p pol The Adventures of Carboman: August 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

1st Day

Mindnumbing. That's how I'm feeling after an entire day in 3 conference calls. Tomorrow and day-after's the same. I need to chill out tonight by watching Benchwarmers. It's either this inane-brain-not-required comedy (check how low its ratings in Rottentomatoes is!) or the utterly confusing The Triangle mini-series I downloaded off the Internet. Or maybe a couple of Spongebob episodes are what I need. Hmmm...
After nearly a week, I finally popped Slither into the DVD player last night. It was quite an entertaining movie - plenty of gore, wicked humour - where the alien worm-thing looks like a cross between a sperm and a penis - and some nearly-there flesh flash (1 in the shower and another in the tub). That Elizabeth Banks (she also appeared in The 40-Year Old Virgin) who is so luscious was running around in a white negligee with a weapon tucked in her underwear. Hmmm...

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Lull Is Coming To An End

Even before the week is over, I'm already dreading the coming week. Correction, the coming month. For the next month the project team will be immersed in the gap analyses and functional specs discussion. The 5th week will see some regional folks camping here to go through heavier stuff arising from the gap sessions. In preparation of the gruelling weeks to come, I hurried over to the KLCC Cold Storage during lunch time today to stock up on some healthy snacks. There's no doubt that with all the work the brain will be subjected to, some replenishment are required.
Come end September, the department will be having its Teambuilding outing in Phuket. I won't be making this trip as I've got domestic commitments on my hands.

Weekend plans are, besides clearing up the ironing, ferry the wife to work tomorrow, bring Carbo Kid to meet Bob The Builder at the GE Mall, taking the clan out for wife's Birthday meal (am thinking of the Manhattan Fish Market) on Sunday. Air quality notwithstanding, hopefully I can find some pockets of time to sweat it out.

The weather outside is shitty - a repeat of yesterday. I'm not going to be caught in the office till 9pm again. I'm going off at 5pm sharp.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

We Didn't Have This When We Were Kids

Carbo Kid was recently given a happening present from my Mom who returned after a stint in the US. Slightly bulkier than a Gameboy Advance but wholly educational, the Leapster not only had him intrigued. I was too! The software that runs it are graded according to the child's age and it provides a multitude of skills and knowledge enhancing activities built around fun learning and games. My Mom was nice enough to get 3 cartridges that caters from now to pre-K. Now Carbo Kid is happily playing his Dora, Thomas The Train and The Incredibles games. What amazes me is how fast kids pick up new skills - after some trial and error and plenty of toggling around, he has got the machine figured out.
Presently in KL, you can find Leapfrog systems (Leap Pad and all its library systems) at Toys "R" Us and My Childhood Store (1-Utama New Wing) but Leapster is still unavailable here and in Singapore. I made some enquiries and they can order the cartridges for us at RM114 each (RM48 or lesser if purchased in the States. Plus accessories and software are easily available via eBay). The handheld unit costs RM400 (RM222 in the States). All Leapfrog products are expensive. Very expensive. But the gamepack that teaches writing looks good, so that may be Carbo Kid's Birthday present next year.
For more info on Leapster, other Leapfrog multimedia products and some interesting parenting articles, head on to http://www.leapfrog.com/. I just played the Spongebob game there!

The Company From Beaverton, Oregon

When it comes to ads, there are few sports companies out there which can match Nike. They've come up with some of the most memorable print and TV ads. Thanks to the Internet, I've had the opportunity to watch the Prefontaine and the various shoe tie-ins? And who can forget the memorable series of Lance Armstrong features? I'm going to post a few more here. Keep in mind that in advertising, anything goes and the message they're conveying may not be so apparent and in some cases irrelevant to the product they're selling. Quicktime player is required to view.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Game For Something Different?

