nothing day

par023tuileries

Today, according to people who compile weird holidays, is Nothing Day. The idea is, well, to do nothing at all.

There is absolutely no purpose or intended structure for this pointless celebration.

I think I achieved it somewhat. I did my usual stuff, made lunch and dinner. Finished packing my suitcase. Watched tv.

Didn’t read, didn’t go out, didn’t even play pokemon.

I like this day. After all, no plan is the best plan.

paper centrifuge

papercentrifuge

This is so cool. Scientists at Stanford developed a human-powered centrifuge from bits of paper and string.

The idea of spinning something quickly via a piece of string is an old idea. Very similar to how survivalists teach us how to start a fire. The Stanford centrifuge can achieve

spinning speeds of 125,000 revolutions per minute (RPM), and exert centrifugal forces equivalent to 30,000g

The reason for developing this centrifuge is for separating blood samples in the field for testing, especially in third world countries. Conventional centrifuges are bulky and require electricity. This one can be constructed from paper, wood, plastic, fishing wire.

I love stories like this. Low tech solutions that make the world better.

macbook pro usb hub

hyperdrive

I haven’t bought my mba replacement yet. It’s still working and the frankly the reviews for the new mbp do not impress me.

But, if I had gotten the mbp or about to, I’d invest $69 for the hyperdrive, a fast usb hub with usb-c, usb 3.1, sd card and hdmi port. One hub instead of the bagful of dongles needed to convert to existing equipment.

It’s sad that the kickstarter raised $1.6 million. Not sad for the makers of the hyperdrive, just sad for mac users in general that it’s even needed. As petapixel said:

This is mind blowing when you really think about it.

I speak from the perspective of a long term apple user. When macs were expensive and compatible with nothing; before the windows version of itunes came out thus making the ipod mainstream. Increasingly, I’m feeling disillusioned about mac products. Seems like we’re an afterthought in amongst the plethora of iphones, ipads, watches and airpods that greet every customer in an apple store. I even seriously read the article that asks is it time to swap your mac for a windows laptop. I’ve owned a couple of windows laptops, but the last non-mac computer I’ve owned that was my primary machine ran DOS. So, it’s unlikely I’ll switch. I’ll just use my existing machine for as long as possible to maximise its value.

thai coconut curry

Mum visited a farm expo with her friends and came back with galangal. I’d only recently started cooking with more ginger so I was like, I have to learn a new recipe.

Googling ‘galangal recipe’ gave lots of examples such as curry, soup, satay. It’s used in several iconic southeast Asian dishes: beef rendang, penang laksa and tom kha gai. Kha is the Thai word for galangal.

thaicurry01

There are plenty of Thai, Indonesian, SE Asian stores around. Two already at the market. The nice lady there helped me gather all the other ingredients for a Thai curry in addition to the galangal: lemongrass, thai basil, kaffir lime leaves, chili, fresh lime. I already have coconut milk. I didn’t really follow any particular recipe or measurements.

3 chicken leg, skinned and deboned, cut into pieces
1 cauliflower, cut into pieces
about 2 tbsp galangal, finely grated
3 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced
1 handful keffir lime leaves, sliced
1 handful thai basil, reserve some for decoration
3 cloves garlic
half a red onion
1 small chili
1 can coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
chicken stock
small block rock sugar
fish sauce

thaicurry02

Mise en place took a good half an hour. The chicken and cauliflower had to be cut into bite-sized pieces. All the herbs and spices were chopped or grated. I decided to use only one small chili because mum can’t eat food that is too spicy.

Brown the chicken, remove from heat. Sautée garlic, onion galangal and lemongrass until onion and garlic are soft. Add rest of herbs and spices. Return chicken to pan, add cauliflower and rest of ingredients. Season with salt, pepper, fish sauce.

thaicurry04

Simmer for about 1hr. The cauliflower got a bit soft and some of it melted, but I didn’t mind.

thaicurry05

Serve with rice. I added a couple more slices of chili to my plate, it was just spicy enough to feel the heat. Very coconut-y and tasty. I think leaving in the fridge overnight will improve the flavour.

Other ingredients that will work: potato, carrot, pork, fish, tofu. For a low carb version, make cauliflower rice instead of normal rice.

I had galangal, chili and thai basil left over. They all went into the freezer. The galangal directly; the chili after washing and drying; and the thai basil after blanching in hot water for 2 seconds then drying.

mm darth vader

mmdarthvader

I was asked to comment on mm’s application where she had to write a personality sketch. There was one paragraph where I knew what she wanted to say, but she didn’t articulate it as well. She was writing about how meditation enabled her to expand her self-view and to acknowledge that she has flaws like everyone else. I commented that talking about her “dark” side made her sound like Darth Vader and since it’s a school application, may be rewrite using more positive wording.

vaderchamber

She called me and we had a good laugh about it. I mean, say dark side and I immediately think about Anakin. Plus the association with meditation put the image of Vader in his meditation chamber immediately in my head.

Now I have to go and find a lego vader keychain to give to her.

one year on wordpress

cpuminutes201612

When my old website conked out because it became incompatible with Movable Type, I was forced to switch to WordPress. Exactly one year ago, I finished moving all 4,000 posts to WP. It was a massive copy and paste exercise that took a few weeks. I took the opportunity to put static pages to the travel and food sections, and the new look website went live.

So how has it been, one year on WP? Truth be told, I don’t feel comfortable using it. I can’t put my finger on it. There’s nothing wrong with the interface, it’s easy and straightforward to add a post. But still, it’s not MT. For some unknown reason it’s using up a lot of CPU minutes and try as I might, I can’t figure out how to reduce the usage. Googling hasn’t helped. My ISP says it may be due to the dashboard being open and I’ve gotten so paranoid that I’m writing posts on textedit and copying them over. It’s NOT how I want to operate. It’s gotten better recently though but again I cannot explain why and I hate being in the dark.

Posts take forever to save, tags need to be separated by commas, categories have to be selected via a long scroll in a tiny window, I can’t get the RSS to feed full post: these are all negatives in my book. Small things, but they add up to a not quite happy experience. I know there are plenty of add-ons and themes and stuff like that but I don’t feel like tinkering is intuitive. I still don’t know how and where I should be editing files.

There seems to be always someone trying to hack into the website. So much so that my ISP had to add a password to the admin files and it’s screwed up other files too. Annoying.

I know i can’t go back to MT and I’m stuck with WP. Story of my life, being stuck in a situation with no way out. Hate.

emergency go bag annual check

emergencygobag201501

Annual check of the emergency go bag. It’s pretty heavy but manageable if need be. Everything in order, added a bit more money. Previously I had USD22, GBP22. Added $10 and £10 respectively. Added € too. Everything has gotten more expensive and more money in an emergency is needed.

