Friday, January 25, 2019

Sharing is Caring

People who know me well would know that I very rarely forward chain mails or Whatsapp messages. Of course I sometimes share funny pictures or quotes through Whatsapp. But there have been many, many occasions when I received unverified or unconfirmed news, pleading me to forward or share with friends, with a special emphasis that if I cared about my friends and loved ones, I'd share the news with them. 

What I have noticed, perhaps 99% of the times, whenever a message tells you to forward or share with others, it is very likely that it is plain rubbish. Recently, I received a message through Whatsapp with an attached photo of what seemed to be a Pakistani man. The message tells the reader that he's a conman who'd go from house to house in the village and would cast spells on people, who'd then give him money. Many people had been tricked that way. The message tells the reader to immediately contact the police if he knocks on the door. The message then pleads to be forwarded to friends and loved ones to warn them.

There are surprisingly many, many gullible people out there. They fall for this sort of messages all the time. They get tricked over and over again, and they will never learn. I did not forward the above message, of course, but instead I asked the person who sent me the message if he had discovered its origin; the identity of the man in the photo; and if the message had been confirmed to be true. His reply—and this is the surprising part—is that he did not even attempt to discover the truth of the matter. He said he simply forwarded the message to everybody "just in case if it's true", because after all, "Sharing is caring".

He's not the first person who'd given me that justification for forwarding unconfirmed messages. Always, "just in case if it's true". Most people would say that they're sharing with others because they care. It's nothing personal.

To be very honest, I'm quite sick of that sentence: It's nothing personal. For what it really means is that it's not personal to them. But one of these days, someone out there will spread lies about them, perhaps spreading those lies in chain mails or Whatsapp messages, and I bet it would then become personal—to them. Always, we don't think that the truth is very important when somebody else is the subject of the allegation. The truth becomes important only when we are the victims of lies. We resent it when people tell lies about ourselves, but we'd readily forward or share messages which we have no clue if they're true or false. It seems harmless to spread lies for the sake of "just in case it's true"; but it only becomes harmful when we are the victims of lies.

Verifying and confirming the truth of what we receive from friends are not generally the habit of most people. It seems much simpler to just immediately share with friends because "sharing is caring". Whether or not we may contribute to cause pain on innocent people by helping to spread lies, that possibility seems not so important; and that is such an irony.

Well, I range myself on the side of the minority—I'm NOT sharing unverified messages because I care. I care about my friends and loved ones; I try my best to prevent them from helping other people to spread (possible) lies.

Monday, January 21, 2019


Some women are very good when it comes to bicycles; and when I say "good", I mean everything about bicycles—from the bike-handling up to mechanical aspects. I said SOME, and "some" in this case is probably no more than 5% of the female population; maybe even much lesser than that. Of the remaining 95%, there is a wide range of bike-handling abilities, as well as knowledge and common sense about bicycles. Some women that I know have been riding bicycles for years, yet they don't know how to change a tube when they have a puncture.

My wife has been cycling for a few years now, but she is still not very good in bike-handling. She used to ride a tribike, but after a few years, I came to the conclusion that she would NEVER know how to shift the gear without having a traumatic experience, simply because shifting the gear while balancing the bike was a huge feat to her. In the end, I bought her a road bike, of which it's much easier to shift the gears, since the shifters are located on the handlebar, whereas the shifters for the tribike are located at the end of the aerobars.

At times, very simple bike issues may arise. Say for example her brake pad is touching her rim on one side, and no amount of adjusting the caliper can remedy the problem. She has no common sense to discover that the rim is slightly misaligned and doesn't sit perfectly fit onto the bike frame.

The Sunday before last, my wife went cycling. It was a part of her training in preparation for the 70.3 New Zealand race. You see, I'm racing the Ironman in Taupo, New Zealand on the first weekend of March, and she has decided to come along, although she's only doing the half distance.

She arrived home that day and gave me something in the order of a shock. Her right elbow and right knee were bleeding profusely; her helmet cracked and her cycling jersey was also torn on the elbow. I thought she was knocked down by a car or some other vehicle. But no, according to her, it was merely a pothole which she rode into, which resulted in her losing her balance, which in turn led to her crashing onto the road.

Thankfully, she didn't break any bone, and her bike was also OK except for some minor issues. The first time I raced Ironman New Zealand a few years ago, I was also involved in a bike crash with my friend, Teo a few weeks before the race, as related here. This time, it's her turn. I hope I will escape from any bike accident up to the race day. So anyway, she went to see the doctor for treatment. But as you can probably guess, her wounds would take a bit of time to heal. It really breaks my heart whenever I see my wife in pain, and no matter how hard I try, I can never get used to it!

Then came another Sunday—yesterday. As I was saying, her wounds have not properly healed, but she said she wanted to proceed with her bike training anyway. According to her, she wanted to break the jinx

I have had my bike training the day before on Saturday. So yesterday morning, I slept in. I woke up at about 7am, and then went swimming at 8:30am. But later that morning, I received a call from my wife; and seeing her name on my phone screen, immediately my heart rate shot up through the roof. You see, usually she would only call me when there is something wrong.

The good news was that it wasn't another accident, which was such a huge relief for me. It was just that as she was trying to shift from the big crank to the small one, the chain dropped, and it became lodged in between the crank and the bike frame. Quite a simple problem and quite common too. Firstly, how to prevent the problem; and that is by pedalling SLOWER and not too much force when shifting. Secondly, how to dislodge the chain; and that is by simply using the fingers to pull the chain out, or failing that, simply reverse the direction of the pedal. But no, women, as I was saying, don't have such common sense. So I had to drive about 45 minutes from home to rescue her at Mengkabong Bridge where she was stranded. I spent a jiffy dislodging the chain and then the bike was ready to go again. But by then, she had decided to call it the day. She said she had logged about 75km by then.

So the conclusion of the story was that she DID NOT manage to break the jinx yet. I wonder if she will be successful this coming Sunday. I'm waiting with my fingers crossed...