Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Update: You can now donate to the American Red Cross.

I remember when news of the Asian Tsunami started filtering in through news agency last Boxing Day. At first they weren't treating the whole thing seriously. News outlet and government agency played down the significance of the destruction.

History repeated itself few days ago when early news seems to have dismissed the potential chaos and destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. Situation seems to have worsen with the breach in New Orleans's flood barriers. Because the city is beneath sea level, 80% of the city has been flooded. Latest from Channel 4's New Orleans correspondent are thousands (rumour) of people might have died in the disaster.

One of our Tube Relief challenger, the fantastic New Orleans Police Captain Tami Brisset is currently 'stuck' in the UK, waiting for flights to return to her home and family. She has secured a flight tomorrow through Gatwick and will be staying overnight in Jenni's flat in Brighton.

The Evening Standard (above is a shot from the early edition) has published a short newspiece of Tami's situation. Nice of them.

New Orleans: Our thoughts are with you all.

Update: BBC News London has screened up an interview with Tami. It is about two minutes long. You can still view it here.

Okay folks. GMTV would be interviewing Tami between 6.30-6.45am tomorrow. They would whisk her off to Gatwick first before doing the interview there. I think Geoff's media whoring habit has been a big influence in Tami's media courting the past few days.

Update: 7.15pm interview broadcasted.

Update (3 Sept):

Message from Tami:

I made it to Tampa Florida. My son is alive and in North Mississippi in a shelter.

BBC Radio 4 TODAY called on my cell phone which I can only retrieve message . ANDREA at 20XXXXXX. Can someone call her and tell her that I am at 504-XXX-XXXX for a while. Thanks.

My sister's birthday and anniversary of my mother's death is today and I am praying that we find her. My nephew has started back to the area where she stayed to look for her.

The city is in complete chaos from what I am hearing. I am hearing that police are just leaving their posts. Thugs are shooting at rescuers and police now. It is anarchy. I am still trying to find a way to get home . Fred is going to Texas at his sisters with his mom. Joshua will stay here in Tampa with Fred's ex-inlaws and go to school.

I am going to try to get to New Orleans to start helping and looking for my officers. I posted on local forums for assistance and havent received any replys. I simple dont know where they are.

I miss you all desperately and wish some nice rich helpful person will just say -0 here's a home, here's a job for you and fred, here's a life. I was waiting 3 yrs. to retire to come there but now it seems to be all gone. I am more miserable here than when I was there with you all. I know my hubby, pups, and sons are alright but it is surreal.

Now on a lighter note: Jen was a great hostess puting me up in Brighton. She could always be a B&B owner if she chooses to change professions.

The airline was great. They upgraded me to bus class and I only needed 1 valium . The best I will eat for months I am sure. GMTV picked Jen and I up in a car thata was more expensive than my house. Or the house I had.

I got back to the states with 4 pounds in my pocket, $50 dollars in my purse and a heavy heart. I will trasure my experience with yall every day amd will keep in touch. Please encourage people to help us. I dont know how I will get any money from the govt. to help my family. I just hope it goes to all of us in need. I told a few of ya'll.: I am always in control and my job is to protect and serve as my motto is but I feel helpless and displaced. My encouraging thoughts are thinking that you are are there and my new family!

Will write when I get to GROUND ZERO! Geoff let them all know Robin at Virgin, Lucy at GMTV, etc. I made it here. Now I have to go buy some ammo.

Tube Relief report

Because I can't be arsed to type out a proper Tube Relief Challenge report (with logs and everything) you should go and read Geoff's excellent report here.

I am completedly knackered out of a couple of events last weekend but I will do a little summary on what happened on our team that day. Just a general report (no station to station logs) out of obligation to those who sponsored us online and offline. Look out for Jenni's report in the next few days too.

We did 250+ stations. When I meant '+' it is because everytime I get a clean map to retrace the route I would count either 250, 251 or 252 stations. I always miss something! So officially we did between 250 and 252 stations.

