Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sounds Of The Universe - The New Album

Depeche Mode's latest album was finally released on the 20th of April. 'Sounds Of The Universe', which entered the UK charts at No. 2 and went straight to No.1 in Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Mexico, Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland with more charts yet to come. I'll have to be honest here, I'm not impressed. The first single ,'Wrong' rubbed me the 'wrong' way when it was released as a prelude to the album. But after a few hearings, I'm beginning to accept it a little more. Then when I received my copy of the album, my heart sank once again. The band seems to have lost its bearings somewhat. Some of the tracks start very promising, but just after the first couple of bars, the character of the song is revealed. And it's downhill from there. Take 'Hole to Feed' for instance, the percussion like intro sounds like the beginning of one of their older haunting sounds. It all crashes down the moment David Gahan starts with the ridiculous 'We are Here, We can Love, We share something. I'm sure that You Mean the World to Me.' Then there's 'In Chains'. That sounds more like something from Erasure. The melody is so babyish! So is 'Peace'. Is Vince Clark back in the band? In a way, those among us who have been with the band since the very beginning expected this to happen eventually. Since 1995, when Alan Wilder left the band, it was inevitable. He was the workhorse of the band. He inspired and introduced powerful sampling formats to the band. Something that was clearly heard throughout their earlier albums (after Vince left). Think Blasphemous Rumours and People are People. Or how about Personal Jesus and I Feel You. Once his departure, you could clearly hear the void left by his absence. In June 1995, Alan Wilder announced that he was leaving Depeche Mode, explaining, "Since joining in 1982, I have continually striven to give total energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the furthering of the group's success and in spite of a consistent imbalance in the distribution of the workload, willingly offered this. Unfortunately, within the group, this level of input never received the respect and acknowledgement that it warrants." Well, that pretty much sums it up. Depeche Mode did OK with Barrel of a Gun and It's No Good from the next album 'Ultra', but that was about it. Hell, don't get me 'Wrong', to me their songs are still way better then most of the crap that's on the radio (that's why I never listen to ANY of the radio stations. Lousy local DJs with that fake accent ). And to me they are still the best band compared to anything else out there. So as long as they keep playing, I'd keep listening. Because I know, somewhere along the way another haunting, dark, deep track with those unbelievably beautiful lyrics will come along and all the DM fans will crawl out of their lairs in the dark of the night to once again create the freakiest storm this world has ever seen.

