Heavy Metal: If i had to explain, you wouldn’t understand

See this little gem?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal:_A_Headbanger’s_Journey

My concert going partner in crime, Ruby, gave me the DVD to watch a few weeks back.. I did! let me tell you folks, it’s mesmerizing! The wikipedia page gives more than enough information about the documentary/circumstances etc…

It’s definitely worth watching y’all… The perspective, the history, the camaraderie and everything else that comes with being a headbanger is done justice!

I really liked Rob Zombie’s comments.. Bruce Dickinson is very well spoken and so were Vince Neil and Alice Cooper. it was sad to see Dio knowing he is no longer with us..

Anyways, look it up and watch it.. you’ll learn something new

winter ramblings

Gee.. where did 2010 go? I feel like it was just yesterday when the first snowfall of the year caught us unaware on halloween night 2009 and here we are again looking at halloween 2010 less than 10 days away. I’m not really sure why but this one has gone through really really fast.

It’s about 5:25 pm and the sky is pretty dark from pollution, cold, haze and daze which is just depressing to some extent. It’s hard to find the motivation to come out of it and get anything done or go anywhere today but alas, duty calls!!! there are dinners to attend, concerts to enjoy, KTV to be sung etc…

I swear, if i could manage my professional life the way i handle my social calendar, Larry Ellison would have nothing on me.

Talking about professional stuff… it’s always kinda fun and games… I’m trying to find more time to dedicate to the bastard child of the cerbex family: Request Rooms! ( http://www.requestrooms.com)
It’s a funny beast this one: We’re trying to take a good 5 years of B2B group travel experience and leverage it for the benefit of the average consumer. We’re trying to make it easier for groups ( families, businesses etc…) to book rooms across europe, especially when they’re doing multiple cities.
In theory, this is quite cool but it’s proving harder than expected… Too many errors, business mistakes and what not have kinda screwed us over on this new baby but there is a bit of renewed hope. here’s trying for it!

did I mention it was gonna be a long winter?

this ain’t your daddy’s administration: A great experience at the Embassy

Raised the way I was, you can tend to develop a bit of dislike and weary-ness towards most administrations, especially their bureaucratic sides. Gov’t offices are not there to help you but to make your life miserable.. I guess nowhere is this attitude/perception expressed better than in a song by my favorite moroccan band: Hoba hoba spirit.

The song is called SuperCaid and is in French but Google Translate does a decent job with it:

Mr le supercaid je vous fais une lettre
Que vous lirez peut etre
Incha’Allah aprés l ‘aid
Je viens solliciter de votre haute autorité Un certificat de vie que dieu vous glorifie

Si je ne vous suffit pas j’ai 12 témoins présents ici
Qui diront devant la loi que je suis vivant et merci
J’ai pense a rajouter quelques timbres quelques billets
Du genre de ce qu’on met lorsqu’on est un peu presser
Vous n’etes pas obliger bien sur de les accepter
Mais par expérience je sais qu’il est rare que vous refusiez

Mr le supercaid je vous fais une lettre
Que vous lirez peut etre incha’Allah aprés l’aid
Je viens solliciter de votre autorité
Un certificat de vie que dieu vous glorifie

Ce précieux document bien sur n’est pas pour moi
C’est juste un instrument pour que vous ne m’oubliiez pas
Je serais fort ravie si vous gardiez une copie
Du certificat de vie juste au dessus de votre lit
Et vous le verrez ainsi au réveil vers midi
Et garderez l’esprit que je suis vivant et merci

Mr le supercaid je vous fais une lettre
Que vous lirez peut etre incha’Allah apres l’aid
Je viens solliciter de votre autorité
Un certificat de vie que dieu vous glorifie

Vous etes supercaid et je ne suis pas superman
Et mes poches sont vides
Mon cerveau est en panne c’est que l’administration
Est une chose trés compliquée malgré mon intention
Je n’arrive pas à m’y retrouver
merci de dispatcher Les demandes ci-aprés
aux autorités compétente ou juste concernées
je veux un nouveau stade d’honneur
Des ordures qu’on ramasse a l’heure
un peu de bonne humeur
Et si possible quelques fleurs
Voyez vous tous mes amis revent de quitter le pays
Et pour qu’ils restent ici
Il faut juste un tout petit effort de votre part Mr le supercaid
Que vous soyez moins flemmard et peut etre meme moins avide

