Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Leaving with a bang

Well, whaddaya know...

Blogger is back to normal!

But a little, too little, too late.

I've started experimenting with Wordpress. I've decided to shift my blog to Wordpress.

This blog is closed down. See new version at: http://hastenministrie

I'm glad it happened. So much better than this one!

So, was it a blessing in disguise?
Didn't something good come out from the bad?

Was it the devil's fault?
Should we blame Satan for everything that goes wrong?

I'll leave you with this.

Yes, it's rock and roll.
Yes, it's "Christian rock and roll".

Yes, the guys have long hair.
Yes, the guys don't look like guys on their CD cover.
Yes, this song's content raises many red flags.

A highly controversial band, with a highly contentious song...

Yet that is what people remember them for!

So, don't forget my new blog address:

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Some will say it's the devil's fault...

There is a problem with Blogger.

The entire text editing toolbar is gone.

Can't bold the fonts.
Can't italicize the fonts.
Can't change font type.
Can't change font size.
Can't change font colour.
Can't put hyperlink.
Can't insert pictures.

Even in the "edit post" page, the fonts come out in HTML format.

Anyone knows how to overcome this problem, please let me know.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

If the sticker says it's true, it's true!

4th training run:

35 minutes around Kepong Metropolitan Park. Early morning run, with a few short uphill stretches. Slight pain on both hamstrings for a day.

2 things I've learned:

1. Running early in the morning feels different from running later during the day. It's harder to stick to the plan when your body hasn't really "woken up" yet. Must get used to early morning runs before the race.

2. One round around Kepong Metropolitan Park takes 23 minutes.

Time left before Siemens Run:

6 days and 8 hours. Time to do equipment check.

The shoe is a sad case... Its soles have been sewn back before. And now, look...

Thought of buying a new pair. But I'd rather buy it after the race at the race venue. They usually have a specialized stall to sell running shoes at special prices on that day.

Went to Midvalley Megamall to check out shoe prices. Any decent pair of running shoes cost more than RM200. Really "good" ones go over the RM300 bracket. Some come close to half a grand. It's madness!

I'm very hesitant to buy commercial brands. You won't really know whether you're buying into its technology, or its marketing.

Nike has a wide range of shoes for every kind of sport imaginable. But its boon can also be the bane. Their shoe line is so diverse, you start to doubt whether or not they are for real.

They put a sticker on it, they say it's running shoes. They put another sticker on it, they say it's for some other purpose. They put a new name on the running shoes, the price goes up a few hundred bucks. Is there a real way of knowing for sure that what you see (and pay for) is what you get?

Same goes for Reebok. Once I bought a Reebok DMX. Supposed to come with some canggih feature that I can't recall anymore today. It's supposed to "feel different" than regular running shoes. It turned out to be true. It felt different!

It blisters my feet.

That's the thing about running shoes, you see. You can't tell whether or not the shoe is really for you until you've tried it on for a few long runs. They can say whatever they like. In the end of the day, they can just put a sticker on the shoe. Or put the shoe in a nicely crafted box. And pass it off as a "new, hebat, high-tech running shoe." When by right, it's actually a generic one that originally couldn't be sold off the racks.

You will "feel different" for a while. But it's all just psychology. Yoooou can't deny that your feet don't lie, and you're starting to feel it pain... Eh, I think some singer said something like this before.

Asics is "the only brand recommended by the Australian Institute of Sports". They put a tag on it. And the price flies over 350 bucks.

Puma doesn't have serious running shoes. They look like they are more in it for the fashion.

Umbro is big on football shoes. Not for running.

The only brand that seems to have reasonably acceptable running shoes is Adidas. Some pairs go for under 200 bucks. Light weight, good cushioning, soles look good, design looks not bad.

They have this new line of shoes called Adizero. It's their lightest shoe. Pretty impressive for its light-weightness. But can't say much about its cushioning for long runs. It makes your wallet light too.

I was hoping to find Brooks running shoes. But it seems like they've dropped out from the commercial market. Can't find them anywhere in Midvalley.

I trust Brooks more than any other commercial brand because Brooks produces running shoes, and running shoes only. My guess is that their specialization makes them less commercialized, and less likely to produce generic shoes, only to morph them into running shoes by putting a sticker on it.

But alas... Their specialization must've kept them off commercial shelves. Anyone who knows where to find Brooks, please let me know.

You see, buying a good pair of running shoes is a very personalized thing. What's important is buying the "right" kind of shoe.