Monday, April 27, 2009

F1 Tickets for This Years Race

Quite a few of my friends have been asking me about this years race and the ticketing. Well we all remember the big hoohaa Singtel created last year. Though personally it didn't affect me. Their whole system couldn't keep up with all those inquisitive people who needed information and tickets. It eventually came to a crash. Well I'm, ( and I'm sure everyone else is too), glad to say we don't have any such problems this time around. I guess they fixed that little Gremlin in the system real good. I got my tickets on the 1st of April. I was among the lucky ones who were given the option to buy the tickets early. Something to do with me being a previous customer. They were doing this to test the system before it was officially launched to the public. Hey, you don't have to invite me twice. I jumped right in! I did some basic research and found what I believe to be the better seats for me. ( Damn Paddock Club would be the bestlah but I'm not a millionaire, , . . . yet.) Simple layman like myself, Bay Grandstand enough lah right? And besides my fiancee may not be coming with me this time. 1 I need to convince her again (though that is the easy part) and 2 she might not get time off work. So that's a bumber for me right there. Never mind, still got to go. I read through the net about some other F1 fans and their thoughts on this years race. Most of them were foreigners so I thought I'd help give them a heads up on whats happening here. We F1 fans must stick together lah. Most of them, in fact almost all, were quite responsive (though there were a couple of snobs, but never mind them). I am in fact very happy to say I've made some good friends through our common interest. We might just meet up at the tracks. For those who have yet to buy the tickets, I'd suggest you hurry up. In fact, to date, all early bird $168, 3 day walkabout tickets and the early bird Esplanade tickets have already sold out. Just days after going on sale. You can still buy the remaining 50% of the 3 day walkabout but at a price of $188( the normal price) and the remainder Esplanade tickets at the regular rate of S$598. But don't expect them to be around very long either. The cheapest Grandstand, The Marina Bay Grandstand is also selling fast. They would be opening block B soon. That means the upper tier (row 45 to row 69), You'd be further away from the track but if you choose your tickets right you might be in for a treat. When I bought my tickets, I did it through the phone. I was very fortunate to have spoken to a very kind (and pretty sounding) lady. I was able to converse with her in Malay and we ended getting friendly. ( not in any funny way ah! ). We chatted for quite a while and she said the computer does all the choosing of the tickets. She offered me a yellow sector row 5 (or was it 6) . I declined as I knew from last years experience that if you get too close, you really don't see anything! And the worst place to be is where the cars are at full throttle. They just zoom past you. So that means the yellow sector was out for me. I asked that new lady friend if she could help me out a bit. She thought about it for a while and then she agreed with a little giggle (I don't know if she thought I was flirting with her). She even agreed to let me have aisle seats! The best seats you can get are where the cars slow down enough to make their corners and then full blast their engines as they move away. That way , you can really enjoy a proper look of the car. These spots also do great for amateur photographers. Remember, even at corners the cars are doing around 80 km/h! So if you want to see them, get to the corners. Another thing I wanted was the mega super-screens. That way you can keep track of whats going on around the circuit. Get a seat right in front of one and where your line of sight is parallel to the screen. Once again if you sit too near the track you'd need to constantly look down at the track and then up to the screen. Both ways you miss the show. Down cars too fast , up screen too high (actually I checked, it's not too high but still not comfortable and the fencing will block you anyway). The last thing and really important to me was I wanted a seat right above the tunnel at the Marina Grandstand (turn 18 ). I want to feel the roar of the monsters under my butt. Can you imagine what that would feel like!? To literally have the ground move under you!! Anyhoo, I got my seat, thanks to the lady on the other side of the phone, and THAT IS where I'm gonna be! Light green sector, right in front of the screen and right over the tunnel. The best part, I would probably go up to the top to watch them come back out the other side. Now that would be so Cool! Just as long as I don't drop my camera on them. That would not be cool.. . You can now purchase the tickets via three channels: online (http://tickets.singaporegp.sg), the ticketing hotline (+65 6738 6738) as well as SISTIC and SingPost outlets island wide in Singapore. Good luck.

F1 Singapore 2008

Here are a few more photos I took at last years Singapore F1. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think we'd get this near to the action. And the champion holding up her 'trophy'! Wait a minute, that's a mineral water bottle! So they ran out of those Mumm champagne bottles did they? Nice one Ling! I know a friend who's gonna get pretty envious of this one. Have wheels, will travel. Pity these guys, They would have been leading the championship had they not sold the team to Ross Brawn for $1.oo. They must really be kicking themselves in their butts right now. Hell, I wouldn't mind paying a dollar just to watch them do that! But seriously, I do feel very sorry for them. Most of them got laid off from their jobs after the take over. Geniuses @ Work. Do Not Disturb! But hey, they kept smiling at us as we kept clicking away. Good on you lads! And the sound those wheel guns make is unbelievable! Watch the video at the end of this article.

A million points for you if you can guess what lies below. Lewis Hamilton doing his walkabout. We met him again later when we took that photograph with him. He is really a very nice and friendly person. Mark Webber doing his version of a walkabout. In fact most of the drivers we met were doing the same thing. Aren't these guys suppose to be loaded. Can't they afford a decent grandstand ticket. Why join us mere mortals with a one day walkabout ticket?

Ok that was my lame attempt at a joke. They are actually walking the ground to study the track. Every little bump, every corner, every inclination. Espescially since they've never driven on this track before.

Current leading driver Jenson Button on a 2 wheeler instead of his usual 4. He smiled at us, gave a little horn and then rode off. We had a super great time and a real adventure. Meeting all those drivers was a super bonus. We'll be there again this year. We've got our tickets booked, we're ready and we're willing. And we'll see you there!

