Saturday, October 23, 2010

Doggie Parkour - "Barkour"

In the recent President's Star Charity, Mediacorp celebrities like Gurmit Singh (picture), Daren Tan, Adam Chen and Paul Foster showed off their gravity-defying stunts of leaps and  vaults along with Parkour performance team Ashton Movements. So what is "Parkour"?

Parkour is an international discipline, sport and hobby that is best described as the art of forward motion in spite of obstacles, or to put it simply: the art of movement. Parkour's chief aim is never to move backward but instead to overcome obstacles fluidly, with strength, originality and speed. The number of possible movements is endless, but here are the basics:
Cat Leap
This move consists of running and leaping from a take off point. Before leaping, the traceur spots where his hands will grab hold of the wall. He launches from the take-off point at a 45-degree angle. As he approaches, he moves his body into landing position that appears as if he's almost sitting in mid air. With legs bent to absorb shock, the traceur makes impact and grabs hold of the ledge while his feet grip the wall. From there, the traceur bends his knees for the power to push up and climb over the ledge.
Landing from a jump, when the traceur is traveling forward, he lands and bends his knees to absorb the impact. As he does this, he uses the forward momentum to go into a roll over his shoulder to transfer the shock of the landing. He places his hands on one side of his head to ensure minimal impact between his shoulder and the ground and, in the meantime, protects his head. The momentum of the jump enables him to land, roll and continue moving so that he is back on in his feet and in a running position. He does all of this in one fluid movement.
Precision Jump
The traceur balances on the edge of a wall, rail or roof, and spots his landing point. After sizing up the distance, he leans toward his landing point while bending the knees. As he jumps, his arms go up and he straightens his body. As he approaches the landing point, the traceur brings his legs forward to make contact while his descending arms provide necessary counterbalance. Upon landing, he bends his knees to slow down and makes a precise jump from point to point.
Kong Vault
Traceurs use this move to propel themselves over a wall when running toward it. The traceur jumps with a good amount of space between him and the wall, and stretches toward it, planting his hands. By this time, he has made his legs parallel to the ground. As his legs catch up with the rest of his body, he uses his arms to catapult him forward. Before landing, the traceur makes sure his posture is correct and spots where he'll finish the move with either a roll (if executing from height) or will carry on running (if the move is executed at a low level).
Speed Vault
This move allows traceurs to launch over a wall without compromising speed. As the traceur approaches the wall, he lays one hand down and leans sideways as he jumps. His hand briefly touches the wall to keep himself stable, he completes the jump and continues running without any break in momentum.
Whilst Parkour is a human endeavour., train a dog in Parkour and you have "Barkour" haha. Most of us would be familiar with Dog Agility - doggie obstacle course. But compared to Parkour, Agility would be child's play. Parkour is an extreme sports that is physically demanding as you can see.

TreT, a 33 pound, 4 year old American Staffordshire Terrier wonder dog from Ukraine is a hit at YouTube doing the doggie version of Parkour, attracting over 480,000 views.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nature right in our backyard and neighbourhood

We may be living a urban jungle with all the high rise buildings all around us but if we would just open our eyes and keep a look out we'll find an amazing variety of critters and nature around us.

I found this rather unusual Grasshopper at the back of my house one evening. It is not your usual grasshopper as you can see. Looks like some kind of Alien from another planet lol. I have probably come across this species of insect a couple times before. After doing a little research I learned that it is a species of Katidids. Curious about the hook shaped belly at the rear, I searched and found the answer - it is a female and the "scythe-shaped ovipositor" is where the eggs will come out. 
This type of snails I have not seen for a long time. Recently spotted a few crawling in the neighborhood grass patch. Anyone knows what the name for this species?

I have seen squirrels many times in pretty built-up areas. This one at Chip Bee Estate.It has a rather longish snout, longer than others I've seen.

Wild mushrooms anyone? I've seen many different types of wild mushrooms but that's one subject that I am totally unfamiliar with. Any mushroom expert?

Spotted this common Kingfisher in a HDB neighborhood, Commonwealth Cresecent. White Throat Kingfisher? Too bad I don't have a long lens but I am glad today's mobile phone comes in real handy with it's camera feature. I have a Sony Ericsson VIVAZ and I like it very much. Give me a mobile phone with a good camera in it. That's all I ask : )

This unusually large lizard, 8" long head to tail, and the skin texture and markings unlike our regular house lizards had been spotted a number of times in our kitchen before I decided to capture it for a closer examination. Unfortunately the tail broke off as they always do. I remember when I was young every time we catch a lizard the tail would invariably break off. I found out that it's a self-defense mechanism. If a predator is chasing them and grabs them by the tail, it'll break off, allowing the lizard to escape. The broken tail will wriggle for quite some time. I released it afterward. I have been told that the tail will regrow.

Being a nature lover I somehow have a heightened sensitivity about their presence. I have seen many different types of Parrots and Parakeets in the Bukit Timah district. Once I spotted a Hornbill perched on a rooftop TV antenna. I am beginning to see one of the many benefits of blogging; it pushes me to seek answers which otherwise I would not have bothered.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy ending in Chiliean mine rescue


Watching news reports of the successful rescue of the 33 miners who had been trapped in a Chilean mine for more than two months I can't help but compare it to the bungled rescue efforts of a bus hijacking in the Philippines in August that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead. One can't help but feel for the families of the victims in these incidences; it is only human. I felt sad for the families of the Hong Kong tourists killed in the Philippines hijack The Chilean amazing rescue was really something to cheer about, when under pretty difficult conditions both the miners and their rescuers prevailed.

  • August 5 Mine collapsed
  • August 22 a narrow drill breaks through 2,257 feet (688 meters) of solid rock to reach an emergency refuge where the miners had gathered. 
  • August 23 Preliminary estimate it will take 4 months to carve a tunnel wide enough to pull them out. 
  • Oct. 9 Sixty-six days after the mine collapse, a drill breaks through to their emergency refuge.
  • Oct. 13 The effort to bring the trapped men out of the mine one-by-one begins.
  • Escape shaft : 2041ft
  • Escape Capsule : Named FENIX 2, 5.1/4ft Height x Slightly less than 23" wide. 
  • Though the journey up the shaft was originally estimated to take half an hour, it took only 16 minutes for miners to be pulled up the shaft, with the final ascents lasting only around nine.  
  • Rescue time: 22 hours 
  • 14 October Rescue ended : 3:35 GMT Thursday,

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The way to eat Teochew Muay (Porridge)

I've had these two picture in my file for quite some time. It captures the way the common folks used to eat their Teochew Porridge. Remember that these are mostly the working class as YG have mentioned in his blog and Teochew Muay was something that's most affordable to them. It's not such a common sight nowadays. You can say they are a dying breed. If my memory serves me right, my father told me that in the 50's each bowl of porridge cost just two cents.

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