Switched out the teabags and chocolate for new ones that expire later. MRE is still okay. Still haven’t added shoes like I thought about last year. I figure, in an emergency I have to make time to grab wallet, phone and put on shoes. Worst case scenario, I’m at home I’m wearing crocs.

iphone 10th anniversary

iphone3gs

Ten years ago, 9 January 2007, Steve Jobs revealed the iPhone. To say it was revolutionary, that it would change the world, is not an exaggeration. Before that, I had a series of Nokias and I was super happy with them. I didn’t get the original iPhone when it came out because it was US and Europe only initially. I also had to wait till I had an address in Chicago before I finally managed to get my first one, the 3GS in 2009. Aside from that S model, my progression so far has been the even numbered versions: 4 when I moved to London and 6 when it got water damage and I had to get a new phone.

There’s a brilliant 10 year anniversary in pictures that gives a nice description of all the models. It’s also interesting to look back at what the original reactions were. Have to laugh at NPR:

It’s a cell phone, it’s a music player, it’s a camera, it’s a Web-enabled device, and much more. Ask yourself if you really need all that high-tech bling

Naysayers included Steve Ballmer at Microsoft (duh), my favourite Guardian and Techcrunch, with such a confident headline:

We Predict the iPhone Will Bomb

Others were more positive, taking a long view that even if this particular device failed, it would pave the way for a changed tech landscape. CNET:

this is about more than Apple. Even if it’s a flop–perhaps even more so if it’s a flop–the iPhone will change the way mobile devices are designed

And of course, it won Time’s 2007 invention of the year, because it took computing and platforms and design and usability to the next level:

computing doesn’t belong just in cyberspace, it needs to happen here, in the real world, where actual stuff happens

So, looking forward. I’m excited about the rumours that iphone 8 may be made from forged stainless steel. Drool.

random flickr

ork375tastingbottles

Haven’t played random flickr for a while. Sometime during 2016 I went past 30,000 on flickr and I have 302 pages on my photostream.

A random number generator gave me 170 so I navigated to page 170 of my flickr photostream. May 2012, visit to Orkney and the Highland Park distillery. Tasted 12, 15, 18, 25, 30, 40yrs and Thor; held a bottle of 50yr in my hand. The pic is of a row of tasting samples on the shelf in their tasting room. I haven’t been drinking a lot of whisky lately, should get back to a glass or two occasionally. Good times.

remote control wand

kymera

Drat, Christmas is over. But my birthday is in 4 months…

Here’s a gadget that will even break through the grumpiest, most curmudgeony anti-gadget luddite. Spotted via bb is the kymera wand, aka the coolest universal remote ever. It enables the user to program 13 gestures for remote control devices. So flick the wand up and down to change volume on the tv, or pull it back to open the dvd player, or swish to change the temperature on the dyson heater, anything that uses infra-red as control.

It’s currently selling for a ridiculous $256 on amazon and out of stock at amazon.co.uk. Possibly due to the boingboing article. There is a similar product, the harry potter remote control wand, for $58.95. Looks like a similar product.

anz data sim

Past cruises I got by with whatever free wifi I was able to find while onshore. There was one time a hop-on-hop-off bus was parked next to the ship and I was able to tap into the network sitting at the side directly over it. For the upcoming Australia and NZ cuise I wanted to see what options are available at the stops.

threedatasim

Pocket wifi for 19 days is very expensive, especially to destinations like ANZ. Data roaming on my iphone is even more exorbitant. I can get local cards when we arrive, but I don’t want to spend the time traipsing around trying to find a shop. There are a variety of international data sim cards available. The one that caught my eye was one for US, UK, Europe, Australia and NZ offered by Three. It’s actually part of the feel at home roaming package for UK customers. Three extends this to both contractual and pay-as-you-go customers, which means anyone can use this service and roam to 42 countries.

I found an online shop that sells the 30 day 1GB card for local $138, but I thought I’d go to the computer street to check if I can find alternatives. Turns out, this is the only card available, but the street seller was selling it for $60 (that’s £6 at current rates). No brainer, really.

The seller says speeds up to 4G, but reviews say 3G at most in ANZ. That said, the partners are Telstra, Optus and Vodafone in Australia and Spark and Two Degrees in New Zealand. Coverage should be okay. There’s uncertainty about whether tethering is possible. Again, the seller said yes and some reviewers said no. We’ll see. It’s so cheap that even if it doesn’t work and I have to get local cards it’s worth the experiment.

I looked at the back of the card when I got home and I actually get a UK number. Calls and texts to the UK are free, just like if I were using the card in the UK. That’s one benefit.

Aside from the 30 day card, they also have a 90 day 3GB and a 360 day 12GB card. If I’m happy about the set up, speeed and ease of usage whilst in ANZ I may get the 360 day card to cover the summer US trip and possible UK/Europe trip next year.

running errands

22kindness

Day out by myself today. What a treat.

Got the probate documents back from the land registry, refilled my prescription and had time leftover in the morning for late breakfast. Brought my ipad with me today, so I could read. Got to the hairdresser’s before noon (couldn’t get hold of him, tried calling) and he had 3 elderly customers there perming their hair! Luckily he was able to fit me in and did a great job as usual.

Lunch was pork chop sandwich from the traditional bakery and a beer from 7-eleven and enjoyed at the outdoor sitting area of central library. Borrowed a couple of books for travel research.

Backtracked to the market to get some fruit and veg. There was time so I went off to Elements, which is now a seel nest. I just walked seel long enough to evolve to dewgong this morning, and then within 30mins in the afternoon I caught 20 of them, enough to evolve another one. Pretty amazing. All I have left now to complete the pokedex are snorlax, lapras, chansey and porygon and these are pure luck. I’ll walk dratini, try to get a higher IV dragonite.

I need to be assertive enough and motivated enough to find more days like this for myself. Sounds boring, running errands, but I was so happy at the feeling of freedom and lack of parasite, even though I set myself a target to be home by dinner. It’s like I have a part of my old life back.

nyt 52 places to visit in 2017

places086matterhorn

One of my fb friends, R, generously gifted me a free 12-week subscription to the new york times. I can add it to my daily news reading list. I love the guardian, but I’ve missed the NYT. They just published their 52 places to visit in 2017 and it’s really inspiring. Bold means I’ve visited.