Then try the 3rd International Penang 12-Hour Walk. It's a mouthful, so let just call it as The Walk. I'm not a fan of competitive walking. Mainly because in such mass events, case in point the hugely popular Malay Mail Big Walk (MMBW), the crowd would be so thick it renders marshalling and midpack walking ineffective. Most of the participants are there because a friend is also along for the walk/stroll.
In terms of athlete population, competitive walkers are even rarer in this country. Other than the school/district level competition, there's hardly any other events other than the MMBW. On a different level there are 2 ultra walking events that attract a reasonably healthy size of participants. They're the bi-annual Genting International 24-Hour Walk (which I missed attempting last year, a wise decision really) and the annual 12-Hr The Walk happening this end-November. This year in The Walk, I'll be attempting my first ever ultra, albeit a walking one. My next 2 races will be in September and this should tide me over the remaining part of the year. Hopefully by doing something different, I'll be able to build up my motivation for next year.
I'm not sure why race walking didn't catch on. Perhaps of the odd way the racers sway their hips. Unlike Shakira's, I don't find the race walking technique sexy at all. But the speed with which the elites are hitting are much faster than I could run! That pretty much sums up how efficient they've elevated the simple act of walking to.
I found 3 informative sites (Racewalk.comThewalkingsite.com and Marathonwalking.com) and have briefly tried out the technique - pretty interesting! There's also the cool dude - http://ultrawalker.blogspot.comI think passing the 20K mark shouldn't be an issue but beyond that I'm clueless as to how my legs and hips will react. Perhaps then I can switch to the window-shopping mode of walking.
For the entry form and info pack to The Walk, check out the RunnersMalaysia website.

Hip Nike Ad

Friday, August 18, 2006

Fare-Thee-Well My Kelisa!

When your old car is a micro-car, any upgrades will seem like heaven-sent. The new acquisition certainly has me feeling that way. The clan is enjoying the ride so much (Carbo Kid was so impressed) so that I no longer weave in and out like a madman. Not yet anyway - it's a spanking new car! But the comfort soothes the pain of driving and somehow you feel that there's no real need to rush. The space is there and the boot-space is akin to a bungalow compared to a 600 square-feet flat when compared to the old car.

I walked Carbo Woman thru the steps to use the origami seats last night and transferred the necessary stuff like the tissue box, umbrellas and Glock (kidding on this one!) from the old car. I also bought a small container to keep all my running gear in the boot - this way it's neater and much more organized. Then came the adjustment of the seat height
This morning was spent tweaking the audio system. I chucked the Miami Beach Blaupunkt player for the MP3/WMA Aux-In enabled Sony (RM550 with the Blaupunkt trade-in). The sound was no better and I refused to believe that the shipped speakers can't handle the bass and mid-range. I mean, they can't be that bad right?! But after tweaking the EQ and DSP settings, I still couldn't get a good sound. It was then that I decided to manually adjust the settings using the Custom menu and that made the difference. While still not ideal, the sound is much better now. I also added another layer of carpeting to trap dirt and for insulation (RM120).
Initial thoughts about the car:
1) A topped-up tank costs RM70. Consumption has been excellent. After 70+K, the needle hasn't moved a bit.
2) The electronic power steering (no power steering fluid required) takes some getting used to. At higher speeds, there's more resistance while at slow speeds and while reversing, it's very light.
3) Smooth over bumps, quiet ride
4) Tested the EBD once in dry condition and it works really well. No swerving at all. 
5) Improved air-cond. Earlier City's had minor issues with the air-cond in that it shares the same setup with . The new City addressed this by separating the coil. The result? All I need is to have the temp knob to the 2nd lowest setting and the fan to the lowest.
6) The V-Kool tinting (RM1,600) helped tremendously. It really works. In conjunction with the improved air-cond, the interior is really cool. Very minimal heat radiation felt from the sun.
As my old car was driven away from the used car dealer yesterday, I can help but feel a hint of sadness. The car has been thru a lot with the clan. Goodbye and fare-thee-well!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

3:00 And That's NOT My Marathon PR!

