My walk along the Singapore Formula 1 track

I finally ticked one item off my bucket list this week when I took a walk along a real life Formula 1 track.

Singapore F1 track walk

It took me a little over an hour to walk the 5 and a bit km after work. I stuck as close as I could to the track, but along the start/finish line on the east side it was closed off. They were taking down the seating for the Chinese New Year parade. I had to jump a fence and duck in and out and get a photo:

From our office at the Raffles tower (at the marker on the above map) you get a good view of half the track. I’m trying to swing it so I can be here for the next race and watch it live.

My thoughts on Danica Patrick and her Daytona 500 pole position

Oh, this title…

Danica Patrick working that poleDanica Patrick has leapt back into the motor racing headlines by becoming the first woman to secure pole for the 2013 NASCAR Cup opener at Daytona. Previously, the highly popular 30-year-old American, who is stealing the show at the pinnacle of US motor sport, has insisted she has little interest in exploring her options in Formula One. But could more doors open now?

Good grief, I don’t think so. And neither do those in the know:

Sebastian Vettel : “First of all, hats off to Danica for her achievements. But motor sport in the US just has a completely different culture.”

Helmut Marko : “You have to look at Danica’s results in the road races. It’s not enough. We are looking for drivers based on performance, not by quota.”

Niki Lauda : “For ten years. I’ve told Bernie Ecclestone he’s dopey for not getting a woman into Formula One. If we could get a woman into the top six, you would immediately have twice as many fans in front of the TV. It has to be said that the technical level in the US does not compare to the level in Formula One. This is also reflected in the drivers. The last American who had success in Europe was Mario Andretti — and that was in my day!”

The sad thing is, Lauda is right. Chuck a hot woman into the mix and you’re gonna get bums on seats and eyes on the TVs. Take a look at Anna Kournikova who, while a competent tennis player, never won a Grand Slam title and often was never seen after the first round. But her hot little ass was guaranteed to sell more tickets and get higher TV ratings and so she was always invited to tournaments in which she had no chance of progressing to the final.

Murzik

The list of female F1 drivers is pretty short and unfortunately the latest candidate, Spaniard Maria De Villota, crashed and lost an eye while testing for Marussia last year. She was talented, and at the end of the day I’d rather watch talented drivers than attractive drivers in the World Drivers Championship.

Kindle is better than real books

It might have taken me a while, but I’m more convinced now than ever than electronic books like Amazon’s Kindle and Google’s Play Books are better than their real-world counterparts. Before, say, two or three years ago I wasn’t so sure, but having used e-books very regularly I can see a time where real books will be a bastion of old-time stalwarts doggedly holding on to old nostalgic tech much like how vinyl records are treated by recorded music enthusiasts today.

I used to take a certain pride in my home library, small though it was. Through high school and uni, I built a small but well loved collection of books including both fiction and non-fiction. I’ve had to cull a lot of books from time to time, mostly to keep my wife sane and happy. But I’ve kept a core books which I could easily say defined what I knew of the world and of myself; great reference books and timeless stories which both educated me and inspired me.

Since buying into the Smart-Phone market, I’ve been able to sell most of those books on ebay (not without a measure of emotion) and buy their e-book equivalents on Amazon Kindle and Google Play, even making a modest profit in the process. I’ll admit, it’s fairly hard going reading, say, War and Peace on a 4 inch phone screen but since investing in a Google Nexus 7 this year I’ve found myself reading a lot more than I used to.

There are lots of benefits to the e-book paradigm. In my device, I can carry THOUSANDS of books. If I’m stuck on the train or looking for something to do, I can reach out and have access to every book I’ve ever bought, no matter where I am. You always have a selection of books to read, and no weight to carry around.

And since they’re instantly delivered wirelessly, buying a book any time any place is a simple matter. No more disappointments from sold-out titles at book stores. No more dings, dents or dog-ears from other less thoughtful consumers who’ve previously handled those physical books. Nope. I enjoy the system of browsing, downloading and reading instantly.

I’ve even got some magazine subscriptions, which are a nice surprise to find waiting for me when I turn my device on.

If you’re short sighted, you can always zoom in or increase the font size. Things like changing the font or paper colour, or setting the screen brightness are a snap. Searching the book is a lot easier and more thorough. Kindle and Play also allows you to highlight parts of your e-book, much like using a neon highlighter, with the advantage of being able to remove unwanted highlights. Of course there’s also the electronic version of the good old bookmark so you can easily find the last page you were reading.

And if, Heaven forbid, I lose my device then I can simply re-download the books for free onto my new device. There’s even a system for “loaning” books to a friend.

So if you’re into books, I say “throw off the chains of the physical world” and invest in an e-book reader whether it’s a Kindle, iPad or Android device. You’ll be glad you did.