  1. canada — like that they basically say, visit the whole country. I’ve enjoyed every visit and even though it’s only been vancouver (a little victoria), toronto and niagara falls, I know there is a whole lot more. The country is pretty high up on my to visit list, I’d love to go there for a month or two and drive/fly around
  2. atacama desert — looks awesome, not in my immediate future unfortunately
  3. agra — there was a time when I wanted to explore more of india, but india doesn’t seem safe anymore
  4. zermatt — it took me till I left switzerland for me to visit zermatt, it was great
  5. botswana — safari, nice
  6. dubrovnik — seems to be the new prague, and every picture i’ve seen shows a beautiful city
  7. grand teton national park, wyoming — another wishlist is to go on a roadtrip of national parks
  8. tijuana — it’ll be great to add mexico to my countries visited list
  9. detroit — very surprised it’s #9, i don’t even remember if I’ve been
  10. hamburg — I’ve been to munich and a bunch of other german cities, but not hamburg. every year I say to mm we should go to a christmas market in germany. No, I’m not afraid of terrorist attacks
  11. marrakesh — i suspect like tunisia, I may be disappointed in morocco
  12. greenville — hmm
  13. pedregal, ecuador — that’s a real destination destination
  14. penzance — I wouldn’t base in penzance, last time we were based at marazion and it was much nicer
  15. osaka — absolutely, everyone should visit the kansai region at least once in their life
  16. stockholm — beautiful city, if a little boring
  17. sikkim — see agra above re: india
  18. ile de porquerolles — wow, a total off-the-beaten-track find, of course now it’ll be full of tourists
  19. madagascar — hopefully it doesn’t become like the maldives or seychelles and get spoiled by tourists
  20. sanya — no desire to go back, nothing to see
  21. cyprus — should be able to find good package deals when i’m back in the uk
  22. great barrier reef — sigh, have to see it before it disappears, what a shame
  23. minneapolis — i guess it’s a stretch to say i’ve been, i was at the conference and went to the mall
  24. kingston — jamaica is one of the destinations of a caribbean cruise, right? one of these days
  25. comporta — like canada, portugal is a all country visit wishlist
  26. kazaksan — so many new countries that need visiting, we used to be more adventurous
  27. gabon — that’s a dark horse
  28. athens — simply no competition in terms of heritage
  29. north west puerto rico — to be perfectly honest i never know where puerto rico is
  30. chiang mai — thailand has gone down in terms of countries i want to go to, for political reasons. they’re way too close to the CCP nowadays
  31. napa valley — wine! food! weather!
  32. puerto escondido — mexico, see above
  33. sedona — hopefully next year’s conference in las vegas i can get a chance to visit some of the south west US states
  34. madrid — increasingly I’m thinking madrid goes before barcelona
  35. ketchum — a hidden ski resort in idaho, how fabulous
  36. maldives — like the great barrier reef, go before the islands sink
  37. calabria — food and weather in italy
  38. antequera — the stonehenge of spain
  39. lofoten islands — northern lights in norway
  40. ibera wetlands — low chance of me making it to argentina
  41. istria — looks like the venice of croatia
  42. placencia — one of my ex-colleagues is from belize and she was always saying come visit
  43. langtang region — nepal is getting towards the quite unlikely part of the travel wishlist
  44. bozcaada — turkey is on the not feeling too safe to visit list unfortunately
  45. birmingham — as in alabama not the midlands. they’re putting these hitherto unimpressive US cities on the list, must be something interesting happening
  46. sacred valley — the whole of peru is worth visiting
  47. laikipa — a newer region to visit than the masai mara
  48. busan — it’s the one place on this list I have a high chance of visiting in 2017. I want to take mum to korea and may be bbmm can make a short trip there too
  49. portland — very impressed with portland, i have friends who live there and other friends who moved there after visiting, how much more of an endorsement is that
  50. budapest — will be interesting to revisit, we went there shortly after the fall of eastern europe, it’s likely very different now
  51. south bronx — um, okay
  52. ryukyu islands — we keep saying we need to try out new places and not go to tokyo or osaka or hokkaido all the time

tokyo all you can drink sake

kurand

Met mm yesterday for tea and walking around the last day of the brands expo. We also had decisions we needed to make prior to our tokyo trip. Hotel, train, pocket wifi. She brought her mb so i showed her kurand sake market which offers unlimited sake tastings for ¥3240 per session. Considering the evening session is from 5-11pm that’s pretty much unlimited time.

They have several branches and operate on a standing bar basis. Looking at the pictures, they have bottle upon bottle of different sakes in a wall of fridges and the idea is to drink all we like. Food not included, we’re encouraged to bring our own.

She was scrolling around and saw that they also offer tasting lessons. Two hours during the unlimited session. The lesson is conducted by a British sake expert and looks very comprehensive. There is a guided tasted of 10-12 sakes afterwards. Cost ¥5950.

I filled in the booking form and we’re in. Our first day is sorted; we get off the plane, hop on the airport limousine, check-in to our hotel, grab something quick to eat and head over to the sake market. Hopefully it will be a perfect start to the trip.

best of: 2016 pictures

best of: 2016

Really didn’t feel like doing any top 10 lists for 2016, but I know if I skipped top 10 pics I will regret it, like skipping nano 2007.

shatinunderbridge

Not very many pics in 2016 compared with past years, and many were taken on the iphone. The top 10 picks seem to end up being shape and line-driven. This one fits my current mood. Grey, floating, straight lines, harsh.

01.01.2017

After church we went to visit Papa. Lunch at the foodcourt and taxi up the hill.

sai01dragonboat

Instead of going home or going to the market, mum and I went to the coastal seafood area and walked around. Obviously it being new year’s day and a public holiday there were people everywhere. There were craft stalls, helpers singing and dancing, people playing with kites, a busker on electric violin and a huge dog meet & greet area which we avoided.

Mum queued up at a bakery for pineapple buns while I visited the wine shop next door. Bought a couple of craft beers: a chocolate stout and an oat stout. The chocolate stout was the last bottle.

