Sunday, June 29, 2008

My cycling in Singapore experiences - Cycling path

Actually, I am not too supportive about having cycling paths. I like to see more cycling friendly infrastructures, and also more pedestrian friendly ones. I feel that cycling path is not necessary cycling friendly, nor promote safety for pedestrians.

More importantly, it also gives a false sense of security. A danger for cycling on pedestrian path is ... being out of the concern area of drivers, which is also a danger for cycling on cycling paths. Another results I guess is for cyclists to speed on cycling paths.

Also, with cycling path, there will be a new problem: getting cyclists to be patience with pedestrians who may walk on them for whatever good or bad reasons. Some friends have experienced being pushed, or having cyclists sped by them very closely because they were walking on the cycling paths in Berlin unknowingly.

I really hope efforts are directed to achieving safety for all, instead of just simply implement or build something to please either the pedestrian and/or the motorists.

Personally, I think by simply making the left most lane more cyclists friendly, by slight widening it or removing bumpiness due to those holes for water to flow off the road, is good enough for me. This won't irritate the pedestrians and reduce the challenge for vehicles to overtake cyclists on the road.

Another cheaper way is to identify and label certain pedestrian paths very unsuitable for cycling based on criteria such as high human traffic, wide left most lane, or a narrow pedestrian path, etc., and allow cyclists use the unlabeled ones, w/o the need to spend unnecessary resources to build cycling paths.

Hope they allow cyclists the choice of using either the road, the cycling path, OR those suitable pedestrian paths, but not force cyclists off the road altogether. Thus, for roads w/o cycling path or suitable pedestrian path for cycling, the message would become road is the only place for bicycle.

PS: the above are modified from my comments on the posts, Cycling in Singapore: The Northside goes One Up against the Eastside and One Less Car: One More Step to Marginalisation, where I found this page with literatures that also suggest the danger of having cycling paths.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Did someone accidentally set their price too high?

My Google Adsense income just passed another small little milestone, now at ... US$2.02. I think I have forgotten to blog about it when it passed the 1 dollar mark.However, it wasn't due to my traffic, but some very highly paying advertisements, and I don't quite understand how did it happen. I mean, did some advertiser accidentally set their pricing wrongly?

Friday, June 27, 2008

How do computers socialize?

Just a couple of days ago, I attended a talk about fMRI and the speaker mentioned the difference between brain and computer. Both have different levels, from quantum mechanics to computer networks in the computer technology, and from biochemistry to sociology, which is about how people relate to each other. However, the main difference is that in computer, each level is affecting mainly its neighboring levels. Whereas in the brain, a cup of coffee triggers some biochemical responses that will affect how a person responds to others subsequently. Also, on listening to a sad piece of news may trigger some biochemical responses.

The era of computer is quite short, yet to reach a century. Yet, there were vast technological improvements in all levels from quantum mechanics and material engineering to architecture, software and computer networks. Unlike the brain, we don't need to know all levels of the computer ... in order to work with it. Currently, even though computer networks have been in lime light since the birth of Internet about two decades ago, this is still a very hot and potential area. Thus, for people interested in walking down an IT career path, this is a very important subject to study.

Cisco certification offers the environment to equip one with knowledge and skills from entry level IP Connectivity, to associate level such as Security, professional level such as Service Provider, expert ones such as Storage Networking, and specialist certifications like Unified Communications.

My basic degree is in computer science. However, I realized a little late that you don't have to be a computer scientist to ride on the then uprising IT industry. Yet, holding on to one certification is not enough. The continuously changing IT industry requires one to be always learning. At this moment, and in the many years to come, I believe knowledge on how computers socialize -- computer network technologies, is very valuable.

Sponsored by Cisco

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My cycling in Singapore experiences - costs

Initially, I bought a used bicycle at S$50 for short distance cycling between Clementi and NUS. I didn't notice that it had 24" wheels, but I also didn't know the implication of it. Anyway, the bicycle was stolen, or should I say taken away as I vaguely remember that I might have locked it wrongly.

By then, I was cycling to everywhere I go, and realized that I was losing patience waiting for buses for just a couple of minutes. Thus, I immediately advertised on bbs for another bicycle with a budget of $50. After a week there were two offers ... , a racer for $90 and a MTB for $70. Insisting on my budget of $50, I waited for another week, which I regretted, because each week I waited cost me ~$20 on transport then. So I decided to get the 26" Shimano MTB at $70, which had been bought at $400 a few years ago according to the seller. Racer and bikes with narrow wheels are not suitable for normal roads.

However, the bicycle didn't actually cost $70 only. As it hadn't been used for some time, some parts are retiring. First, the tubes and tyres. Next, the pedal axel. Following, the very rusty chain broke off. Over the subsequent months, costs of replacing these parts soon exceeded the original cost of $70. In addition, there were further spending on peripherals such as lights, pump, gloves, etc. However, taking into account the transportation costs that I have saved, there is net saving.

Assuming transportation cost of $20/week, I estimated at $1000/year expenses on transportation. Lets say half is used for replacing wear-out parts, and half for replacing bicycle if stolen, I thought I could afford to lose 5 bicycles per year. That never happens. Thus, I should have saved about $1000 per year over all these years, and is increasing as the public transport fares have been rising while bicycle spare parts have not. A normal 26" MTB tube has been priced at $5 since more than a decade ago.

