Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The view from the wheel

Great thing about mobile phones. The view while stopped at a traffic light on the bike

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Oragami taken to the extreme!

Wow. Only in Japan. Paper Yamaha MT-01 Yamaha is giving you the patters and the assembly instructions, all you need is an exacto knife, and glue and a colour printer. Wow. Hobbyists are going to flip over themselves building this.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Miss universe japan and the guys

This year, Kurara Chibana made an appearance to our christmas party once again, and we were keen enough to get a pictur taken with her. Note the smiles on our faces are a lot bigger than last year. That's the magic of fame at work. Proving once again that the is more fun to be had in japan. Where else will you find miss universes working in your company gym?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Premium cocked asse!

Make no mistake boys and girls the premium stuff. Not that shoddy kind you get elsewhere.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

My first ticket

I found out the secret. How all those road workers who do nothing more than wave a baton gets paid for seeming doing nothing for his whole career. I'm paying for him. Me and the thousands of other motorists who get caught by the bckward road laws here. So today i got my first ticket. For turning right on a street that normally the bus that i take to work every moring for 2 years always took. Apparently that intersection you cant turn right at certain times during the day. YES CERTAIN HOURS OF THE DAY. I swear they had cops waiting after the intersection to bust me immediately after i turned.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The crazy parking garages of japan

This of a show of one of those parking spaces where you park your car and them the machine whisks your car sideways into the bowels of the building never to be seen until you pay your parking fees at which time the machine retrieves your car back and shuffles it into the outward pointing driveway waiting drive off. It completely removes the need for you to park the car.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Installment #51 Zoom zzooooom!

Yep I'm the new proud father of a brand new yellow CF400 Super Four VTEC3 naked roadbike. Continuing the long family tradition of buying Honda. They only sell these models in japan, as americans don't buy anything except for harley like cruisers or sport racers that look more like rockets. It's too bad because the whole naked class is quite stylish in europe and japan, and if you ask me looks a lot better than the kind of bike that you either have to wear flame resistant jumpsuits or a beard, bandana, and beer belly to ride. Naked bike or street fighters have all the muscle of a crotch rocket, but a more comfortable seat position so you can give your crotch a break on those longrides. Just think about how far forward the sports bikes make a rider lean and you'll know why they say that owners of sports bikes are over compensating for other inadequacies. Put another way, it takes a special kind of physiology to be able to ride one.

The rush of riding

You really learn to love acceleration on a bike. Not just the muted acceleration you get while driving your daddy's BMW or porche. That kind is fun as well, but nothing really beats the rush you get as the wind rushes by your face as you push 0-60km in 3 seconds. Riding is a culture. One that is very misunderstood in many places. In the cold cracked highways of toronto, I would never hazard riding a bike. 1) because the carved out road repairs that happen year round create edge hazards that are bike killers, and 2) because the drivers in Toronto have no respect whatsoever for bikes. This is not entirely the fault of the drivers, I used to be one of them, and we misunderstood bikers. We see them as hooligans who pollute the streets with their god aweful noise and deserve to be hit. But in truth, there just wasn't enough bikers for peoples mindset about them to change, and the ones that do exist often had to resort to installing loud rattlers on their bikes just so that they can feel safe riding at night without worrying that some half drunk driver may not see them and run them over while trying to make a left turn. The road is a scary place when you are on a bike. Its not just other motorists you have to watch for, its the road! potholes, manhole covers, the WHITE PAINT LINES AT INTERSECTIONS, all spell hazard for a bike. Try to pull too deep a turn on one, your wheels will slip and scraaape -- there goes 3 layers of skin. (I know I used to think that bikes didn't deserve respect at the intersection, and I always left turned across their path thinking that they would be able to stop if they wanted to). But that's different in japan. In asia in general. There are alot more bikers, and cyclists who ride on the streets, so cars are generally very tolerant of them as they weave through and between lanes. Since I started riding, I have been careful to return the respect by always acknowledging thanks to a driver that I just slipped (cut) in front of. I think they deserve the thanks, because in canada or USA, the driver would most likely get angry and tail gate me. (which is pretty scary when you are on a bike) I think that Canada and USA should promote more scooter pizza or fed ex delivery men, and as the tolerance for scooters and bikes running around the road increases, it will be safer for bikes and better for the environment too, as they use so much less fuel. In japan, bike lovers get their dream come true. Whatever bike you fancy, they can get it here (and cheap! relatively speaking). And better still, if you are a fan of the domestic Hondas Suzukis Kawasakis or Yamahas, they sell models here that are not exported anywhere else in the world. Naked bikes are a good example. the honda Gorilla (its soo cute) is another one. Honda Gorilla. There are just so many fun bikes to ride here, whether you are a Harley fan, or a Ducati lover. and the highways in japan are immaculately upkept. No potholes or uneven patches (at least on the main artery ways) I suppse the steep tolls fares help to pay for all this maintenance. All in all the bike is the transportation method of choice in Japan.


