Friday, May 31, 2013

Maleic Acid In Your Bubble Milk Tea

It has finally happened. The Tapioca balls, yes, those cute little chewy black balls in those sweet Taiwanese franchised tea house, has received bad rapport again. Again? Yes, this is not the first time that issue pertaining to food safety of these drinks has surfaced and the only reason why these are mushrooming and surviving in the country is due to one simple reason - denial by the consumer.
What Are The Scandals?
As early as 2009, it was reported in a Vietnam paper that the balls served in the "Bubble milk tea" contained "plastic polymers". The truth, as they say, can't be more strange.
Chewy? Heh
It was then about two years later, the news finally start hitting the masses. The plastic compound was later identified as DEHP.
DEHP -diethylhexyl phthalate
It rocked the Taiwan food industry and you know it become a problem when a country like China, that can manufacture almost ANYTHING (including FAKE MEAT) start banning importation of those food to their country.
More news came out about these, and even the land of "Plastic surgery", South Korea, begin to shun the products.
Bridge Under Water
When the issue of plastics in food subsided, it did not take more than a year when suddenly more Taiwan Bubbletea stores opened in Klang Valley. Most, if not all claimed that their "Pearl and Tapioca Balls are REAL FOOD and Natural".
To be honest, I myself had at one point of time, subscribed to this idea of  "Natural food". Well, that was until I chance upon a cup of leftover when walking my dogs and started to observe the content (that was Natural Tapioca Balls) and realised it looked the same for days, and then weeks. I then found another one about two weeks later and it looked fresh, perhaps a day or two old. I then did the unthinkable - took it home, placed it where the sun, rain and elements will so call accelerate the composting and record it from time to time.
Day 1, March 5. 
After about 2 weeks, I noticed there were no ants, no flies, no smell. One may argue that not having any ants simply meant there is no ants around the home. I agree. But no flies? I have two dogs and I clean the home twice a day of the feces...some flies got to land there and lay eggs, no?
Two weeks later. The balls looked intact, short of those that was soaked at the bottom due to rain. But you can see the shape is still there
Yeap, NO. No flies, no ants, no smell. That was worrying. These balls were made to last. One may argue that the acidity in the tummy may digest them, after all, these are well, "natural". However, I am yet to see any homemade tapioca ball, such as the Tong Yuen, actually lasting longer than...errmm...two days and not having/being slimy.
Winter Solstice 2012. Deliver to me by my Mum 
So, did the drink finally lasted the whole 4 weeks of scrutiny? It very well did. And if something that claimed to be "natural"  can last that long, either we are missing a Superfood inventory or the food is just fake. When I publicised this, i received many negative comments. Some came up with scientific explanation why my testing/experiment is wrong. Many say i should had spit and let the saliva "eat the pearls to simulate digestion". Sometimes, the comments given goes to show just how much you actually paid attention in school...or reinforced that "common sense ain't too common after all".
Day 35. Woohoo!
The Scandal Is Back
I was having a conversation with my mum just two days ago. That was when she told me that she has been eating these tapioca balls on weekly basis as a way to spend time with my dad. Sweet of them. The secrecy was because they know I would not approve of it. And it came up as the news was on the newspaper - the Chinese paper that she read, that is. And just yesterday (May 29), my ex-colleague shared this with me.
Oh my...
Good news and bad news. The Good news is that there is no more plasticisers (DEHP) in the food. However, to counter that, the ingenious food tech came up with something else, introducing Maleic Acid into the food to help with the texture (bitey eh?).
Maleic acid, not to be confused with Malic Acid, is a chemical that is used extensively for some industrial process. Fancy eating the same stuff that make up your vehicle plastic parts and paint? Or how about being able to synthesise benzene with this chemical compound?
If you are interested, search for the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) of Maleic Acid and learn about it. Myself being involved with consulting and project development over the past 6 years has taught me to look at MSDS of any substance and identify it's risk. Needless to say, Maleic acid is considered and classified as toxic. Maleic acid is classified under NFPA as "3" for Health, which meant a short exposure will cause temporary and moderate residue injury.
It was interesting to see how a few of these stores has even gotten lab reports to claim that their pearls are free from Maleic acid. I say that's very good. However, I also found an article online, by the same lab that did the test, notifying that there are many unknown inside the Tapioca balls. 
Having said all that, and reading through all the paper reports, I would say there are two approach to this. You can continue to buy and eat them, after all, it is your own body, OR, you can avoid and not take it anymore. Either way, the choice is yours.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Skechers GoBionicRide Review