By the way, I am still riding on the $70 bike regularly. More accurately, only the frame, handle bar, handle bar holder, saddle-bar, left side brake level, gear level and a broken right pedal leg-holder are still intact. All other parts have been replaced: fork, rims, pedals, pedal hand, pedal axel, chain, gear, saddle, brake mechanism, right side brake level and of course those more easily worn out parts such as tubes, tyres, brake/gear cables, brakes and handle cushion. Pardon me as I don't know the proper names for most of these parts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Energy saving and portable energy improves living standards

Although I don't call myself an environmentalist, I do want to use less energy. Energy saving is my top priority in selecting my refrigerator three years ago. This, and also water saving will be my main criteria for my yet to get washing machine. Thus, I am curious to find out more about these Dirt Devil AccuchargeTM vacuums that are Energy Star approved.

5238dd240x180publicOn further research, I am surprised to find only ... two brands have their hand held vacuum cleaning products Energy Star approved! Dirt Devil claims theirs is the first approved products in this category, while the other brand didn't mention so. However, I find it interesting that both technology starts with the same 4 letters "Accu".

By the way, if any blogger who is reading this and resides in the US is interested to blog abou this product, you may participate in their contest by creating the most clever or outrageous story and post it before 4:00 p.m. EDT on July 9, 2008, to win a Dirt Devil AccuCharge prize pack valued at $109.98. For complete contest details please visit read this e-document.

With better battery and charging technology, my dream of staying in the nature and still able to work using Internet is getting more real each day. I think this should be a very marketable product: a multipurpose and easily portable battery that can provide power for different electronic equipment.

Sponsored by Dirt Devil AccuCharge

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's getting more difficult to stay home

This blog title, Trying to stay home.... interests me. In the blogosphere, there are many moms, and specifically stay at home moms. I thought historically it is natural and right for moms to stay at home. However, this modern, or should I said twisted world ... is making it so difficult for moms to stay at home.

My wife recently mentioned to me she felt her native country Malaysia seems to be lagging behind because her Malaysia friends find it strange that why isn't she working as if she is supposed to work. Whereas here, most will envy her for being able to stay at home.

Nevertheless, staying at home doesn't mean not earning money :) Many moms in the blogosphere will agree.

However, earning money shouldn't be the focus. What's importance is our contribution to the society and world. To us, investing in the upbringing of our children is much more valuable than earning money. Unless, the job or work one does outside benefits the world and society in a greater and significant way, such as running a charity.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My cycling in Singapore experiences - be calm

Just read about the incident of a driver hitting up a cyclist. This reminds me of one of my rare encounter with a driver.

I was cycling along Bukit Timah Road on my way to NTU on morning. At a junction along either Upper Bukit Timah or Jalan Jurong Kechil where I needed to ride straight, I turned and check the traffic behind. A car was behind. I observed for about 5 seconds and since there isn't any ... left signal light blinking, I continued riding forward. Then, I noticed the driver actually wanted to make a left turn, and he tried to make the turn in front of me. I have always been angry towards such driving manner, and thus, judging that he was in good control of the car, I purposely and slowly continued riding across the front of his halfway left turning car, forcing him to stop and wait for me to purposely delay him.

Regretably, I also raised my hand, but not all fingers pointing up (I hope readers know what I meant :P) which made him very angry. He immediately and with high engine revolution rate, U-turned his car and cut me off slightly further up the road. He got off the car and angrily walked towards me.

Knowing that I was wrong to raised my hand without all fingers point up, I quickly apologized to him for my earlier gesture. Luckily, this worked and he seemed more calm and asked me why did I do that. I firmly told him that I was angry because he didn't turn on left turn signal before making a left turn, and furthermore making a left turn in front of me!

Surprisingly, he was satisfied with my answer, returned to his car and drove off. I was lucky he didn't beat me up :)

Retrospectively, I imagine what this incident was from that driver perspective. He was patiently, or almost running out of patience waiting for me before making the left turn. He noticed that I turned back and saw his car, and probably felt that it should be safe for him to make the left turn, and so he did. Then, shockingly, I seemed to purposely forced him to stop and rode straight ahead even though I knew he was behind me. All these might be just an insignificant encounter since there wasn't any contact, but my gesture made him very furious.

Thus, I think similar misunderstanding might have happened to the above cyclist, and it wasn't the misunderstanding, nor the almost but didn't occur accident, but the inappropriate gestures that had caused further risks.

That driver might have expected the cyclist to give way, and became very angry and turned aggresive to defend himself and his supposingly weaker passengers, who may be his family, since to him, it might have seem like the cyclist was challenging him down to clash it out.

I learned that to remain calm and courteous on road, normally or otherwise, is very very important.

Being different has a price

Someone called kishore who is interested in collecting new cracked mobile softwares for nokia mobiles invited me to visit his blog on s60v3 applications. Happily I paid a visit there but sadly I read about an online TV application that supports on all NOKIA N-SERIES mobiles with resolution 240x320. And supports on N95, N93 and N82.

What!!! N80 is not supported? If it was due to older model, I am fine with that. However, it was about ... resolution, and not that N80 has a lower resolution. Instead, N80 has a higher but too uniquely kind of resolution: 352x416. First I encounter this was the application pfingo, and now this!

I don't think it is difficult to make such applications work on a higher resolution, but I know it is not about technical difficulty. It is more about commercial profitability.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Footsteps of Paul

One way to empower ourselves is to follow the footsteps of those who are great. Usually, this means following the internal thoughts and wisdoms. Nevertheless, it is also good to follow the external path physically as it should enhance our appreciation of those great people.

According to the Holy Bible, a great man who worked very hard to establish what is now known as the Christian faith, but was still a sect then, is Apostle Paul. I came across Christian Cruises, where one of its itineraries is planned according to Acts 27-28 on Apostle Paul's journey from Italy to Rome ... , from 16 to 26 July 2008, from USA, or optionally post-trip extension to Paul's Malta until 30 July 2008.