This is sure and impressive library

Our 2012 Indian Grand Prix meal

A pretty unimaginative, but tasty, Balti beef curry meal with some home made puppadoms and Narn bread.

It was a fairly sedate race on a very fast track. Tire play didn’t really come into play as the Pirellis didn’t have anywhere near the degradation they suffer on other tracks for some unknown reason. Vettel cruised to victory from Pole, while Mark Webber dropped second to Alonso about three quarters of the way through due to faulty KERS. It extends Vettel’s lead over Alonso to 13 points with three races remaining, which makes for a very exciting last few races!

Our 2012 Japanese Grand Prix meal

Obviously, Sushi.

F1 SushiGrosjean was up to his old tricks, taking out competitors on the first corner. This time it was poor Mark Webber who started 2nd behind Vettel. Further back in the field, but actually before Big John’s idiocy, Alonso got put into the kitty litter on turn one.

Vettel went on to win with Massa (of all people) coming second and Kamui Kobayashi picking up third in front of his home fans, the first Japanese podium since Aguri Suzuki in 1991. Good on him, I hope his success continues. The upshot is that Vettel is now only 4 points behind Alonso on the leader board and is gunning for three championships in a row.

Our 2012 Singapore Grand Prix meal

So this weekend we had traditional home-made Chicken Laksa, and our own version of non-alcoholic Singapore Slings with Cherry juice, Lime juice, Lemonade and crushed ice. They went really well together.

Chicken Laksa

Singapore Sling

The race was long. Well, no longer in length that most other races but it’s a slow track. A stark contrast to last weeks race at Monza. After 59 of the prescribed 61 laps, they called it a day after 2 hours. Vettel took a big chunk out of Alonso’s lead in the standings by taking first to Alonso’s third. Button was second, Di Resta impressta with fourth and Daniel Ricciardo again managed points in ninth, actually beating Red Bull’s Mark Webber in tenth. Webber later got docked time for a questionable incident which dropped him to 11th and robbed him of his point. Schumacher liked the look of Vergne’s back end and drove right up the back of him on lap 38.

Our 2012 Italian Grand Prix meal

So for the thirteenth round of the 2012 Formula 1 World Championship, we went with Pasta Carbonara using bacon, parmesan cheese, onion, cream, egg and black pepper. With a side of garlic bread and salad. It was rich, like evil rich. But it tasted great.

Current championship leader “He who must not be named” must be pretty chuffed with the result. Despite finishing third (and being out qualified by a flying Massa) he actually extended his lead in the championship rankings by thirteen points by virtue of Red Bull finishing outside of the points. Not a bad race, and it was good to see “Checco” Perez in the hunt right at the end with some good tire strategy.

Mark Webber better get a wriggle on if he hopes to rein in the leaders. He’s had some less than inspiring results since re-signing a few months ago.

Tom Hardy is Charlie Bronson

Short review:

Longer review: I’ve seen this called “A Clockwork Orange for the 21st Century”, a curious comparison that other movies may seek and others shy away from. You’ll love A Clockwork Orange for its bizarre, stylized violence and probably hate it for the same reason.

Bronson takes a leaf from the same page, though I don’t feel that the comparison to Kubrick’s masterpiece does either of these films justice. Bronson is based on the real life “Charlie Bronson“, an Englishman known as “Britain’s most violent criminal” and unfolds as more of a biography than a drama. Charlie only ever wanted to be famous, and in between his violent exploits of bashing the absolute crap out of almost everyone he meets and generally causing havoc and mayhem, we are invited into his mind to watch him on a surrealistic vaudeville stage where he does a good deal of narration (see the animation above). Thankfully this breaks up what could have been 90 minutes of bashing after violent bashing, and brings a certain light-heartedness to an otherwise distasteful subject. This also serves to let us in on his madness; let’s face it, I’m pretty sure that Charlie isn’t the full quid if you know what I mean.

So if you like your films with a mix of violence, dark humour and vaudeville, plus a dash of full frontal Tom Hardy nudity, I can certainly recommend Bronson.

Our 2012 British Grand Prix meal

How can you go past the traditional “Fish ‘n’ Chips”?

The English contribution to world cuisine: the chip.

Pretty simple, and didn’t require a lot of thought or preparation. Just some oven baked chips plus Fish and Squid.

After shocking conditions for Qualifying on Saturday, “He Who Must Not Be Named” led from Pole and shared the front row with Webber, who impressively managed to not drop any positions before the first corner and hung around in second for the whole race, and then pounced on around the fifth last lap to take a big win in Silverstone.

My photo was on that car! It turns out, so was “He Who Must Not Be Named”: