Posts tagged ‘Cars’

The Blue Frog and the Dodohead

Memories of Paris are interrupted by my adventure in getting Blue Frog inspected. Now, getting your car through its regular inspection is normally a very serious affair. I succeeded in turning it into a comedy of errors.

So there was me nervously getting Blue Frog to the STA inspection centre at Sin Ming, which was a feat all by itself because I have a world-class faculty for taking the wrong turn every time. I finally made it through the correct gates and made a turn to find myself looking at the butt ends of three taxis and eight giant lorries in four queues.

Boo-boo #1: Joined the wrong queue. How was I to know that cars and taxis were supposed to be in different queues? Answer: from the sign that instructed taxis to go to Line 3 and cars to Line 4, that I had managed to drive by without seeing. Fortunately for me, there was a nice uniformed uncle who correctly identified me as a dodohead and kindly parted the Red Sea of vehicles before supervising my twenty-point (thereabouts) turn into the correct lane.

Boo-boo #2: Reinforced my status as a dodohead via dumb-ass responses to simple instructions. Nice Uncle, who had clearly decided to take responsibility for my welfare, informed me that the next step was to make payment for the inspection. I started rummaging through my bag on the passenger seat for my wallet.

“No, no,” he said, pointing, “You pay at the counter over there.” 

I blinked. “But my car is over here.”

“Yes, you leave your car here.”

“What? Just like that? Oh… very well…”

So I turned off the engine, got out and started to lock the door.

“No, no, you leave your key in the engine.”

“What?! Really?!”

Then I realized that that was exactly what everyone else in the queues was doing, so I shut up, left the key in the ignition and went meekly off to pay.

Boo-boo #3: I then proceeded to turn the whole event into a fiasco. The girl at the payment counter asked for my licence plate number. I gave it. She keyed it into her computer. Then she said, “You got your car inspected last year?”

“Yup,” I replied.

“Well, Miss, your car only needs two-yearly inspections. You don’t need to get one now. Come back next year.”



I walked back to Nice Uncle. True to form, he started to tell me where to go next. I interrupted him with, “I’m sorry, Uncle. It appears I should have done this next year.”

Clearly having had experience with dodoheads, he merely laughed and, once again, parted the Red Sea so that I could do another twenty-point (thereabouts) turn out of the queue and outta the place.

The next time I’m tempted to think myself so clever, I should remember this day and laugh.


December 15, 2010 at 21:46 2 comments

Highs & Drys

I heard ‘High & Dry’ twice in a row while driving to work!!!

Let me explain why that deserved three exclamation marks. I love listening to music as I drive – the louder the better. My poison is soft rock and alternative, although I do like a little mushy pop and the occasional instrumental. I don’t like being limited to a single CD as I drive. Listening to twelve songs by the same artist gets stale after a very short while. So when I got my car, I got a player that could handle MP3 discs as well as normal CDs, and burnt my own compilations.

Now, the beauty of burning one’s own MP3 disc lies not only in handpicking songs; you can also squeeze in loads more songs than the average CD holds. My MP3 disc holds 140 songs (oh, the wonders of technology). In that list, only one song appears twice. That song is ‘High & Dry’ – one version by Jamie Cullum (my absolute favourite of his songs, by the way; the intro never fails to induce fantasies of an ice-cold Asahi on a beach at sunset), and the original by Radiohead (which has a totally different vibe; the frontman, incidentally, hated the song).

The chances of the two versions played back to back are, what, 1/140 x 1/140? I dunno; junior college maths was a couple of millenia ago, and I hope the 140-choose-1-times-whatever-choose-something doesn’t apply because I simply don’t remember it anymore.

So I shall elect to believe that something nice happened today that had a 1/19600 chance of happening. And that totally deserves several exclamation marks.

August 27, 2009 at 08:54 1 comment

Car Leaks Petrol, No One Sympathizes

The Bluebox sprung a terrible leak en route to work. We were going slow, taking the turn from one main road to another. All of a sudden, the engine quietly kaputzed and refused to be resuscitated. When Mr. Manx opened his door, we were greeted by the powerful stench of fresh petrol and a spreading puddle on the road.

Comp s-petrol

Yep, that wet patch was the spilt petrol. Mr. Manx yelled to get out of the car NOW, and we grabbed our bags and scooted to the pavement.

