A Scourge Invading Singapore

A grown man riding an e-scooter – besides looking fucking ridiculous, this retard must be harboring a death wish, overtaking a bus in heavy traffic.

Electronic bicycles, e-scooters and personal mobility devices kill, get it?!

Every other day we hear of accidents involving electronic bicycles, e-scooters and personal mobility devices. Yes, personal mobility devices – what a glamorous term for shitty little platforms on wheels used by losers and cretins whose parents never gave them attention when they were kids.

About 110 such accidents took place between January and September last year, involving 90 injuries and four deaths.

Of these accidents, about 30 were on public paths involving pedestrians and PMD users.

The rest took place at public road junctions when PMD riders were crossing the road, and on roads when they were illegally riding parallel to vehicle traffic.

And on January 8th the press reported that every week, about three accidents involving users of PMDs occur on public roads and paths. Three a week!!!

This despite Land Transport Authority issuing more than 1,700 advisories to cyclists and PMD users for unsafe riding behavior last year. What’s the use of issuing advisories when LTA doesn’t have the balls to send enforcement officers to yank these killer machines off our public thoroughfares? LTA is a joke so far – just look at issues related to our MRT.

Blood is on the hands of those idiots sitting on the Active Mobility Advisory Panel who recommended that PMD riders share footpaths with pedestrians. I bet none of those elitist clowns on the Panel walk on footpaths.

As a nation, Singapore should re-think the use of such devices. And don’t get me started on electric chargers for these devices catching fire and gutting an entire house, something that has actually happened.

In the last National Day Rally – the one that he did not faint – our beloved Prime Minister painted a stark picture of the diabetes situation in Singapore. He encouraged everyone to go for regular medical check-ups, eat healthier, and to exercise more. (S Iswaran, are you reading this?)

The use of electronic bicycles, e-scooters and PMDs can remove the exercise component of our daily lives and take away what little chance there is of us being physical in a manner that can be beneficial to our health.

Some may think that it is necessary to make the first- and last-mile connections in our daily commute a convenient one, and some are conned into believing the government bullshit about the nation’s need to go car-lite,  hence the rapid growth in the use of electronic bicycles, e-scooters and PMDs, and lately of bike-sharing schemes.

But wheeling yourself to the train station or bus stop? Aren’t you just being frigging lazy? Moreover, the use of such devices run counter to the healthy nation we are trying to build. Instead it contributes to a more sedentary lifestyle and consequently may result in the exponential growth of illnesses related to such a lifestyle. What’s wrong with walking? What’s wrong with using your legs? Must you be “transported” everywhere you go? Did our government build all those “park connectors” for brain-damaged morons to ride these killer machines on? And in Singapore, everyone knows it’s more expensive to be sick than to just die. Yup, it’s cheaper to die – you do it once and you’re done with it. But if you get hit by one of these machines and become incapacitated for the rest of your miserable life, it’s an agony worse than instant death.

I see no reason to use any mobility device to move me from my house to the MRT station or bus stop and back, in fact, my walks to and from these places are very often the only exercise I get in the day, and despite excruciating pain from a bad back, I persist in walking and have learned to enjoy the walks and to benefit from what little exercise I get from them.

We all know already that electronic bicycles, e-scooters and PMDs often cause danger – and even deaths – to pedestrians, as statistics have clearly shown, and bicycles from bike-sharing scheme strewn all over the place are an eyesore. (Now that’s another story.) Is there really a need for us to promote the use of such devices just because they are trendy in some countries?

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Off the Grid

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Bare Essentials

If even Mark Hamill had to scrounge the trash bins for discarded cigarette butts to smoke, isn’t the future of us mere mortals doomed for sure?

Bare essentials? More like dire straits.

Grab and Uber have drastically reduced the costs of my daily commute. It is now at a conservative estimate of S$30 daily, that is, if I am in Singapore every day. 30 bucks a day is around 900 bucks a month. If I have a thousand bucks a month, that basically pays for transportation alone and there’s no cash left for any purchase of any kind. When I turn 65, a thousand bucks a month is also what I’ll probably get from CPF payouts.

In the meantime, there are people who go on social media and boast about how they stuff their faces with caviar and lobster; yes, the same narcissists who hang on to their air miles for dear life instead of redeeming a couple of cheap air tickets for their cash-strapped parents. (Happened to someone I know.) I’ve known of spouses who receive multiple paychecks but horde them all for themselves and dispense a trickle at a time to their jobless other halves; yes, the same people who are educated beyond their intelligence and who go around talking about how much they love you, and throwing money away unashamedly and audaciously buying crap in your face, while you have to think twice before you sit down at the food court for a three-dollar bowl of noodles.

Long story short: if you don’t have your own stash of cash at the end of your working life, you are fucked royally. In this day and age, a thousand bucks a month doesn’t go far. A few years down the road, with inflation and all, it’ll be worse. If you harbor the Panglossian notion that your kids are going to support you in your old age, you must have attained the height of naiveté. It’s wisdom you ought to have acquired at this age, my friend, not naiveté. Nowadays kids tend to behave as if you are not even there! If you are banking on the hope those who declare undying love for you are going to bail you out, it’s time you wake up. No, they are building their own nest eggs, and you are not necessarily part of that future! Count yourself lucky that bones are thrown in your direction. Rejoice and praise the Lord when you get the chance to eat the scraps off their tables. I know what I am talking about, because I see this happening in the lives of a few people I know. For an example, click here.

