Monday, November 16, 2009

Leonids Meteor Shower 2009

TheSkyX™/Software Bisque  

Come this 17th and 18th, we will get to welcome the LeonidsMetoer Shower. Normally showering us with around 20 or 30 meteors an hour, this time it's expected in the hundreds. 

For us here in Asia, it's an added bonus as we would have the best seat to view them. The added fact that it would be moonless also makes it for better viewing. 

Read my earlier posts on Meteor Showers for best viewing ideas and some basic dos and don'ts. Happy viewing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Depeche Mode - Hole To Feed

Here's the Third video from Depeche Mode's latest album, Sounds of the Universe. Careful, it might just turn you on.  

Depeche Mode - Hole To Feed
Depeche Mode MySpace Music Videos

Thursday, October 8, 2009

2009 Singapore F1

Well I had to write about it eventually.

I've been keeping my experience of the Singapore F1 locked up for a while now and I've had numerous friends calling me and writing me for my thoughts. The truth is, I don't quite know how I feel about the race weekend.

Did I enjoy it or not? I can't quite say. It's weird, I know, but that's exactly how I feel. I can't put my finger on it. I got to do just about the same things I did last year. Actually a bit more even. But yet I feel a sense of emptiness.

One thing I have to apologies for is the failure to take more photos. I use a very normal camera and it has been letting me down a bit lately. I ought to have had it fixed proper before the race but I thought it will make do. Still I don't regret it cos there were many moments I could have taken some photos but I didn't cos I just never thought of it.

The whole excitement of F1 Singapore somehow wasn't there for me. I know I was looking forward to it and writing about it and all but when it was here, I didn't quite enjoy it. It all felt somewhat mooted.

To be honest I enjoyed that one Friday at last years race more than the three days this year. I got to see the drivers again this year, and at the Paddock club as well, I got to the pit garage again, I sneaked in to the Paddock party and I also got to see Chaka Khan at the VIP Village club. Yet I still have to say it just wasn't there for me. I would be arrogant if I were to say "been there, done that" but that is how I feel.

One thing that really bothered me a lot was the fact that most of the people who were there were not even really there for what it was meant to be, F1! The whole thing felt too much of a carnival and a circus all wrapped up into one huge comical situation. Yes, Yes I know what some of you might be thinking now. That it was suppose to be a big party as well and that all the extra distractions and entertainment was there to to give the whole thing a livelier atmosphere, right?

But that is the very problem. That's all it was. One big party. The cars racing around the track was just another part of the party! Not the reason for it!
I thought I got good seats. OK the view was decent but they were very very uncomfortable. That is still OK but the people were moving about all the time. Getting in through their rows, moving in front through the aisles, they just couldn't keep still. And the guy sitting next to me stank of alcohol while the lady getting into her row behind spilled her beer on me!

I would never ever recommend getting the Marina Bay seats to anyone ever again. Unless you are very short. And I mean very short cos I'm not at all tall and yet they hurt like hell. You can forget about getting comfortable, or occasionally leaning back or anything like that. They are the worst seats, period!

And from what I got from some new friends I made during the race days, theirs wasn't any better. They invited me to their seats in different grandstands around the circuit (we just exchanged tickets for a while). In fact, some of them, who paid top prices for the tickets, actually told me that they decided to join the walkabout crowd instead.

As for the race itself, I have to say it was boring. A couple of accidents brought the 'Oooos' and the 'Ahhhhs' out from the crowd but that was about it. The circuit itself is to blame. Yes I know it is a street circuit but still it is no Monaco. No chance whatsoever for overtaking. Look at what happened to Adrian Sutil and Nick Heifeld and you'll understand.

It is pointless if the only way the starting order of the race could be rearranged during the race itself is if there is a team member who cheats and the safety car comes out to give you a new gamble. Otherwise, you have no chance to see a proper race where the faster driver is actually able to overtake the driver in front simply because he can.

We might as well cancel the race and call it decided after Saturday's qualification. Only accidents and pit stop gambles can otherwise change the outcome. And we all know that next year's new rules mean no more refuelling, only tyre change during the pit stops.

OK, enough blabbering for me now. I have so much more to say about the Singapore F1 experience and I have some photos too. That'll have to wait till my next postings.

And bythehoo, will some of you please write in and share what you think of your seats and maybe we can all figure out the best place to be next year and the best seats that we can all recommend to everyone.

That is, if I ever go to Singapore F1 again. Really, the novelty has actually worn out for me and unless something very different is done for next years race, I would probably give it a miss.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The New Paper journalist Misfires

In The New Paper ( 23 September 2009 ), an article was written by a Sylvia Toh Paik Choo. Read article here
In that article she wrote about Lewis Hamilton and his visit to The Paragon last night. She mentioned how differently Lewis behaved compared to last year when , she wrote, "his stop at Ngee Ann City boutique for some clothing line had all the trappings of a little emperor's arrival."  

She also wrote, "he was 'securitised' every step of the way and no one could get close to get a question in, never mind photographs and autographs." I promptly e-mailed her and told her that she had made a mistake. That he wasn't like that at all. I even advised her to seek the clarifications of her colleague, Mr Lim Han Meng, who interviewed me about my meeting with Lewis. Below is what I wrote to her;
  ...................................................................................................................................... Hello Ms Sylvia. I read your article in the New Paper today about Lewis Hamilton and I couldn't help but write in to you. You mentioned how it was almost impossible to meet up with him, to get photographs or autographs even, last year. I have to disagree with you. You may wish to confer with your colleague, Mr Lim Han Ming, who interviewed me about my fiance's and my chance meeting with Mr Hamilton last year. 

