Monday 29 May 2017

The Performance Series Race at Stadium Riverside Run, I mean, Walk

No blisters or wet farts, at least until after the race.

Yet, yesterday's The Performance Series Race at Stadium Riverside Walk was one of my worst half marathon performances.

I did stop to take a leak, though, at the same toilet I used during the Income Eco Run three weeks earlier. That toilet at the Gardens by the Bay East entrance is a life-saver.

My legs felt stiff throughout the race. I usually hit the wall around the 14km mark. This time, it was 7km.

Previously, I would avoid drinking anything during a race. This time, I was looking forward to the next hydration point so that I could get a cup of cold, refreshing, delicious Lucozade, which tasted much better than last year's awful orange-flavoured version.

After getting "hydrated", I would feel too bloated to run. So once again, i walked for much of the last few kilometres, which accounted for my lousy time, 2 hours 55 minutes.

So what's my excuse this time?

Not enough sleep. some lingering pain from a leg injury and satay rendang pizza for dinner the night before.

But honestly, I should just face the fact that I have been undisciplined in my training and I'm just not fit enough.

At one point during the race, I asked myself, why am I punishing myself like this by signing for these 21km races?

I'm not getting any better at it. After half a dozen half marathons, it's still not getting any easier.

Unfortunately, I've already signed up for three more this year, including the Army Half Marathon.

I swear, after this year, no more half marathons.

But then, that was what I said two years ago.

Monday 22 May 2017

Exactly when did Ikea chicken wings stop 'meeting customers' satisfaction'?

It’s the biggest chicken-related food news to hit Singapore since KFC’s Chizza.

On Friday, Ikea posted on its Facebook page:
"Dear fans, thank you for all your feedback. We are aware that our chicken wings have not been meeting our customers’ satisfaction recently, so we have decided to stop selling them temporarily from May 23 so we can improve on it."
May 23?

That’s tomorrow!

That means today is your last chance to eat Ikea’s famed chicken wings that have not been meeting customers’ satisfaction recently.

After this, the wings will be replaced with $1 chicken tenders. If you’re not interested in eating chicken, I understand Ikea sells other stuff too.

Like hot dogs and meatballs — but no horse meat.

Rumour has it that Ikea also has a significant side business hawking pieces of furniture with weird umlauted names like they’re metal bands or something.

Still, people mostly go to Ikea to complain about the food.

What’s unusual is that the company is actually doing something about the complaints.

I mean, people have been complaining about local TV shows for decades, but Mediacorp still keeps churning them out.

OK Chope!, anyone? Not Najib with a B, apparently.

But Ikea’s Facebook post also raises a few questions.

Like why announce on Friday that you’re going to stop selling the wings on Tuesday? Why not stop selling them immediately?

If you know your food sucks, why inflict it on your customers for four more days?

I suspect there are people who have read the news and want to taste for themselves how bad the wings really are to be in the news.

First World problem?

The thing is, Singaporeans used to love Ikea chicken wings. Then, like the MRT, something went wrong in the last few years.

They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

As Ikea said, "our chicken wings have not been meeting our customers’ satisfaction recently".

But exactly how recently is "recently"?

Founded in Sweden in 1943, Ikea has been in Singapore since 1978.

So, yeah, the post could be a little more specific in terms of the time frame.

But one Facebook commenter has helpfully narrowed it down:
"The story years back was that there was corruption on the old supplier, then they changed to a new one, we (my family, even my young daughter age five or six then) noticed that ever since they changed to the new supplier, the standard dropped."

Involving chicken wings?

Yes, corruption.

Involving chicken wings.

That, surprisingly, is not fake news.

The guy who supplied chicken wings to Ikea between 2003 and 2009 ran "afowl" of the law by bribing an Ikea food services manager and in 2011, was jailed four months and fined $180,000 for corruption.

What a bad egg.

Presumably, after the supplier was caught, Ikea had to find a new supplier as it would be difficult to supply chicken parts from prison.

And it seems the wings haven’t been the same since.

You know what they say, forbidden wings taste the yummiest.

