Monday, May 28, 2007

My New Car / Trek 1000

The most inspiring cycling ad of all time! Higher resolution video here

When I was in Perth, I thought that it would be good to learn a new sport, so I picked up cycling and cycled almost everyday to school along a bike path that stretched for 7km. I didn't really have a top-of-the-line bike, just a mountain bike that I subsequently fitted with slick wheels and helped me travel more than 5500km over a few years.

I'm generally not very good at sports, because I think I have a hand-eye coordination problem if I do things like kick a football (I tend to miss) or try to receive a fast moving tennis ball (I duck.) So that leaves me with 'easier' sports like running, or cycling (which doesn't involve much; I just sit on a chair and do circular motions with my legs.) But cycling, to me at least, has a much higher return on investment. It's one of the more simpler sports that gives me great pleasure. To feel alive, for one thing. To enjoy the scenery. To have a sea gull fly in the same direction, and just floating on an air thermal meters away from me. To be attacked by a crazy bird. To have the wind push me. To Live Strong.

So I hadn't been cycling for a while, and thought that I should pick it up again. I also wanted to get a road bike this time because it's much more efficient. I narrowed down my choices to a Trek and a Giant. I wasn't really comfortable with the service I got from a Giant dealership, was too lazy to find a better dealer, so went for the former. The Trek dealer in Singapore, called Treknology, seems to have a good standard of service; the folks are not condescending to newbie buyers, willing to chat and explore options, patiently help the customers test drive, and generally are just nice. Their store in town has been renovated and it's lovely, but their other branch at Holland Grove is where I think is the better location to do test drives. There's a quaint 'car park in a garden' right in front of the store to do this.

So this is the new 2007 Trek 1000, and it costs SGD1100 without accessories and the clipless pedals that I added. Happy cycling!

Background reading: Where was my bike made? Trek History.

Dashboard: Light and Odometer/Speedometer/Cadence

Lance Armstrong is not only a great cyclist, but an instruction manual writer too.

Friday, May 18, 2007 Calling / ICT

I just received the latest parcel from The SingPost Speedpost guy carried the small box inside this huge USPS bag. I asked could I have it? He said sure! So cool... I like postmen stuff... ;)
Rod Machado's beginner's pilot bible was so thick and heavy. If I could name a few teachers who inspire me, Rod would certainly be one. (Another would be physicist Dick Feynman). These two folks are funny guys and they just love learning and evangelising their subject matter. Rod, whose flight lessons are found in many editions of Microsoft Flight Sim, explains the most complex concepts in ways that make people want to learn. Here's an interesting video from him. The other book i got was MS Flight Sim As A Training Aid. I felt it's time to get a little more serious with my computer flying.

The second book is essentially an ICT book, how to make the best use of a computer 'game' to do realistic flight training. When I'm not flying, my other hobby also involves doing ICT for long periods of time each day. (ICT generally refers to using technology to help folks learn better.) But recently, halfway into my internship doing 'reading, 'righting and 'rithmatic ICT, I actually dumped PowerPoint, and reverted to drawing words on the white board. (Technically, PowerPoint isn't necessarily ICT, but still...) Bill Gates phoned me the other day and asked me how come I wasn't using Microsoft PowerPoint anymore, and I told him, 'I'm not sure, I believe I got bored. My kids all walked out of their classroom.' OK, I made up the last part.

Anyway, Heavenly Sword has an article on just this issue. I've seen ICT work wonders when the stars align, it just blows my mind. I've also seen it not work, like in my own practice; not all the time, but sometimes. The problem is two-fold (well, maybe more than two), the lack of resources for every learner, and the pedagogy that the ICT designer employs into the learning package. If the killer app isn't present, then it doesn't make sense to do the ICT in the first place.

I bought Microsoft FSX many months after it was released. Yesterday, the new Service Pack was released, improving performance greatly. I'm not sure it's legal to do this flightplan over New York. Maybe Rod has something to say about that...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

R & R

So I'm back in Teacher's College for some R&R. Teaching Practice was fun; I had excellent mentors who were quite enlightened and progressive, so I had a really good time. Still, it's nice to come back to HQ for some paper strategising before going back to the 'real world' along the front lines.

I'm going back to this school for the third time next month, the brick-colour structure in the middle. The greenery around the place is quite wonderful. It's rare to find significant plots of secondary forests right next to residential areas. I'm not sure how long it will last though. Singapore has perhaps one of the world's boldest plans for population growth, to the tune of a 44% increase in the next 20 years. As more people come to live here, something has to give...