It was during the time that everyone was calling him arrogant and snobbish. The funny thing was, and I didn't mention to you colleague, he was walking with only one other person in the dark back alleys towards his hotel when we met him. We did get his autograph and had a photo with him, which by the way, was his suggestion. Both autograph and photo were published in The New Paper on the 6th of October. 

I thank you for reading and I sincerely apologise if I in any way intruded into your time. You can contact me for clarifications at ******** Thank you and God bless. Your humble F1 fan, Dave Khaira.


Below is her reply; 

'Thanks, and good luck!'

................................................................ What a kind reply.  
I need not say more.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My 2008 F1 Experience

I thought I'd write a little more about my experience of last year's F1 race in Singapore.  

As it was very late by the time I'd realize that I'd be able to make it to the race, I only ended up with the Friday's Walkabout tickets. For myself and Ling. But that was where the fun began. I did feel a little disappointed for not getting tickets to the race proper but I still felt that at least having the little experience was better than nothing. The best part, as far as I was concerned was that I'd have Ling by my side. That may sound a little mushy but you understand.  

We decided to walk around the area on the Thursday before the race weekend. I just wanted to see how the preparations were going on. I saw the lights being tested a few days before but I thought I'd like to see what else was happening.

Final preparations before the big weekend.  

As we were walking along my old school, SJI, along Bras Basah Road towards the track side, we noticed the full glare of the lights in the distant. There was a sense of electricity in the air, no pun intended, as we saw many foreigners in the area as well. 

We understood that they must have come from all corners of the globe to catch the first ever night race in Formula 1. Like us, they must also be trying to get familiar with what was going to happen in the following days. The rest of that night is pretty much summed up in the article that was written about us in The New Paper here.

The Friday couldn't come fast enough. We took the train to City Hall and we got a couple of hot dogs from a bread shop in the basement. It was around 6 in the evening. We went in through the Gate that was near the station itself and we could already hear the roar of the cars from the support races. The crowd there was huge, both inside and out. Many people who didn't buy tickets were gathered all over the perimeter to catch a glimpse of the action. 

  One of the first things we did as we got in was to purchase the ear plugs and poncho set. At $2 we thought it was really cheap. We only found out later that nothing else there was! Everything they sold there that was basically needed by human beings were sold at ridiculous prices! Thank God I managed to sneak in a water bottle and some curry puffs.  

We then proceeded towards the huge Marina Bay staircase entrance. There were a lot of shops selling merchandise from the various teams and also some from Singapore GP. We couldn't care less about the SGP stuff so we went straight to the team stores. Singapore GP should really start thinking twice about the crap they are selling at those crazy prices. Who in his right mind would pay for all that when they can buy the official team merchandise for the same price?

Anyhoo we didn't buy anything at that time yet. We thought we'd look around to see what else was in store. I knew I was going to buy something but I just didn't know what yet. As a souvenir perhaps. Anything. 

We proceeded to walk back and cross over to the Padang area. We basically walked around the whole perimeter, looking at all the interesting displays and the performances they had there. I especially liked the antic luxurious cars sector the most. That was near the ocean next to the Padang garden.

Some of the greatest cars ever. The background music was being performed by a local group.  

We kept walking until we reached the Esplanade itself and we walked along the bay. We saw 'live' bands performing there as well. The whole place was swarmed and I enjoyed seeing groups of people carrying big Ferrari flags as they walked around. I only saw that previously on TV. Never thought I'd see that here. 

  We doubled back to the Padang as we knew the first practice run was about to start. We ended up on the other side of the Esplanade bridge near where the old Merlion use to stand. Strangely I found out that that area was eventually barricaded the following days. Probably due to the fact that the crowd was basically holding on the fencing itself and it was a little dangerous. So once again we were lucky that day. 

The cars came to a near stop as they made that corner. This was at the infamous turn 13. It was around 7 p.m. and I remember clearly the first time the sounds of F1 cars was heard in Singapore. That is a sound I will never forget! As we stood on those concrete benches I heard what sounded like a haunting scream in the distance. It was indeed frightful and I remember telling Ling later that it sounded like crazy blood thirsty vampires being let loose into the night. The crowd around us gave out a really loud cheer at that moment.

And the Devils are let loose. 

  Everyone around us started to cheer louder and louder as we heard them coming closer and closer. As I write this, I'm having the same goosebumps I felt at that moment. Suddenly, the first car came around the corner and there we all stood, stunned at the deafening sound it created. Everyone clasped their hands to their ears, even those who were wearing earplugs! The ground beneath us shook violently as each car zoomed past. 

There was a British couple standing next to us and we smiled at each other. We began talking, shouting rather, with each other.We found out they were actually here, for the race, to have their honeymoon! Wow! 

When I found out they were from Britain I couldn't help but show off the photo we took the night before with Lewis Hamilton. Both of them stood amazed with their jaws opened. Ling showed them the autograph and the lady said we ought to frame that, which we eventually laminated bythehoo. 
They kept asking us how we managed to get that close to him and more on how the experience was. They also asked for the hotel he was staying in and we told them. They said they were going to try the same that night. 

The young lady was obviously overwhelmed by the sounds so I remember giving her an extra packet of the earplugs and poncho I had and she kept saying "thank you" to me. It's sad that we didn't exchange names or contacts. It would have been nice to know how they are today or if they're coming over again.

After the first practice ended Ling and I continued with our walkabout. It was then that we went to one of those stores to buy a team product. I had set my mind on Team McLarens cap. I just couldn't decide which colour I wanted, the striking rocket red was a bit too shocking a colour for me so I set on the silver cap. It cost S$70 and I got to wearing it immediately. I've since kept it in an air-tight bag. Such a cheapo I am, huh?

