Monday, August 27, 2018

Music: Tian Mi Mi

My family and I saw "Crazy Rich Asians" over the weekend, and to be honest, we were pretty underwhelmed. While it was fun seeing an all Asian and Asian-American cast in a mainstream Hollywood movie, the movie in question was a maudlin, predictable, and (dare I say it?) boring romantic comedy. "Enter the Dragon" it was not.

I did like the "Crazy Rich Asians" soundtrack, though - not just the meta Mandarin and Cantonese covers of famous Western songs, but also the Chinese standards the producers weaved in, sometimes as subtle background music. Hearing Teresa Teng's timeless voice during a high-society party in Singapore means a lot, even for someone who doesn't speak a word of Mandarin:

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Miscellany: Go-Ped KickPed review

As far as kick scooters made for "last mile" commuting go, I've been very happy with my Xootr Roma. However, I was curious about the other major option in this market segment - Go-Ped's "Know Ped" - so I ponied up the cash and bought the KickPed:

The KickPed is a special stripped-down version of the Know Ped made for a prominent bike shop in New York City called NYCeWheels (quick note - everything on Shangrila Towers is bought at retail with my own money; I am not beholden to anyone and do not get special manufacturer "samples"). The KickPed subtracts the Know Ped's front caliper brakes, gets a simpler clearcoat (or black) finish, and has a narrow, kick-friendly deck. Let's see how the KickPed compares with my Xootr Roma, shall we?

Wheels - The KickPed uses wide rubber wheels that eat up sidewalk cracks like candy. It's a lot more comfortable to ride than the Xootr, which has rollerblade-like polyurethane tires that transmit every road imperfection to your body. Of course, you can't get something for nothing - the wide wheels of the KickPed have more rolling resistance, making the scooter a little slower than the Xootr on level ground.

Brakes/Fender - Subtracting the front brake simplifies things a lot in the KickPed, but I find that I really miss the Xootr's elegant front brake system, which allows you to subtly control speed without resorting to the fender brake.

Deck - This one's a tie, I think - both decks feel really solid and haven't worn down a bit. My guess is that the solid aluminum Xootr deck will last longer, but the KickPed deck is no slouch and offers slightly more traction for wet shoes.

Folding Mechanism - The KickPed is dead easy to fold, but there's some movement in the collapsed package - it isn't one rigid piece like the Xootr. The KickPed is also noticeably heavier and bigger when folded than the Xootr. If you're carrying the scooter through a grocery store or a subway line, the Xootr wins.

All in all, the KickPed is a fine scooter that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend. For the type of lunch-hour commuting I do, though, speed is paramount, so the Xootr Roma is still my choice.

Guns: The Tacticool Remington 870 Wingmaster, Part 2 - The Stock and the Weaponlight

I converted my vintage Remington 870 Wingmaster into a modern home defense shotgun. In Part 1 of the series, I swapped out its unwieldy 30" barrel with a shorter 18.5" replacement, a nearly essential upgrade if you plan on using a shotgun indoors. Today, let's look at dressing up the old girl's furniture:

The wood stock that came on my 870 was in great shape, but it had a few shortcomings. It was a bit long for the squared-up fighting stance that's popular these days, it sported an uncomfortable 1980s-era buttpad, and, most importantly, it lacked any place to attach a light to the gun.

If you are short on funds, it's possible to cut an 870 stock and duct tape a light on yourself. I'm lazy, so I opted to grab Magpul's SGA stock, SGA receiver sling mount, M-LOK forend set, and M-LOK cantilever rail mount.

It's an easy install. Besides what Magpul packages in the box, there are no special tools required, save perhaps a long screwdriver to get the original stock off. The cantilever mount gives you a small section of Picatinny rail on the forend, to which you can attach any light you want.

I opted for Streamlight's excellent ProTac Rail Mount 1 - it screws onto the rail in literally five seconds, it's a bit more budget friendly than the SureFire weaponlights, and it can use both AA and CR123A batteries, which can be handy in a grid-down situation (read: hurricanes). While the ProTac comes with a pressure switch, I used the standard endcap to minimize the chance of a negligent light discharge.

With the shotgun now short as possible without a tax stamp, and with the critical addition of a weaponlight, the shotgun is now ready for duty. There are a few more things to add to make it really boss, though.

Upgrades still to come - magazine tube and sidesaddle, sling...

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Food: Griot Caribbean Take Out

The Bay Bay's Chicken & Waffles location near my office closed up shop not long ago, and in its place opened a Haitian take out joint, descriptively named "Griot Caribbean Take Out."

For $7, you can get a half order of griot (fried pork) and a big ole pile of diri djon djon (mushroom-flavored rice and peas), garnished with a small tub of spicy pikliz (pickled cabbage and peppers) - tasty, unpretentious, and oh-so-filling.

Griot ain't the world's best Haitian restaurant, but it's probably the world's best Haitian restaurant within a 5 minute drive from my office.

Rating: 2/4 stars