Early dinner at one of the multitude of seafood restaurants lining the waterfront. Most offered a set meal depending on number of people. The portions were small, so they were able to fit in more variety. For two people we had razor clam, salt & chili scampi, lobster with noodles, steamed fish, bok choy and fried rice. They gave us seafood soup since mum asked for it. The quality is…just like mass produced food, not too bad. I liked the razor clam and scampi; the lobster portion was too small; the steamed fish was one of those with a very soft texture that I don’t like; the fried rice was way too salty. It’s a touristy area and the food reflects that.

masterchef desserts

Getting quite tired with the bingewatching. Last night the last episode didn’t finish till 2.30am and since it was a Heston episode we stayed up to watch it. Then today sitting in front of the tv from 11am. The grand final was 10pm-midnight, so an ‘early’ night. All finished now. Very pleased we managed to catch it, it was a fantastic season.

mystique pear

The memorable dishes were the ones at the pressure (elimination) test. They get a famous chef to bring one of their fancy creations, or get a Nobu to make them make a plate of sushi. The standouts were Christy Tania’s Mystique and the pear, walnut crumb, nest dessert by Dave Verheul which the contestants had to decipher from just a critic’s review.

choctop

The deceptively simple looking ice cream cone from gelato messina caught our eye. Not because of how complex it was to construct, but because it’s now on our list of places to try in Sydney. Good thing they have several branches around the CBD. I also learned that what we call choc ice they call choc top. Anyway, they have a lot of choices, may be we’ll need to go twice. And again in Melbourne.

sake kitkat

kitkatsake

Still bingewatching Masterchef Australia. But now I have snacks. Got these last week and only just got round to opening the packet.

Yep, it’s sake flavoured kitkat. It came out last february in Japan. 0.8% alcohol, so it’s really just for the taste.

Honestly, they taste pretty good. Can definitely smell the sake aroma as soon as the packaging is opened, although the taste isn’t as pronounced. I think they use white chocolate so it’s less overpowering, and so it looks nice. May be I’ll think about taking a supply to the conference this year to give out. They’re more expensive than regular sweets and chocolate, so it’ll have to be only for selected few.

masterchef australia marathon

Masterchef Australia marathon is on. The entier season 6 all day from 11am to 1am. Yep, 1am. We hadn’t seen this season, it’s before we got this channel. It’s on all this week until Friday and there’s no break.

Fantastic. Downside is I have to plan cooking and doing other stuff around this. The entire day is gone. I use the time before 11am to prep for lunch and commercial breaks during the afternoon to prep for dinner. It’s good practice. And why we have ovens. Pumpkin soup, chicken curry from the freezer, sausages, beef stew are on the menu for the next few days.

turkey and kale frittata

turkeykalefrittata01 turkeykalefrittata03

When I was stripping the turkey we got for Christmas I ended up with a box of small bits of meat too small to serve on its own. It’s useful for fried rice, soup, filling for baked potato, pizza topping. I made frittata.

Fry some kale until soft, add turkey and season. Pour in 8 eggs and cook until bottom is done. I had to add more eggs as the pan is too large. Put under the grill to firm up the top. Very easy and tasty. I drizzled some sriracha on my slice.

cruise trip research

More trip research. Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. Not only where to go but transportation to, from and around each destination.

We have less than 24hrs in Singapore. There’s time for a short walkaround in between checking into the hotel and dinner. May be over to the gardens by the bay for views of the marina bay sands. Dinner either at the east coast lagoon food village or at the food court in the mall next to the hotel. The places at east coast are better (aka the stalls are more famous): chilli crab, popiah, bak kut teh, satay but it’s outdoors. At the mall it’s a food republic although I also saw that it has a Nando’s. Argh. We love Nando’s but go all the way to Singapore and the only meal we have is Nando’s, that doesn’t make sense.

Sydney we arrive late in the day so something quick that night for dinner. Our first full day is a saturday so we can find some markets. Carriageworks market which used to be eveleigh market, seems to be a perfect candidate: half an hour from the hotel, great looking produce and apparently Kylie Kwong has a stall there and may make a personal appearance.

syd104harrys

Fish market naturally. And Harry’s pies of course. Yum. I came across Mr Crackles for roast pork and crackling sandwiches. Yum yum. That doesn’t leave time for proper sit down meals so no time for Colin’s restaurant 4fourteen or the one at Darling Harbour where mum and I had this awesome seafood platter that year we visited.

The other destinations are day trips along the cruise. I detest that we only have limited time and always have to aim at getting back to the ship before 5pm. None of the excursions are any good. Too expensive, too guided.

mel125qvm

Melbourne has either a shuttle bus or tram to CBD. Plan is Federation Square, free tram area and Queen Victoria market. Lunch at the market hopefully. If there’s time we can walk around the park along the river. I remember it being very pretty.

Last stop in Australia is Burnie in Tasmania. There are excursions to Cradle Mountain and other scenic areas. If it’s running, I want to go on the hop-on hop-off bus that goes to a couple of scenic areas but most importantly, the Hellyers Road distillery. There are now 22 distilleries in Tasmania and Sullivan’s Cove near Hobart won best single malt in 2014.

First stop in NZ after 2 days at sea and one day cruising Milford Sound is Dunedin. There is a shuttlebus to city centre. Enough places to walk around, including Cadbury World and a couple of craft breweries. We’ll have to rent a car or go on an excursion to Penguin Place. We loved it when mm and I went, but I wonder if it’s worth it this trip.

Akaroa is a tender port and can be explored in around an hour. Or see what local tour companies offer. There are dolphin tours, nature exploration and specialist tours in vintage cars, for example. We’ll probably do what some guides suggest, find a nice restaurant and enjoy a glass of wine portside.

Wellington has a walkable city centre. A cable car goes uphill for views and the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary. Back downhill, the waterfront is walkable and I came across a couple of seafood places for crab, oysters and native green-lipped mussels. There’s also a chocolate factory / store and something I’ve never seen, a craft soda shop.

Our first stop on north island is Napier. Doesn’t seem to be much there aside from art deco architecture, aquarium and Hawke’s Bay wines. People take excursions to Christchurch which doesn’t interest me.

My biggest dilemma is the next stop, our last full day, in Tauranga. There’s a beach and a walkable route around Mount Maunganui where we dock. This is one destination where I’m tempted to go for an excursion. Rotorua is less than an hour away and another popular excursion is to Hobbiton movie set. The Shire is pristinely preseved there and they have a 2hr walking tour around the set. It’s 2hrs from Tauranga and since we’re not allowed to explore the set on our own, the options are to join a tour (ship or local) or rent a car and book a tour beforehand. OTOH, it’s 2hrs from Auckland and we can go there ourselves. May be visiting the geothermal areas around Rotorua works better, it’s 3hrs from Auckland and I don’t want to drive that far.

We have a couple of nights in Auckland. If we take a day trip to Hobbiton, we’ll have one day left for CBD, which I remember there isn’t much to see or visit one of the outlying islands.