"You guys went for F1 and all I got was this lousy cap. Lewis Hamilton who?" 
There was this funny incident that occurred at the store, which was near the Padang.There was a Japanese man standing next to me as I was making my purchase. I only heard part of his conversation with the girl at the counter. Ling heard most of it. This poor man was looking to purchase a pair of ear plugs. It was a Mclaren store after all and the ones they had were the official Mclaren ear plugs. Not the ones on their official website, these were a little grander. He got a shock when she told him it cost $60!

Behind the scene. Team Honda's last season.  

The poor guy looked stunned as he turned away and he stood there looking very confused. Ling, being the ever good Samaritan that she is, went up to him and told him about the cheaper options. She directed him to the location where we got our packs. He kept thanking Ling. What I don't understand is how that young girl at the store could tell him that that was all there was. Couldn't she have helped him a little further. He obviously wasn't looking for souvenir earplugs. He just needed earplugs.

More behind the scene video from Toyota. I know the videos are shaky. Do forgive me.  

We watched the 2nd practice run from somewhere near that Marina Bay stairs. It was there we got to see Massa taking his car for a ride going the wrong way and not making the corner. It was amazing to see how he spun his car around
so fast and got back on the track.

This video has made many of my Ferrari loving friends very envious. A sneak peek into Ferrari's Fortress.  

We stayed around for a while after the final practice ended before we joined the rest of the crowd towards the exit. It wasn't as much of a hassle as some people complained it was, getting out of the circuit area.  

It didn't matter that we couldn't watch the next two days at track side. We felt we got the best out of the deal already. Meeting Lewis Hamilton and some of the other drivers, plus getting up close to the pit garage was great enough. 
Seeing some of the teams going about their pit practices was also a bonus. 

I don't know what would be in store for us come this few days ahead but I do know we'll try to have as much fun as we did last year. Maybe even more, if possible.  

Till next time, when we meet on the other side of the track, I wish you guys a fantastic Formula 1 experience.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Trophy Presentation In Singapore F1 2009


Here's a thought I had. I may be wrong but I don't recall any much fanfare or celebrations during the trophy presentations in Singapore F1 last year. If I am wrong, I apologise. 

I thought, knowing Singapore's enthusiasm for fireworks, that it would be a given. We have fireworks for just about every celebration there is throughout the year. The National Day is a big draw for fireworks fans like myself and the thousands that show up around the venue. We don't care much about the parade itself since it is basically the same crap every year and it becomes so predictable but the fireworks, we all try not to miss that. They are just so amazingly beautiful!  

Then we have the invited guest from around the world who come in during the month of August and show us a fifteen minute performance which is even more spectacular. Though this year we didn't or maybe I didn't know. We had them from France, South Korea and from a few other countries before.  

Now imagine the scenario. Just as the top 3 drivers salute the National Anthems for the top driver and team, and as they are given their trophies, they'd would traditionally pop their champagnes and celebrate. Imagine if just then a spectacular, albeit short but powerful fireworks display is executed further up the bay near the Singapore Flyer.  

Oh wait! How about this? 
How about launching some fireworks during the victory lap! Or maybe a laser show to boot! It takes about 3 mins for the drivers to come around during the victory lap. That could make a 3 min show! 
O.K. I think I'm getting a little carried away here. A little over my head. I'm sorry. I just like imagining stuff. Oh well.. . . .a light bulb was invented by imagination. And then it was the other way around. I get too excited. I truly apologise. 

I don't know if any other F1 venue has ever had a fireworks display celebration and even if they had it would be in daylight, rendering it useless. We are still the only night time F1 track remember? 

Imagine the effect that will have! The drivers would be able to see it, as will the ticket holders around the pit garage. We'd also most likely see it even all the way from the padang! Especially if it is also shown on the mega screens around the track at the same time. 

Those who don't see it 'live' still get to hear and feel its thunders! And the best part, the entire world would be able to watch it on their screens. I don't think that has ever been done, but it would make a spectacular finale for a spectacular weekend. 

I hope the authorities would do something like this for this year. Imagine the Grandeur. Imagine.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Goodbye Nine Inch Nails

This is the last song from their last concert. Thank you NiN for the memories, and it was nice to have been a part of your journey. Wish you guys all the best. Thank You. thank you : synthetikz

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Moon

Here's my favourite character from one of my favourite comedies, The Mighty Boosh. I enjoy disturbing Ling and my friends by talking in his manner. Very funny.

Iridium Flares

image :
Iridium flares are a little harder to observe but a lot more fun.
Imagine a scenario (like I've experienced many times before), where you are standing along the streets somewhere and you are staring up into space. People are walking past you and they are wondering what you are looking at. They look in the same direction and they see nothing except empty space. And they think maybe that's what you have between your ears, too much empty space.

For the few who'd dare, they'd probably walk up to you and ask you what it is you are looking at. You tell them to hang on for a couple of seconds and keep watching at that exact location in the sky. Just then, a bright light suddenly appears! It lingers for a few seconds as it streaks across the sky and then it vanishes. Everyone is a little surprised and they are all wondering what that was. As they turn back to ask you, they realise that you have already walked away. Cool? Well I think so.

What they don't know is that they have just witnessed a flare from one of the many Iridium satellites we have up there. Basically it's just a reflection from the sun on one of it's antenna panels. These flares reach a magnitude of -8. In effect making them the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon!
Iridium Satellite and what causes the Flare.
image :
Go ahead and make this a hobby. It is really fun. You can locate the next flare in your area at Just key in your location and you are done. Absolutely free. Amaze your friends with perfect prediction. Every time. Remember, some of this flares are so bright, they can even be observed in the daytime! Read more about them at that site or even Wikipedia.

