Sunday, December 28, 2008


Who am I kidding? I am worthless.

It matters not what I consider myself to be worth. It matters not what my closer friends or family think. It's all about the rules of society, and if I' in this game of life then, yes, those rules apply to me.

I don't currently contribute to society's talent pool, neither do I earn any taxable income. I'm not a stellar student in school who classmates flock to for examination answers and tips. I'm nobody.

I could disappear off the face of Earth and no one except my family would notice. In fact, some people would rather have me dead, leaving more air, food and other resources for their enjoyment.

There comes a time in life when one grows up and realises that the life and death of strangers play absolutely no part in his life, and might possibly be beneficial to himself. He then stops feeling pity or sadness whenever he hears of someone he doesn't know perishing.

Then he realises that many friendships are just vanity - that their lives mean nothing to him unless they have something beneficial to offer him, or that he had invested too deeply into the friendship. Say, if a casual friend dies, does it really affect him? No.

That's the problem. The people I know have grown up. They're cutting ties with relatively unimportant people (i.e. me) and focusing their efforts on bootlicking those who are rich and influential.

Gone are the days of 'I like to hang out with him because he's intelligent and interesting' or 'we have something in common'.

It's all 'I network with him because he knows soandso' or 'I so gotta meet up with him, he knows of all those tricks of the trade'.

I don't have anything to offer anyone, really. I'm worthless by society's standards.

It's lonely at the bottom.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bike Crash Investigation

It's just like Air Crash Investigation, only that it involves a bicycle. And it involves me. There's the dramatic crash, the speculation and theories, then the visit to the scene and some science.

Yes, I experienced a catastrophic failure of my Shimano RS10 bicycle wheel. The front one. That's the one that makes the cyclist lose control instantly.

I should have started noticing the signs:

1. These wheels and its predecessor R550 are notorious for eating up spokes for breakfast
2. There were ominous pinging sounds from the front wheel 2 rides ago. I assumed there were just the spokes bedding into their proper position, since they were new.
3. My average speed had dropped this and last ride. I attributed it to fatigue, but it might have been an untrue rim or faulty wheel hub.

All these signs don't point to any specific mechanistic point of failure, but if I took them seriously, then maybe, just maybe, I would have picked up an early sign of failure of my wheels.

It's one of those 'just riding along' incidents, where nothing was hit, no vehicle, no pothole, no squirrel in the spokes.

The wheel simply exploded, through its own volition. I have piss poor luck these days.

5 spokes pulled out of the rim, the hub was literally floating in thin air as all the spokes rapidly detensioned, and the front wheel had effectively disappeared under me.

I'm still reeling of the shock of surviving a catastrophic front wheel failure with nothing more than 3 spots of road rash and a couple of faint bruises. No sprains, strains or fractures.

But my shifter and rear deraileur have superficial scratches. And my new jersey has a small hole on it.

The cyclist in Trek garb, the taxi driver, the bike shop guys and the bike shop customers were flabbergasted by the severity of the wheel failure. And they realise they're talking to a very obviously ok rider who isn't in any real pain. Must have been a dramatic sight.

It wasn't easy getting a road bike in a taxi boot, and $5.60 to get from one end of Ang Mo Kio to the other is really daylight robbery, what with the falling oil prices and all.

And my bike is out of action for now. Though the frame and fork are okay. No scratches, no bends or cracks.

Thank goodness for the nice and helpful guys at Chapter 2 Cycle. They're getting it replaced under warranty for me. I'm prolly gonna get my bike running again come Monday or Tuesday.

Went home, showered, convinced my parents that I was fully okay, then went out for a jog to the site of the incident. Actually I cheated, I took the bus up the steep uphill stretch. I didn't want to overtrain ad I had not run in weeks.

I retrieved 5 severely bent spokes that my wheel had ejected after the crash, together with my cyclocomputer magnet.

All the spokes that had pulled through the spoke holes were bent. They look like they were compressed from the ends rather than struck by an object in the middle. Unlikely due to a pothole (I checked again - none) or road debris then. Most likely rim failure.

But why? Just take a look at the spoke nipples.

The flanges of the nipples that rested on the rim holes were unreasonably small for a 16-spoke wheel. I compared them to conventional gauge spoke nipples. The latter had a much larger flange, despite the fact that they didn't have to handle as much tension - those are used in wheels with 32 spokes to share the load.