What kind of arch does your foot have? Are you a flat foot, a normal arch, or a high arch?

Are you an overpronator, or a oversupinator? If you have an overpronation problem, your foot tends to roll inward when your foot is on the ground. Your inner part of your shoe wears off faster. If you have an oversupination problem, it's the opposite. Your outer part of the shoes wears off faster.

All this boils down to orthotics. Some shoes have special insoles, specifically desgined to manage the problem of lateral foot motion. It may not be a problem for a 1k run. Or 2k run. But over 10k or a half-marathon, you will definitely feel the problem. I am an oversupinator.

You walk into any Nike shop. Or Adidas shop. Or Royal Sporting House. Ask the shop assistant aka salesman. See if they have any clue on what you're talking about. My bet is, they have no clue. They will tell you which one is on promotion, and which one can discount.

My current Nikes are bought at Ipoh at RM150. That was many years ago. There was this shoe shop at Ipoh's Jusco called Kinta City. All Nike shoes go for RM150. Went there on Kit Soon's recommendation.

"What? You went to Ipoh... to buy shoes??"

"Umm... Yeah."

I need a short-term solution: The cobbler at Taman Selayang...

For only RM1, they are as good as new! Worthy for another 10k run.

Other gizmos I have...

A contraption to keep my specs on my face:

Lasik surgery: A few grand.
One-day contact lenses: 20 bucks per pair.
Geeky contraption: A little more than a green dollar bill.

A device to keep your car keys, photostat IC and some money with you:

Originally an mp3 carrying case for my Creative mp3 player. Strap it around your right arm, and you're good to go.

Nike has an arm strap specially desgined for that purpose.
Nike strap-on case: RM40.
Cetak rompak mp3 carrying case: A little more than a red dollar bill.

Definitely a lot cheaper than preparing equipment-wise for cycling.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

No turning back

Finally made the deposit for NGV installation. After one big round of research, phone calls and personal visits to NGV workshops, here is how I came to my decision. My research may prove to be useful for you.

The first workshop I went to was Sugoi NGV Technology. RM3500, 60L, semi-fibre tank.

Why 60L? A 60L tank fits right at the back of my Proton Iswara 1.3's boot space. Any bigger than that, I have to sacrifice my spare tyre space. The next time I get a flat tyre, I can just cry on the road.

Why semi-fibre? There are 3 kinds of tanks. Metal, fibre, and semi-fibre.

Metal tanks are heavy. a 60L tank will be heavier than 60kg.

Fibre tanks are light. But the price of a fibre tank will make you go on a high-fibre diet for the next 3 years.

Semi-fibre tanks allow you to eat proper meals while feeding your car. It's lighter than a metal tank. A 60L tank will be around 50kg. In the long-run that kind of weight will make a difference.

So, the two unchangeable factors are the 60L volume, and the semi-fibre material. Based on those two constants, and RM3.5k as a benchmark, the research starts.

1. Gemari Auto Services, Batu Caves. "Nombor yang anda dail..." Out.

2. Juara NGV, Batu Caves. Same thing. "Nombor yang anda dail..." Out.

3. Suria Profesional Service, Batu Caves. RM4k, 70L, metal tank. Price more expensive, the size won't fit, and it's metal. Out.

4. Nice Network, Batu Caves. RM2998, 55L, metal tank. Price cheaper. But it's not a snug fit compared to a 60L. And it's metal. Out.

5. BMC-IB. RM3.2k, 55L, semi-fibre tank. Price cheaper. But not a snug fit. I won't mind paying a little bit more for a snug fit, and for making less trips to the NGV kiosk. Also, I don't like the name of the shop. It sounds more like a serial number. And the workshop is just a small one. Put on KIV.

6. Gas Emas, Batu Caves. RM3.3k, 60L, metal tank. Price is cheaper. Fit is ok. But it's metal.

The main thing is, I wasn't impressed with the workshop. It's only a small workshop, with enough space to service not more than 4 cars at a time. I can hear a gas leak coming from one of the cars. NGV installation is quite a high-tech procedure. Really unwise to entrust it into a small-time workshop that gives a bad impression of its skills. So, out.

7. Hijau MOG, Jalan Ipoh. RM3.5k, 60L, semi-fibre tank. Exactly what Sugoi is offering me. But...

There were no cars in the workshop. Why? Because they've run out of stock. No more tanks, no more casings, nothing! The workers got nothing to do. It says something about their business management.

