Archive for September, 2007

Vigil/Protest Outside Burmese Embassy in Singapore

Vigil/Protest Outside Burmese Embassy in Singapore

The photo set.

The story:

We tried to drive in but were stopped by plainclothes ‘policemen’ at the entrance to St Martin’s Road. They asked what we were doing there. When we answered evasively, they demanded that we make a three-point turn and go back out again. So we parked at a nearby mall and walked in. On the way in we were harassed by the ‘policemen’ again, who kept asking where we were going. Some people heading to the protest reportedly had their ICs scanned. Everyone was videotaped. We ignored them and continued on, and they stopped questioning us after a woman yelled at them to stop harrassing us. Outside the embassy there were about 50 Burmese sitting on the kerbs, a large photo of Aung San Suu Kyi, and messages plastered all over the embassy entrance. we heard from others that internet access to Peninsula Plaza had been cut off that day, probably to suppress the communicative abilities of organizers and would-be protestors.

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I Miss CCM

Chicago Critical Mass September 2007

Racine/Diversey/Lincoln
I only found out today that this gesture, the “Chicago Hold-Up”, originated in CCM. Reading the ‘founder’ of CCM’s account of how CCM began, I found this particularly instructive:

The day of the ride I was apprehensive. All along, skeptics had been saying “This is the midwest, not California. People just don’t DO this sort of thing here.”

I was told the same thing when trying to gauge interest in a Singapore Critical Mass. This kind of response enrages me due to its self-fulfilling nature, but since I didn’t want to keep at it like an internet troll I decided to let it go and try again in several months’ time.

Michigan Ave

Photos from tfish and 704race. Video taken by tfish.

Bike-cum-trolley

Via The Singapore Daily, I came across the JZ88 folding bike blog. It’s apparently a folding bike that doubles as a shopping trolley when half-folded, thus allowing you to go shopping using a mixed commute without having to worry about locking your bike securely, keeping it out of the rain, etc. $30 will give you a two-week test ride.

Before getting the itch to try fixed gear and getting my IRO, I’d considered getting a Bike Friday folding bike (because I wanted the convenience of a folding bike with the feel of a normal bike), but the cost proved prohibitive.

New Route Home

I’ve been commuting by bike less over the last few weeks, due to a rash of social dinners with friends leaving for greener pastures. And somehow commuting less has intensified the fear I have of certain junctions on my commute. For some reason almost all of the junctions I hate are on the reverse commute. The Thomson/PIE junction is benign on the way to work probably only because I start so early that there isn’t enough traffic trying to cut me off. The rest of the hated junctions are on the part of my homeward route that takes a detour through the Bishan/Ang Mo Kio area. And I take that detour because I usually am unable to filter right into Braddell Road from Thomson Road, the traffic being too heavy. And my troubles don’t end even if I manage to filter, for on Braddell Road I still have to filter out of the two leftmost lanes that go up the flyover to Toa Payoh, a most hair-raising experience. So I used to just take a much longer and hillier route through Bishan and Ang Mo Kio Ave 1, instead of heading straight up Braddell Road and Lorong Chuan.

Last night I couldn’t filter into Braddell Road again, and due to the lapse in bike commuting recently I was more tired than usual at that point and quite annoyed that I’d have to deal with the junctions I hate (Bishan Rd/AMK Ave 1 and AMK Ave 1/CTE) and miscellaneous hills again. Annoyed enough that I decided I’d go up Bishan St 22 and back along Bishan Road towards Braddell Road, effectively backtracking. When I got to the junction of Bishan St 22 with Bishan Rd I realised I had an even better option: I could cut through the HDB estate in front of me and only come out on Braddell Road just before the Lorong Chuan junction, meaning I wouldn’t have to deal with the dangerous Toa Payoh flyover filter either! It was indeed a much nicer and safer route, which is probably now my first choice route for going home on. It actually removes about half the dread I harbour about cycling home. Yes, I do dread it; at the same time I know that I always feel much better (physically and mentally) after cycling than I do after taking the train, so it’s always worth it. It’s just a matter of persuading myself to forgo short-term comfort for mid-term well-being.

The Old Holland Road, in Pictures

The context.

The photos I took when passing by recently on my bike:

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World Car Free Day

I realised too late that tomorrow is World Car Free Day. Too late to organise anything, that is. The most I can do is remain car-free myself, which I would do normally anyway. Empty, pollution-free streets would make a big difference to our quality of life.

Help! Model Aircraft are Bombing Us!

I often wonder whether the ST Forum publishes particularly bad letters from readers as a satirical gesture. Today there is one complaining about model aircraft enthusiasts at one of my favourite roads to bike on, the Old Holland Rd. The writer is concerned that the fuel used to fly the aircraft might pose an explosive risk to passer-bys. He also complains that many of the enthusiasts park illegally along the road, which “is often used by heavy vehicles serving the construction sites nearby. Illegal parking escalates the danger of using this stretch of road.”

The point about the fuel is dealt with nicely by the commenter BlackGrouper on the ST’s website:

On the issue of “flamable fuels”, Mr. Goh is understandably unfamiliar with the fuels actually in use. As a prelimnary point, there are in fact no “petrol-powered” planes in regular operation at the field, nor do these in and of themselves pose any greater hazard compared to other types of aeromodels, including electric powered airplanes.

The most common fuel used in aeromodels powered by internal combustion engines these days is a blend of methanol and oil. Yes, this is indeed flamable, but I know of no incident in Singapore or anywhere in the world where there has been an explosion caused by the typical use of this fuel, whether through crashing or otherwise. In fact, I would venture to say that the chemical composition is such that the precise conditions required for an explosion with these fuels are highly unlikely to occur in normal use. By analogy, certain types of cooking oil are also highly flamable, but making them explode under typical conditions would be highly improbable. In any event, a very significant number of the aeromodellers at the field operate electrically powered airplanes.

As for the illegal parking thing, let me first say that I’ve cycled along that road at peak hour before, and the traffic volume is not high enough or fast enough that I would regard the illegal parkers as posing a danger to passing vehicles. However, whether or not they are parking illegally is irrelevant to whether model aircraft flying should be allowed in the field beside the road. If they are parking illegally, then they should be ticketed. Full stop. Parking illegally doesn’t warrant them being banned from flying their aircraft.

Even more ludicrous than the letter itself: a commenter who is worried that low flying light aircraft would collide with the model airplanes:

I am aware that the mentioned Holland area has frequent low flying light aircraft as well as helicopters. Would the unregulated model aircraft in any way interfere with the flying of other aircraft? I am worried about my built up neighbourhood when we are sitting at home or at school, should any accidents of falling aircraft landed on our surrounding buildings. I think public safety is paramount over individual hobbies.

How big does this guy think model aircraft get? If model aircraft ever got to an altitude where they can collide with real aircraft, they’d be invisible to their flyers. I don’t think I’d be able to see my model aircraft if it rose to, say, 15 storeys above ground level. Does this commenter think low flying aircraft fly as low as 15 storeys above ground level at somewhere that is clearly not a landing strip or helicopter pad?

I think people who don’t believe in hobbies don’t deserve any safety.