Research mostly done. Most days are planned and we have a few decisions to make.

family christmas

Christmas Day at middle island. Quite a long journey for mum and I, but the 260 bus came first and it turns out that it’s really, really quick–only 3 stops and no one got on at the intervening 2 stops. A long walk from the beach to the landing pier, we literally ran into Tony who was walking slowly on his own while R and D was out hiking. Everyone gathered at the small pier for the shuttle boat.

xmas201624lunch

Not very crowded at middle island. Mum and I ordered lobster roll and we all ordered stuff for the bbq: prawns, sausages, veggie sausages, potato, corn. The prawns were ginormous but the lobster roll was anemic. Since it’s something like double the price of lobster rolls I’ve had in the US, I won’t order it again.

xmas201652dinner

Sis and G didn’t come to lunch as G wasn’t feeling well. We went back to their place in the afternoon to rest. I helped sis cook dinner, mostly vegetarian–roast potato, carrot, parsnip, pumpkin, onion, garlic with vegetarian bacon. There was non-vegetarian fried rice from middle island too.

No turkey today, but we do have our traditional turkey. A whole cooked one from the gourmet supermarket. More like a large chicken, the label says 9 pounds. My parents always get this cooked one so I’m not going to go against tradition and make a roast one. I stripped it into several ziplac bags of meat and two bags of bones. Surprisingly not as much meat as I expected.

christmas eve at the yacht club

xmas201601yclub

Christmas Eve always means mince pies and Christmas carols at the yacht club. Sill as crowded as past years around the chairs set out for elderly guests. Still drank too many glasses of mulled wine. Still brought ziploc bags for mince pies and chestnuts. The choir was pretty inept, depending on one person who knew the lyrics and could sing. Ah well, it’s Christmas spirit that is important.

Went back to the brands expo since mum wanted to buy more vitamin E cream. Had frozen yogurt finally, enough for dinner after the mince pies.

tokyo trip research

Started doing consolidation and research for the trips. No need for Tokyo, have notes from last time. Cancelled the superhotel in favour of an apartment hotel in ginza, overall ¥17k savings, or one night. Yes, it means we won’t have onsen bath in Tokyo but since we’re at an onsen hotel in Hakone I’m okay with it.

Spent a lot of time on Hakone research. We last visited Hakone last century when we first started working. My ex-boss’ secretary’s husband owned a travel agent that was one of the first ones to specialise in Japan, and they’ve grown so much since then. Anyway, I have vague recollections of the trip–our first Japanese onsen, riding the local bus, visiting a volcanic valley–but no notes or even photos. It was before the days of evernote, flickr or even my website. I hadn’t switched to digital camera then so there may be physical photos in one of the boxes.

hakoneloop

I remember going on a cable car and a gaudy pirate ship on a lake. Turns out they’re part of the hakone loop. The hakone free pass covers all transportation in the area and they even recommended a circular route:

  • hakone-yumato –> gora by tozan train 35mins
  • gora –> sounzen by cable car 10mins
  • sounzan –> togendai by ropeway 30mins get off at owakudani
  • togendai –> hakone machi by pirate boat 30mins
  • hakone machi –> moto hakone by boat/bus 10mins or walk 30mins
  • moto hakone –> hakone-yumato by tozanbus 30mins

We’ll likely do the loop, or part of it. If we have time, I’m going to suggest visiting yunessun hotspring amusement park, which has 2 sections: a regular onsen and a swimsuit area that has wine, sake, coffee, green tea baths as well as waterslide, sauna and pool. Found a discount coupon for 39% off a combined ticket. Must remember to bring swimming costume.

We’ll have 3 full days in Tokyo. Depending on how cold it is, we’ll go outside or stay inside at department stores. We went to ueno, shibuya, asakusa and meiji shrine last time. This time may be shinjuku, ikebukuro (pokemon mega center!) and the articificial island of odaiba. Fish market of course.

22-dec

Met mm for lunch with mum at the nice jap ayce place. Her appointment ran late so she didn’t come till 1.30pm. We were still eating at 3pm but the restaurant was clearing up already. Unlike the other place, this one needed us out. Disappointing.

Went to the brands expo to walk around. Bought dried mushroom, honey, cordial and various home stuff like shower head, smelly wood and shampoo.

So full that I wasn’t even interested in the frozen yogurt stall.

christmas poinsettia

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Lunch with sis, niece and her grandparents at the yacht club. It’s curry buffet day, which means something for everyone. Their taxi pulled up just as mum and I were walking into the club car park, great timing. Poor T, one of us always has to help him walk, he uses a scooter at home but obviously can’t bring it with him. The vegetarian curries ended up being better than the meat ones, only chicken was okay. Beef and pork were tough and the salmon in the fish curry was fishy, even smothered in curry sauce.

It’s christmas when there are christmas trees and poinsettia everywhere. It was raining this morning so drops of rainwater was still on the leaves. Looks a bit like snow. Pretty.

After lunch G is off to see rogue one with her friend. For some reason sis’ credit card didn’t work so i had to use mine to book the ticket. This means I had to go with her to the cinema to pick up the ticket. No big deal.

rogue one

Saw Rogue One. Took mum to the first showing at 11.30am, she even got a senior discount.

I’ve been not very in touch with what’s happening in the world lately, so I was less familiar with R1 than ep 7. I knew it’s coming out, I knew it’s about the rebels getting their hands on the death star plans, I knew it’s a spin-off / side story. And I knew I need to go see it.

rogueone

It was totally worth it. They chose the timeline and setting for this first spin-off perfectly. Eps 7-9 is on-going so we should get to ep 9 before tackling that universe. Eps 1-3, ugh. Nostalgia for the shappy space chic of ep 4 is more bankable and fan-acceptable. And every fan will have a great time spotting familiar elements. One of the first scenes, with Galen Erso standing next to a piece of equipment on his farm, an echo to a similar shot with Luke on Tatooine. So many nods to what we already know and recognise. And yet enough differences for it to hold its own as a standalone.

I haven’t seen ep 4 in a while, but like everyone who grew up with it, it’s ingrained in my mind. Variety called R1 Episode 3.9 and said,

for the original generation of “Star Wars” fans who weren’t sure what to make of episodes one, two, and three, “Rogue One” is the prequel they’ve always wanted.

It does the impossible, it explained one of the biggest plot holes of the entire series–how can the indestructable death star be destroyed by one single shot. That said, the journey to that single shot by Luke is not easy. The rebels are horribly outnumbered and R1 doesn’t cushion us with touchy-feely, feel-good vibes about their situation. It’s very grim. Vox summed up R1’s theme:

People die in wars.

It’s obvious, the whole franchise is called Star Wars. The Atlantic goes further, describing R1 a war movie, with

a different, and somewhat more impersonal, story to tell. None of its protagonists are discovering hidden blood relatives or training to be Jedi masters.