People can’t be trusted anymore. It hurts when its’ your loved ones.

In order to trust someone, their actions and words must be synchronized. When there is no synchronization, I am reminded of people who say “Food here is horrible and portions are small” when they are unhappy with an eatery. Isn’t that a contradiction? If the food is horrible why are you complaining that the portions are small? You must have eaten the whole lot, and if they are horrible, why did you even eat the food?

When people see contradictions and sense that someone does not mean what they say, or do things contrary to their promises, trust will be lost. Many parents, for instance, trust their children to do the right thing and when they disappoint – despite all the right upbringing – we continue to love them. Family is everything, right? But the milk of your human kindness can go sour when kids turn douchy – when they think they know more than you, when they snap at you and are rude to you, when they think because they are legally adults, they can do whatever they want, tattoo their bodies or whatever, stay out till dawn, don’t even tell you where they go or what’s happening in their lives and block you from viewing their bragging and preening on social media.

Because, my friends, in the end, it’s all about money. You may not agree, but yes, at the end of the day, it all boils down to money. As long as you are a walking ATM, your kids will love you. That’s what many parents say. All the rest is pure bullshit. Talk is cheap, isn’t it? Who can’t talk and declare undying love? Even between husbands and wives, in the end, it’s about money.

I cringe when I hear people swearing eternal love. All these cheap talkers and human detritus should be euthanized. Better yet, kill yourself. Really – seriously – make the world a better place by killing yourself.

Save the rest of us the trouble.

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My Absolute Crap

Not worth the papers they are printed on.

I just dumped My Absolute Darling, literally trashed it into the bin. I gave up reading after a couple hundred pages despite universal critical acclamation – “must-read book of the year” and all that crap, accolades probably planted by the publishing company and its paid shills (incentivized reviewers). First off, a story of a nut-case of a gun-obsessed father sexually and physically abusing his 14-year-old daughter is not a subject matter I am fascinated with. Of course, fans will say this story is more about the daughter’s growing independence etc. To me it is a crock of disgusting crap that should have never seen the light of day. That’s saying a lot for someone who has read some of the best books of the world in several languages and who is the owner of several hundred thousand books, including some rare, limited first-editions.

When I buy books, I usually buy two copies – a hardcover for my library and a paperback to read and pass around.

Both have been thrown into my trash bin, or as they say, in England, more accurately, my wastepaper basket.

Yes, some publishers tend to churn out crap, and these scumbags, like the local firm Graham Brash, who have nothing but money – instead of readers’ interests and edification – in their minds, would eventually go the way of the dinosaurs.

I have been trying to purchase a book from Graham Brash but repeated phone calls and emails have gone unanswered.

Maybe one copy is not good enough money for them to be bothered?

Maybe they have gone fart?

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Texting

While the first text message was sent on December 3rd, 1992, it was Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen who first conceived of the idea eight years earlier.

Since then texting has taken off in a big way.

The country that sends the most text messages is the Philippines.

The Philippines is known as the text-messaging capital of the world.

Already in 2007, Filipinos sent 1 billion text messages daily.

Even the central bank governor sends monetary policy statements via mobile phone and an increasing number of consumers use their handsets for banking and bill payments.

For the estimated 8 million plus Filipinos who work overseas, texting is the main method of staying in touch with family back home. Text messages are also an important political tool in the Philippines and were instrumental in the overthrow of President Joseph Estrada in 2001 by alerting people to rallies. (Cellular or mobile phones were also instrumental for the Arab Spring uprisings.)

Texting through SMS and all other platforms like WhatsApp, WeChat, etc is now very common, especially more so in Asia, where lots of business communications are done through such chat programs and apps. With WeChat for example, even financial transactions can be made.

WeChat was first released in China in 2011, and by 2017 it was one of the largest standalone messaging apps by monthly active users, with over 980 million monthly active users (902 million daily active users). It has been called China’s “App For Everything” because of its many functions and platforms, and lauded as one of the world’s most powerful apps.

In China, users who have provided bank account information may use the app to pay bills, order goods and services, transfer money to other users, and pay in stores if the stores have WeChat payment option.

WeChat Pay is a digital wallet service incorporated into WeChat, which allows users to perform mobile payments and send money between contacts.

As of March 2016, WeChat Pay had over 300 million users.

In Asia, texting using apps like WhatsApp and WeChat appears to be the preferred way of electronic communications – unlike SMS, it is free (all you need is Wi-Fi or have access to mobile data), it takes away the hassle of having to pen emails, and apps like WhatsApp and WeChat are interactive (with chats incorporating live video) occurring in real time. There are entire months when I don’t make or receive a single phone call, but texting happens very frequently every single day.

