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.

video 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.

video  
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.

  video
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!

video  
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.


  video  
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.

  video  
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 : quezi.com
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 : satobs.org
Go ahead and make this a hobby. It is really fun. You can locate the next flare in your area at http://www.heavens-above.com/. 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.
Enjoy.

Nelson Piquet's Crash

image : timesonline.co.uk 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 : utahskies.org

  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 http://www.stellarium.org/ .

  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.

image: xyberlog.com

  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: flashladybug.com

  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: galaxywire.net

  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 http://www.heavens-above.com/ .

  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.