Singapore and handlebars

June 14, 2014 at 14:25 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Two mini-posts for the price of one today – I’m feeling exceptionally generous. Or perhaps just too lazy to write up two full-length articles.

The first vignette concerns a recent business trip I had to make to Singapore. Now, I have to say I’m not very keen on Singapore. It’s just so pedestrian unfriendly – a city riven with huge multi-lane roads, and a paucity of pedestrian crossings. Whilst I was there I watched some tourists literally stranded at an intersection because there was no pedestrian crossing on their corner – this huge multi-lane crossroads only had pedestrian crossings on two sides. I was at the same corner, and ran across as the lights changed – but they struggled to manage the same trick; getting partway across before losing their nerve as four lanes of traffic started bearing down on them and scuttling back to where they started from. I’ve no idea how long they were stuck there.

cyclists in singaporeSo how to bicycles fare in this maelstrom?  Well, there are some people riding, but not that many. I did see a few brave souls on the road, but for the most part they are riding on the pavement. Interestingly I’ve seem reports of Singapore as actually not a bad place to ride – drivers are accommodating and polite. However, the nature of the roads, and a road design policy that is utterly motor-vehicle centric can’t make it that much fun. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to commandeer a bike and try for myself – maybe I’ll do that next time.

 

The other vignette is a question. What is the difference between these two pictures?

My fixed-gear commutersalsa2

Yes, OK, the front forks, wheel and stem are different. As is the drive-train. Anything else? Well, what you probably can’t easily see in the pictures is that the slope on the handlebars is ever-so slightly different. When I got the new forks put on, evidently the bike store didn’t set the handlebars up exactly the same – they were slightly less upturned. Not much – maybe a centimetre or two. Yet that small difference was enough to mean that the pressure on my hand when riding on the hoods (which is what I do 95% of the time) was more in the arch of my thumb then the heel of my hand – and that braking was also putting more pressure on my wrists. I couldn’t work out my my wrist was suddenly aching after riding – to the point that the tendons at the base of my thumb were sore even when not on the bike. Was it just old age catching up with me? But then I realised; adjusted the bars slightly and – hey presto – things are much improved. Who’d have thought that such a tiny change could make such a difference.

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Chocolicious Bites – Original

June 7, 2014 at 11:23 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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chocolicious_original_packIn a quite extraordinary turn of events, I just found this review languishing in my drafts folder. I say ‘review’, but really it was just this pack picture and a few notes. Unfortunately, it was so long ago that I last had an ‘original’ chocolicious bite i can barely remember it. I have, on the other hand, chomped through many packets of the dark chocolate variety, which should tell you something.

Of course, calling a new product ‘original’ is a bit of an oxymoron. What Arnott’s are trying to do is to leverage the ‘original’ Tim Tam product, so one would expect something with a similar construction and taste.

According to my notes and distant memories, this is exactly what they have achieved. these taste pretty much like regular Tim Tams, just bite-sized and in a fancy pack. So they are really quite OK, but lack all the sophistication of their dark chocolate brethren. Given they are more expensive than regular Tim Tams though, I’d suggest that if you are after an Original Tim Tim hit, just go and buy some Original Tim Tams.

So in summary, these are quite OK, but nothing interesting or special. A solid seven out of ten.

 

A Map of Nowhere – Martin Bannister

June 1, 2014 at 09:32 | Posted in books | Leave a comment
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nowhere‘A Map of Nowhere’ is Martin Bannister’s debut novel, and concerns the unfolding web of relationships between the protagonist, artist David Price; Pete, the mentally ill man he acts as support worker for; David’s rather unsympathetic girlfriend and her terminally ill sister.

The relationship between David and Pete is the main focus, and by far the most interesting part of the story – indeed the other characters and episodes sometimes feel a bit like filler, contributing little to the intriguing unfolding of the primary characters. The book pivots on a fact revealed about half-way through, which although subtly signposted beforehand did provide a very satisfactory literary moment; enough to make me put the book down for a second or two to absorb the implications before continuing.

The writing is well paced and the dialogue flows very naturally, although in places the novel did feel a bit thin and lifeless. The ending also felt a bit forced; I think it would be a more powerful conclusion if the last five pages or so were omitted. That said, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it – it is an interesting study of relationships, mental health issues, families and how our futures are shaped by our pasts.

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