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.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Joy Wei Ling

.com - Cats
Happy Birthday to my Princess. May all your dreams and ambitions come true. For as long as I have known you, you have given me the greatest gift anyone can ever wish for in their lives. Happiness, Love, Laughter and many, many beautiful memories that I know I will keep with me in my journey through live. Most of all, I know, and I am so truly blessed and so thankful for, that I have you as my companion through this journey. Happy Birthday 'Chayang'! Duck Ginger Loves Chicken Wing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Nelsinho Piquet jr. Out

See, I told you so. Nelson Piquet jr. got dismissed. Just as I had expected (and I think everyone else in the world too). Yet in his website here, he blamed everyone and everything under the sun but himself. His ex-boss, Flavio Briatore, got most of the flak. And he also claimed that he had always had to play second fiddle to Fernando Alonso. That he always got the weaker car. That's bullshit! He seems to have forgotten that HE is behind the wheel. And only he can be blamed if he keeps driving the car into barriers or walls. Or is he going to blame someone for putting the barrier there as well? You see, my boy, there's a difference between Fernando and you. The same difference between a champ and a chump.
One down. One more to go.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Welcome to Cookoo Airlines

I love keeping track of the aviation industries and I make it a point to visit the Singapore Airshow every 2 years. The next one will be in February next year. Anyhoo, I couldn't help myself from loading this video. Hope you enjoy it too.

And have a nice flight.

Video Mashalx2 .

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2009 Singapore F1 Tickets

Yoo Hoo!! I've finally received my F1 tickets! Ok, it looks more like it's Gizmo who got them. And you can almost imagine her doing her walkabout on the tracks. As for the curious, here they are.
Just one more step closer to the big day. Yeah!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

F1 Morphing

In my earlier post (14 th July), I predicted that Renault or McLarens would make a come back to form. I then said on my post ( 26th July), just after the Hungary qualifications that I was right. Now do I dare say I was spot on? Think about it. In the qualifications, Alonso and Renaults scored their first pole. Then the next day, race day, McLarens scored their first victory. Too bad I'm not a betting man. Damn.. . . Things are beginning to change in F1. And for the better, to some extent. Lets try to go through some of them. First with the unfortunate injury of Felipe Massa. He is out of F1 for this season. But I'm very sure he'll be back. Michael Schumacher is now replacing him for the rest of the season. Lets get this right. I'd really love to watch Michael racing again but I'd rather it not had been this way. At Felipe's expense. It somehow doesn't feel as sweet. Now can you imagine the situation if Michael wins even one race? If he's not yet already a 'god' of F1, that would shake the very foundation of the tracks the rest of the other drivers drive on! The first person whose head will role is Kimi Raikonnen. He's already on very thin ice as it is. His venturing into the World Rally Championship is already making the Ferrari base a little pissed off at him. Then there's the one really big thing I know everyone must be waiting for. Michael Schumacher vs Lewis Hamilton. That will be one for the history books. Mark my words, you'll be reading a lot about this in the papers real soon. BMW is out after this year. Yup, they are going the way of the dinosaurs. Or is it Honda. Never mind. Same difference. To think that they would have learned a thing or two by what happened to Honda and how Brawns turned things around. Maybe the same might happen again? Well, I hope so. That's what we need. More excitement for next year still. Sebastian Bourdais's termination by Toro Rosso was unfortunate but expected. After 27 races he only managed a total of 6 points. A far cry from his teammate of last year, the other Sebastian, Vettel. His teammate of this year, yet another Sebatien Buemi isn't doing that well either. But in his case we'll have to wait and see. The driver to replace Sebastian Bourdais in Toro Rosso is now the youngest driver to ever start in a F1 championship, Jaime Alguersuari. He has been labeled as the 'Most dangerous driver in F1' by the British media. Not because he's that good but because he's that inexperienced! In fact the first time he ever sat in this years F1 car was during the Fridays qualifications in Hungary. They are saying he's an accident waiting to happen. For his sake, not theirs, I hope they are wrong. The two drivers that I feel very surprised who are still driving are Kimi Raikonnen and Nelson Piquet Jr. These are two drivers whom I think should change careers. Kimi, well what can I say about him that I haven't already. Read my previous postings and you'd understand. It's very sad to see him drift away like that but I believe he has other passions. So my best wishes to him. Nelson Piquet Jr? Well the only reason I think he's still driving, or ever started driving, is because of his father, Nelson Piquet Sr. Let's be honest, this guy sucks. You can give all the other drivers skateboards with square wheels and yet this guy will lose! He'll somehow still crash his car. In fact that's all I remember him for! Remember Singapore last year, in front of the bay grandstand? I heard some people in the stands got bits of his car in their hair! Well, I really wonder what else is in store for us in this season's F1. It's getting more and more exciting with every race. The cars are changing, the drivers are changing, the teams are changing, the rules are changing. And that is all good for us fans.