The problem with automobiles, is that you get a false sense of invincibility with them. Sort of like the kind you get if you were a 15th century french knight at the battle of Agincourt. (For those of you not asute in history, 20,000 French forces better equipped with 1/3 mounted calvary were defeated by only 6000 english, 4/5 of them were longbowmen, with not one mounted knight). I know this because I have suffered this disillusionment myself. Last year, while driving through the snowy icy mountain roads in hokkaido, I thought it would be fun to "GT3" it through the turns (think 'Fast and the Furious') while engaging the handbrake in an attempt to drift through the bends. Well, for a couple of those turns it was pretty fun, but that all ended when at one turn I was met with some oncoming traffic and was forced to take the turn wide left (we drive on the left) too fast, lost traction, causing a glancing bump on the side left snowbank. It has something to do with being in a metal box, sheltered from the environment, looking at the world through a TV-like window that gives one the sense of invincibility. When I pondered what was going through my mind later on, I realized I was driving with the same mindset that I have when I snowboard, that crashes don't hurt, and spills are fun and a learning experience. Well, that particular spill cost me 20,000yen in insurance fees to the rental car company. :) To a lesser extent, people driving cars have the same desensitivity to what is going on outside. They pay attention only to the car ahead of them (if that). Even in conditions where the ground is snowy or icy, and they feel the tires slip, it seems as if the "connection" to the environment is muted, damped, as if through a proxy, or how it is when you are doped up on anasthetics. You just don't feel the road. I think that if everyone was forced to learn to ride a motorcycle before they can drive, everyone would drive safer.

30mm F1.4 at 1/60s?

An analogy I use is with cameras. There are point & shoots, which anyone can use to take pictures, then there are SLRs (and varying degrees of amateur and pro photographers) Those who use SLRs are generally more "aware" of the art of photography, in how to use their tool to properly compose, frame and capture a subject in order to make a piece of art, not just record some event to show their friends who they kissed at a bachelor party. (one would hope, though many new SLR owners these days who never used good old film are just as brain dead as the casual P&S'er) -- No, SLR users are photographers. And like them, motorcyclists are true motorists. They really have to know how to use their machine to navigate each turn, each characteristic bend, each grade, necessary stopping power, proper use of throttling for friction, and factor in weather and other external factors. They are true masters of the art of road handling. Most people who drive cars, they are just like P&Shooters. They just want to get from A to B and not care about the inbetween. Don't get me wrong, there are expert car drivers as well, but most of them practice their art on the race circuit because city streets/traffic just aren't very challenging for a 4 wheeled vehicle. (how many drivers have even heard of the skip-barber method of cornering? Not many I'd bet, QED). -- Conversely, bikers get to practice their art everyday, just commuting to work. Its wonderful.

Hanko Anyone?

Filling out all the registration forms for ownership was quite fun. Thankfully I had Kai-san from Honda Dreams and his broken english to help me through it. Also, many thanks to Miranda who really helped me in choosing the bike initially, and working through all the japanese required for the purchase. Its a weird situation, being in japan, but not being able to read. As such the owners manual is not very useful to me, so I rely on my singaporean breatheren and their website forums to help me out there. for the only other place in asia where japan exports their domestic models AND has english as an official language is singapore. Thank god for singapore. Otherwise I would have to learn chinese, which would have as much traction as my japanese kanji reading skills. (its sad, I can read more japanese than chinese, thanks to japanese using a LOT of english words when it comes to technical terms like "carburator" or "clutch".) So 6 years later, I am still very proud to say that I have some singaporean 'roots'. The last english outpost in this land of (soon to be conquered by) China Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Spills, thrills, and Pedestrian Kills