The majority of the characters are humans or normal of their species, only Chirrut Îmwe has a vague ability with the Force. Even the Imperial characters like the main villian Orson Krennic are simply human. It’s a bit like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. focusing on the humans of S.H.I.E.L.D. rather than the superheroes. That’s why Vader is so deadly and scary when he finally appears. The problematic part is that the rebel team, when we finally get to the action after planet-hopping in the gigantic interplanetary geography lesson that is Act 1, is a bit clichéd. The war movie is now interspaced with a heist movie

and like every good heist movie, it must assemble a motley crew of specialists.

There’s Jyn Erso, our hero with a tragic background who turns from being cynical to giving a rousing rebel speech. There’s Cassian Andor, a supposedly cruel, unfeeling rebel captain whom she has zero chemistry with. Bodhi Root, an Imperial pilot who defected to the rebels. The best characters IMHO are blind warrior monk Chirrut Îmwe and his guard Baze Malbus who has this awesome machine gun blaster. The team goes off, with Cassian’s snarky droid K-2SO to steal and send the Death Star’s blueprints.

We all know they get the plans. I didn’t expect them all to die, but towards the end I realised that’s exactly what will happen. It makes sense. None of the characters are in ep 4 and it solidifies the theme. War is horrible. People die in wars, good people and bad people both. It takes guts, to kill off the entire main cast, and points to director Gareth Edwards for making me not feel gutted about it. The breathtaking the last few minutes of the film helped. The precious data disks gets away by the skin of its teeth. It’s given to none other than Princess Leia who tells us about “hope.” We get the optimism even though we know what will come literally during the next 10 minutes. We know Vader (the only time a lightsabre appears) is about to chase after her and capture her. But we also know the rest of the story. That’s the beauty of this film. We can go from the very last second of R1 and seamlessly transition to the very first second of ep 4.

The special effects are mostly great. There’s one shot of a star destroyer coming out of darkness into the light and it looks like a tiny plastic model. The battles were nicely done but I wasn’t blown away. The CGI renditions of Tarkin and Leia, wow. Some people have commented about the creepiness of using a CGI-Peter Cushing. I thought he’d only be in a scene or two; with such a significant role, they could have used a real actor. The CGI of Leia looks like CGI, sorry I’m not convinced. What I really love is using original footage of Red and Gold leaders, and that sound when the death star’s ignition sequence is fired up.

The locations–Iceland, Jordan, the Maldives–are pretty and the cinematography stellar. Where the film falls below par, for me, is in the character department. Jyn and Cassian don’t even feel like siblings / friends. There’s barely time for character development. Reviews complained of a script that would even embarrass George Lucas, summing it up as a thoroughly mediocre movie which is basically a saga of data transmission when it’s hard to find a good signal.

Ouch.

I won’t go as far. I enjoyed it and want to see it again. After all, what’s not to like about a film that gets boycotted by Trump supporters because it’s too non-white (kudos for diversity!) or because the writers changed their twitter profile to add a safety pin, or, gasp, it’s about people who believe in fairness and freedom fighting against a swampful of autocrats. If ever a film set in a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is a fitting commentary of this crazy 2016 year, it’s Rogue One.

buying presents

cheesechips2016

My cousin and family will be visiting, so mum and I went out to buy presents for them. Nothing too heavy or bulky. We’re poor present buyers so we decided to keep it simple and get food. Bought a variety of chocolate, biscuits and savoury snacks. Saw boxes of cheesey chips at a discount. The saleslady said they’re nice so we bought a few boxes for my niece and her grandparents who are also visiting. Opened a box ourselves to try and they are very good! Crispy and crunchy. Can taste the cheese flavour but not too salty. Went back and bought even more boxes, we ended up getting 15 boxes in total. I’ll give a box to mm and mum wants to give to her friends.

I was reading this thread about last minute gifts on reddit, this actually seems like a great idea:

I didn’t have any time or cash, so I bought a $2 photo album and photoshopped his face to a bunch of stock photos I found online. Made him laugh for hours.

I think it’ll be even funnier if OP had printed the stock photos and stuck the recipient’s face on them physically. I may do that for mm one day, find various generic photos like travelling, skiing, being a clown and replacing them with her head. Hahaha.

There are some hilarious gems in that thread, like:

a bottle of whiskey and a packet of white sauce

which people guessed was the gift buyer putting both items together at the shop and forgetting to take out his sauce. What about:

a pineapple, wrapped in newspaper

or:

A hedgehog exercise wheel.

I do not own a hedgehog.

or

a disposable emergency rain poncho

or (this is reddit, after all)

When I was 9 my grandmother got me a pubic hair trimmer.

zero motivation

intentionalblank

I have stuff to do.

Organise documents for tokyo trip, research tokyo trip, look for alternate hotel for the last 3 nights.

Documentation for the cruise, research for the cruise, look for alternate hotels for pre- and post-cruise.

Update my cv because a friend texted me to ask if I’m interested in joining his new venture.

Pay bills.

Filing.

I barely found enough energy to cook two meals. The other time was spent on reddit, reading a book, playing games.

Zero motivation to do anything.

home stuff, bbmm with mum

Homeowners’ meeting this morning, to go through the work needed after our mandatory building inspection. External walls need to be patched, cracks on common area walls, broken windows, roof waterproofing, sewage pipes and all that. Quite a lot. The contractor went through the tender items and we will need to invite for tender. There are only 16 units and one company owns 5 so it’s not a big group. Couple of things I learned. First, charge an admin fee for contractors interested in submitting a tender, to filter out riff-raffs. Second, it’s so easy to get everyone’s agreement on common sense stuff. There isn’t enough funds so the management fee goes up. Other places will need a formal quorum, vote etc. We just all said, yeah, we’ll have to increase. It’s all for the building anyway.

wafflechoc

Lunch at home then met mm for tea with mum. Went to the pokka café so mum can try their hot chocolate. Fancy thick chocolate in a jug that she could pour over cream, and a container of marshmallows on the side. Less rich than the iced chocolate I tried at the other café.

With mum’s card, mm was able to get her shredder, coffee grinder, alarm clock and stationery. We bought a basket-full of snacks, toiletries and miscellaneous stuff.