The taper of the flange probably acted as a punch, progressively enlarging the rim hole and subsequently pulling through. These nipples are a new design and are also used on the RS20 wheelset. Shimano's technical drawings show that the previous generation R550 had nipples on the hub end rather than the rim end, with an oversized spoke head on the rim side.

The nagging ache of road rash made me feel grumpy throughout the day.

Looks like I'll have to correspond with Shimano regarding this. Might blow up into a mass recall, if the design of the spoke nipples is indeed unsafe. Not to mention, I want fair compensation for all that had been damaged or hurt by the failed wheel. It had failed under normal riding forces so naturally it's Shimano's fault.

Speaking to acquaintances about what had happened, I'm very disappointed that they're more interested in how I fell and knowing if I was negligent, rather than even wanting to find out how I was.

If you want to know:
I wore a helmet but my head wasn't anywhere near the ground.
I did not hit anything, but the wheel failed anyway.
I wore gloves, but I didn't fall on my palms.
I check my bike before ever ride, but nothing was going to tell me that it was about to fail.
I wasn't riding at unreasonable speeds, I wasn't so foolish as to choose a lightweight wheelset, and most of all, don't talk to me like I had deserved this.

Bloody hell, are these even my friends?

The best advice and support I had gotten comes from the other side of this Earth, over the electrical cables of the Internet: Bike Forums.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Guess the headline!

Here's a quick quiz.

Click on the correct headline out of a choice of 4 possible answers. Correct answer and you'll see the actual headline from today's Straits Times, wrong answer and you don't.

The infographics:

The headline:

Congestion remains despite road pricing

Traffic falls as travel habits change
Public perception of ERP poor, but roads are less congested
Old habits die hard even with new ERP gantries

Got the answer? Probably not.

You would have expected more journalistic integrity from a national newspaper.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I have piss poor memory.

Which makes me wonder. What the hell am I doing in a university course where students are known to have memories so good they put herds of elephants to shame. They remember mnemonics at a drop of a hat, and as for me, I don't even remember how to spell 'mnemonics'. Yes. I do use spell check.

If you attend social function and have strangers telling you 'you mean you don't recognise me?' or if you have to repeat to yourself someone's name over and over again so that you can remember it, then you probably can empathise. Sometimes, I think there's something seriously wrong with my brain. It's depressing.

Ever since I was a student in primary school, I had relied much on my logical deduction and 'smoking' abilities to impress teachers. Really, I could hardly remember the facts that I had needed to. In Chinese Laguage lessons, we had to memorise a passage of about 50 words eevry week, which we will write out and be graded on the accuracy of memorisation and the correctness of the strokes in the word. I recall that being the single most painful assignment in primary school.

Which explains how I was the lowest for the batch in secondary 2 History, a subject notorious for the sheer amount of memory haulage needed. Other subjects like Human Geography was easier - all you had to do was to have a basic grasp of the situation, then think up all the various possibilities that might happen. Sciences were a no-brainer because everything was reasonable, deducible and logical.

I had the false impression hat doctors were people who did a lot of logical reasoning and information synthesis, piecing together information from various aspects to deduce a diagnosis and think up treatment strategies. That was the kind of thing I read in Reader's Digest and watched on television. Those Reader's Digest articles almost invariably talk about some doctor who took the extra mile to research up and think about a perplexing clinical problem, eventually finding the answer through sheer intellect.

Real life medicine is not like that. In medical school, we get grilled on the 5 types of neuropathy, the list of various causes of a symptom and all sorts of regurgitation-heavy questions. There's little opportunity for critical thought.

'You do things in this order because that is what the professors in the textbook say. If you are a professor you do it your own way, but you are NOT. So follow the textbook.' was what one of my tutors told me. Just memorise. Imitate. Do what your seniors do. Don't try to stick out like a sore thumb in the name of accuracy and truth, because the senior is always right, and to demolish that illusion would end up in bitter feud.