Does it encourage sloppiness (which in turn promotes poor communication and sometimes bad behavior)? Not at all, if you have a good smartphone and become adept at texting as you do it more frequently.

With Singapore’s drive towards a cashless society, texting programs and chat apps as well as other mobile phone apps will be utilized for payments of basic necessities as well as major purchases. Such payment methods are being rolled out right now.

Interestingly enough, The Guinness World Records accept SMS records, and the message it provides is: “The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.”

The SMS message has to be accurately typed for any attempt to be recognized by the Guinness World Records. To qualify for the Guinness record, no autocorrect or predictive text features are allowed to remain switched on.

In Singapore in 2011, Jeffrey Teo succeeded to type all that in 23.40 seconds. Teo is the fourth Singaporean to have achieved an SMS Guinness world record. Using a keypad phone in 2008, Jeramy Sng Gim, clocked 41.40 seconds typing the same message. In 2006, Ang Chuan Yang broke the world record in 41.52 seconds and in 2004, Kimberly Yeo set the world record in 43.2 seconds.

If I am not wrong, some of the phones used were those old-fashioned button or keypad phones, not smartphones.

Ong Eng Huat, President of Singapore Book of Records, said “SMS texting at that kind of speed requires discipline and training and Singaporeans have been so consistently best in the world.”

So, you see, it’s not that difficult at all. If you avoid old-fashioned button phones and use WhatsApp or WeChat on a smartphone, it’s rather easy, quick and not so tedious.

By the way, today, the fastest time attained is 17.00 seconds and was achieved by Marcel Fernandes Filho of Brazil.

But it’s not all just for fun; texting can help save lives.

In the US, a country slow in the use of texting, Nancy Lublin founded Crisis Text Line in 2013 and today, it has over 3,700 counselors who have exchanged 56 million messages with people in crisis.

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Moretti Axe Effect Pipe

The quest for Moretti pipes continues! Here’s what Marco, the famous carver, refers to as an “axe effect” pipe – a real beauty – and is my latest acquisition:

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A Rare Seven-Day Longchamp Set

In 1948, Jean Cassegrain inherited a small shop selling pens and smoking accessories near the French Theater on the Boulevard Poissonnière in Paris.

Cassegrain found some poor-quality pipes in the inventory and so he took some of these pipes to a leather worker who clad them in leather.

The rest they say, is history.

Since the name Cassegrain was already registered as a trade name by one of his relatives, Cassegrain, a big fan of horse races, named his newly acquired firm after his favorite race course Longchamp in Bois de Boulogne, near Paris. Hence an outlined galloping race horse with jockey was chosen as logo.

Cassegrain expanded his range to cover pipes clad in pony fur, suede and even alligator skins.

All his pipes were very much coveted and collectors worldwide sought them out. Even Elvis was a fan.

But gradually, the Cassegrain family all but abandoned pipe-making, to the disappointment of pipe collectors everywhere, and has been focusing on leather products like handbags.

Since the last Longchamp pipe was sold in 1978, other pipe makers, like Savinelli, have copied the concept and have been making leather-clad pipes, but the original is still Longchamp.

Picture above shows a seven-day set that came into my possession recently.

WARNING: The asshole who sold this set, hiding behind the name “Sergey Sonolov” is a scammer. Make sure he doesn’t rip you off. You have been warned. He probably doesn’t know that Chinese kids study Sun Tzu’s Art of War since we can talk.

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A Pre-stained Meershaum

At my age, I will long expire before I aspire to inspire someone to smoke a brand-new white meerschaum pipe until it looks like this one smoked by master meerschaum pipe carver from Turkey, Fikri Baki himself:

So I cheated. I leave all my brand-new meerschaum pipes unsmoked, in the hope that some lucky members of the future generation will have the time and the long life required to smoke them until they turn golden. As for myself, I just purchased a pre-stained block meerschaum pipe carved by the late Fevzi Yunar. (See picture below.) The pipe is from a prime quality meerschaum block from the village of Kozlubel (known as Margi in the olden days.) This village in Turkey is known to have the best meerschaum deposits. The pipe doesn’t look too bad, right? It looks as if some old fogey has been smoking it for years!

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Ivory Pipe by Tsuge

Kyoichiro Tsuge, the founder of Tsuge Pipe Company, was born on February 25th 1911. The genesis of Tsuge Pipe Company began back in 1924, when the young Tsuge became an apprentice under a master ivory carver. Here is an early Tsuge ivory pipe in my possession:

Antique (pre-embargo) Tsuge ivory pipe.

Do a search on this blog for posts on Tsuge pipes.

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Second Singapore Pipe Collectors’ Show on October 7th 2017

Time to follow up with a second show. It’s been a long time since 2011.

This time, millions of dollars’ worth of pipes were exhibited and pipe makers who flew in to exhibit their masterpieces included Lee von Erck, Satoshi Kosaka, Li Zhesong, Jerry Zenn and Peter Hemmer.

Yes, our first show was in 2011. Click to see pictures here.

This time it was held on a Mississippi river boat.

Opening was by two of the greatest names in pipes and cigars – Kyozaburo Tsuge and Carlito Fuente, Jr.

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