Geoff has a good write up on what happened early on between Amersham and Harrow & Wealdstone. Most of us were still clinging on together before making our way down the Bakerloo Line.

We split at Elephant & Castle before heading toward Stratford on the Jubilee Line. But our train had to terminate at Canary Wharf so we had to change here. Here we got our first warning through the tannoy with a stern warning that 'any forms of photography is strictly prohibited'.

As far as we are concerned, we knew that photography is allowed on the underground as long as flashes are supressed so we did not really heed the announcement until a second warning came up on the tannoy. We then noticed a security guy walking around. We hid behind the large 'Canary Wharf' underground sign and heard his walkie talkie blurting out something to do with 'people taking pictures'. Fortunately for us the next Jubilee Line train arrived and we dashed in.

We only met one other group at Woodford. Norm and Matt were on the same train as us from Epping but we only met them at Woodford. We did the Hainault loop together before splitting up at Stratford with us heading towards Central London and they doing the Jubilee Line.

After doubling back from Stanmore down to Wembley Park we wanted to take the Met Line to Uxbridge. We were pretty sick of our Snickers and energy bars by now and because the next Uxbridge train leaves in 10 minutes we decided to get a 'proper meal' outside the station. I frequent Wembley Park often so I know the layout outside pretty well. Two minutes later we were at Subways, got our foot long Italian BMT, paid and leave. We got back on the platform with 3 minutes to spare. Not too bad.

The Northern Line was possibly the most boring part to do. With so many doubling back it was a time consuming line. We did a break at Euston meeting up with the Euston support crew and getting our polaroids taken. Then was back to business.

The Victoria Line as usual was stuffy with hot air. Down at Morden we took the bus to Wimbledon. Nice area. Very upmarket.

At Aldgate East around 10pm at night we disembark down from the District Line train only to find the station closing! Tiredness is creeping in and I did not know what to do. At the ticket platform it was chaos. We needed to get the Hammersmith & City line but the platform was locked shut. Luckily for us the SA heard our plea and he found his keys and let us into the westbound platform. Phew.

We arrived at Upminster around 12.45am. It was hell of a journey. At times my body just felt sick and I had a genuine feeling of dropping out when we were at Ealing Broadway (my bed is 10 minutes walk away).

Helene sent us back to Ealing. It was an amusing ride, listening to them bickering with Neil.

We got home sometime after 3am and I wrote a short blog entry, read a little bit of Annie Mole's live blogging then slumped down the bed till about 2pm.

Feeling slightly better I went to hunt down Ealing Times as I knew they would be printing a newspiece on my Tube Relief attempt.

As of today we have as a collective, raised over £11,000 (US$20,000) for the London Bombings Relief Charitable Fund. There is still a chance to donate here.

Will I do this again? Of course I will. If we did not mess up the Hainult loop (by going anti-clockwise first time round), got dumped at Canary Wharf, didn't have to do so many toilet breaks, cancelled our original planned route (Elephant & Castle to Morden then the bus to Wimbledon) then it was possible we could have done 275 stations that day.

But we did not. And it costed us dearly. So dammit of course I will do it again next year.

Pictures are on Flickr. Group pool. Post-event report.

Update: Blimey, I hadn't realise how my long my 'summary' went! Jenni has a pre-24 hour Tube Relief report.

Update 2: More pictures here:

Billy (Cowfish)'s Tube Relief
Matt's Tube Relief/post-event party
Neil's Tube Relief
Neil's post-event party
Norm's Tube Relief
Norm's post-event party
Stephen's Tube Relief

plus videos by Luke Hopewood

plus post-event party write-up

and another meet-up some months later

Links to all Tube Relief bloggers:

Annie Mole Geoff Tami Helene Anne-Marie Liz Billy Neil Norman Ann Chz Matt Ric Chris

Dissent can be a good thing

It can. Especially today.