So first day on the bike, (yesterday) and I already get involved in an accident. yep. I'm okay, I assure you, but it was a rude awakening nevertheless. So, what happened was, after I got to getting used to riding along behind the cars, I got to noticing that all the other motorbikes and scooters always weave in and out of the cars when stopped at the intersection, to get themselves out into the front of the line. Well, if the scooters can do it... then I should too right? The problem is that they have experience, and I, well, it was the first day with a new bike. So at this one light, while waiting behind a car in the second lane from the left shoulder (we drive on the left side here), I decided to follow a scooter to weave on between 2 cars stopped in the left lane. to get to the left shoulder. Problem was, after I got past the cars, I realize too late that the turn was too narrow to straighten myself out, and in a desperate panic, of course, I grab the clutch and the brake, side swiping the front end of the bike into the road railing and managing to bust off a piece of some old scooter's front end which was parked up against the railing on the sidewalk side. The bike didn't topple over , but instead rested against at and angle with the left handlebar on the railing. It took the help of a kind guy and his girlfriend to help me right the bike again, and unhook the handlebar from the railing. thankfully, only some superficial damage to the top front fork in the form of some scuffs, and some chewed up rubber tubing in the left handlebar, to which I patched up with some electrical tape to prevent water from getting into the wires. I carefully placed the broken off piece of the scooter on the seat. I thought about leaving a note, but heck, it was an old thing, the kind that delivery guys use to shuttle pizza around town. the company will probably get him a new scooter, so I actually did him a favour. :) Later on that day, I found out that there was a little more damage than I thought. I noticed it first when I started hearing a slight brushing noise at low speeds. Turns out, I actually hit the font left brake disk into the curb in the crash, and it scored the disk a bit. I sanded it down a bit and the noise went away. I hope the disk isn't warped. I don:t know how I could fix that without getting a new rotor. Now that I have tasted an accident. I know to be safer. Like always, I tend to test the limits of my abilities until breakpoint. In my snowboarding, and in my life, in order to know when I have 'gone too far' and thats when i can settle back down, happy, knowing that I am living life to its fullest. So tomorrow will be the first day when I can finally shake off the shackles of public transportation, and ride to work under my own power. I welcome the wonderful world of parking! DJC out. PS. If you found that your scooter mysteriously had a broken fender this weekend, uh, sorry man.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Blog this!

So this will be the first directly enter blog from my mobile phone. Complete with picture. Hows that for mobile technology? One of the biggest reasons why I moved my blogging off the old iBlog and then iWeb software, is so that I can now snap a picture with my phone, and send it straight to the blog from anywhere with cell phone coverage. Photojournalism at its finest. See you out there.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Semi - Installment #50.5

Testing 1, 2, 3... post. I've always been against the use of proprietary web-based bloggers, mostly because of the uneasy feeling I get about somebody having the copies of my blog in some mysterious location out in cyberspace. Also the fact that with online bloggers, I would be restricted to writing blog entries when I am online. But actually, after considering the amount of time that I spend on my home computer vs. my laptop, and the additional fact that anything that I would write offline could then be uploaded easily these days, is slowly changing my mind. Tools like iWeb are still great for detailed layout of photos and such, but I think, given that lots of handheld PDAs now have web access, having a blog that I could update live on the road would be nice. Even if it has to reside in some mystery server somewhere out there in the net. (and now that blogger is tied to google, I feel a bit safer about my data) So here goes my first semi-installment post on blogger. If I like it, I may have to move my future blogging to this forum, and just link to it from the shinkansen vagabond site. blogger -- cheers, and here's to a wonderful friendship. I will post up 2 of the previous installments just to give some "back reading" for those who are just joining here at blogspot. For the complete journals -- so that you too can share in all the inside jokes I make at the unsuspecting public at large -- Please study up on the archives, at my website The website link to the Archives! Shinkansen Vagabond Then we can laugh at all those outsiders together. heh.

Installment #50 Applecare, and Keyless ignition

Applecare rocks!

So, I sit here, like years past, way past midnight, typing away onto my computer. This time though, it's into my brand new shiny intel iMac, well okay, no so brand new, but it's still a newer machine than my old imac. For those avid readers out there, you will recall that my untimely purchase of a G5 iMac in january of this year was the biggest failure in exercising of cash since the days of when I used to take cabs back from from the office. (being that the intel duo core's came out 8 days later) But as luck would have it, in a strange twist of fate that involved the systematic failure of not less that 3 components on my imac g5 (first the DVDrom, then the display, then the motherboard) each time requiring the machine to be sent back to apple for repairs, -- the unthinkable happened after my last call into applecare on the motherboard crash -- and it went something like this. “moshi mosh” “e-yes... Mister Chaanjeery-san?” “yes, that’s me” “ayes, ahwee are so sorry, we checked your records, en we faund that you oready had to return your computer 3 times this year”