Mr le supercaid vous ne lirez pas cette lettre
Vous n’etes pas intrépides elle fait plus d’un kilométre
Et vous n’écouterez pas non plus Hoba Hoba
Tant que le syndicat ne nous a pas mis sous contrat

Mr le supercaid vous me voyez tout livide
Je viens de réaliser que je me suis trompé Car c’est vous en effet qui devez nous prouver
La bonne qualité votre activité
Merci de préparer votre certificat de vie
Dans les plus brefs délais et en trente millions de copie

Mr le superCaid si vous lisez cette lettre
Je vous prie la transmettre aux autres supercaid
Merci de préparer vos certificats de vie
Dans les plus bref délais et en trente millions de copies
Merci de préparer vos certificats de vie
En trente millions de copies…et merci ….

Anyways, today at the Moroccan Embassy in Beijing, for the first time in a long time, I felt like the representatives were there to serve the people and took their job seriously… The person that was helping me actually almost skipped on his lunch break to finish taking care of my little case and was courteous/smiling all along.

great great great great… That is one person who should be commended for doing his job and actually helping the people he should be helping. Color me impressed and thankful.. I’m also happy that this generation of Moroccans is out serving their country and doing it the right way.

the pope, atheism and a bit of wine

by all accounts, I should not be typing right now but this is my goddamn blog and I have had quite a bit of vino so here it comes! I’m getting ready to go to bed and I check the news one last time..then I stumble on this article: Pope goes to war against Atheism or something like that

right… color me pissed off!

Admittedly, I’ve only read the article instead of listening to the speech itself but I’ll trust the source! so, Mr. Pope, we’re getting angry at atheists? right… whatever… What has religion done for the world lately other than breed extremism, conflict and war?

Christianity? Get your own goddamn house in order before you dare judge others! The supposed keepers of the torch are the ones killing it with all the scandals involving church and priests taking advantage of their flock.
Islam? Get your own goddamn house in order and get it over with as far as bombing suicides and terrorism goes! This might get me killed but what the fuck? You’re promised 72 virgins in paradise if you sacrifice yourself? right! I haven’t met 72 of them on earth.
Judaism? Hello? Israel and settlements? You’re busy complaining about being treated like shit and treating the rest of the world like shit.
I am an equal opportunity religious basher… let me restate… religious basher! I won’t bash religions because i do believe that they’re all beautiful concepts with great guidelines… however, what the sherpas of said religions have done perverts and fucks up everything said religions stand for. prove me wrong, I dare you!

anyways, I just get pissed off at anyone that goes off on a “holier than thou” rant without even throwing in a small number of disclaimers…. and having a few glasses of wine just accentuates it all!

electric Beijing or how i joined the e-bike revolution with a Yamaha Metis Max

I posted last week over at beijingdaze.com about the complexities and steps required to procure a driver’s license and motorcycle license plate in Beijing which can be quite a process if you wanna do it all legally… which i did! After a few weeks of trying really hard to procure myself a gas-powered two-wheeler, I finally gave up and went the “greener” route with an e-bike.

The idea has been floating around my brain for almost a year, after reading Kaiser Kuo’s musings about owning an e-bike and how it had put [him] back in touch with Beijing .

I liked the idea of the e-bike for many reasons: ecologically friendly, low maintenance, practical, no legal hassles and generally easy to own. My biggest problem though was the range: Most e-bikes on the market right now have a 30 to 50km range on a good day unless one invests in a lithium ion battery that might cost twice the price of the bike and won’t necessarily work out for the best.

My adventures and roamings through town can be lengthy on any particular evening taking me from the East side of town to the CBD then over to Gulou with a pit stop in Sanlitun, a trip to 2 Kolegas and finally back to the East side of town. This type of Journey adds up to about 60km and I needed a bike that could last the distance.

beautiful on the outside, scary on the inside

My first choice was a Big Turtle King or Da Gui Wang (大龟王). I like the way they look and they’re popular enough that it would be easy to get them serviced anywhere in town. The standard battery comes with realistic range of 30 to 40 Km when travelling at 35 k/h, much less if going faster. Don’t believe any shop keeper that says otherwise. Better batteries are available at a premium with the Lithium Ion option running at 4000RMB for the battery alone but it will last for 80 to 100km depending on the speed you’re driving.