Last Saturday we had a little chat with a nice lad from Scotland. Jonathan (yay!) happens to be married to an oriental (Taiwanese) and one game they like to play (or so claims Jon) is to guess which nationality some of the many orientals who walk London's streets everyday.

Weird? Of course not. Me and Jennifer plays this very game. We do not think it is racist but merely analysing our skills in stereotyping people then putting them into groups of nations. (Okay so it is mildly politically incorrect but so what?)

Example would be we notice a bunch of orientals on the tube. We would then discuss (in hush voice of course) and debate their ethnicity. Pinpointing Japanese tourists are easy - their (lack of) fashion sense is highly obvious. Koreans is a little tricky but as Jon puts it - Koreans are Japanese minus five years (behind the trends).

Most of the time getting things right would depend on us having to listen to their conversation. This is where things get tricky. My cantonese is appalling so I wouldn't be able to differentiate the accent of HongKong'nese and the South East Asian cantonese crowd.

Mandarin is easier (even though I do not speak the language). Getting the mainland chinese is superbly easy through this. From years of experience dealing with new students from P.R.C. I am always able to single them out by their mandarin accent which when compared to Malaysian mandarin accent - the chinese seems to speak with sliver in their mouth. Yeuch!

Of course most of the time it comes down to clothes, skin colour and hair style. Jon got me as originating from Malaysia because of my tanned skin (and probably my non-chalant non-dyed hair).

Now a darker shade of brown shouldn't be used to judge as my skin is so tanned to an extent that I can be classified as a Brazilian. But experience counts and my experience is most orientals originating from Northern regions (Hong Kong, Taiwan etc.) avoids the sun whenever possible.

Whenever you first visit a foreign country everybody apparently looks the same to you no? Not to me. But I do know many tourists who find it hard to recognise 'those white men' and tend to describe them as 'they all look alike', much like to some all 'chinese look alike' with slit eyes.

Recently we started broadening our game to include caucasians. With EU borders loosening up a little bit we are starting to see an influx of Polish and other Eastern European immigrants into London. Not a bad thing as they are very hard working. (I do know of some idiots who hate em all but fuck em, what do they know?)

One thing based on observation is the way Anglo-Saxons and Eastern Europeans dress. I find that in 80% of the case Eastern Europeans prefer to dress up in 'Americanised' clothing such a bikers jacket and mainly (90%) American sports brand. Not sure why. Perhaps mainland Europe is more 'westernised' than the Brits?

Another game we play (well most of the time it's just me) is sorting the Londoners from the Brit day-trippers. This is highly amusing but extremely difficult because of the diversity in London's metropolitan community. 7 million people. Usually we tend to just sort out the chavvies from the yuppies but that's easy.


Then there are the summer students from Europe. I do not hate them. I despise them. Not for who they are but for the way they treat London. 99% of them are guilty of at least one of the following crimes:

1. Thinking they know more about Londres than us.
2. Thinking they know more about the Tube than us.
3. Thinking that it is okay to crowd along a section of a Tube platform.
4. Thinking it is okay to swipe their pink ticket over the Oyster RFID reader. Therefore wasting time for the rest of us.
5. Thinking it is okay to stare. In the eyes.
6. Thinking it is okay to ask questions in
Fran├žais (when speaking la langue du diable in Paris is frowned upon).

It is very easy to spot this bunch of little rascals. They tend to group together carrying ruck sacks sporting logos like EFL or ELS. They frequent fast food joints like McDonalds and Burger King despite hailing from culinary sophisticated countries. They talk loudly, are extremely rude and speak in nonsensical languages.

Actually just like my fellow Malaysians I used to school with in the Midlands back in 1998.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Book Review: Yes Man

The amazing tale of what happens when you decide to say... YES!

An extremely funny book. Anybody who has read Join Me would probably know that Yes Man is another classic Danny Wallace boy project - much like his current BBC's How to Start your own Country programme or his latter Are you Dave Gorman? pub project.