I did a search and extracted from the NIV Bible the places Apostle Paul had passed by:
  • Acts 27:1 When it was decided that we would sail for Italy...
  • Acts 27:2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium...
  • Acts 27:3 The next day we landed at Sidon...
  • Acts 27:4 ... passed to the lee of Cyprus...
  • Acts 27:5 ... across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia.
  • Acts 27:7 ... we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone.
  • Acts 27:8 ... came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.
  • Acts 27:13 ... sailed along the shore of Crete.
  • Acts 27:16 As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda...
  • Acts 27:27 ... we were still being driven across the Adriatic1 Sea...
  • Acts 28:1 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta.
  • Acts 28:13 ... arrived at Rhegium... we reached Puteoli.
  • Acts 28:16 When we got to Rome...
This Christian Cruise is on an authentic sailing vessel with all the activities and amenities found on a private yacht. The group will enjoy the privacy of a Christ-centered family itinerary and teachings. Some interesting places being visited are Pergamum which is an important 7 churches site, Ephesus where Paul delivered one of his most moving sermons, the actual cave in Patmos where John had been banished and received the Book of Revelation, and much, much more! I guess most importantly is that there are also Bible teachings on board and on shore by top Bible speakers.

They also have other Christian Cruises itinerary such as The Exodus: Retracing the footsteps of Moses.

1 An area extending well south of Italy.

My cycling in Singapore experiences - falls

I thought I didn't have many falls, but when I think back, I recall quite a number of them. Unbelievable! Both in managing to recall so many falls, and my not too bad memory. Thus, I won't bother to list all those near fall incidents. There must be many, and most of them didn't leave impression. I shall only mention those that I have impression. I tried to list them chronologically, but I couldn't remember clearly when each of them happened.

Looking at the long list, I shall only blog about them one at a time. Probably this list can be used as the table of contents, but before I think of proper titles, I'll just put down some keywords to help me remember ... .

  1. Changi Village, racer, car, before the current cycling era
  2. Kim Keat Avenue Blk 256 void deck, inexperienced
  3. Lor 5 Toa Payoh accident, against traffic
  4. Causeway near Malaysia Customs, straight on to the dividing kerb, indecisive
  5. Clementi Road junction raining spectacles breaks, stupidity
  6. Lornie road, rain, skid, most near death case
  7. Lor 7 Toa Payoh, fainted
  8. Near Cathay Cinema, indecisive, inexperience
  9. Slipped behind HDB in Whampoa due to oily liquid, fate
  10. Little India, different traffic culture, poor maintenance
  11. pot hole in grass patch at South East of Toa Payoh and West Coast Park
  12. AMK Ave 8 outside MRT racer taxi, poor maintenance
  13. Approaching Khatib MRT twisted metal rod
  14. Yio Chu Kang & Lentor accident, quite near death
  15. Kallang River Park connector, poor maintenance, most badly hurt

Friday, June 20, 2008

No free lunch? How about music?

Yes! Get free music at Sites and Sounds! That's what this very recently (May 2008) started blog is about: to bring you cool music and sites from around the web. Here are some tracks available for downloading ... that are featured on the sites are:
  • By Jeff Merchant - Li’l Miss Riding Hood / Landlord Song / Sick Of It / You Can’t Save Me
  • By Megaphone - Not your Enemy / Stain / Drama Queen
  • By Louise Mosrie - Complicated / Rockslide / Never Gonna be the one
  • By Chester Bennington - Let Down
  • By Jason Silver - Time will Tell / Lover’s Road
  • By Assembly of Dust - BootLegger’s Advice / Grand Design / Lone Tree / Leadbelly
  • By Eric Nicholas - Lost inside your Eyes / Song for my Future Wife
  • By Billie the Vision & The Dancers - Absolutely, Salutely
I am sure you will find more when you visit Sites and Sounds.

Frankly, I am not into music and art. I am much better in mathematics. Nevertheless, I think I have picked up more knowledge about music last few years by watching those singing/talent competition shows with emphasis on judges' comments. I supposed it all started by the American Idol show.

I would love to have the lyrics together with the songs. Hope they can have a section on lyrics, or are there copyrights issue for lyrics?

PS: Not only did I Discover New and Free music at Sites and Sounds, I also discovered TimeTube - Timeline for YouTube, which I find quite interesting.

Sponsored by Sites and Sounds

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Try sneezing with your mouth tightly covered

The article, Taming volcanoes, in, a researcher pro­poses dump­ing lime­stone blocks in the way of stream­ing la­va as a way to slow it down, lim­it its reach and save lives.

Good idea? I don't think so. Imagine someone is going to ... sneeze, and in order to save the people around from exposing to what he is going to expelled out into the air, lets stuff cloth into his mouth! What would happen? He probably will still sneeze. However, since the mouth is blocked, whatever needed to be expelled from his body has got to go through other channels, such as the nose, ears, and even the eyes! This guy won't be happy with this!

I bet the Earth and Mother Nature would not like to be treated this way too!

It is not volcanoe eruptions that kill lives, but the lack of freedom, be it political or otherwise, for people to choose to live away from volcanoes.

Just as the recent earthquake in China. Which kills more people: the earthquake, or the badly built schools? I am curious to know how many animals are killed?

I think from science, we understand more about nature so that we can live with it, but not to distort it for our selfish conveniences.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My cycling in Singapore experiences - dog chase

This is quite uncommon to me. Most of the time I ride on main roads that have regular traffic and not too quiet.