Here's the video of Toyota's engineers at what they do best. The sound of those wheel guns is deafening! Really! ( Forgive my shaky camera, a little nervous. Especially when that big bald guy turned around and looked at me. I thought he was going to swing that thing at me and tell me to get lost. But then he only smiled. Phew..that was close!) video

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Depeche Mode

I first heard of Depeche Mode when I was in primary school. I remember this moment very well because I was involved in an accident while doing some serious rocket science. Crap lah, I actually poured melted wax on my hand and burned myself very bad. Trying to make my own candles or something. I was in primary 5. Those days we live in a 1 room 1 hall HDB flat where my brother, my mom and myself share one big bed and my father on his antic Punjabi bed. All in the room. So for the first time I had to sleep alone in the hall on the mattress. (My hand all bandaged up and also we feared that I might knock it against my brother). So my dad bought me my first Walkman to keep me company (not bad,eh?) I use to listen to music a lot even back then. So I remember buying this cassette at the shops nearby. I used to buy cassettes by just randomly looking at the covers and the names of the bands then. I liked those artistic images especially if it's unique. I saw this black one with the words Depeche Mode Black Celebrations on it. My mom, who was with me and who was paying for poor little injured pitiful me (yah right lol), didn't like it initially saying it looked like a devil worshiping band (I think all mothers must have said that during those times). But I managed to convince her. So there, the first night by myself I played the tape. The first song, and I had to shut it for a while. Very scary, haunting even. But I was not going to run back into the room to join the rest of my family, not after I finally claimed my 'manliness' of being able to sleep by myself. I started the tape again and listened. And there began my love for this band. Everyday and every night I'd listen to that same tape. Over and over again. As I grew older, I learned more of this band. I got more and more of their paraphernalia. Badges, posters, records, cassettes, singles. Everything I could get! I have now all their singles in record format and every album. Today I am proud to say that I've met the band personally. Even sharing a few drinks with them. Theirs', is a music I will forever remember as the one that I listened to because of candle wax.

Me, I'm not Here.

I remember December the 8th 1992 like it happened yesterday. Standing there and waving goodbye to my parents as I boarded the 3 tonner. Really not having a clue to what was in store for me. 2 years and 5 months of absolute hell and a real waste of my time. I was drafted into the army and as luck would have it, I was posted to Pulau Tekong( those days it was not the only Basic Military School but it was known to be the worst). To top it all off, I then ended up in the Infantry unit as a rifleman and then a signaller. Unbelievable! No, do Not get me wrong, I have to be honest here. Some of the most fun and laughter I had was while I was serving my national service. In fact I would probably not change that for anything else. It's just the very idea of them making us do that that pisses me of. Defending the country, my ass. A total of about 15 years later of service and yearly reservist later, I do not feel anymore love for my country now than I did back then. In fact it's had the reverse effect. I do not feel like this is MY country at all. . This country is NOT my home. I don't know where my home country is or if I even have one. But this country is not it. Every year, this government brings more and more foreigners into this country. Mostly people from China. These jokers can't speak a word of English. And yet I am told that I need to learn to speak Mandarin to communicate with them?! Isn't it suppose to be the other way around? I feel like a foreigner in my own country! I am not joking when I say that they are all over the place. Even if you were to go down to the shops and order some food, it is very likely you'd be talking to one of them. And they'd give you that stupid look when they don't know what you ordered. English is our working language and Bahasa Melayu our true national language. Neither works for them. Once upon a time it felt like it was my country. When I started my national service, I actually believed it was. As I bled and sweated and yes I cried as I went through it, I still believed that I was doing it for a larger cause. I thought I was doing it for my home. I thought I was doing it for the children that I saw on the way to camp every week. For the people who went about to their jobs, even maybe the poor bus driver in service No.2 taking me to Hendon Camp that evening... . . . But now I know, this island is nothing more then a hotel and the people who live here, the people for whom I thought I was doing it all for, they do not love me. I wasn't doing it just for my family. I thought my country was suppose to be my family. Now I know. My country, my politicians, my people, do it only for themselves. Today, they don't think of me like I did them. My battered body, my weakened knees is not their concern. So I guess that'll be it then.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Meeting Lewis Hamilton and Getting Interviewed In the Papers