Then the car burst into flames.

Kidding. It did not. It gave a superb impression of a paperweight and wafted strong fumes, while passing vehicles honked angrily. As if we were stopping there for fun. Mr. Manx called for a tow truck and we waited. At one point, a police car pulled up and the guys inside wanted to know what was going on. When Mr. Manx told them, they shrugged and drove off. Fair enough as I couldn’t see what they could’ve done either.

Comp s-pol

We decided that I might as well catch a cab to work while he continued to wait. After I got into one, the cabby, too, started saying that it wasn’t right of us to stop where we did. Arrrrrghh. I was that close to telling him that we’d done that just to see how many people we could piss off in one morning. WHO IN THEIR BLOODY RIGHT MIND WOULD STOP THEIR CAR AT A SINGLE-LANE EXIT FOR FUN LAH???

Apparently the cabby wasn’t the last person to think that. Mr. Manx got yelled at by a mannerless Caucasian driver, and then someone in a truck dropped a cigarette as they rolled past.

Then the car burst into flames.

Kidding again. It did not. It got towed to the mechanic, where a detached line was quickly repaired.

Irritations aside, I think things could easily have been a lot worse. What if the leak had happened five seconds later than it did? We’d have entered the other main road and unsuspecting vehicles behind could have been caught completely off guard. Or what if it had happened while we’d been on the fast lane of the expressway? It’s not as if any alarms went off, or the car came to a gradual stop. It just died completely, suddenly and quietly. So I’m glad that it happened where and when it did. I’m convinced that God was watching over us.

August 20, 2009 at 14:11 5 comments

Twitch-Twitch Which Way Miss?

Enroute to a friend’s wedding I took a cab, and for the first time, found myself in the hands of a driver with an obvious case of tic disorder. I don’t usually stare at the cabby, but could not help noticing that this one twitched his head from side to side a lot. At first I thought he was simply being over-zealous about checking his blind spot, but when that continued to a ridiculous extent, I looked more closely and realized that his legs were twitching rhythymically too. Then I looked at his hands on the steering wheel and saw that they were going jerk-jerk, jerk-jerk. Yikes. And then each time after he asked a question or made a remark, all that twitch-twitch and jerk-jerk got twice as bad for a few seconds. Double yikes.

It wasn’t as dangerous as it sounds in words, though. It’s not as if the cab zigzagged through the journey, and I’m obviously still alive. If I hadn’t been looking at the cabby, I wouldn’t even have realized from the journey that there was something wrong with him. In fact, I think this cabby was safer than the one in Manila who stopped our cab right over a set of fully-operational train tracks. The other thing is that I know that tics can disappear temporarily in the course of voluntary movement, so sufferers can walk, or play tennis, or type, without falling sideways and twitching helplessly. There’s even a book written on this surgeon-cum-pilot with a tic disorder, who was able to do his work perfectly well. On the other hand, tics tend to get worse when the sufferer isn’t concentrating on anything in particular.

Such as when one is driving. Ha ha. 

This cabby reminded me of another chap I saw some years ago at a lunch event. This second chap was young and his tics were much more obvious – every few seconds he shrugged hard on his right side, like his ear and shoulder were trying to achieve urgent communion. But guess what – he was the event photographer. You cannot take a focused photograph if you cannot control your fine movements, never mind a whopping great jerk that could send your camera through the window. But he managed just fine whenever he took aim with the camera.

I don’t know if it’s OK to drive here in Singapore if you have a tic disorder. You’re not supposed to if you’re colour-blind or have epilepsy. I think this cabby is coping fine, but I wonder if other people have noticed, or have complained. I did not complain and I would not complain. Would you?

August 13, 2009 at 19:10 2 comments

Shell National Day Promotion

While driving past this Shell petrol station on Yio Chu Kang Road today,

 Comp s-IMG_0135

Mr. Manx and I couldn’t help but notice the long queue of vehicles leading up to it.

 Comp s-IMG_0142

It went on…

 Comp s-more q

And on… 

 Comp s-more q 2

Right up to the intersection with Jalan Kayu… there may have been even more behind; I couldn’t see, so I don’t know.

Comp s-jlnkayu

Oh, and people were even trying to U-turn to cut into the middle of it, which is simply begging for an accident to happen, in my point of view.