To observe, you only need a basic compass and the simple ability to gauge inclinations or altitude.

Nelson Piquet's Crash

image : Will someone please give Nelson his lolly pop back? This moron of a driver has officially claimed that he was indeed told to crash his car during last year's race in Singapore. His statement is obviously a case of sour grapes towards his ex team and especially his ex boss Flavio Briatore. It is impossible to believe a driver would intentionally risk his life and limp to help out a teammate.

 Anyhoo, what gain is there for Alonso or Renault as far as the championship is concerned? They were already out of the run for the year and that one win wouldn't really have done them a whole worth of good. Watch the video and tell me if at all it is indeed possible to choreograph such a perfect 'accident'? 

I wonder if Nelson realises that he is in effect kissing his carreer as a race car driver goodbye. No racing team, F1 or not, will ever hire a cry baby like this. One who spills the beans on his ex team. He has just opened a can of bullshit for himself. Hope he enjoys it. Read his confession in full here .
Video : Times online

NiN postcards

Send me your address and if I still have some of this postcards left, I'll mail 1 to you. They just completed their final show and this is just my way of waving goodbye. At least till we all meet again someday, in our own way.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Star-chasers Inc.

      I guess that's good enough a way to describe one of the many things I enjoy doing. Star chasing.   

      Actually I chase satellites more often and I'll explain in a while. As most of my friends (everyone of them in fact) will attest to the fact that I'm an avid nature lover. Everything that has anything to do with the great outdoors. Even the neighbourhood teenagers that I occasionally get to meet. I try my best to introduce them to the marvels of nature and astronomy.

       Now, satellite chasing or tracking is precisely just that, chasing, tracking and watching the satellites as they zoom past above us in the night sky. O.K I can almost hear some of you going "hey, that's not nature, it's man made!' That's what Ling says to me all the time. But you see, to me that IS the wonder of it all. If we didn't have satellites, it be impossible for us to see, know and admire the universe beyond. Think about the Hubble Space Telescope and you'd understand. If we don't send these satellites out there, we're practically saying goodbye to mankind. More on that another time.

Satellite tracking is a marvelous way to admire how far we as the human race have come. Every time I see one, I go 'Whao, that is so cool'. Allow me to share with you how you too can observe these satellites. Frankly it is really easy. If you have a basic understanding of the night sky, you'd have no problems. For those who are really new to this, here's a general rule of thumb. If it twinkles, it's a star. If it stays constant, it's a planet. 

Chances are you've probably seen most of our neighbours in the Solar System already. You just didn't realise what you were looking at. If you are in this part of Asia as I am writing this now, step outside (at night of course) and look straight up. You'd see this really bright 'star' It's the brightest thing around except for the moon which will rise much later. What you are looking at is in fact planet Jupiter
  Jupiter and its 4 moons image :

  Now, if you have a pair of binoculars, use them and have a look at Jupiter. If you can stabilise your hands and observe very carefully you'd be able to see 4 of it's largest moons. The other planets that are easily visible to the naked eye are the brightest of them all, Venus. The red planet Mars. The ringed giant Saturn and the little one Mercury. Here's a good free website to download. You only need to key in your approximate location and it'll point out to you what is exactly above you in real time. It is at .

  You can also use this site to observe stars, galaxies and constellations. Ever wondered what your Zodiac sign actually looks like in the sky? Well go ahead and find out. Satellite are a little different. Mainly because they zoom past so fast. In about 6 minutes or less, it's all over. You need to study the sky chart a little better to really know where to look. The placements of each bright star is vital as you need to use them as markers.


  Get yourself a compass though quite frankly you wouldn't need it if you observe the sky charts and stars. A good watch is a must. O.k, any watch will do, just that you have to set your time accurately. Down to the second. Satellites, just like all celestial objects in the sky are measured in Magnitudes. That basically means brightness. It's rather easy if you understand golf, where a negative number is a good thing. For example, the brightest object in our sky is obviously the Sun. It's magnitude is minus 26.7 (-26.7). Then we have the moon at minus 12.7 (-12.7). The brightest planet, Venus , is at minus 4.4 ( -4.4). So you see, the more positive a number, the more difficult it will be to see it

. The International Space Station. Image:

  Last week, I got to see the International Space Station twice. On most days it's magnitude is around minus 2.0 (-2.0). Here's the best part. The Space Shuttle Discovery was docked to it! So I saw it at mag. -3.1. The excitement of watching it was amazing. To think that there were 13 people up there at that time and the possibility that 2 of them may have been doing maintenance outside as they space walked! Of course I couldn't see the astronauts but the thought that I was watching them from down here was great

! image:

  Yes, sure, there are people out there who see a satellite once and say "So, is that it?" I've had some people say it looks no different from a plane as it approaches the runway for a landing at night with it's main lights on. May be true. May look the same. But to know it's not is the point. I do feel sad when they say that to me. Not for myself but for them. For they don't seem to appreciate what they are seeing. Well to each, his own.

  Here's where you can get those sky charts and information on when the next satellite will be zooming over your night sky. Once again, it is a free website and once again you'd only need to key in your location. You'd also be able to track a whole list of other celestial objects from here. Do try to track the ISS if you can. Or better yet Iridium Flares. I'll write about them later. Go to .

  I just saw 2 satellites yesterday and 3 today. How many will you see?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ferrari in a Knot

Let's see... Ferrari is now in a kind of a knot I think. More so their fans. How do I or anyone go about this. 