That's me in the pit garage as team Toyota go through their rehearsals Ling holding up Lewis Hamiltons autograph.
You can clearly see the happiness in her face.
No time to compose herself.
Click here for the actual article. Lim Han Ming Mon, Oct 13, 2008The New Paper She used to get fed up when I watched F1 IT WAS 11.45pm. Lewis Hamilton was on a long-distance call with his mother Carmen when Dave Rajinder Khaira and his girlfriend, Wee Wei Ling, approached the McLaren star for an autograph at the Marina Bay street circuit.
Hamilton did not wave them away. Instead, he obligingly signed an autograph for them. The 23-year-old Briton even asked the couple if they would like a picture with him. Khaira told The New Paper: 'Who says Hamilton is snobbish, arrogant and rude?
'I think we were the rude ones interrupting his telephone conversation with his mum. 'I think people have the wrong impression of him. If you ask me, I think he's very humble.' Khaira's chance meeting with Hamilton happened on Thursday in the week of the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix two weeks ago.
The 35-year-old engineer had bought two walkabout tickets for the practice session on Friday. Thinking that they may not get a good view of the entire track, the couple decided to take a walk around the circuit on Thursday night. Never did Khaira expect to bump into his favourite driver. He said: 'I don't know how we ended up on the track and bumped into Hamilton. 'He was inspecting the track with a bunch of engineers. We also saw Fernando Alonso cycling and Mark Webber running.
'Hamilton is my favourite driver, so we decided to walk beside him. On his way back to the hotel, we decided to try our luck and ask him for an autograph. 'At that time, he was on the phone with his mum. I overheard him telling his mum, 'Sorry mum, I have got a lot of supporters here in Singapore'. 'Then I told him that he has more supporters than he knows. 'I was so excited that I forgot to take a photo with him myself!'
Thanks to Hamilton, Khaira's girlfriend, who works in the sales industry, is now a F1 convert. Khaira said: 'She wasn't much of a follower of F1 until the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix. 'She used to get fed up when I stayed at home to watch F1 on television every fortnight. Convert 'But after Hamilton put his arm around her shoulders for the photo they took together, she is a convert now.'
Overall, Khaira felt that the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix was a resounding success. He said: 'I didn't mind watching the race on television as I can see more things and listen to the 'live' commentary.
'I have to say that Alonso is a deserving winner. 'He was extremely fast during qualifying, but unfortunately the engine died on him. 'As for Hamilton, he knew what he had to do on race day. He did not have to chase Nico Rosberg because he knew he had the points in the bag.'
Khaira may not have watched the race 'live' at the Marina Bay circuit, but no matter. For he will always remember his first up-close-and-personal experience with Hamilton. He said: 'We bought the cheapest tickets, and got the best gift out of it.
'Meeting Hamilton was a real big bonus.'
This article was first published in The New Paper on Oct 6, 2008.

Meteor Showers 3

Meteor Showers 2

Wow! What a night! Ling and I really had fun last night watching the shower. But the real fun was when dawn broke and the crescent moon came out. And right behind it Venus was chasing. That was Spectacular! Never have I seen the sky so vibrant. So much activity came to live just when we were giving up and thinking we'd go home. Then suddenly at around 5 in the morning, it all started! Unbelievable!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Lyrid Meteor Shower

I am looking forward to watching the meteor shower tonight with Ling. Hopefully we'd be able to get a decent viewing from where we'd be. The Lyrid meteor shower is the oldest known and probably the most famous meteor shower that exist, about 2600 years ago was when it was 1st recorded. Look to the northeast to find the meteors appearing to radiate out of the constellation of Lyra the harp. And no, you do not need to use a bino to watch it. Though I may be bringing my telescope down to watch the eclipse of Venus. The source of the meteor shower is Comet Thatcher. Every year in late April, Earth passes through the comet's trail of debris. Another interesting thing tonight would be the eclipse of the second brightest object in the night sky by the brightest night time object. Yes, the moon will cover Venus for about an hour or so. So if you're awake at those wee hours of the morning, you can join me and Ling and enjoy one of the greatest shows created by the Almighty God. And you don't have to pay a cent for it. http://wowzaweb.streamguys.com/~spaceweather/ You can listen to it here 'live' too! Enjoy!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