Read that: 3:00am. That's the time I got home from work last night. It wasn't due to a night out drink bingeing (not that I'm a drinker) nor, on a more sobre form of entertainment, catch up with friends at the local mamak. Instead I was dragged into a super-urgent job at 11am which required me to transform a crappy presentation deck into a presentable one for a presentation to a panel of judges of the Prime Minister's Award for IT Innovation. The company I'm in is in the shortlist of 3 finalists and all hell broke loose. In true tradition of my company, everyone in the know left it to the last minute to get things done. That includes getting the premiums ordered and wrapped, the catering arrangement, the seating arrangement in the board room as well as familiarizing themselves with the protocol of handling these "sensitive" judges. My tasks were to design the storyboard for the slides as well as finetune the transitions. Luckily I brought my personal notebook to the office and that allowed me to work more comfortably than using the smallish Thinkpads.
Lunch was San Francisco Turkey Ciabbata and dinner was Domino's. I was lucky I had a pretty colleague to drive me home else I'd had to hail a cab who would have charged me the price higher than an Air Asia ticket. This morning was spent at the gynae and later on collected the new wheels. I didn't have lunch and by the time we sat down for an early dinner at 6:30pm, I was already really pooped beyond words. I shall leave at 5pm tomorrow and not a minute later. It remains to be seen if I'm up for a run - given the physical tiredness I'm in.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Who I Used To Think About Into My 13th KLCC Lap

Kong or any other hot-blooded male will swoon.
Lucky Sean Penn!

An Applegate a day keeps the doctor away.
Doesn't she look like Naomi?

Ever resplendent. Oh Charlize Charlize.....

Bridget or not, cinya cute!

Debra Messing - looking a bit like Audrey Hepburn

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ka Ay Sui (Very Nice) Nia!

I simply had to shoot these images (using my K750) as I was driving home just now. I was along the Kesas Highway and was really fortunate to catch this spectacle. The clouds looked like a cross between small cotton balls and fish scales. To me the dusk is always mysterious. You never know what you're gonna get. At times melancholy, at times a sense of longing, sometimes a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction and nearly always the anticipation of being home.

Terry Fox Run

I've just called up San Francisco Coffee who is one of the sponsors for this year's run. As usual there's no entry form and you can just turn up at Lake Gardens on Sep 17th morning. To purchase a donation T-Shirt, just go to any San Fran outlet. I just bought a pair for RM25.

The front has the Terry Fox quote: The Running I Can Do Even If I Have To Crawl Every Last Mile
Back quote: Don't Run Away. Run With Us


Everyone can do the marathon! If Terry could do it, why not you?

Get the T-Shirt, be inspired to run!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

6 Laps Nia

With the huge project - for simplicity sake let's call it Project KNN henceforth - in between phase, I've been able to run a bit more these days. This is merely a lull in the storm as things will once again heat up sometime end of this month. All the runs had been satisfying albeit the first few being tough. All these are expected really what with my present rustiness. But my conditioning has seen some measure of turnaround the last 2 workouts.
So far my runs are all done in the region of between 40 to 45 minutes. My estimation would put their distances between 7 to 8K. Half the runs were done on hot conditions which made completing them even more satisfying. By learning to overcome these adverse conditions using the mind, I've reason to believe that I no longer dread the heat as much. Besides I'd take the heat anytime rather than letting the bloody haze derail my runs, case in point yesterday!
I shall not go into specifics such as my splits and pace but today's workout has exceeded my expectations. Starting the first 2 laps conservatively with Rohaizad, I then ran the 3rd to the 5th at nearly even but much faster splits with Justin. At least to me, these 3 laps were done at unthinkable pace - I never thought that in my completely untrained condition I was able to do that, what more while chatting! At Justin's prompting I went for another one at a much slower pace. In fact we had to consciously reduce the pace by 30 secs.
So it was another good run for me, the best stretch in a long time. Hopefully with Justin working in the vicinity of KLCC this week will see me logging some decent sessions for the remaining part of the week. It was a good day for KLCC park too - it has been a long time since the park saw 6, okay 5 (discounting Fook), Pacemakers doing the laps. If you're a Pacemaker and wasn't there yesterday, where were you?? Come lah and join us, Pacemaker or not!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cinya Low Mileage Nia