I figured I’ll get one with the base battery and then upgrade as needed after I was convinced it worked. However, a trip to the bike shop changed my mind rather quickly: The big turtle kings are nothing but the shell of the gas powered version that someone took the engine out off and hacked up with an electric motor. They’re literally using fuse switches like the ones outside my door and there are naked cables running under the hood. There was no way this thing is gonna withstand one of Beijing’s famous downpours without electrocuting me… yeah, everyone is riding them but that don’t mean I will.
There is an export model making the rounds around Beijing that should be cleaner/neater but it’s not readily available and will run you 5000RMB minimim with the shitty battery.

Next up were the brand names: Cityfy is had a good reputaion but didn’t make any model i cared for. Yamaha, on the other hand, had just come out with the Metis Max which was a substantial upgrade to the regular Metis series they had been building for years now.

I had seen this model online and it was rated with an autonomy of 80km on one charge. I was lucky enough to be at the shop when someone that owned one came around and i was able to ask them a few questions about it. In a nutshell, of all the options available, it seemed like the one most likely to fit my needs and i got it. Total cost 4000 RMB including registration which was the taobao price.

The bike, or scooter I should say, is quite comfortable and has no problem handling 2 passengers! There are two power settings on it: Low and High. Using the low setting allows you to go at speeds of 25km/h to 30km/h and travel for at least 60 to 70km when riding alone.. about 60 if you have a passenger.
The high power setting brings in quite a bit of zip to the experience and lets you go between 35 to 40 km/h for a distance of up to 40km… this is all on the stock battery!

I’m also a lot more comfortable riding something that I can assumed has seen a semblant of quality control so that the lights and other components won’t fail without a warning! I could have paid a lot less but I’m a firm believer in the “You get what you pay for” motto.. this thing is gonna last me.

I’ve been using this baby for exactly a week and I can’t believe the difference it’s made in my life already: I can go anywhere i want anytime I want without dealing with taxis, crowd on a subway or any of the mafan that has plagued my life over the past few years. I’m also slowly venturing into side roads and back alleys seeing a whole new side to Beijing i never new existed.

now, unto the negatives:

– The battery on this thing is a freaking monster: it weighs in at 29kg… yeah, that’s twenty nine kilograms!
– There is no odometer telling you how much you’ve travelled. you have to rely on the battery gauge and learn to estimate your own distance. I used google maps to figure out how much i travelled on average and keep a cheat sheet as a reference.
– It is no speed demon
– As a brandname, it’s not so easy to mod the bike. local no-names can have tons of addons but the Yamaha might not handle them.
– that’s it

I decided to keep track of distances travelled per day and taxi costs I would normally pay to travel said distance in an excel spreadsheet just for the heck of it and so far, I’ve logged the required amount km I would do on a normal week in taxis! And guess what: in one week, I’ve saved 10% of the bike’s value in Taxi fare! yes, I had no idea I was spending in excess of 400 RMB/week in cabs!
At this rate, I would recoup the whole cost in about 10 weeks. That is not to mention the fact that I am no longer drinking out as much as i used to. 1 alcoholic beverage is all I’m allowing myself at the moment.

Do I have any buyer’s remorse? Nope! I can’t believe it took me this long to take the jump! The battery weight is definitely a pain in the ass and a bit of a concern. So far, I’ve taken it in 3 times and I’m getting used to it but I’d much rather have a 10kg battery. I still look at the Big Turtle Kings with envy sometimes but that more because i like the way they look. If someone were to clean them up and do a neat install, I’d consider switching and getting the extra speed but for now, I think I got the best bike for my needs.

My next mission is to convince bar/restaurant owners to set up charging stations much like they have free wi-fi available. Keep a charger or two handy for those customers that might require a little top-up. It costs less than 1 RMB to recharge the whole battery for 10 hours so think about the extra added value of keeping a customer on a seat drinking/eating while their bike charges. You’d make up that insvestment in a heart beat.

The Silver Daze

I’m also fixing to Join Kaiser in his quest to get a gang together with the sole purpose to keep bike lanes car-free…. I’ll go one step further and say i want them to be pedestrian free as well!!! Those bastards have sent me into fits of road rage cursing at their selfish ways over the past few days… who’s with us?