F1

I am a big fan of F1. Have been for a long time. Been following it even before Cable TV came about and gave us the chance to watch it live. I know, being a firm supporter of Mother Earth, it is something I ought not to be a fan of. But this, I guess, is the one thing I do. In a way, they do improve the technology that all vehicles in the streets depend on. I've always been impressed with the technology involved in those cars. And I make it a point to understand as much of it as I can. The tires, the engines, the little buttons on the steering wheel. The rule and regulations that the FIA keep tweaking every year. Some good, some downright ridiculous. Bernie Ecclestone, the president and CEO of Formula One Management, tries what he can to introduce these rules if only to make the sport a bit more entertaining for the fans. He is like the 'godfather' of F1. Yet there are people in the industry that don't quite like him very much. This year for example, there is the new KERS system. This Kinetic Energy Recovery System basically is like a booster that recovers energy from the constant braking a car does in a lap and stores it. Then as and when the driver feels it seems fit, he presses on a button on his steering wheel to give him a boost of about 80 hp for a maximum of 6.67 secs for a lap. He doesn't necessarily needs to use up the entire 6.67 secs at one go, he can use as much, or in this case, as little of it as he needs. Amazing! This means more overtaking and even faster turns! It's very much like those power boosters thingy you use when you play one of those car racing games at the arcade. Another new( well sort of ) thing this year is the front and rear wings. The front ones are lower and broader and the rear ones are narrower. All this to, once again, increase the possibility to overtake, reducing the 'bad' air that comes from the car in front. Honestly, those F1 cars look damn ugly this year because of those funny wings. In fact, those front wings on the BMW Sauber, look like they can carry a beer crate on each end. Like a coaster. Then we have the much debated diffuser situation. Ok that case has been settled, in fact just a couple of days back. That diffuser is somewhere at the rear undercarriage of the car. It increases air extraction from the bottom of the car, meaning it helps the car suck itself to the ground. Better grip, means faster speed, means once again(everybody say together now!) more overtaking! Yeeeah! Three teams have been using it and they've done very well for the first two races. Brawn, Toyota and Williams got it designed into their car. So the rest of the teams started crying foul, saying it was illegal. FIA’s International Court of Appeal then stepped in and they have now declared it legal. So this means the rest of the teams now look stupid and have to play catch up. Well, with all the excitement going on in barely two races, (I say barely cos the Malaysia race got stopped halfway. Pity those fans who went. Like watch half a movie, then leave. "OOii ! What happened at the end of that Titanic movie? Got sink or not?" Cookoo..) I can't wait for the rest of the season. Sure more drama to come. Already Lewis Hamilton being called a big time liar.... His team manager Dave Ryan got the sack...Ferrari boss crying like a baby because of that diffuser gizmo thingy.... Stay tuned. I know I will.

