Monday, October 31, 2005

Ungraciousness

It always catches me unawares, ungracious behaviour from people. I just never expect it, much as there is this underlying belief that Singaporeans are by nature ugly. Simple things like neglecting to utter a word of thanks, unwarranted (not to mention unjust) criticism of people about whom I kindly supplied information because I was asked... don't people realise they're being ungracious with their negligence or outright inconsideration?

Then again, I'm no saint (yet), so why should I be surprised when I most certainly must have been equally ungracious to others, even if I didn't mean it? But I just hate to think that people can be all that ill bred!

It just makes me afraid for the kids. I don't want them to grow up ungracious and it's so easy to want to give up reminding them to say please and thank you and to think about other people before themselves. Any slack in my vigilance and they'll right as not join the ranks of the ungracious, and not know any better. And what about the children of those very ungracious people I'm griping about? What hope is there for them with parents like that?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Amazing Storm

There was an amazing storm last night at our place in the North East. For over an hour (started just before 10pm) lightning was flashing continually, followed by bellowing thunder, together with lashings of rain against our windows. It even set off some ringing carpark alarm downstairs that went on for ages.

The kids were already in bed but got woken up by the noise. Luckily they could try and sleep, although somewhat restlessly, while I sat quietly patting them in their room.

Sean was away and it really made me feel how vulnerable we all were, cocooned together in the kid's room, with the storm raging out there.

By the time things quietened down and I went back to my dinner in bed, the spaghetti was somewhat congealed. Sigh.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Wow


What a race – many are already hailing Suzuka 2005 as one of the best races in history. Now I can’t comment about that, having watched only minority of even the modern era races, but it’s certainly the most exciting I’ve witnessed in memory. Coming from a season almost devoid of good overtaking manoevres, yesterday’s race was a godsend. And as a great topping, Kimi won! But even up till the end it just didn’t seem possible…

The weekend started with the by now almost routine announcement of yet another engine change for Raikkonen, which meant a ten place grid penalty during qualifying. The Finn must surely be used to this routine by now, almost as if McLaren, knowing how fast both car and driver are, are purposely making their jobs difficult just to spice things up.

As it turned out, qualifying was a bit of a disaster for most of the usual frontrunners, a damp track being turned into a blinding, flooded one, with rain pouring down midway through qualifying. This left Michael Schumacher in 14th position, Alonso 16th, Kimi 17th, and Montoya not even recording a time. Fortunate weather timing saw the other Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella qualify 3rd behind an all-Japanese front row of BAR Honda’s Jenson Button and Toyota’s pole-sitter Ralf Schumacher. We were expecting fireworks.

And fireworks we got. The first corner saw both Sato and Barrichello go off road separately, and yet somehow make contact – their race went downhill from there. But of a greater impact to the rest of the field was ol’ Villenueve pushing Monty off while the latter was attempting to overtake him. The hapless Macca headed straight into a wall, destroying its left wheels – and the team’s race points score - in the process (note: after Imola ’94, the wheels have tethers attached to the monocoque to prevent them from hitting the driver’s head, as what happened in the fatal episode with Aryton Senna. However, Montoya’s left rear just completely detached itself, rolling some way down the road. I wonder if that will be investigated)

This accident brought out the Safety Car, which stayed on track for five laps, or nearly 10% of the entire 53 lap race. As no overtaking is allowed during this period, it meant five fewer laps for Kimi, Alonso and company to move up the field. So when the track was finally cleared, it was no surprise to see an amazing display of driving from these two hungry men.

By lap 15 they were on the tail of Michael’s Ferrari, which was itself doing well to have moved up to 5th place. But as a measure of the change of fortunes this year, it was Schumi who proved to be holding up his younger rivals. They had to get past, or risk losing touch with the front pack. Alonso who made it look easier, with a daring move on the outside of the very quick left hand 130R curve.

Kimi didn’t have such an easy time getting by, and things looked slightly disastrous for him when both Ferrari and McLaren pitted at the together, and came back on track in the same order (but crucially, back ahead of Alonso, who pitted earlier and got stuck in traffic again). The Finn had to do his work on track.

He got Schumi with a great move on the outside of the first curve, and started to hunt down Webber and Button. Meanwhile, Fisichella had been out in front for some time now, with Ralfie boy falling back with one too many pit stops. The Renault had a comfortable 17 sec lead over Button, and having made his second and final pitstop, was just behind the Jenson/Webber/Kimi threesome. It was at this moment that I decided all we could hope from the McLaren was 2nd place. How fortunate then that Kimi didn’t share my pessimism.

On lap 41, Button and Webber pitted together, freeing Kimi to finally stretch his legs. His lap times came down dramatically in clean air, with a 1:31.540 sec lap record as evidence – and this in a year where aerodynamic changes were supposed to have slowed the cars down by 3 seconds a lap. He made his pit stop with 8 laps to go, and came out 5 seconds behind race leader Fisi. Could it be possible…?

The next few laps were nail-biting, and I wouldn’t want to have been in Fisi’s shoes. In no time he started seeing a black and silver car in his mirrors, the McLaren being a full 1.5 sec faster a lap. By the end of the penultimate lap, the two cars were 0.1 sec apart, and Kimi pulled to the left on the start/finish straight, knowing that Fisi would protect the inside line. Despite his rev limiter bouncing he kept at it, and swept past through turn 1 of the final lap. That was that, race decided.

To be fair, I felt Alonso (who finished third) finally drove like a World Champion – ironically, the race after he wrapped up the title - and was the more predatory of the two young guns. His audacious move on Webber for example (which saw half his car on the grass) spoke volumes about his enormous commitment and confidence in his abilities and his car. He had the intelligence to force his opponent the wrong way, and take advantage of that slight loss of momentum to get past the next corner. Kimi in this race played more of a wait-and-see game, knowing that he had the fuel to hang on, then put in blistering laps to cover lost ground.

The McLaren also seemed more reliant on aerodynamic grip, and hence unable to follow a leading car as closely as the Renault without severely affecting its own stability. The R25 on the other hand, carried massive speed out of a corner, and so had an almost leech-like ability to stick to the gearbox in front, especially around slower sections of the track. Of course, the traction control helped greatly, and you could see Alonso fighting with the steering as the car launched itself out of a bend.

So as an anomaly to the rest of the season, Alonso drove a scintillating race, but Kimi picked up the places where and when it counted, and got gold. Brilliant!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Keeping Up

I just learnt that an old schoolmate is being treated for breast cancer, and quite successfully so, thank God. She’s getting through each day with the support of her faith, family and friends. The invincible 3 Fs. I’m really glad she’s keeping up.

A majority of the people in my department are sitting for exams next week, hitting the books to qualify as patent agents. Work’s piling up, nerves are getting wound tight, but they’re keeping up.

Some bloggers seem to be in a quest for fame, for glory, as none other than “blogger”, and seem to be reduced now to only putting out stuff that indicate their progress in this pursuit, or stuff aimed at giving themselves a leg up the ladder. Regardless if they have anything to say or worth reading, the point is to be recognized. Oh my. If media (and their own) reports are anything to go by, they certainly look like they’re keeping up.

And of course, darling little one inside, growing mysteriously and inexorably, hand in hand with me (or should it be body in body), also keeping up.

The only thing that’s not being kept up with is my appetite for black pepper crabs. Long Beach ones only, please. Thank you.