Took the camera out for another spin recently. Was very satisfied with the results although I still need to work on the fast action shots, which I didn't post here. Am very impressed with the video shots which rivals the quality of a videocam. I've posted some shots here: http://jamie419.fotopic.net. Feedback on photography is most welcome. The destination of my department trip this year is Phuket. I'd love to go but I won't be able to make it, which is too bad - the place would've provided me with some good opportunities to explore the camera. 
At the time of this blog entry, the air outside is very hazy. The brief lunchtime downpour did nothing to clear it and barring any change in wind direction, the gloom is set to remain. If I do run later, it'll be very easy. I'll have to drink up. If you think the marathonguide calculators are good, you may want to check out the one here: http://www.runworks.com/calculator.html. Based on Jack Daniels' VDOT concept, it allows for many variables even buffering for inclines!

Cinya Hoe Liao

I received this photo from Draco Loong. This is the only photo taken of me from the recent PBR. Having to park the car so far away from the finish line made it a hassle to get the camera for some post-race pictures. Even though the shot is blurry (taken on the return trip), the composition is good.
The next photo was taken by chance. After last Saturday's run as I was heading back to the car, I heard someone called - turned out to be Azwar. After recovering from his hip injury, which he definitely didn't get boogie-ing to Shakira's tunes, he seemed ready to go. While chatting Kim Yap arrived and I was intro'd to her. It's not everyday, at least for me, to have a photo op with a SEA Games Gold medallist, and a photogenic one at that.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

7 To 8K Nia

I must remember not to rely on my watch for wake-up alarms. I thought I was a light sleeper enough to wake up for a 6am run on Saturday but as it turned out, I was too pooped to hear it go off. Perhaps my arm was under the pillow hence the sound could be muffled. I'll be using my cellphone alarm next time. Having wasted an opportunity to a 12K on Saturday (I managed only about 4.5K from the RM's program), I felt I had to run today.
On the way back from Ikea with the folks, I scouted some newly opened roads in the vicinity of my area. I ascertained a loop of about 7.5K which is quite challenging. The entire loop is undulating with a 1K climb akin to the Penang Bridge midspan. Just before the climb are 2 blind spots which one will need alertness to navigate. At 5:30pm, I set out with a bottle of water. The weather was exactly like that of last Friday - hot and windy on certain stretches. Certain parts of the run was tough but I managed to push up the climb and relaxed on the downhills. I felt quite satisfied with the run, clocking just a few seconds after 40 minutes.
I'm quite happy with the last few days and am satisfied in keeping such mileage at this point. Tomorrow's back to work and there's a report due. Hope to get everything wrap up early so that I can put in another 6 laps at KLCC. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Friday, August 04, 2006

5 Laps Nia

Today's been pretty good. I had lunch with Justin, checked out some running "hardware" with him, got off exactly at 5pm, collected by Tourist In Paradise CD from Sim and ran 5 laps at the park.

I was on such an endorphin high that even missing out on my department Phuket trip next month didn't result in me banging my head on the lamp post or jumping in front of an oncoming car - you get the drift. Do you see how running can smoothen the rough edges that Life dishes out to you? How it can lessen the disappointment didn't matter so much? That's why I needed to run. It makes me a better person. Therefore I can fully understand Justin's frustration of being called back to office. He was to have joined us at the Park.

The weather today was the total opposite of the previous 2 days. I believe the temp was around 33C and only the wind (at the ESSO stretch) prevented me from melting. Sim was hammering a quick pace and I was pretty contented to "stroll" at my own speed. I was very happy to clicked off a very consistent 3 laps, after which I quickened the pace to finish the final one below 7 minutes.

I've posted some pictures which I took using the S3. You can check them out here. I'll be posting more photos as I get acquainted with the camera.