I hope the unboxing entry has pique your interest with this "normal" looking Skechers. Yes, previously, the last few pairs has been very "loud" and has drawn much attention to the shoe instead of the runner. With a "Black Is Back" Skechers GoBionicRide (GBR), it all seems to go back to basic - as how running should be. My previous experience with the minimalist GoBionic was really pleasant. I am given 3-pairs of "sponsored" shoes from Skechers under the 2ndSkin-Skechers collaboration and I am seriously considering to reserve the last pair for another GoBionic.
Then i recieved a good news that Skechers is passing me a complimentary pair of GoBionicRide for review/comparison/use. I am very appreciative.
The GoBionicRide
I like the fact that I am allowed to write what I think in my review. Having said that, I was not sure how I should approach a "familiar shoe with some extras". I meant, the GoBionic was a "Been There - Done That". So when I first wore the GBR for the first run, it felt right at home.
With Socks
I tried the shoe with the same socks I will wear when I went to pick it up at 1Utama. This is important as I want to minimize the chances of taking the wrong sized shoe and regretting it.
So, remember, always bring along your own socks (also for hygiene purpose) and try the shoes in evening or late evening when your feet all swelled up. That way, you get the "worse case scenario fitting" and the shoe you try will be able to fit you perfectly even after wearing it the whole day.
*Please take note that all comparison made against this shoe is to the GoBionic
The shoe felt like GoBionic on the run with a more pronounced bump at the midfoot. Not a bad thing actually and the feeling will subside once your feet get used to the bump. For myself, being able to land mid/forefoot has made this transition way easier.
Light Shoe. Fast Shoe.
Verdict With Socks
Fit - Perfect for me. No complains here. However, I did felt a hot spot under my right big toe. It could be the socks. I am not sure. Will need to clock in more mileage to verify.
Cushioning - This is a minimalist with a bit of cushion. As expected and similar to GoBionic, superb as the Resalyte material soak up the impact adequately.
Build - as expected, no complains. Similar to GoBionic and the other Skechers Performance shoes. This shoe I gotten were checked before I leave the store.
I ran really hard with this shoe. Covered a decent 10km in 56minutes including photo and video taking.

Does looked like footprint eh?
Without Socks and Sockliners
Brave move on a new shoe. As the GoBionicRide did promised "customised ride", there should not be any issue to run without socks and/or with/without sockliners. If you look at it, there are 6 combination you can experiment with to find the perfect fit.
The feel of the shoe is very "grounded" without the socks and sockliner. While GoBionic is Zero Drop, this GoBionicRide is 4mm and IMO, suffice and create a very natural or close to natural ground feel already. My  experience with GoTrail and GoRun2 present to me the 4mm drop and this is no difference - in fact, it felt like home already ;-)
Notice how the heel section curves upwards and my midfoot is square planted?
The short (fast) run I did returned good results. While there were slight hotspot on the (outer) big toes of both feet, everything else was good. By hotspot I meant parts that is in contact with the shoe with the feet that felt hot. It could, or could not cause blisters. In this case, it could be just this instance of running under the hot (12pm) sun, with the feet working overtime (sweat) and quick footwork. Happy to note that the other times (after this noon run), everything was alright.
Shadow casted by the hot afternoon 12.30pm sun.

Verdict Without Socks and Sockliners
Fit - A little loose on the top and sorted by tying the laces tighter. Hotspot was still there similarly like the day before (the socks run above) but considerably less even in hot afternoon. Shoes breaking in perhaps?
Cushioning - despite the missing socks and liner, not so much of an issue. I had expected the Resalyte to work as they should. No issue.
6km was clocked in 27minutes on this shoe with average of tempo 4:30min/km and a section where I kept a 3:30 pace for almost 1km. What I noticed is that the shoes' grip is good for a minimalist where I felt sure whenever I push through the bend. Perhaps the improved sections at the sole did help. 
3:30min/km pace? Very possible!

For myself, it is really a quest to test these shoes out so you, my reader, can make more informed choices. If you are a fan of minimalist shoes and has heard/tried the GoBionic before, this could very well be a good trainer to complement the GoBionic. In other words, keep the GoBionic for races and use this GoBionicRide for training. Eventhough the GoBionic has good lifespan (based on my own testing), it doesn't hurt to prolong the life of this superlight shoe. GoBionicRide does just that! Prolong!
Right On Time For Review ;-)
Note: This pair of Skechers GoBionicRide is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair of GoBionicRide retail for RM369 (Women) and RM399 (Men) and is available at all Skechers store. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

KDCF Trail Fun Run 2013

Update June 7, 2013
I just received an email from the organiser that the FUN RUN event is cancelled this Sunday. Please be informed and please be in touch with the organisers on refunds or any other matters. I was told that they plan to hold this event later and I will leave it to the organisers to inform the date.
This is regretable and the organisers would like to apologise for the inconviniences caused. 