O.K. Let's try. Luca Badoer is obviously out and Giancarlo Fisichella has replaced him. Fisi, being an Italian, driving for an Italian team, proclaimed, 'He is in seventh heaven'. Here starts the dilemma; 'How now, brown cow?'.

We have Fisi. Will he remain in Ferrari? Remember, that's who the Italians want. Ferrari as well. Yet we have heard that it is quite likely that Fernando Alonso may be joining the Scuderia next season. Presumably to replace Kimi Raikonen. 

How about Massa? Well he is still recovering.

'See you later, Alligator'. Kimi, with his usual pride, has claimed that he is not worried to be dropped by Ferrari because as he said "I'm still young and I'm sure that other teams will still hire me". The problem with that, my friend, is that the other teams are not quite in the calibre of Ferrari. And I doubt any other team among the top few will hire him. It will probably be the beginning of his downward spiral, as far as his career in F1 is concerned. 

'In a while, crocodile'. That's what Ferrari are obliged to say to Fellipe Massa. He took a bullet for them and I don't think they would be that cruel to sack him next season. They'd lose a lot of fans, not only from Brazil. And I don't think they'd dare do that. Not someone from Aryton Senna's home country. And especially not when he's obviously a better driver than Kimi. They'd have to give him a chance to return.

That brings us back to; 'How now, Brown Cow?'. So will it be Kimi, Alonso, Fisi or Massa next season for Ferrari?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Spa-Francorchamps 2009

I've always looked forward to the Spa race. In my mind it is without a doubt the 'Mother of all Racetracks'. From turn 1 all the way till the end after Kemmel Straight of turn 5, that has got to be the most awesome stretch of any F1 circuit. Full throttle all the way! (well, almost.) Well this year's race proved no different. Once again it so far the best race of the season, as far as I'm concerned. But then again it just keeps getting better. Yet another new face on the podium and a new team as well. To see Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella giving Kimi Raikonen's Ferrari a run for his money was just too sweet. It was also nice to see Kimi back at the top of the podium. Good one Kimi. Like I said before, he is carrying all of Ferrari's hopes on his back alone. Still, it was interesting to note that he only made it because of the KERS on his car which he used nicely after the safety car came in. Had it not been for the KERS, I doubt he could have held on to that lead or even got it. Force India, well what can I say. They've made not just Asians proud but all F1 fans. That is what we need F1 to be and I can't say that enough. A closely fought F1 championship is an exciting F1 championship. Why bother watching if the title is already decided halfway through the season. Even the drivers wouldn't be as motivated to give it their all. Now with only 5 races left, they all still feel that there's a chance to get something in the bag. And watching them fight it out till the very end of one season will only make the next season even more exciting for all of us to anticipate.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Best Pilots in the World

If these were your pilots, you'd need to put your head between your thighs and kiss your ass goodbye. Note: No pilots were harmed or killed during the making of this video.

Highway Plane Landing

Here's a really well made video that is guranteed to make you laugh. Great CGI.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Force India Takes Pole In Spa

image : Incredible! That's the best word I can use to describe the Belgian Grand Prix. The qualification result is definitely something no one would have expected even in their wildest dreams. Giancarlo Fisichella of Force India took pole position! First of all, let me say this, I'm sure I speak for most people when I say it really feels good to see a minnow team taking pole for a change. Especially for Asians. In fact all the top 3 positions are taken by names we don't speak of very much. In fact in 3rd place we have BMW. A team on their way out of Formula 1. Then on the other end of the table, we have a Ferrari! Again in last place! WoW! The natural order of things seem to have been altered. Luca Badoer was once again out of his elements. In fact, he ended up going sight seeing with his Ferrari off track. Then he got stuck. Trust me, this guy is a goner. I do feel very bad for him though, seriously. It's very sad that his dream could not materialise as he wanted. The look on his face at the pit wall was indeed heart breaking. I truly wish him the best. I simply cannot wait for tomorrow's race. This may just be the best one of the season. And no. I'm Not changing my predictions from the earlier post.

Ferrari, a One Prancing Horse Race

image: How the tables have turned. Just when almost everyone, including Ferrari, were beginning to give up hope on Kimi Raikonnen, he has suddenly now become their shining light again. Luca Badoer's dismal performance at last week's European Grand Prix was something I wish to forget as soon as possible. It was horrifying to say the least. Shameful even. For every lap he took I had to hold my breath and hope he didn't make another silly mistake. Needless to say, he just kept pouring them in. For someone with that long an experience in F1, he made mistakes that even a rookie wouldn't and true enough there was a rookie at that same race. Romain Grosjean of team Renault had what I would still consider a superb race, especially for a rookie. Luca Badoer an the other hand, was all over the place. He was crossing the white line after pit stops, he was spinning his car a few times, hell he was even driving the wrong way at one point. He also had a drive through penalty. But what really took the cake was when he let that very rookie, Romain, pass him as they were leaving the pit garage. What the hell was he thinking?! Was he on a 'Drive Politely, Give Way Course'? Never mind, like Ling said, we'll have to give him time. But I'll say this much. If he comes out with more crap like that tomorrow at the Belgian Grand Priz, I don't think we'll be seeing him again. Damn, I don't think he'll even go back to being a test driver for Ferrari. O.K I'm being hard on the guy but what the hoo. image : O.K. I'm going to make a very bold statement here and remember you read it here first. I think Michael Schumacher might still return. It's either that or they'd have to hire a new driver. Kimi Raikonnen is carrying the entire hopes of both the Ferrari team and the fans on his back alone now. And he's coming back to his element. Fantastic drives in the last couple of races has shown us a glimpse of the old Kimi we all loved. My prediction for tomorrows race? I say either a Lewis Hamilton or a Kimi Raikonnen win. Hey my prediction for last weeks race wasn't that far off the mark right? 2 out of 3 ain't bad, me thinks. I'll probably give a better prediction after the qualifying which starts in about half an hour. But do remember what I said about Michael. Anything can happen.