The only time I was madly chased by dogs was along Woodlands Road towards Causeway. Once I was going to Johor Bahru late night by bicycle. There are industrial buildings besides Woodlands Road. These places are ... dark and quiet at night, and the there usually equip with fierce strong large dogs to guard the facilities. It was the first, and could be the only time I rode on this road at night. In fact, it was close to midnight.

With no other cars on the road, dim street light, and I was enjoying the down slope, suddenly I heard barking of dogs. I turned and saw at least 3 to 4 huge black dogs sprinting towards me. Although the common knowledge is not to run when there are dogs around, but I was already traveling at a speed faster than running, should I stop? I decided that I should be able to out run these dogs, and sped forward.

Lucky for me, but sorry for the fastest dog that catch up and touch my bike or rear wheel, I just managed to escape safely. My heart was beating very fast. Later when I thought about the encounter, I don't think I rode faster than the dogs. I think what happened should be that either I managed to ride out of their territory before they reached me, or the first dog was injured when it attacked my fast spinning wheel.

I also have ridden around some estates in Johor late at night. My personal experience regarding dogs is not to ride into their territory quietly, but create some noise in advance. It seems to me having lights and sounds, and non-accelerating speed help. My reasoning is that given advance notice and sufficient time for the dogs to assess the situation and recognize what is approaching, they will not find it necessary to be aggressive and chase me. I imagine that when a dog suddenly realize something is moving very near to its territory, it doesn't have time to think, and will instinctively turn aggressive and attack the assumed aggressor.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My cycling in Singapore experiences - time rebates

This is expanded from a comment on MrBrown's blog entry Oh you ride bicycle ah? No money buy car, issit?.

For more than a decade, I have been hearing and getting looks that say, "Oh you ride bicycle ah? No money issit?" and sad to say, I can't deny it 100% :(

However, it is ... what led me to cycling? time that led me to cycling.

And absolutely, yes, it is FUN because it is terribly not fun to wait for bus, wait for train, and walk another few more minutes to and from busstops and train stations. Indeed, after few months, once my tyre, or more correctly, tube punctured, I flagged a taxi when I had gotten impatient because the bus hadn't arrived after I waited for 5 minutes!

Once, I drove my brother's car for a few days to NUS while he was overseas. Although it took me only about 20 minutes from my door to reach campus, but another few very slow minutes circling around carpark looking/waiting for parking slots. I think I can get to NUS in roughly 35-40 minutes.

I am no environmentalist, or health nut, or bicycle athlete. Nevertheless, I was touched by a Professor in Hong Kong rides instead of drives because of his concerns for the environment.

Coming back to the topic of time, it is precious. Thus, many people are doing something while they are traveling, be it listening to MP3 while walking or driving, or playing games or SMSing on a bus or train. However, most of these activities are not that necessary, and can be done if given the time and not necessarily during commuting. In short, these activities are mainly to kill time :)

Whereas for cycling, it is an exercise by itself, and we are being encouraged to exercise regularly. However, many people find it difficult and taxing to squeeze time out to exercise. That's why during the few years when I rode 80 minutes weekly to and from NTU (my route), I classify the time as part of my weekly exercise time. So, I didn't spend a single minute in traveling to NTU = it took me 0 mintue to reach there = this is as fast as a teleportal machine :)

Nevermind if people want to call it Ah-Q spirit, or creative accounting.

If you like it clean and green

How do you avoid spending energy on cleaning? Get a maid? Get the dog to lick? Or do you just avoid cleaning all together? I guess the last answer suits me. Wouldn't my house be very dirty? Not really. I just have a higher dirt tolerance threshold, and thus the house will still be cleaned by ... those with lower dirt tolerance. Sorry to say, that would refer to my wife. I believe this is quite common.

Nevertheless, regardless of who is doing the job, it still has to be done. Then, vacuum cleaner is a common choice, and the new technology by Dirt Devil is the product to choose: AccuchargeTM.
For those who dread the long wire, it is cordless! For those who enjoy cleaning, it has long battery life! For those who have little time to wait, its battery charges up 2 times faster! For those who feel guilty to the earth, it utilizes 70% less energy!

Indeed, it is the first cordless vacuums to earn Energy Star® approval! In addition, I feel that it is reasonably priced at only US$44.99 and US$59.99 for the Hand Vac and Stick Vac, respectively.

And I like their slogan in the short video: Go green... and get it clean!

Sponsored by Dirt Devil AccuCharge

Re-considering my first job - as a tutor

I have found my backup income! Quoting from the report, Singapore emerging as 'tuition nation'
Physics tutor Phang Yu Hon has nearly 90 students and earns nearly 20,000 Singapore dollars (15,000 US dollars) a month, the report said. The 41-year-old gave up his research engineering job in 1994.
Probably without word of mouth, I imagine can get ~20 students and monthly ~S$ ... 4000 is quite nice. All thanks to the high pressure by teachers, who unshamefully asking parents to get tutors for their kids. Anyone interested for a mathematics tutor may check out my answers at Yahoo!Answers.

It isn't just the money. 20 students/week at 1.33 students/session, 5 days/week and 2 hours/session means about 3 sessions/day for 5 days/week, or about only 30 hour work-week.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My cycling in Singapore experiences - From Clementi to Toa Payoh

A reply from Paul Barter to my comments about cycling within NUS led me to, where I found a not-tested route posted on, and commented on it. Let me also share here how I would ride from Clementi to Toa Payoh ... .

My current preferred route is by Commonwealth Avenue West, North Buona Vista Road, Holland Road, Farrer Road, Dunearn Road, Chancery Lane, Thomson Road, cross at junction on to the footpath to cross the PIE, into Toa Payoh.