 Comp s-uturn

A queue of this proportion, one would normally expect to find that the country had finally been boycotted by all oil-exporting nations. However, this IS National Day. And Sunday. So we figured out that there must be some extraordinary promotion going on, and were proved right by a radio ad announcing that Shell was celebrating the country’s 44th by giving 44 cents off every litre of petrol and diesel from 4 – 5p.m. 

Well, good for Shell, but ARRRRRGHHHH!!! How come so many people have that much time to queue for petrol? How much petrol are they gonna burn just by queueing up? How can each station finish that many vehicles in one hour? How do the folks at the tail of the queue even tell what they’re queueing up for?

Just to give you a clearer idea, here’s a trail I marked on Google Maps, showing, in red, the length of the line between the Shell station and the intersection with Jalan Kayu.

s-Shel Q NatD v2

The distance calculator showed that this trail occupies roughly 1.1 kilometres. Ootz. Estimating that one vehicle takes up maybe four metres of space, there may have been something like >250  of them at this one station. And the Shell website lists 65 stations in the country. Wowee. Wouldn’t it be nice to be the boss of Shell today.

August 9, 2009 at 18:41 1 comment

Spotted: EZ929A

Eh indeed

Eh indeed

In English: Easy Night Tonight Eh.

Either a playboy, or an unfortunate sod like me who has night shifts… but considering the make of car, I’d say the former.

April 19, 2009 at 07:45 3 comments

Spotted: Mercedes Vitoto

Viva Vitoto!

Viva Vitoto!

From Vito to Vitoto. Odds are, this van belongs to a gambling man.

(In Singapore, Toto is a form of public gambling… not just the name of an American rock band.)

April 11, 2009 at 09:24 Leave a comment

Welcome to my blog!

My blog-name is Katie but I will not respond if you call me that in real life because it's not my real name. Yes, I do practise virtual-world paranoia. No, I do not enjoy stalkers. But I do enjoy writing and having folks reading said writing, so welcome to my world. It's nice to meet you.

Playing in my head over and over again argh

I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song (Jim Croce)

Book(s) of the moment

Hogfather (Terry Pratchett)

Books read in 2010 and 2011

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling) - 'cos the movie's coming out!
Frankenstein: Lost Souls (Dean Koontz) - ah, bugger, it's part of a series! Now I hafta find all the books...
Dismantled (Jennifer McMahon) - oh, good one
Tigerlily's Orchids (Ruth Rendell)
Shutter Island (Dennis LeHane) - reminds me too much of work
Holy Fools (Joanne Harris) - it's official: I prefer her scary books
A Series of Unfortunate Events; The Unauthorized Autobiography; The Beatrice Letters (Lemony Snicket)
The Little Friend (Donna Tartt)
The main books - 11 so far - of the Southern Vampire series; the Aurora Teagarden series except for A Fool & His Honey - that makes it 7; Sweet & Deadly (Charlaine Harris)
The Woman in Black (Susan Hill)
Full Dark, No Stars (Stephen King)
Room: A Novel (Emma Donaghue)
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)
The Bachman Books (Stephen King)
Men At Arms (Terry Pratchett)
Carpe Jugulum (Terry Pratchett)
The Fifth Elephant (Terry Pratchett)
Beauty (Robin McKinley)
The Sandman, Vol 1 (Neil Gaiman)
The Burden (Agatha Christie) - her crime novels are waaay better
Snuff (Terry Pratchett)

Visit my photoblog!

I started my first photoblog on 3 May, 2009. Each post features one picture, with a little story of how it came about. Do take a look by clicking on: Manx Pictures
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Don’t say I didn’t say this…

Disclaimers: 1) I cannot help but bitch about work sometimes, but everything here comes under the realm of personal remarks, and nothing here is said in my professional capacity. Nor does anything here reflect the opinion of the institutions that employ me. This is just me shooting off. 2) Most identities have been anonymized, particularly those of folks I know on a personal basis. Same goes for my workplaces. However, commercial and public places and figures remain named. Otherwise some things just wouldn't make sense. 3) Links and sources have been provided where appropriate and possible. They are not meant to challenge anyone's ownership. If this causes any discomfort or offence, please let me know.


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