer fans might never watch. Many felt short changed.

Another example would be those subscribers who want entertainment channels only. To get the SCI FI channel which is now under basic plus groups, a subscriber have no choice but to subscribe to other channels like basic education or news. Again, short changed.

If Starhub foresees administration issue or abuse, charge subscribers administrative fee if they are fickle minded and want to subscribe to different channels frequently. If they can provide VOD service at a press of a button, why can't they provide such service when it comes to subscribing to different channels.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Moved

Finally made the move.

I never thought that blogging will be part of my life but things can always change. Found my other half over the net even though that was something I never imagined I would have done, thanks to my previous blog over at Multiply. She's the one who urge me to established back Azacamis.

Anyway, I still have a lot of sprucing up to do here over at my new domain but I'm here to stay.