Other alternatives that I have tried and my findings are:
a) Using the Ulu Pandan Park Connector, entering from Clementi Avenue 4 or Clementi Road. There is a need to cross at the Ulu Pandan and Clementi Road traffic junction. I will use it if I have time to relax and enjoy some fresh air. I don't use it often because I dislike mounting/unmounting during my journey.

b) By Adam Road, Lornie Road, Thomson Road, Toa Payoh rise. This way seems longer as it leads to a bit too North relative to Toa Payoh. However, the main reason is the high degree of difficulty and risk in riding over an entrance into and an exit from PIE along Adam Road. The advantage is the ride along the wide footpath besides Macritchie Reservoir Park, which has a lengthy down slope, and easily make a short visit to the park.

c) In the earlier days when I was mainly familier with roads traveled by buses I took, from Lornie road, I would turn into Bradell Road instead, which is even further, as I didn't know that I can enter Toa Payoh from its west edge.

d) Sometimes, probably bored of the same roads, I would continue on Holland Road to Napier Road, Tanglin Road, Orchard Road, Scotts Road, Newton Road, Thomson Road. Usually in the evening/night time when there are people and happenings to watch and make the ride less monotonous. Also, these roads are less stressful except a little tricky to continue on Scotts Road instead of riding into Stevens Road, or to cross the traffic light at Stevens Road, which I dislike.

e) From Dunearn Road into Whitley Road and Mt Pleasant Road. The disadvantages are the part across the PIE exit along Whitley Road, and the Mt Pleasant Road is too quiet and thus dangerous for night riding, while the alternate short stretch of PIE seems safer but it is illegal to ride on. On Whitley road, I had to wait patiently for a no-traffic slot, otherwise it is very dangerous. Also need to beware of the Merryn Road opening. By Mt Pleasant Road is scary in the dark and dangerous too as drivers seldom expect cyclists on this quiet road.

f) For a couple of times, from Chancery Lane, I continued on Dyson Road, which is very steep, cross Whitley Road, which is risky due to fast traveling vehicles speeding up for PIE, or those that just exit from PIE, across the quiet heavy vehicle carpark below PIE, and turn right towards Thomson Road.

What did cyclists do to deserve these treatments?

This is interesting! It very positively describes many impressive bicycle facilities.

The problem, in my views, is because the designers are ... probably not the users. I hope LTA, and whoever going to design anything in regards to cycling, either consult regular road riders, or experience it themselves.

I prefer not to have bicycle lanes. Rather, give us more understanding, tolerance, appreciation, and lets learn to co-exist :) Since almost all cyclists are also pedestrians and/or drivers themselves, it is a lesser problem for cyclists to co-exist with other road/path users.

Friday, June 13, 2008

My cycling in Singapore experiences - My first trip

The first trip that unveil the practicality, economical, feasibility, and time-saving of riding bicycle was from Clementi MRT to Tanjong Pagar area.

The route I took was: Commonwealth Avenue West, Commonwealth Avenue, Leng Kee Road, Tiong Bahru Road, Outram Road, Cantonment Road.

Commonwealth Avenue West between Clementi MRT and Clementi Road is not too nice to ride on because ... there are many busses on it. Between Clementi Road and Buona Vista Road has a relative light traffic. Alternatively, can also get on to the Ulu Pandan Park Connector from Clementi Road for a more relaxing ride but slightly further. Again, be careful on the small stretch of between Buona Vista Road and Holland Avenue where many busses turn left on the left turn only lane.

From here until Tiong Bahru Road is not too difficult as the lanes are wide and traffic not too heavy. Again, there is Alexandra Park Connector for relax riding. I don't recommend Margaret Drive because if I remember correctly, it is narrow and single lane.

A bit tricky from Leng Kee Road to Tiong Bahru Road as car have to make a U-turn at Tanglin Road and Alexandra Road junction, or turn into Alexandra Road earlier and right turn into Tiong Bahru Road. Then, the stretch near Red Hill MRT is narrow, upslope, single lane (I think) is a bad road to ride on. Yet, another very tricky and dangerous part when turning from Tiong Bahru Road into Outram Road.

As such, on most of my subsequent trips, I chose to ride by Alexandra Road, Ganges Avenue, Havelock Road, Upper Pickering Street, South Bridge Road. Alternatively, sometimes I turned into Chin Swee Road then to Outram Road when I felt like burning some fats riding up this road besides the Pearl Hill. I just noticed another alternative that I haven't ridden on, turning right from Ganges Road into Outram Road, probably because I don't like to turn right.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My cycling in Singapore experiences - How I started

I notice there are people reading my cycling related posts. Let me try starting a series on it. Actually, I had this idea long time ago, but was stucked in planning out how should it be organized. I think I shall just start writing down whenever I recall something to put down here. Therefore, this series will appear here on an adhoc basis and without any particular timeline or order.

Nevertheless, I shall begin with what triggered me to use bicycle as my main transportation ... here, although I've already mentioned it briefly in point 5 of a recent post.

I had been cycling from Clementi to NUS for a few weeks. One day, I needed to go to Tanjong Pagar. However, I couldn't find a place near the MRT station that I felt was good and safe (from theft) to park the bike. Also out of curiousity, I decided to ride straight down to Tanjong Pagar. That trip took me 45 minutes, which I find is not too bad since I wasn't familiar of the route, and on a 24" bike.

I don't compare this 45 minutes bicycle riding with 17 minutes by MRT from Clementi to Tanjong Pagar. I would consider the whole trip from when we step out of our door until we step into the destination. For bicycle, that would typically be an additional 5 minutes overhead. For public transport, that would include waiting time and more walking times, which could typically be as long as 10 to 25 minutes.