Geocaching

Geocaching is a global sport (if you can call it a sport) that has taken the world by storm ( well, almost. More like creeping into our lives actually.) It's more of a treasure hunting game that just about anyone in the world can play. It's one of those few things left in this world that's free. Well almost, you may need to invest in a handheld GPS device. I say you may because there are times you may not even need that, although that is rare. A GPS (global positioning system) device is basically a thingamajig that connects you with the 29 or so satellites that are roaming out there in space (maybe more, maybe less, I don't care, as long as they do what they're meant to and not fall on my head). So, as you move around with this machine in your hand, it picks up signals bouncing off these satellites. And as soon as you get a good clear signal from at least 3 satellites, you're in business. Well that basically means you now have a very good idea of your position on this great planet of ours, i.e. your bearings. That's the northing's and easting's and other such methods of identifying any one point on earth (think maps). All this within an accuracy of 15 m (even lesser with newer models). That's freaking amazing! O.K, now imagine if I have such a device and I go out, say to somewhere in the most ulu part of this country (lets not play the whole world first ok, baby steps first, next time we can go learn to fly, can?). Ok so now I'm out there somewhere and I have a small plastic container and in that container I have a bunch of goodies (can be as little or as much as I want, that doesn't really matter). And in that container, I've also placed a pen and a little notepad. So now I place that container, say under a tree that would have little or no chance of anyone stumbling upon it. I cover it up with some small rocks and maybe a bit of camouflage of leaves or some stuff like that. I then use my GPS device to get my bearings as I stand on that spot. I take note of it and I go home. Alright so now I'm at home and I go to this special website, http://www.geocaching.com/, dedicated to geocachers around the world and I key in the coordinates of that place I hid the box. I include some basic description of the area (making sure not to give away too much) and some advice and warning about the general terrain and difficulty. This cache is now considered published and anyone in the world will be able to view it. Now your mission, should you choose to accept it (heck, I always wanted to say that), is to key in those same coordinates into your GPS unit, bring a friend or two, get some sandwiches made, bring your water bottles( this you REALLY need!) and get on your way to finding that treasure! And once you've found it, you could take one(or all) of those little gifts in there just like a little treasure. But remember, you have to replace them with some of your own stuff. It's only fair that the next hunter has something to exchange too. You then write a little log in that tiny notepad that I left behind , giving thanks or just commenting on the cache or anything. You can then do a little dance around the tree and sing some Hindi song if you like, but that's up to you. Once you are done, you go home, log in to that website and declare your find. The more you find , the more numbers you have under your belt. They don't mean anything, but what the hoo! I know, I know. I can almost hear some of you saying, "What? Like that only ah? So tiring and so waste of time to go find one stupid box?" But think about it this way, after the initial amount of no more then $200( I believe it's a lot cheaper now) you will hardly need to spend anything to get out there (even on your own if you like) and have a hell of an adventure. Remember what they said 'It's not the destination, it's the journey that matters.' I mean you could just spend your time (and money) every weekend going to the pubs with your friends or catching movies with your girlfriend, then buying her dinner. Then nearing the end of the month, when your bank account is just about to dry up, you could spend your weekends with your girlfriend window shopping at Orchard Road. But how many windows do you need?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It Had To Happen

"Charms in limited supply And refusing to stretch That indefinable nothing Somehow keeps pushing you Finding the right words Can be a problem How many times must it be said There's no plan It had to happen Got to move on sometime And it's about time By putting one foot in front of another And repeating the process Cross over the street You're free to change your mind Strength through diversity" - Martin L. Gore It had to happen. Me messing with a blog. I have actually been wanting to do this for a long time now but I just tend to drag things too long. (Ok lah, no excuse, I just plain lazy). But what the hey, I started today didn't I? Though I still not too sure why. Never mind I just might as I go along. I don't much like writing, it's a hassle I think. I love talking. Just not writing. That"s why I don't SMS. I'm always worried about getting my spelling wrong. So I end up doing spell checks on the messages on the phone. A bit paranoid yeah I know, but there's a story to that as well. You'll find out a little more about that later. I can talk forever ( no lah, not like a nut case lah, talking and talking and nobody listening.) I mean give me some good company, some booze and fags and I'm off yakking. But no don't get me wrong, I can talk about almost anything, but I prefer things logical. Something that keeps my mind thinking. I am a hot blooded male and I"d prefer the opposite sex any day (thank you very much), but that doesn't mean that I don't indulge in my fair share of gossiping (crap lah, all men do lah. they just don't admit cos they think not macho. to them, I say, don't wayang. women can see right through you lah. just shut up and eat the humble pie, ok?). So, like I said, I like good company. My fiancee, she's the best. She speaks her mind and she knows what she's talking about (oklah, sometime she also throw in her two cents worth of bull shit, but hey, who doesn't, right?). I love her for many reasons. One of them is her inquisitive mind. I love the challenging conversations we have and we never get bored. (Well at least I don't. She, I not too sure.) Now, the best person I know, who can really give you a run for your money any day, is my dad. Having a chat with him is like discussing some major world issues with our Minister Mentor. You know the slow, steady, focused way you hear him speak on T.V.? Well, that's what talking to my dad is like. His command of the English language is incredible. Precise and to the point, he can shred the topic to a thousand pieces, just to understand it from the inside out. Then put it all together again to give you a totally remarkable new way of looking it. So, maybe that's what all this blogging is about. Conversing, sometimes even to yourself. Who knows, maybe if I keep this up I 'll see it that way as a fact. But then again, I might just be a nut case after all, just talking to myself when no one else wants to listen.