It was already quite late. After looking on the restaurant app and calling a few places, we ended up at another ayce japanese place. This is for shabu shabu. Extremely cramped tables but we liked it because: a) the food was good and b) the service was fast and pro-active. The usual beef, pork, seafood, vegetables. We also had sashimi. Good value, especially for dinner. Apparently the place only opened a couple of weeks ago, so kudos to them for getting it right so quickly.

bbmm day together

dimsum20161214

Met mm and our ex-colleague opera for lunch. Nice dim sum restaurant. Modern and looks quite new. Fancy looking dim sums with cute designs and some gimmicks like serving bird-shaped pineapple pastries inside s miniature birdcage. The buns were made using different coloured pastry and we could see a chef putting on the eyes and ears by hand. Luckily it’s not a matter of style over substance and the food itself tasted good too. They advertise no msg, have a substantial vegetarian menu and even happy hour. Definitely not a traditional dim sum place.

Long lunch. Afterwards mm and I went to the computer / electronics street to poke around. I wanted to get a universal remote for mum’s tv and found several stalls that actually repair remotes. Next time I’ll bring the broken one to see if they can repair it. We spent something like an hour at a shop because mm wanted to buy lightbulbs. Normal people like me would just get lightbulbs whenever and wherever, but she wanted to ask a million questions, compare prices, bargain and have all the bulbs checked. We shop so differently. She also bought a new iphone cover but couldn’t find her other target purchase, a shredder.

Dinner was at our favourite ayce japanese place. Very crowded, and even though I had 3 sakes, it didn’t have any effect on me, I think they over-warmed it and evaporated the alcohol. Sashimi, sushi, tempura, yakitori, our table was full of food.

Took her to the teacher’s union shop and we did see a shredder that fit her requirement. She had her eye on a coffee grinder and lots of stationery too. Will need to get mum to come along to use her card.

running, christmas pikachu

5.25km 47.25min 9.02min/km

My last recorded run was in June. My last serious training run was in March. It’s been a long time. I’m not sure if I’m ready yet, but an occasional 5k will do me good. Luckily, the charmander nest had gone from the small park, so only regular walkers were there. The gps went a little wonky, I was able to estimate total distance. The usual complaint, slow af.

pokepikachuxmas

Went to morse park after the run. The new nearby screen had a christmas pikachu and I was able to find it easily. The new nearby screen is both good and bad; it enables us to go after pokémons that are spawning near stops but the ones that aren’t near stops are totally invisible and depend on luck to find them. It is what it is.

2016: tl;dr

It’s december and time for best of, worst of, retrospective of, summary of and all that of the year. How to start? Sigh. This was on reddit: what’s the tl;dr for 2016 and some great answers. Two most meaningful ones for me, the first for the world in general:

2016 is the year we went from thinking that there might be alternate universes, to realizing that we are the alternate universe

The second one from someone who said exactly what was on my mind:

My dad died, and the world literally stopped making sense

And then someone put all of 2016 in a song. Like what the first comment said, no need for me to say which song it’s based on, by the chorus readers should start humming along:

2016tldr

maya angelou still i rise

via kottke, a recital of Still I Rise from its author, Maya Angelou. Honestly, I know very little about the poet, other than she is extremely well respected. I was mesmerised by this performance. Hopefully I won’t get C&Ded if I quote the entire poem.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

hotel planning

Spent the entire afternoon booking hotels. First for the cruise trip in feb. Need 1 night in Singapore, 3 nights in Sydney and 3 nights in Auckland.

The criteria for Singapore is not too far from the airport and food options nearby. We arrive early afternoon and leave first thing the next morning, so I wasn’t even looking at Orchard Road, Esplanade area. There’s a new Holiday Inn Express along the ECP, 15mins taxi from the airport, next door to the i12 mall. That’s perfect. If I were by myself I may not even have booked a hotel. I will likely store my luggage at the airport, go out somewhere to walk around, hawker centre for dinner then back to the airport to spend the night. There are spas, showers and transit hotels at Changi.

Anyway, Holiday Inn Express it is. The odd thing is, hotels.com was showing me hotels in Johor and Batam when I searched for Changi. I mean, geographically those places are near, but…they’re in another country! What good is a hotel in Malaysia or Indonesia when I’m transiting for one night in Singapore.

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flickr peter hardy

Sydney I was initially looking at airbnb, but they’re not that much cheaper than hotels. All in all, expensive either way. The one I liked, near Darling Harbour, mum didn’t like because they’re doing construction work outside. I reserved a hotel by the curious name of the Tank Stream. A little googling tells me that the tank stream was originally a fresh water tributary that provided water to the new colony in the 1800s. The stream is now a drain channel but there are commemorative signs dotted around.

Auckland was the worst. Expensive airbnbs. Hotels were split into 2 types: expensive brand names and motels outside the city. Must be some event going on, so many hotels are already booked. I reserved a serviced apartment near the ferry terminal that had really good reviews. Hopefully it’s okay.

tok004hotel

Started looking at airbnbs for our tokyo trip in jan, mm found one that is in a residential area with its own sento (public bath) but not available on our dates. I saved it in my wishlist for next time. There are a lot of availability, so it was a matter of too many choices.

Our flight home is 9am so I was also looking at how to get to the airport that early. The NEX train arrives at 7.17am, the TCAT has 6.45am and 7am arrivals and the limousine bus 6.45 and 7am too, from Tokyo station. The other alternative is to stay at the capsule hotel the night before. I was looking at Shinjuku but I realise I should be looking at Tokyo station for the limousine bus. I should also check out superhotel lohas where we stayed at last time, near Tokyo station, and with its own spa.

washing machine, happyhour, pokehunting

No office this week, I finished my project. Still went out early to walk around and explore a supposed seel nest. Only got 2 despite walking around for more than half an hour.

Then it was a long long wait at the flat for the washing machine delivery. First I had to disconnect the old washing machine and pipes because the delivery people only deliver. Took me about 10-15mins, had to figure everything out. After delivery, another 2-3hr wait for the technician to come and install it. He told me I could have arranged for someone to disconnect for a small fee. He was quite chatty, changed the socket and installed a filter between the outlet pipe and outside pipe to get rid of the sewage smell. All done at 4pm. Waste of a day. I hope the tenant appreciates it.

bruschettachianti

Needed something to eat and some wine. Saw an italian restaurant, Al Dente, near the escalator with 2-for-1 happy hour between 3-8. I was the only customer there. Asked for the snack menu and then the waiter said chef isn’t here yet so i said okay, no problem. He was thankful I was understanding. The house chianti was nice. When the chef came back, I ordered the anchovy butter bruschetta. Didn’t realse it’d be 6 pieces! Ordered a second round of wine, which the waiter comped. I gave him a 20% tip on top of the 10% service.