I was surprised that riding bicycle isn't that slow. In fact, the trip took about only 35 minutes on a 26" bike and after being more familiar with the route.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

So far so good at SocialSpark

The new chapter with SocialSpark has been fine though not considered as great. Just got paid for the first opportunity here and quite a few more paper earnings coming in soon. click to see a screen capture:

How's your Diabetes IQ?

How much do you know about Diabetes? I don't know much. I got only 5 out of 10 correct in the Diabetes Quiz at found at - Managing Diabetes. One particular thing I learned is that none of these are off limits to Diabetes patients ... : coffee, alcohol and fruit juice. Nevertheless, these are still not advisable to be consumed abundantly.

Indeed, another thing I learned is that obesity is the main reason for developing Type II Diabetes. At least, I am correct that downing sugary snacks, desserts, and candies do not cause Type II Diabetes directly. Thus, the definition of the disease, and the Chinese name of the disease seem misleading, and over emphasizes on sugar, while the reason that causes this abnormally high level of sugar should receive more concern.

Nevertheless, diet for Diabetes is becoming an industry as I can find shelves of food items suitable for Diabetes. Here, also have a Diabetes-Friendly Foods section that has a regularly updated list of latest Diabetes recipes.

Just like to add a final note about sugar. This seemingly natural ingredient that is extracted from plants such as Saccharum officinarum or Sugar Cane, as it is commonly known probably after the discovery of extracting sugar from it, about just a few centuries ago, isn't that natural for people lived before its discovery.

Sponsored by Reader's Digest

Monday, June 9, 2008

Additional notes about cycling

This post is my comments to the post by YongWei. ... (The numbers correspond to those in his post.)

2. After two experiences of brake cable snapping off, I understand it is VERY dangerous to ride down bridges on slope.

6. I learned my lesson in trying not to fall, and eventually fell uglily. The lesson helps me a lot during my worst fall when once my fork broke apart.. I rolled 2-3 times, stood up regain breathing only after 10 over seconds of jumping. Luckily, I was on a park connector. The old man who install a new fork for my bike told my brother (I was too injured to retrieve my bicycle) that in his decades of dealing with bicycle, he never saw the way my fork broke apart.

7. I have only been chased by fierce dogs once when I rode down along Woodlands Road toward Customs close to midnight. I guessed the dogs were shocked by the sudden detection of a fast moving intruder. I pity the one that managed to catch up to me and "attacked" my rear wheel.

12. I suspect that cats do not run away from danger when panic. So far, two cats dashed to their safety in the direction that they need to go underneath my bike, and created a spike on my heart rate.

18. Once I brake hard on a downward slope along Irrawaddy Road when a blur lady driver made a right turn out from Novena Square carelessly. Next I realized my tyre punchured. Now I know why.

20. Yes, yes, yes! Even as a pedestrian, I will intentionally delay any cyclist who ring the bell behind me on a pedestrian path.

27. Cycling is usually faster than bus on downtown roads. If I choose to overtake, I make sure I can maintain in front of them. Otherwise, I'd relax and let them pass me way ahead. Every overtaking, either way, is a risky situation.

For humor, I prefer clean ones

A section of the (RD = Reader's Digest) is Laughs! that has a huge library of jokes and anecdotes (including those submitted by readers), humorous stand-up videos, funny cartoons, funny photo contests, and more!

Yes, readers can submit your entries and may earn up to US$300. I just submitted a nice joke I heard a few months ago ... :
There are two types of people in this world. One type of person, in the morning when they get up, they say, "Good morning, Lord," The other type of person when they get up, they says, "Good Lord! It's morning. I'm late!"
It hasn't been approved yet, but I do hope to see it at RD Laughs Main. In the meantime, I can continue to enjoy the jokes there, and one of them is:
"Make sure you wash your hands before your piano lesson," I reminded my seven-year-old son. "They're probably dirty from soccer practice."
"Don't have to, Mom," he reassured me. "Today I'm practicing in E Flat Minor. They're black keys."
Yes, even though those keys are black, clean keys are better. As for jokes, clean jokes are better, and it is good that gives them a place.

Sponsored by Reader's Digest

False sense of security

Hey, I am not alone to think that bike lanes are dangerous. The false sense of security exists in many different contexts. Some that I am more aware of are ... :

a) Bicycle helmet and other protective gears. These provide some protection IF one falls, AND in a way that these gears can protect. Furthermore, some protection probably only lessen the injury, but injury is still likely or even worse than just injured. The idea of ZERO fall is under emphasized. Regardless of any protective gears worn, the minimal goal is to have ZERO fall. I recommend those who still can fall on bicycle path DON'T cycle on the road.

b) Pedestrian crossings. Most pedestrians I noticed over rely on traffic signals. Once the green man appear, they started crossing. They are putting their lives on the trust that all approaching vehicles are driven by alert and qualified drivers. It does matter IF an accident occured AND the pedestrian is alive to sue the driver. The idea of ZERO accident and safety is under emphasized, compared to the legal rights. Regardless of whether one has the right of way or not, the minimal goal is ZERO accident. I always check the green light, instead of the green man, as the on coming traffic will be blocked by traffic from the other direction. I don't just watch out for cars when crossing roads, but I would also observe if the the driver notices me and has intention to slow down.

c) Condoms. I have mentioned this in many other posts on abstinence. Safer sex practices are giving many the wrong impression that extra-marital sex is OK. The idea of abstinence and ZERO extra-marital sex are under emphasized. Extra-marital sex is a very irresponsible attempt to potentially create a new life without a family, i.e. creating ophans. Thus, going for abortion in these cases is worse as it kills the ophan, while the culprits escape. Sounds like hit and run to me.