So it's particularly painful for me when I'm this poor at remembering stuff. It's not just about motivation - I simply wasn't born with the skills to memorise. I'm at wit's end, because my inability is almost disabling - I won't be able to excel in this career. I still have trouble attaching names to faces. And it bugs me to no end.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Q. E. D.

purpose? says:
are you going for chunk fest?
kc is in love with FIGHT LIKE APES says:
kc is in love with FIGHT LIKE APES says:
kc is in love with FIGHT LIKE APES says:
kc is in love with FIGHT LIKE APES says:
i forgot
kc is in love with FIGHT LIKE APES says:
my caps lock
kc is in love with FIGHT LIKE APES says:
and spectacles
kc is in love with FIGHT LIKE APES says:
at the same time
purpose? says:

And thus, the Swiss Cheese model of accidents and errors was demonstrated.

"The holes in the cheese slices represent individual weaknesses in individual parts of the system, and are continually varying in size and position in all slices. The system as a whole produces failures when all of the holes in each of the slices momentarily align, permitting (in Reason's words) "a trajectory of accident opportunity", so that a hazard passes through all of the holes in all of the defenses, leading to a failure."

A reply from Mcdonalds

So the mysterious call that I did not manage to pick up in time was indeed them. Here's the reply they posted on my blog, quoted in verbatim:

Dear Ms Lee,

We are sorry to hear of your unpleasant experience with our Mega McSpicy. At McDonald’s, we take all feedback on our food very seriously and will not, at any time, compromise on the stringent food safety standards in place.

Since receiving your email on 29 November, Mr Raymond Tan, Business Consultant for McDonald’s Bishan Junction 8 has been attempting to reach you on your mobile to no avail. Nonetheless, because of the strong stance we take on food safety, we have sent samples of our McSpicy for testing and would very much like to speak to you to further aid us in our investigation.

We would very much appreciate it if you could contact Mr Raymond Tan at 6462 0800, if you do not hear from him today.

Claudia Yeo
Communications Department
McDonald’s Restaurants

To Claudia Yeo and the rest of Mcdonalds. Thanks for listening. It's good that Mcdonalds is taking action.

First of all, it's Mr Lee, not Ms Lee. But you can call me KC. A harmless but very embarrassing error.

To be honest, after all that fiasco. I will still eat at Mcdonalds, but that is entirely dependent on whether its promotions are good (if not there's always the $2 Double Cheeseburger!), because I prefer other fast food chains the days I want to splurge.

Nevertheless, I will give my full cooperation when they call me, I won't call them because I don't know of anything that might be useful to them that I don't already have on this blog.

The vegetarians have something to say. They have used my experience to try to justify why meat and fast food is bad, but ended up with a non-sequitur. With arguments like "signal from the Above", who needs logic?

I love animals.

Therefore, by extension, I love all types of animals - including chickens, pigs and cows.

And by extension, I love the parts of animals - including chicken wings, pork chops and beef steaks.

Meat is murder. But it's just the way the ecology works, we can't help being omnivores, the same way the deadly crocodiles can't being carnivores.

Time to munch into my tasty lo mai gai breakfast.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Burger King's Quad Stacker

A titbit of information that I have omitted from the previous entry on the Mega McSpicy that had given me diarrhoea - I had a Burger King Quad Stacker the day before the McSpicy. And it tasted surprisingly good. And it did not give me any diarrhoea.

Here's the review which I had originally written the evening after I had the McSpicy:

Some say the BK Quad Stacker takes balls of hardened steel to consume.

Others say that those who had eaten the bk stacker are able to hide for months in the depths of the Amazonian forests before devouring their next meal.

But I had managed to eat it. And live to tell the tale.

Aptly, this thing looks like the mushroom clouds of atomic bomb explosions. It's not as good as the whopper, but the patties were juicy and done just-right, unlike Mcdonald's thin wafers of beef-flavoured cardboard.

Some have been unhappy with how soggy the burger turned out to be, but mine seems to have been done quite alright. The combination of generous amounts of beef and stringy cheese makes it tasty.

Don't even try to fathom the amount of saturated fat this monster has in its crispy turkey bacon, 4 juicy patties and 4 whole slices of cheese.

My main gripe: the lack of veges and pickles. those may taste like crap by themselves but adds to the taste of a burger.

I liked it, but to be honest, I'm more comfortable sticking to Whoppers, and hoping that the Triple Whopper might someday appear in Singapore.