I'll be able to put in another 12K+ tomorrow morning and that should be considered good already for me. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Canon Powershot S3 IS

My Fuji FinePix F401 has gone to the dogs. Even though the picture quality of the 2MP camera is good, I'm very disappointed with the build quality of the product. I bought the Japan-made camera for RM1,499 in 2003 and it's been only 3 short years, so it has given me a very bad ROI. Not only did I spend on extra filmsy Multi cards, I also bought replacement rechargeable batteries (pricey) and chargers (pricey too).
First to go was the slider LEDs. LEDs are supposed to be long-lasting but not in this case. The blue LEDs were supposed to light up when the slider is opened to turn the camera on.
Next it was the CCD - Charge Coupled Device. All images shot were extremely distorted like purple ghostly apparitions. Since it had passed the warranty period then, I had to fork out some money (can't remember how much) to get it repaired.
Then the charger failed. Then the batteries died which forced me to get replacement OEMs as the originals are way too expensive. The final straw was the CCD yet again during last week's trip to Penang.
I spent the night scouring the many Internet digicam review websites for recommended brands and models. It wasn't too difficult as I've basically narrowed down my options to 3 ie Nikon, Canon and Sony. Since my requirements include having a brand that doesn't run on proprietory accessories, the well-built Sony is pretty much ruled out. I don't want to be constraint by the expensive Memory Stick media. The Sony images are also too soft, requiring some post-production touch-ups. I need images that can go direct to printing.
Then my attention was directed at Nikon. I've shots some photos using the D50, D100 and D200 and my favourite was and still is the D100. It's no longer produced but the price is too much for me. Besides carrying a D-SLR has an impact to mobility and my needs don't need such a feature-packed camera. I simply have no time to experiment, learn to use the dang thing and go on field trips. Most Nikon compacts also suffer a bit from inconsistencies.
Finally it was down to Canon. Their Ixus range are well-constructed and well-designed stuff but there are some models that are quite problematic, so I don't want to risk getting one that turns out to be such. I was checking out the Powershot A-Series range which has some updated models when I remembered that one of my colleagues just bought their S3 IS (IS being Image Stabilizer). It seems that most mid to high end compacts have this feature these days. It has the looks and feel of a mini SLR, more features than the average compacts but less than the imposing D-SLRs. The price of RM1,700 is slightly more than my budget but this cam seems future proof with enough features to get it to the top of the heap in its class. With its glass UD lens, 2.5fps and 12x optical (48x combined optical and digital) zoom (highest in class) capability, I will definitely try it out at the races. It runs on AA batts which frees me from having to carry a charger on my travels, and has a focal length of 36 (Wide) to 432 (Telephoto) mm, so I can zoom in on a particular subject without them realizing that they're walking instead of running. The movie recording is superb - stereo sound, so I can record the sounds of the grunting runners as they pia towards the finish line!
Looking for a camera? For a brochure, click here. For reviews, head on to the sites below. If you want a good deal, I can refer you to a shop. Just drop me a comment.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Penang Bridge Run 2006 - Race Report


I'm writing this after some considerable toil this morning. My legs are tight and a little sore but it could've worse. At least I get to put in nearly 2 hours' worth of sleep this afternoon. The Penang Bridge Run (PBR) has that effect on you. It has to be the earliest starting road race in the country. The Marathon kicks off at 4:30am and the Half (22.3K in this case) starts at 5:30am. So you really have to be a hardened creature to be still standing post-race afternoon.

The trip up to my birthplace the day before was smooth. The anticipated traffic nightmare didn't materialize, much to our relief. Some of my friends had already left KL on Friday night - I suspect because of the gastronomic lure of the Northern state. Only when I stopped to refuel at the Bukit Gantang stop did I realize that one of my credit cards were missing from my wallet. After calling the Bank to cancel it, I spent the remaining part of the journey fretting and irritated about my carelessness. I must have neglected from collecting the card on Friday night. At least there were no unauthorized transactions since the loss.