That was like eight years ago.

And only now Ikea decides to stop selling them temporarily so that the company can "improve on it"?


Perhaps the wings can be marinated in some special corruption sauce.

Hey, anything is better than the Chizza.

- Published in The New Paper, 22 May 2017

It wasn't the quality of the chicken wings alone; yes, they look malnutritioned.

Even the cooking process was compromised. Last time I ate them was more than a year ago; the wings were not thoroughly cooked, seemed to be straight out of the freezer into the oil. I feedback, and changed for some other food. Since then I stopped eating their chicken wings.



Monday 8 May 2017

My Star Wars Run-neth over: PM Lee Hsien Loong outgeeks Canadian PM Trudeau

I saw a guy running in a gold bikini top at the Star Wars Run on Saturday night.

Yes, a guy.

In a gold bikini top.

As if Return Of The Jedi wasn’t already ruined by those mutant teddy bears, the Ewoks.

Now my hetero adolescent fantasies of Princess Leia in the slave girl outfit from that movie have been destroyed for good too.

Thankfully, the guy wore a T-shirt under the bikini top. So I didn’t have nightmares that night.

I also saw many Jedi and Sith wannabes running with lightsabers, which were not only cumbersome but also potentially hazardous to other runners.

And you thought people with selfie sticks were annoying.

Some fans even ran in full costume — helmet and cape et al. I had a heat stroke just looking at them.

I was already sweating like a pig on Dagobah in my Under Armour Star Wars Trooper compression shirt — that is, if there are pigs on Dagobah.

I wish I had a gold bikini to run in. At least that seems more Singapore weather-appropriate.

The run was part of a three-day event at Gardens By The Bay celebrating 40 years of Star Wars, a 1977 US movie that grew into a worldwide cultural phenomenon and merchandising juggernaut.

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted a photo of himself wearing R2D2 and C3PO socks with the tweet: “These are the socks you’re looking for. #MayTheFourthBeWithYou #GuerreDesÉtoiles”

Guerre Des Étoiles is French for Star Wars.

The geek is strong with this one.

But Mr Trudeau wasn’t the only world leader who jumped on the Star Wars cantina bandwagon.

On Saturday, our own PM Lee Hsien Loong posted photos of “Sabertrees” at Gardens by the Bay with the caption:
“Star Wars fans know ‘May the 4th’ as Star Wars Day, and this year @gardensbythebay joined in the fun with Star Wars-themed events.

“I couldn’t make it on the 4th but managed a #jalanjalan at the Gardens last night.

“The Supertrees have been converted into spectacular ‘Sabertrees’, and look like giant lightsabers pointing to the sky!

“Happened to capture the moon in my photo too, or at least, I think it’s a moon. :)

“The festivities end tonight — just in time for the Revenge Of The Sixth, so do catch it if you can. And May the Fourth be with you!”

No Padawan he is.

Besides the obvious Revenge Of The Sith pun, notice how PM Lee also subtly worked in a “That’s no moon” reference without using the actual quote from the original movie.

I’m sorry, Mr Trudeau, but you have been out-geeked by our prime minister. Even without mismatched droid socks.

Wait, did PM Lee just reference the Sith? Does it mean he has gone to the dark side?

Well, he did recently tell Singaporeans that to stay ahead of the competition, “you must make sure you steal somebody else’s lunch”.

That sounds pretty dark side-ish.

If he had joined the Star Wars Run, I wonder whether he would have chosen to be on the light or dark side.

On the one hand, PM Lee is a member of the People’s Action Party, also known as the Men in White, which suggests the light side. On the other hand, white is also the uniform of the stormtroopers, who are on the dark side.

Oh, the conundrum!

Now I understand what Anakin and Luke Skywalker went through.

As for me, I went to the dark side because the T-shirt is nicer.

How long did it take me to finish the 10km run?

In less than 12 parsecs, of course.

According to Strava, it was a personal record. (But then I started using Strava regularly only this year.)

Who needs a gold bikini?

- Published in The New Paper, 8 May 2017

UPDATE: Star Wars Run 2018 recap