Friday, August 28, 2009

United Breaks Guitars - Yet Another Cuckoo Airlines

This is yet another reason NOT to fly United Airlines. Hell, this is the best way anyone can screw any company. Totally hilarious. An absolute must watch. Thanks to 'kateling' from the ST forum page for bringing this to my intention. The video is from Dave Carroll, a guitarist whose guitar was damaged on United Airlines. He's also a singer, a songwriter and a storyteller as well. His songs here tell the entire story. Do enjoy. Very funny. Now enjoy part 2. I like the way at the end, the formation breaks up just like how his guitar did. Copyright :

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Singapore Flyer - Taken For a Ride

Didn't need to pay $15 for this image. I promised myself when they made the Singapore Flyer that I would never get on it. The cost of the tickets were ridiculous. At almost $30 per pop, it was just not worth it and it was obvious it was there to milk the dumb tourists. Then there was the screw up they had last year when the machinery broke down and they didn't have a contingency plan. That almost made me keel over with laughter. The drama that unfolded was taken right out of a Hollywood textbook. Singapore's so called 'preparedness' for National Service at it's full bloom. Imagine being stuck up there in one of those capsules for hours and then the need to answer nature's call. A young pregnant lady couldn't hold it in and had to use her older child's pampers to relieve herself in. So humiliating. And she was not the only one. So, I told myself then again that since the capsules have now also been used as toilets, I've got yet another reason not to get into them. Alas I started to realise that it was indeed unfair for me to criticize the Flyer and slowly I tried to convince myself that I should at least try it, if only once. Being the cheapskate that I am, I found the perfect opportunity yesterday. You can just make out the Marina Bay Grandstand in the foreground. That's where I'll be for this year's F1. And no I didn't pay 15 bucks for this. You see, they are having this promotion where if it's your birth month, you get to ride for free as long as there's 1 paying adult. Something to do with the National day earlier this month. And as you know it was Ling's birthday on the 8th. ( Notice how I held myself back till the very end of the month). I didn't pay 15 moolahs for this also. Let me just put it plainly. It was an absolute waste of time and money. That Flyer is nothing more than an over sized bicycle wheel. Yes the view is ok but that's something I could have had by simply taking the elevator to the top floor of any high rise building in Singapore (and believe you me, we have many of those). And for free! No time limit! As we were about to board, a young chap took a photograph of us and told us that we could view it later after the ride. It's an image of us in a replica capsule. So we did. Aha! Here's the catch. We need to pay $15 or thereabouts for it! $15 for a photo of myself?! WTF! Was the paper the photo was printed on made of gold?! They should throw in the photos for everyone as a souvenir. Especially after people pay that much for the ride itself. Anyhoo another primary reason I took that ride was to get a view, or rather sneak a peek of the preparations for this years F1 race. They have blocked out complete access to the public this year. I'm not surprised after what Ling and I did last year. In fact after the ride, we did head down into the track. But a foreigner on a bicycle came up to us and said that it was a working area. And this as we were just about to walk pass the pit garage as well! I didn't pay 15 kahoonas for this either.
He said we'd be fined if we don't leave. I liked the way he said it though, with his accent. '500 for you. 500 for me.' Meaning he'd be fined too for letting us in. So we all left with laughter.
I understand that some people would be buying tickets to watch the F1 race from the Flyer itself. Suckers. $688 a ticket. Talk about being taken for a spin.
Here's the bottom line. If you've never taken that huge bicycle wheel for a ride yet, don't. For those who plan to, well there's not much dumber things you can do.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ferrari, last?

I just couldn't believe my eyes. Yes it may be just qualifying but still, to think that I can't remember the last time it happened! Yes maybe when a driver crashed out during the qualifying or changed engines and he had to start the race right at the back. No, wait a minute I don't think I've even seen that even. Not a Ferrari. I can just imagine what Felipe Massa must have been feeling, probably watching the race from home. ' Hey! That's my car you're driving!' And how about Michael Schumacher. He was there, (wearing his flip flops, on an F1 circuit?). I'm sure he must have at some point felt like he wanted to yank Luca Badoer out of the car and take over. O.K, fine, the man has not raced competitively for over 10 years. But he is a Ferrari test driver still. It's not like he's been testing go-karts all this time. And to think that the next best car was a full second ahead of him. Now those who know F1 will tell you that 1 second is a life time in Formula 1. I was talking to Ling after the qualifications last night and she has great knowledge of F1. Impressive for someone who only got into F1 in the last couple of years, I must say. She gave some good insides into his defence and I have to say I do somewhat agree with her. She feels it could be a case of nerves on his part. When he's testing, he's normally alone on the track doing just that, testing. So from going from that to actually start being competitive with other drivers again needs some getting use to. Especially after 10 years. And nerves again, she said, because he's now driving in front of a crowd. Also he must be feeling very self conscious as well. ( I told you she's good). So, to some extend, she has very strong points there. Give him time, maybe 2 races, and he'll be into his element. I'm exactly 27 minutes away from the start of the race as I write this. Quite frankly, I can't wait. I wish him the best. Ferrari does not belong at the back of the pack. Oh and by the hoo, here's my prediction. Hamilton 1st, Barrichello 2nd and Vettel 3rd. No, don't take that to the betting shop. It's just a guess. Got to go now. The European Grand Prix 'live' is calling me (through the tele).