I managed to grab some pasta lunch at Gurney Plaza while catching up with my brother (who was down to run the Half as well). Then I popped into the GNC outlet and was surprised to see that they stocked GU gel. I'm curious to try it out. At a price of RM8 a sachet, it's very expensive. After that it was back to the house to catch a nap and at about 5pm I joined some of the gang at Swatow Lane for some real Penang food. Of the large group anticipated, only Justin and Jeanne, Adam, Chin and I made it. Ronnie had bailed out unwilling to incur the wrath of his sister - eat with her or risk being eaten! Nevertheless Justin assaulted the hawker fares and wolfed down whatever they dished out. The bowl to human ratio was high. I wanted to record the feasting but it was then did my camera decided to call it quits. The CCD had screwed up for the second time and this time it's no longer warrantied. All the photos turned out purplish and distorted.

It's turning into a trip of attrition. This year's PBR was to be the swansong race of my excellent 2005 Pegasus. Unfortunately my credit card and my camera had decided to join the list. After a dinner of home-cooked food, it was lights out. My son thankfully decided to call it a day too, which meant that all of us could have a good rest.


I set my alarm for 3:50am and was out in a jiffy. Everything has been laid out the night before, so there was little I needed to do except to get to as near to the start at USM as possible. Major access roads leading to the place has been closed as early as 3am for the marathoners and with the narrow Penang roads and countless cars, it can be difficult to navigate and search for a parking spot. I settled for one about 10 minutes' walk away. Nearing the main USM gate, someone shouted at me and turning I saw my running friends sitting on the road, grinning away. It was nice to see familiar faces in the sea of humans. A quick survey showed that most are recreational participants. Meanwhile the marathoners passed by us on the other side of the road.

Before long we were let into the campus ground and made our way to the field towards another exit gate where we again waited. Finally the crowd applauded which meant that we could exit the campus and head towards the starting line. I walked to Justin and told him that hopefully it won't turn out into a running start for us. Soon enough, the crowd starting easing up around us and started running. True to our fears, the race had started and we were still about 200metres from the starting line! We didn't hear the bang of the gun! Thus began our scramble to make up for lost ground. I didn't even notice the well-known VIP who did the flagging off, but I did say "Hi" to Runwitme.

Shuffling at a brisk pace (too brisk in fact), I passed Dinesh just before we entered onto the bridge but was soon overtaken by Haris (who would finish in an excellent time). There was quite a strong head-wind blowing which made proceedings rather challenging especially near the mid-span. It wasn't too fun in the other parts too since the bridge authorities had erected 6 ½ feet dividers. That meant we couldn't see the opposite side and the returning runners and marathoners. This was a bummer but my spirits were lifted whenever I chanced upon the marathoners. I was envious yet inspired of those guys but I had to play the pragmatic card - with no training, it would've been suicide for me to attempt the full distance!

Just before the climb up the mid-span, I found myself running alongside a fellow who was totally engrossed with his MP3 player. Suddenly he broke into the chorus of Bryan Adams' "Please Forgive Me". You encounter these fellas in nearly every race. He sang "...I know not what I'd do. Please forgive me, I just can't stop loving you." I could see that he was totally pumped up and my pace took me past him. A couple of minutes later there was a crashing noise and when I turned around, I saw him sprawled on the tarmac. He ran into a traffic cone!

Except for that boo-boo by the singer, it was turning out to be a little boring for me as I crank out a reasonably quick pace. I reached mid-span in 30 minutes, which meant that I ran at a sub 5:15 pace. I hit the Prai-side water station in 1:01. I would later pay the price of that folly. I'd been running steadily but what hit me, besides the head-wind was the humidity (the wind wasn't that cooling) and the extreme thirst! I was so darn thirsty no matter how many cups of water I gulped down. I even grabbed a full bottle of ice-cold water but still I wasn't satiated. There was sufficient water provided but no isotonics.

The return trip was fine up to the 17K mark where I had to alternate slow jogs and running. Eventually, even that deteriorated into running and walking! Up until that point running a sub-2 hour race was a possibility but my endurance was hardly up to par. I limped to a 2:11.31 finish (per marathon.com pace chart, 5:53 pace) for one of my worst attempts in this race. After mulling it over for awhile, I was satisfied with my performance since I met my downgraded target of 2:15 finish. The afternoon was spent napping and later on feasting on the island's delicacies.
Next events: Putrajaya Half and the Mizuno 10K, both in September.