This year, KDCF Society is excited to be hosting a World Environment Day 2013 event and welcome the wider community to our important urban forest.
Aside from fun-filled forest recreation and nature education activities for the whole family, they will be featuring  demonstrations, info stalls and presentations to get people thinking about the international theme of Think.Eat.Save which aims to get all of us thinking about how we can cut down on how much we consume, and how much waste we put into the world! Find out more about this year’s theme and consider what your household can do to make a change today!
This event is In cooperation with the Selangor Forestry Department and Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya.

Even though it's just a fun run, there will be timing involve where participants can check the results online post-event. Medals will be given to top 5 finishers as well.

The format will be a 8km run around KDCF. To know more about KDCF, click here

Here are the activities post Run for the event.
Activities planned for the day!
See you all there!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Aqua Sphere Kaiman Review

I was looking for that perfect swimming goggles. Before I go on, is there such a thing as "perfect"? No. There isn't, but Aqua Sphere come close to it. Over the years, I've owned no less than 10 pairs of goggles, each claim to outperform the other one and only do be disappointed after the first use, or they became unusable after the third application. There are mostly due to the goggle not able to seal properly or fogged up too easily. 
I first heard of Aqua Sphere back in 2007 when I was searching for the perfect pair. It never came my way until Mid 2012 when a friend offered me to buy if off him as it was wrongly "bought". 
Someone's mistake was my goldmine. This Aqua Sphere became mine at price below buying price. Putting it on the first time, i immediately noticed the good fit. In fact, adjusting was super easy. just need to push the side button while pulling the loose straps and you are done! No more tugging, adjusting etc.
Press the Aqua Sphere side button to adjust. Easy!
The seal of this pair was good. No instances that I had water seeping in over the past 8 months of usage. The fit stayed true as the whole goggle was made of Silicon rubber (except the hard plastic adjustment button). But as expected, the lens started to fog up since I last used it for Xterra Malaysia.
Kayenne Sitting Pretty On My Head
I will next try to apply some anti-fog liquid and see if it will help prolong the service life of his goggle.
Good investment and inexpensive considering the service it puts me through over the period of ownership (about 8 months, 3 races and many times of swim). 

Editor's note: I mistaken this for Kayenne when it should be Kaiman. Thanks to a friend on Twitter for point this out. Appreciated it!

For another review, check out my buddy Isaac Loo's write up here :

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Skechers GoBionicRide Unboxing