Friday, August 21, 2009

European Grand Prix

Well here we go again. No F1 for a month now and I feel like I'm going through some kind of withdrawal symptom. Yes I guess it does feel like a drug addiction (though I wouldn't know what that really feels like). All that excitement and all the anticipation just gets under the skin. Is Brawn going to bounce back? Is Red Bull going to serge ahead? Or maybe McLaren might take over for the next few races before Ferrari starts winning the rest? It's a very difficult predicament. Think about it. We even have 2 new drivers. How's that going to change things around? Will that somehow throw a spanner into the plans of the other drivers? image: We have Luca Badoer for Ferrari. Ok, we are all still feeling a bit sour about Michael Schumacher not coming back to F1 but here we have another veteran who's making his return. At 38 years of age he'd be among the oldest together with Barrichello. Badoer is probably most remembered as the only driver who completed 48 races and yet not score a single point. It's been 10 years since he last drove F1 competitively. That was when he was with Minardi. He has been a Ferrari test driver since so it'll be good to see what he can bring to the table. image : Then we have Romain Grosjean for team Renault. He has been selected to take over the sacked Nelson Piquet Jr. He is, or rather was now, also a test driver before being called up. He was also driving for the GP2 series for this year where he won 2 races. So we'll have to see what this 23 year old will do for Renault now that he is in the hot seat. With a month of tweaking and adjusting, I also can't wait to see how the teams have improved on their cars. That in itself is a whole new adventure to look forward to. We've already read on the teams' official websites how each of them have made certain improvements to their cars. I am most looking forward to McLaren's claim about their improved KERS system. That ought to be interesting I think. Well there you have it. So we've got about an hour before the Friday's Practice session begins and I just can't wait to see how it all develops.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

NiNe InCh Nails

I first heard of Nine Inch Nails in the late 80's. I was at one of the local record shops and chanced upon it. I didn't know anything about the band then but I took a test listen to it and liked it. Needless to say, I bought it straight away. It was Pretty Hate Machine. That kind of music was not much appreciated back then. And as I've written before, you can't depend on the local radio stations to play anything new or different to the norm. Also most of the people were not into such underground music. Cyberpunk is still not very followed here in Singapore. I then got my friends to listen to the album and they all loved it. Some went on to buy the album. Others just recorded it off each other. Slowly even my brother got fond of it especially since I was blasting it in my room everyday. Then his friends got into it. It was actually very nice to see some of them that night after so many years. Some married even. I was at that time one of the local musicians. My music wasn't very appreciated by the local scene which consisted mostly of the local Malays. We call them Mats here. The problem was I placed too much emphasis on keyboards and drum machines although I did have live drums and guitars as well. They just couldn't understand. I still remember April 18th 1991. I was invited to play a gig at the Substation, which interestingly is at the Fort Canning Hill as well. I was eventually booed at and that while I was playing NIN's 'That's What I Get'. Still there were people there who knew such music and commented to me that they really liked it. They too told me that Singapore and those Mats in particular were not ready for such stuff yet. Imagine my surprise when I saw such people at the NIN concert that night. My biggest influence in my becoming a musician is Depeche Mode. And NIN of course. But what really got me fascinated with NIN was when I found out that it actually was just one man in it. Fascinated because that was exactly what I was doing with my band! I play multiple instruments. Mostly self taught. So when I went to recording studios, I had to keep going back in to play the next instrument and lay it over the previous. It was tedious but I loved it. I had absolute control. I even eventually got my hands on the soundboard. It was only during gigs that I had to recruit some of my friends to play with me. Sounds so familiar, no? I finally made sound engineering my career and that was the end of my music dream. I read in the NIN's forum someone saying it feels like he left a part of him back there on the hill. A few others agreed. Some even said they feel like they were suffering from post NIN concert syndrome. They are so right. For that is how I feel too. I'll never see Fort Canning Park the same way again. I practically grew up there and it has always been special to me. I also had my first gig there. That was also where I had my first date. Now it will be so much more special. So much more beautiful. Still I don't dare to think of myself going back up there. I don't want to break the sanctity of that hill. Almost like I want to hold on to that night as the last memory I have of that beautiful place. Sounds crazy I know, but that is sort of how I feel. I feel a little empty inside. Like I've left a piece of me up there on that hill.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