Their new shipment of NGV tanks will come in 2-3 weeks time. But even when it comes, they have to service the cars that already made their booking before the petrol price hike! The queue will be really long.

It's not that they don't have customers. They do. But not having a single tank in your workshop? That's a bad case of mismanagement. Major.

Oh, by the way, remember the shop that gives "special price" to malays? Yah, this is the one. Apparently, the RM3.3 tank is the metal one. RM3.5k is the semi-fibre one. He wasn't really being "racist". He was just trying to sell me a better product. My bad. Sorry!

But still, I don't feel comfortable going there. If the offer is exactly the same, point for point, I'd rather go to Sugoi. Where the workshop is as big as a warehouse, and it looks more reliable. You don't want to fix an NGV unit for a slightly cheaper price, only to have it backfire and cost you a bomb to repair it. Reliability ranks high in my order of preference.

So, can put on KIV. But can say, quite "out" la...

So, in the end of the day, after pusing here, pusing there...

The winner is still the first shop I went to. Sugoi NGV Technology!

Paid RM500 for deposit. Installation date: 2nd August. Coinciding with my car's 1st birthday.

Excited. Counting the days. And hoping I am not a victim of marketing gimmicks again...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

If your wife don't let...

3rd training run:

30 minutes. Battled the scorching sun, a long uphill run, and the same carbon-monoxide-spewing bus 3 times.

2 things I learned:

1. There is a big difference between running on grass and running on asphalt.
2. There is a big difference between running late in the evening and running at 4:30 pm.

As usual, inspirational tale for the day...

Rocky I:

Rocky Balboa loses the fight to Apollo Creed.
The fight was so close, Apollo only won by a split decision.
Apollo won the fight. Rocky won the hearts of many.

Rocky II:

Apollo Creed fixes a re-match.
Rocky's wife ends up in the hospital.
He has to cope with a re-match, a wife in hospital and a new-born baby.
Rocky won't train.
Rocky's coach can't get him to train.

Rocky's wife says one word.
Rocky Balboa gets back into training.
Rocky Balboa trains even harder than before.

3 things you can observe:

1. Rocky has a bigger fan base after a defeat, not a victory.
2. He still gets his apple at the market.
3. He still syok sendiri at the top of the stairs. But not so "sendiri" this time.

3 things we can learn:

1. Winning a fight is not everything.
2. Losing one is not everything either.
3. You need your wife's permission to win :P

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Training updates

1st training run:

15 minutes, chest tightening, didn't want to collapse and die. Pain in legs for the next 2 days.

Two things I learned:

1. I am far from who I used to be.
2. Triple-storey, semi-detached houses in Kampung Bendahara cost RM280k only.

2nd training run:

25-minutes. Chest not tightening, no pain in legs.

Two things I learned:

1. One lap around the Amcorp Mall park takes 6 minutes.
2. There's hope!

Here's the inspirational training video for the day....

Rocky Balboa gets picked as a wild card to fight.

He fights Apollo Creed, the reigning champ.

Everyone thinks a no-namer like him will be lucky if he doesn't get killed.

He is just a replacement punching bag to make Apollo look good.

Rocky Balboa does not think so.

Rocky Balboa is far from fit.

Rocky Balboa starts training.

See if you spotted the following:

1. He gets an apple while running through the market.
2. He syok sendiri at the top of the stairs.

Two things you can learn:

1. You don't get apples when you run through a market.
2. Don't do a little jig with your hands on your hips at the end of an awe-inspiring run.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I'll be going for the Siemens 10km run.

The last time I exerted my body: World Championships, Geelong/Lorne, Australia. February 2006.

That was 2 years, 4 months ago. Zero exercise since then.

Time left to the Siemens run: 15 days.

Will it be possible to revive my old form within 15 days, after retiring for 850 days?

This will be quite an experiment...

My friend, a "sales & marketing executive of a top chemical plant in Malaysia", has this super canggih Nike transponder. You can put this gadget in your shoe. Link
it to your iPod. At a click, it can tell you how far you have run, your best mile, etc. When you go home, you can download your run into your laptop. You can see what you did during your run - the distance, the timing, etc. You can even see your running trail on the Google map!

Then you can compare your stats against everyone else in the world who downloads their runs into the internet.


All I have is my old Casio digital watch. Strap modified, because already broken and no more stock...

And this video to inspire me...

Russian champ challenges retired American champ.
American champ comes out from retirement to fight Russian champ.
Russian champ trains in a high-tech lab.
American champ trains, old school.

Guess who wins!