Monday, September 11, 2006

Installment #49 Hong Kong and Singapore, Back again

For those of you who have been counting it has been long since my last entry. Many things have happened since then, for one, I now use flickr quite extensively for all my photos, thanks in part to its easy to use interface and the ease in which you can edit pictures titles tags and comments for all to see. I am also typing this blog into another iMac, as my G5 died a terrible death due to a freak motherboard sickness in which a faulty firewire I/O card caused the system to lock up and fail to boot. So Applecare, in its kindness decided to give me a brand new iMac, this time, its the intel core duo version. Though, in similar fashion to my original purchase, 3 weeks after I get my new mac, apple announces the iMacs based on the new intel core 2 duo chip. Well, you can’t win I suppose. I just got back from travelling on business to Hong Kong and Singapore. Hong Kong was mostly spent with old coworkers and shopping for camera lenses. You see, Nikon seems to stock HK stores much better than tokyo ones, as they had ample supplies of the nikkor 18-200 super zoom that everyone loves. It was a busy week in HK and I really get a chance to do enough there. I did though, finally get to clubbing in lan quai fong, which was a fun experience. It isn’t tokyo or nyc, but it was still enjoyable. Singapore was more of an experience, you know, like the kind I used to have back in my travelling days. I sort of caught a sore through from all the curry that I ate in the span of 3 days, helped not in part by coworkers who highly recommended that I try the fish head curry. Thinking that it would be something like the dishes back in tko, I decided to give it a try during a lunch. The place was called Mutuu’s curry house, located in the food court area of Suntec City. The restaurant was very south indian in style, with large tables and well dressed staff. I idle in and ask for the menu. I see that the fish head curry is the first page on the menu, and the prices were 20 25 and 30 dollars for the S/M/L size orders. Wow, I thought, 20 is still a lot, in SGD. That worked out to be around $13-14. Pretty steep, but I come from tko, where that is the normal price that you pay for a lunch. ( for comparisons sake, a hawker centre will have plate of mee goreng for 2.50 SGD, or like $1.60! ) So I order the curry and wait patiently. 15 minutes later, I realize why the waiter looked at me funny when I told him it was ‘to go’. The bag he brought was as big as a garbage bag and weighed about 10 pounds! The curry was in a tupperware that was 6 inches deep and about 1ft wide in diameter! I had unknowingly ordered a meal for 4 people... to take out for lunch. Boy did I feel stupid for getting the rice and cabbage on the side as well. The curry itself had a real bonifide fish head in it. eyes and all. yuck. Also, it had a sufficient amount of bones in the curry to make it difficult to eat quickly, so I had to bear through all the comments from curious onlookers from the desk commenting on whether or not they feed me anything in tokyo, for it seemed that I was like a prisoner set free into the land of food, starved for years, and let out for one glorious meal. I never did finish more than 1/6th of that curry. I stealthily stuffed the rest into the pantry fridge... only to forget it there when I left to return to tko.

Memories of NUS

It was really good to see the old gang back there again. Johann brought me around the old NUS campus and we walked through Eusoff hall, where I stayed for exchange 8 years ago. Many things have changed, buildings renovated, and not one cockroach to be seen scattering about the floor. Even so, it was quite natsukashi to see the old grounds again, and to relive the times we spend in the study room mugging away at the textbooks trying to cram 4 months of lectures into 1 week of time.

Malaysia - Truely Asia

We drove up to Johor Baru on the weekend, which is just across the straight across from the island nation. Just about a 40 min ride, but made much longer thanks to 1) the border control station which doesn’t supply the necessary exit and entry forms that you will need 2) the traffic insanity of malaysia. Its malaysia afterall, so getting from A to B was an exercise in our buddy Brian’s patience. We decided to secretly keep count and came to a grand tally of 23 swear words in 20 minutes of elapsed time. it was a lesson in hokkien and mandarin colourful language. Speaking of colourful language, malay itself is an interesting one. For those of you who are not familiar with it, it is a purely phonetical language that uses the latin alphabet, with no accents, no silent vowels, and generally, no exceptions in pronouciation. Since the written form came along quite recently in history, like japanese, korean, vietnamese, and esperanto, they had the benefit of starting with a clean slate and trying to build a consistent system which has a minimal set of rules and abides by those rules most of the time. These set of rules pretty much makes it easy for an english speaker to read malay, even though they would have no idea what they are saying. For instance, Salamat Datang (welcome) - is pronounced *sa la mat da tang* Pretty brain dead easy right? One unfortunate circumstance arises for some words that, lets just say, have an unfortunate transliteration into english. One of these such words is *wang* which means ‘money’. Words that are borrowed from english also run into some trouble with this simple transliteration system. For example, the word for ‘cement’ is pronounced ‘ce men’ with a soft ‘c’. It’s quite true to the english pronounciation of the word, minus the trailing T sound which is not verbalized in malay. Thus, as you can see, problems arise when you have stores with signs that read, quite literally, “Semen Sold Here”. Which is how you would spell ‘seh men’ in malay. -- Thus we come to the apex of our story, and quite literally the best thing that I learned in my last trip. That it is quite normal in malaysia, when meeting someone at a cocktail party, to tell him that “you owe your wang to a lifetime of selling semen.” --