Cycling again

My recent interest into cycling related blogs re-ignite my itch to cycle more. I didn't stop cycling, but has greatly reduced my mileage since the ride to my work place is short as it is just a MRT station away. However, I've made two trips to town in recent weeks. Some encounters and observations ... :

1) I was almost doored (just learned about such a word) for the very first time in my cycling history when the passenger open the door and intend to alight a lorry stopped before a traffic light along Jalan Besar before Allenby Road. Luckily I was alert, my brakes worked enough to prevent any strong impact, and that passenger hear my yell and noticed me. Although I scolded the passenger fiercely and he was apologetic, it seems that I have scolded the wrong person. Is the driver responsible for such illegal acts of allowing passenger to alight dangerously? Furthermore, later the driver didn't signal left while turning into Allenby Road in a manner that expected me to give way to him while I needed to travel straight.

2) A car stopped and I was asked how to go to the Singapore Flyer along Middle Road. If I have been riding around recently I would have know how to, but sorry I couldn't help them much. Just told them to go straight all the way and turn right.

3) I notice there are more people riding on the road nowadays.

4) I saw many people employed by the telcos promoting to the Indians along Race Course Road on Sunday afternoon. They were wearing signboards and giving brocheurs, with Tamil words, but most of them are not Indians.

5) After passing through the underpass below CTE from St. Michael Road, I saw a group of people playing Cricket, presumably from morning till evening, on the open grass patch on my right.

Witness protection - alternative to undercover?

The USA Network's new original series In Plain Sight (Pilot - Episode Premiere: June 1, 2008) is about the highly secretive Federal Witness Protection Program (WITSEC). Simply put, U.S. Marshal Mary Shannon protects and helps witnesses to start anew. However, homicide detective Bobby D disgust for the branch of law enforcement that ... puts known criminals back on the street.

A character that I can relate to is Mary's partner Marshall Mann, specifically about knowing a little bit about everything. I am not the kind of person who goes into a subject deeply to understand it thoroughly. Rather, I would prefer to know just enough of a subject but knows about more subjects.

Coming back to the story, is putting known criminals back on the street OK? Probably not. However, I see WITSEC as an alternative to sending in under-covers, risking and wasting the life of otherwise good law enforcers.

Sponsored by USA Network's new original series In Plain Sight

Sunday, June 8, 2008

What's the issue?

Read an interesting blog post while searching about cycling in Singapore. It is about Town Council threatening removal of bicycles parked illegally. I find it strange for two issues:
1) If parked illegally, then shouldn't they find out who is the offender, give warning or charge the person?
2) Do they have the rights to remove bicycles parked illegally? How about those that were parked legally at the provided bicycle stand but obviously hasn't been used for months?

Anyway, I think the main issue is: ... are they paid to solve the problems, or are they paid to respond when there are complains, be it from residents or their higher bosses?

In the above case, the issue is about blocking fire exit, but the pictures show that there isn't any blockage. I am glad that residents in my block are allowed to park bicycles at railings at each levels besides the new lift as doing so doesn't block anybody. However, I have a feeling that it must be through the MP that the Town Council makes the exceptions.

Last year, my parents received an instruction to remove the altar hanged on the pillar outside their 3-room HDB unit, stating that it may fall off and hurt someone below. The fact is that the altar has been hanging there for more than 30 years without any incidents, and has been further secured after news about objects falling off. I am not saying they are wrong, and I understand that they are enforcing new safety requirement. However, can't they approach it in a more solution oriented manner? E.g. listen to the ground, do some studies, and feedback that the requirement is probably too stringent, and suggest alternatives.

Recently, my brother returned his unit to HDB as those few blocks have been selected for SERS. It was insisted that the windows need to be re-fixed using steel instead of alumnium. Being a block selected for SERS, no one will be staying in his unit, the windows will not be opened anymore, and very few people will be near the vicinity. Since the windows were also not opened for the past near to 10 years because there was aircon, even the contractor also said that the windows parts were still very strong. Shouldn't there be more flexibilities?

It is surely more work for the civil servants to do study and set rules and regulations with flexibilities for instances that don't affect the fundamental reasons for the rules and regulations. However, it is even more inconvenience for many civilians to follow the over demanding and inflexible rules and regulations. So, are civil servants there to serve the civilians, or otherwise?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Cruelty or Teamwork

Many times we see beauties in nature. Some times we see disturbing happenings in nature. For example, the parasite practice described in the article Parasite turns host into bodyguard.

At the end of the article, it highlighted there were some sacrifices by some par­a­sitoid larvae for their brothers and sisters. How are these few being chosen? Whatever the way is, is it fair? ... Nevertheless, because they benefit those who we perceive as their "brothers and sisters", so we use the word "sacrifice".

In the case of the caterpillar, as the par­a­sitoid larvae were not perceived as their "brothers and sisters", its death is a sad and cruel one. What if we see them as a team, can we then sense some beauty in how the caterpillar had "lived for the sake of others".

From a smaller unit, we see unfairness. From a bigger unit, we may see teamwork. E.g. in a family, the husband or the wife can see unfaireness as they are tied down in different ways, one to work and one to house and kids. Alternatively, from the family perspective, there can be beauty of a harmonious family.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ways to get in and out of Toa Payoh by bicycle

Is there anyone interested to know? I hope so.

Update: I am putting these information in with titles starting with "Toa Payoh bicycle port".