NiN in Singapore

image Rob Sheridan. Wow! This is definitely one of the best concerts I've ever been to. Or not been to rather. Here's the best part. Both Ling and I did not buy the tickets. My many years of working in the music industry has thought me quite a lot of things and also, I've grown a little jaded with being in a squeeze among crowds. And lately I've also become a bit of a germ freak ( actually I've always been one but it has become a little worse now. COD?. Yes I guess. You didn't know that about me now, did you?) I know Fort Canning very well and I knew that it will be possible to watch the concert from a few locations. OK lah. You can call me a cheapo as well but I don't care. In fact, right where the stage was, was the field where I used to play football twice every week during my school days back in the 80's. You see, my plan was to do to NIN the same thing I did to Lewis Hamilton at last years F1 race. To be able to see NIN front man Trent Reznor in person and not just performing was something that most people don't see. And YES I DID IT!! Ling and I got to see him after the concert. As everyone else were still shouting 'We want more' , I already knew he wouldn't be giving anymore. In fact, he jumped into a white mini bus and headed up the hill to the Black Box building. He got off the van, we made eye contact and he actually gave me a smile before heading into the building! What really surprised Ling and I was the fact that there was no one else around. Except for a few of his minders and some organisers, it seemed that no one else took the initiative to stand by there! It was only a while later that a Caucasian man who must have seen us and those vehicles, especially the Bentley, added 1 plus 1 and realised that something was happening. We waited a short while and then we saw Trent again. I got as near as I could to him and called out to him but one of his minders got in my way. Still he turned around and gave me a little wave. I did too, then he got into the Bentley with a lady companion and left. No chance for autographs and the camera was a let down for me that night. All I got were a few blurry images. I think it needs fixing, again. Now here comes the bonus everybody. We saw Gene Simmons! Yes the legend from KISS was there at the concert and we were as close to him as you can imagine. I was shocked to see him there! Ling didn't know who he was and hell she didn't even know who Trent was. I did drag her along for this concert, remember? We saw Gene as he got off his big black vehicle and walked into the building. The only thing louder than his hair were his shoes. They were white cowboy boots, snakeskin I think. (Ling couldn't stop laughing at his hair.) Strangely he only had a few people around him too. And I got the feeling that the whole concert was delayed because of him. It was only after he arrived that it started. As for the concert itself, it was electrifying to say the least. The drummer especially as far as I'm concerned. I know from experience that it's very difficult to play live drums and keep up with recorded loops but what Ilan Rubin did was mind blowing. Robin Finch on guitar was awesome. And it was nice of him to keep throwing bottled water into the crowd. They definitely needed it. He is a mad man behind guitars. I especially liked the part Trent jumped into the crowd and offered his mic. My brother was among those lucky few who managed to touch his face at that point. I'd also like to give credit to those hidden heroes; the sound engineer and the lightman. Being one myself I know how often we get forgotten. So hats off to these guys cos I thought the sound and lighting was perfect. I truly love the way NiN left us with 'Hurt' as his final song. I thought it was rather appropriate. It is also one of my favourite songs from them. It's just so sad he didn't play 'That's What I Get'. That is my all time favourite. But like Gene Simmons said in his facebook, I too thought that the smoke was a little too overwhelming. Whether he meant 'smoke' with sarcasm or not I wouldn't know but for me I am really talking about the smoke machine. The two of them do have a little private war going on remember? Here's another thing. When Trent walked into the building, he was all smiley. But later, when he walked out he looked a little pissed off (even as he waved at us and quickly got into the car). I don't know if it was because Gene had already left. ( I know cos his car was already gone by the time we got there). Maybe Trent rushed up there for a courtesy call only to find him not there? Personally I did think it was rude of Gene to have left. I don't know. I may be wrong. It's just my observation.

So there you have it. The best concert and experience I've had in a long time. It was all so surreal that I still can't get a grasp of the night. Sitting there, away from the crowd, under the stars, with no one else around. And smelling the beautiful aromas from the herb garden around us, listening to Nine Inch Nails and then meeting Trent and Gene. And the best part? Having Ling next to me. I think I converted her again.

And here's the thing I'll never ever forget. He waved goodbye to us. And we waved back.

Goodbye NiN. And thank you for the memories.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August Perseids Meteor Showers

Here's an image taken in the 2007.
Credit Fred Bruenjes.
August the 12th.
The best meteor shower of the year is upon us. For those of you who may have missed out on last months show, you'd have no excuse to miss this. Meteor showers are basically graded in three categories (four, to be precise). Cat 1 is for most of us amateurs, that's when you may see over 60 meteors per hour. Then we have Cat 2. Here we go intermediate astronomers, with the possibility to see around 20 per hour. Cat 3 is for the professionals. These showers produce no more then 10 per hour, so patience is key. We actually have a Cat 4 and that is for those astronomers who use really amazing equipment to track day time meteor showers. The Delta Aquarids and Capricornids of last month are what you'd call a Cat 2. Still I'd have to say that Ling and I did enjoy the both of them and we saw around 6 per hour. Sometimes she missed a few, sometimes I'd miss a few. Just as I take another sip of my beer, she goes ' There's another one!'. I go, 'Bloody Hell!'. Anyhoo, late Tuesday night, all through the dawn of Wednesday, and again Wednesday night after sunset, would be the best time to catch the Perseids shower. Although you'd still be able to catch it a few days before and a few days after. Remember, this is a Cat 1, so unless you've got a bad sky, you'd definitely be able to enjoy this show. You only need to find a place with as little light pollution as possible. I know that it is next to impossible here in Singapore but I'm sure you'd still make do. Once you've found a good spot, set up camp to lie down (that road in front of your house is not a good idea).
Here's basically where you'd need to look out to.
Astronomy: Roen Kelly
Bring with you someone you'd like to lie next to and a simple floor mat. Then give yourselves about 15 to 20 minutes to let your eyes get adjusted to the night. You do not need any binoculars or telescopes. You'd be better off without them. Oh and yes, bring along some refreshment and some insect repellent. Just in case. Now here's a little history about this particular shower. The ancient Chinese recorded them first some 2000 years ago around A.D.36. They are the debris left behind in the trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle which flies from deep space into the inner solar system every 130 years on its long, looping orbit around the sun, where it remains for several years. Every year in August, Earth passes through this trail of debris and they hit into Earth's upper atmosphere. Shock waves from their impact cause them to flare into brightness and they show as long streaks of light and sometimes as brilliant fireballs.Their meteor tails all seem to radiate from one point, known as the radiant, within the constellation Perseus - hence their name.
The comet was discovered by astronomers Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle in 1862.
Well there you have it. Don't miss this for you'd need to wait for a whole year to watch it again.
Besides, it's not often you get to see the stars raining down on Earth.