I had good experiences running in the GoBionic and has since retired this first pair about 1 month plus ago. Having clocked very decent mileage on the shoes and scored a few personal best timing on the superlight minimalist Skechers Performance Shoe, I am of course, on the look out for "the next best thing". As I am under the sponsorship of 2ndSkin Asia, which collaborate with Skechers Malaysia, I recieved a pair of just launched GoBionicRide.
GoBionicRide- - The Box
Going according to the Skechers' naming convention, the word "Ride" usually meant a "plushier" setting. Having the GoBionic (minimalist) going cushion-y is sort of a contradiction, no? I am about to find out as I go through the differences between the original GoBionic against the new GoBionicRide.
Came nicely wrapped back from the shop
Black is Back
Lets get the similarity out of the way first. Both the GoBionic and GoBionicRide share the same features such as the Resalyte sole, the M-strike technology, The 4mm drop (GoBionic is ZERO Drop) and independent pods at the sole. Other similarity is that I took the same size (US10). This was tested at the shop using socks that I will wear with the shoes.
The similarities
Another similarity is the tongue is sewn to the top. This help in fast wearing/transition as the tongue will never be in the way.It also help prevent small stones or sand from getting in should you run past anything (sandy) like that.
Sewn tongue to top
I know this post is supposed to the the "unboxing" post. Saved for the similarity, this entry will concentrate on the differences and if it will make a differences or influences your purchase.
Could very well passed off as an Original GoBionic
As a curious user, I would obviously be on the look out for the major differences between the two shoes. If you just take a glance, there is no significant differences other than the perforation of the sockliner as shown in the photo above.
That is, until you dig deeper.
One of the more essential part to this shoe and I have learnt how something this simple makes a lot of differences to the shoe's ride. The GoBionicRide sockliner is harder, thicker and perforated when compared to the original GoBionic.
GoBionic on top. GoBionicRide bottom.
The thickness of the GoBionicRide is about 50% more when compared to the GoBionic.
As seen and gauge from eye
This has perhaps has claimed to add to the "Ride" factor. Noticeably, the GoBionicRide sockliners are stiffer too.
Stiff vs flaccid. No pun intended.
The Sole
The heart of the shoe. How does the GoBionicRide measures against the GoBionic in terms of sole thickness? 
Looked similar
If you ignore the color-scheme of the sole, you will see that the GoBionicRide is thicker than the GoBionic. If you pay careful attention to where the "V" notch starts, you will see the differences in thickness between the Ride and non-ride.
Look at the 3-dash on the GoBionicRide (bottom), the middle dash and the V-notch directly over it shows you the differences in thickness for the same section of the shoe.
This carry over the front portion of the shoe too, where it is significantly thicker there as well.
Look at the V-notch again.
I kept referring to the V-notch as that is the part where you can visibly see where the sole meet the bottom of the shoe. If you remember my review on GoBionic, i did note the "gap" there to be see through. That is the thickness of the sole at the part shown.
If that is not convincing enough, how about me squeezing/pressing the shoe last down to show the differences in thickness? Maybe this will show the differences better.
GoBionicRide with significantly thicker sole.
There you have it. Minor changes to the sole and make the differences to the whole plushness of the shoe.
Internal Construction
This is where your feet will meet the shoe and if done wrongly, will greatly cause discomfort and in worse case scenario, blisters.
Significantly different between the two shoes
If you look at the GoBionic, you will notice that the inner part are sewn on the mid-upper side of the shoe. This has offered much comfort for me as I can wear the shoe without socks and sockliner.
Closer look in GoBionic
If you take note of it, It is obvious that the GoBionicRide des not have the inner portion sewn like the GoBionic internally. I am very curious if this will cause any problems on the run without socks and socksliner.
Closer look at GoBionicRide
The Independent Pods
Similar to the GoBionic, the GoBionicRide has 18 independent pods on the sole.  Differences this time is that the part from Heel to Midfoot is solid and not perforated. Photo below shows how lights get through the front portion of the sole when held against lights. This is how minimalist the shoe will be if worn without the sockliner.
Interesting eh?
There are a few improvement to the GoBionicRide compared to the GoBionic where the placement of harder wearing materials are concerned. Bear in mind that this is a plushier ride compared to the more minimalist GoBionic. Essentially, they are what we would say "same same, but different".
Where the lights come through
Comparing both the shoes, you will see the immediate differences where and how the pods changed.
Midfoot and forefoot. Wear pad (black) layout
The part of the heel too, went through changes in the Ride version. Most notable is that the heel section of the GoBionicRide is not perforated like the GoBionic, apart from the additional pad on the shoe.
Notice the differences?
All these changes/addition to the good old GoBionic is what added to the cushioning and ride profile of the shoe. And obviously, with additional thickness and changes, the weight too, will change. But are they significant?
Weighing In
Both shoes are US Size 10 the weigh differences is only 20 grams (+/- 5grams) per side. Impressive even with the additional cushioning for the GoBionicRide
180grams GoBionicRide
200grams GoBionicRide
In my opinion, the shoe is already light enough and the minute addition is hardly felt. Skechers, as they are, even the most "cushion" shoe in GoRunRide, is light. Some might even felt the shoe might not perform due to the construction and this has been proven untrue by (the skeptical) me.
Want to make the shoes lighter? Remove the sockliners (GoBionicRide weigh in at 10grams as opposed to 5grams for GoBionic - the sockliners)
Other Differences
Upon closer inspection, I found the back of the shoe aka the heel to be significantly different. The GoBionicRide has higher back and it is more structured/stiffer.
Nice Rear
What I meant is that the back portion on the GoBionicRide is more structured. You can't press the back portion down like GoBionic.
See the differences?
In my opinion, this has no implication to the comfort. Some people I spoke to previously were skeptical about the softer-than-usual back portion. For me, it worked fine. No issues at all. And looking at the side profile, I now know why the GoBionicRide is taller at the back - thicker heel section.
By a few millimeters
And again, the softness-structured differences between the two. I find it interesting that despite all these addition, the GoBionicRide still come in 20grams more only. Imagine if it does without all these addition other than addition to the sole!
No differences to comfort
Next : The Ride Review

Note: This pair of Skechers GoBionicRide is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair of GoBionicRide retail for RM369 (Women) and RM399 (Men) and is available at all Skechers store.