1. Northward
a) exit by Lorong 6 to Bradell road. Note: it is illegal and very dangerous to cycle up the fly over at Lorong 6.
b) entrance/exit from/to Bradell Road by a small flight of stairs off Toa Payoh North trespassing a JTC compound, besides a petrol kiost and the T-junction at Bishan road.
c) entrance/exit from/to Bishan Park/Bradell Road by overhead bridge (with small shoulder beside stairs allowing pushing of bicycle) to cross Bradell Road at north end of jogging/cycling path along Kallang River.

Possible routes after exiting: Lornie road, Upper Thomson Road, Marymount Road, Bishan Road, path along Bishan Park, Lorong chuan.

2. Southward
a) entrance/exit from/to Jalan Bahagia/Kim Keat Road by overhead bridge (with slope) besides block 195.
b) entrance/exit from/to Jalan Dusun/Ah Hood Road/Jalan Rajah by overhead bridges behind Block 161, Toa Payoh Garden/Swimming pool/end of Kim Keat Link besides PIE. Note: the last bridge is complicated and tiring to use.

Possible routes after exiting: Whitley Road, Thomson Road, Balestier Road, Rangoon Road (paths beneath CTE and an underpass), St. Michael Road (underpass to cross CTE).

3. Eastward
a) entrance/exit by path besides heavy vehicle carpark opposite Block 225 from/to park connector along Kallang River and on to Potong Pasir Avenue 1.
b) entrance/exit by overhead bridge (with slope) after Toa Payoh East and end of carpark to cross the CTE from/to Potong Pasir Avenue 1. Note: it is illegal to exit by Kim Keat Link or busstop near block 195 to PIE sincce it is illegal to cycle on expressway.

Possible routes after exiting: Upper Serangoon Road, Wan Tho Avenue, Macpherson Road.

4. Westward
a) exit by Toa Payoh Rise to Thomson Road. Note 1: strictly speaking, entrance by this way is illegal as Toa Payoh Rise is a one way westward (but legally no-through for cars to exit Toa Payoh). Note 2: Currently there is construction of Circle line going on there.
b) entrance/exit from/to Thomson Road by walking path at the southwest corner of carpark next to block 173/4 off Lorong 1 Toa Payoh. Note: strictly speaking, cycling on walking path is still not legal.

Possible routes after exiting: Lornie Road, Thomson Road.

Be careful how you ask a question

A JC friend returned from US to this region recently for a short visit. He is into research on student's thought process when learning math. I took a quick browse of his PhD Thesis and found an experiment by Cramer, Post and Currier (1993). I tested it out at Yahoo!Answers. However, it doesn't work as expected the first time. Then, I rephrase the way I present the question, and ... it works the second time.

I suggest readers to try it out first and see the results I got from Yahoo!Answers.
Sue and Julie were running equally fast around a track. Sue started first. When she had run 9 laps, Julie had run 3 laps. When Julie completed 15 laps, how many laps had Sue run?
Link to my experiments: Does your answer make sense? (for students)? and Quick, how many laps Sue ran?

Indeed, even in normal life events not necessary mathematical, the way we ask does affect the way the other party responds.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cheap and good printer ink

I once had a Lexmark printer, but it has malfunctioned a year ago. It was probably due to power supply fault or due to under utilization, as I seldom need to print at home. I also seldom print at home because the ink is expensive, and refilling is not a task I enjoy doing.

I believe there are people like me who don't own an ink-based printer because ink is costly. Most of us probably know there are cheap ink around, but still worry about using them after reading the advises from the printer manufacturer. Another problem I once faced is in looking for compatible cheap ink, when the packaging is not clear whether the ink supports my printer. If so, you might like to check out Pacific-ink-logo. I like their pledge ... , where the bottom line is:
"If for any reason our printer cartridges do not perform to your complete satisfaction contact us by phone and we will immediately work with you to remedy the situation."
They offer printer ink for many different brands. Three of them are Canon ink cartridges, Epson ink cartridges and Dell printer cartridges.

A good feature of the site is it allows us to find ink by printer model number or by ink cartridge number. This makes life easy since there are so many different brands and models out there. Although it is called "Pacific Ink", I later realizes they also carries toner cartridges for laser printers. That's good news for me as I may be considering color laser printers if I were to buy my next printer.

Shipping cost has been a concern for me when doing online shopping. Here, shipping can be FREE when you become a member of the Pacific Ink Cartridge Club!

Lastly, a small note about an error on the site: The "Find Your Ink" search on the homepage isn't working (I am using Firefox) although it works on vendor's subpages. I would expect it to be rectified very soon.

Sponsored by Pacific Ink Cartridges

Monday, June 2, 2008

No one wants my bike

The bike that is still with me today, thankfully, has been my main transportation tool since Mar 1996. Nevertheless, I have lost a few bikes, and some parts of this bike during these years. Some reasons I guess for this long partnership are: ...

1. My and/or its luck.
2. My bike had been heavily improvised, although not necessarily useful improvisions.
3. My bike is made ugly intentionally. Just found 8 ways to ugly your bike.
4. I avoid parking in places meant for bicycle parking, which I consider them as "shopping areas" for bicycle theives.
5. I choose to park it at open space where it is visible from some people gathering places in close vicinity. If I were a thief, I would presume that it belongs to someone among those people.
6. Regular usage. Don't park outdoor untouched for more than 2 days, especially during school holidays.

I have mainly used a simple coiled cable lock, which I enjoy its conveniency. To me, no lock can withstand those steel rod cutters that construction workers have easy assess to, I supposed.

Update: After another five years since this post, it is now ok for me to put up a pic of this bicycle in its recent appearance.

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