Having been dumped by Hanne, Danny Wallace has been saying 'No' to alot of things. No to stag nights. No to pubs. No to friends. No to doing things you would never do - like flying to Singapore for no reasons. One day on a bus a life changing conversation with a 'teacher' led him to his new manifesto for life.

While funny there are a couple of, what I suspect, lies in the book. I wouldn't have suspect that Danny with all his brilliance would have felled over through e-mail scams on rich dead Sultans and Spanish Lottery. He was probably pulling a fast one on us readers and I don't believe them one bit.

Much like a proper book, there would be a villain that appeared around half-way through the book in his/her/their attempt to scupper Danny's new 'Yes' regime.

As with Join Me, Hanne and Ian appears quite regularly. With Hanne now single and able to meet with other men, Danny would find it hard to sort out his new love interest.

I have been thinking alot recently about when I said 'Yes' to
Tube Relief. I am glad I did it. Without Tube Relief we wouldn't have raised money for the victims and family of the London bombings and we wouldn't have met great and wonderful people.

While this book did not influence my decision to participate in Tube Relief (I read it in early August after committing myself to Tube Relief), it made me realised that I have been saying 'No' to alot of things.

Soon after Tube Relief, Jenni asked whether I would love to attend Hogmanay New Year celebration in Scotland. I have been saying no to her for four years because I just love to spend New Year in London. But being the good sport I promised to be, I said 'Yes' this time round. And I am looking forward to it!

Read the book. Though not as outrageous as Join Me, it is still a bloody funny book. Just say 'Yes'!

Notting Hill Carnival 2005: Monday

We attended the second day of the Notting Hill Carnival but only for a few hours this time. This was because we were both knackered over yesterday's kiddies carnival and of the Tube Relief.

I forgot to charged my camera's battery last night hence I only had enough for around 130 shots! *Curse*

If you recognise yourself, e-mail me and I will send you a large copy.

We had a wonderful time. The sun was blazing hot and had a nice tan (us, not the sun). Around
500,000 party-goers attended which is pretty good figure considering the circumstances.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Tube Relief: Ric and Mark Whitby

When we were chatting with Ric during the post-event party yesterday evening, he mentioned to us that he appeared on the telly during the infamous (and so inaccurate) Mark Whitby's interview on the BBC after the Stockwell shooting.

The first reaction was no wonder he looked familiar! I believe him of course but I wanted to see it again just to be sure. There are no BBC News 24 archive on teh Interweb but look what I found:

BBC News - I saw Tube man shot - eyewitness - 'He looked like a cornered fox'

That is Ric! Behind the confused fella!

BTW an amusing story to share with some readers who may not yet have read Annie Mole's Tube Relief blog. I will just copy and paste here:
David and Ric arrived at Finchley Central on a High Barnet train which then departed.

They spoke to the station assistant (SA) to enquire when the next Mill Hill East train was, which was described as 19 minutes. This would really affect their progress getting back, so they looked very disappointed, as they had told him about the challenge. The SA then went away, (unbeknown to them, spoke to the control room) and came back and told them that the next train to arrive would be re-routed to Mill Hill East in 2 minutes time.

When it arrived, the driver announced the sudden change and massess of people poured off the train to await a High Barnet service and five people got on the train to Mill Hill East!!!!! How amazing is that????
I just heard on the news that Hurricane Katrina is slowly moving towards New Orleans where Tami hails from. I hope all goes well for Tami and her four Chihuahuas! If not I will do a whole Tube Relief just for her!

Notting Hill Carnival 2005

We started at Ladbroke Grove and worked our way up to Kensal Green before heading towards Kensal Road, then cutting through Golborne Road and back to Ladbroke Grove.

I am glad that the police were having their usual sense of fun during Carnival time:

This year's sponsors included the Army and BBC London.


These kids were actually sitting in front of a large set of speakers oblivious to the fact that it was playing very very loud music. And no, there were no ear plugs on them.

Related post:

Notting Hill Carnival 2005: Monday