The bruschetta was filling enough to serve as dinner, so I went to a new area by the harbour that saw 4 porygons one day last week. Didn’t get lucky, walked to the end of the path and back. Got some various pokemons, probably should have stayed longer. At that point, I’d walked 10km for the day so I wanted to get home.

errands with mum, japanese dinner

unisushi

Went to collect rent with mum. So stupid, why do we have to go in person? No one heard of autopay?

Went to the supermarket to order christmas turkey. Yes, there’s only the two of us and before only 3 with dad. But don’t think those are normal sized turkeys, they’re more like large chicken. And cooked too. We freeze most of it, I take the carcass for stock.

Walked through the park with mum, it’s now a omanyte nest so pretty fruitful. We were looking for something to eat at teatime and walked past the luxurious AYCE japanese place we like, and made a reservation for dinner. Of course it was only 4pm. Sat for a while at a pizza place (shared one slice) then went back to sit at the park. The jap place was completely full! The sashimi were very fresh and they also had uni. The best dish for us were plain congee (with dried scallops) and movenpick ice cream.

washer, library, happyhour

vedettsalami

The tenant emailed to say there is something wrong with the washing machine, a puddle of brown water in the drum. It’s time to replace rather than try to get it fixed. In the long run, it’s better for my wallet and time. I went to the electronics shop and bought one that was fairly cheap with good functionalities and the longest warranty they had. Not a bad price $3600. Siemens.

Had time to wander around. Ran some bank errands, went to the library to look at travel NZ books and to make notes.

Was meeting mm and her brother for happy hour. We said between 5-5.30, I got there quite early at 4.40. But they didn’t show up till around 6, I was pretty annoyed. But nothing I can do. I can’t change her, she’ll always be late. I would have been sitting at another hh place myself anyway.

Dinner with her family. Sat with the nieces and nephew and they told us lots of jokes. Useful day.

wifi mesh networking

wifimesh

The wifi at home is atrocious. I have the router sitting on my desk and sometimes my ipad has issues connecting. Poor mum has to sit in the dining room to get a signal sometimes since it doesn’t extend to the living room. Where the tv is, there is zero signal.

In my flat I use a devolo powerline that extends wifi using the electrical wires. Here it’s not possible because there are not enough sockets. The powerline must be plugged into a socket and not an extension cord. I tried buying a second router and extending but couldn’t figure out how to set it up.

Something worth keeping an eye on is the development of wifi mesh networks. Mesh networks allow

different types of devices to piggyback off each other as nodes in a network, each node spreading the radio signal a little further than the last

The newest offering is from eero, with a kit at USD500 that includes 3 nodes. Plug one into the modem and place 2 strategically around to get maximum coverage. Everything can be managed using an app. Sounds really good, except for the price tag. Hopefully it’ll go down soon and I can think about getting one. It’d be great to watch netflix or get an apple tv.

p.s. as an aside to how atrocious our wifi is, I finished reading the lifehacker article and was about to save it to instapaper when the entire connection went down, including tv which mum was watching. Took about 5-10mins for it to come back on and I had to restart the modem. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to restart the modem. Seems quite appropriate, just as I was reading about mesh networking.

photofriday nature

jun133glacier

Photofriday challenge this week is Nature.

They changed the website in September, instead of linking to our own page we upload a pic to theirs. Modern thumbnail look, infinite scrolling page etc. Need to create an account there now. On the one hand I get why, because the flickr links were getting ridiculous and the whole flash display was slow AF. The cynical me thinks it’s all to do with data mining, because that’s what it takes nowadays. I’m having problems both signing in and uploading images, and it’s not worth my trouble to dig into why.

Anyway, the pic I would have submitted is of the Mendenhall glacier in Alaska, which mum and I saw when we went on our cruise a couple of years ago. It’s probably one of the most photographed glaciers, seeing that it’s quite accessible and so many people have gone to Juneau. I’m reminded of how fragile our planet is, the glacier has receded a lot in recent years and we really have to watch climate change.

i dream of lapras

I never remember my dreams. I never know what they’re about but recent ones have felt busy. As in, mundane stuff and talking and going about daily stuff. Or something like that.

laprasjapan

May be I’m still thinking about pokehunting. I dreamed I caught a lapras. Sigh, if only. I’m close to getting enough candies to evolve charizard, cloyser, dewgong and weezing so I’m not worried about them. The ones I’m missing are the usual: snorlax, lapras, chansey, porygon. Plus regionals, but I have enough travel plans to have them covered.

pokeditto

During US Thanksgiving last week there was a double XP and stardust pokemon go event. I didn’t take advantage of it; aside from remembering to go outside at least once a day to get the daily bonus I hadn’t been playing systematically.

There was also the appearance of ditto, one of the ones in the pokedex that wasn’t previously available in the wild. People reported that they caught commons like rattata, pidgey and zubat and instead of the gotcha message they got an oh? and it transformed to a ditto.

I was planning to go walk around on Thursday after work, to rattata heavy places to see if I can find a ditto. Today, though, I had to go to the market to get onion and celery for the braised pork knuckle I want to make on Friday. Went earlier to see what’s going on at morse park. At the spot where there’s a gym and 4 stops there was a cluster of 2 bellsprouts, 2 slowpokes and a pidgey. Normally I’d go for the slowpoke but somehow I clicked on the pidgey. One red ball carelessly thrown and I wasn’t even looking closely at the screen when I got the oh? message. Yay, my first ditto!

pokeditto

Got a second one at carpenter road park that has an abra nest. After walking one circuit around and catching 3 abras, a geodude, a rhyhorn and other commons I was walking back to the market and there was a zubat. I hadn’t bothered with zubats for a long time. This one was quite stubborn, I was out of red balls and got it from my 4th or 5th great ball. The oh? screen again. Two dittos in an hour, I’m happy. Thursday’s plans now have to be amended. May be I’ll go to signal hill again, or I may try a new area where people have reported chansey, porygon and possibly lapras.

shy fern

shyfern01

When I was young, we could find what we called “shy fern” around the car park. As the slope got concreted, the ferns disappeared. Every time I’d see a small green fern I’d touch them in the hope that the leaves would fold, but usually I was disappointed.

I was waiting outside for mm to drive up and saw a small cluster. Without any expectations, I touched the leaves with my shoe and was pleasantly surprised that they folded immediately. I thought they’d gone from the area.

thought they're gone forever! #shy ferns that used to be everywhere around our car park

A video posted by mal088 (@mal088) on

Googling tells me that the plant is called mimosa pudica, commonly called shy plant, sensitive plant or sleepy plant. The leaves fold inwards when disturbed to protect themselves and re-open a few minutes later. I hope this plant survives and spreads back to the car park. It seems to be doing okay growing in gaps in the concrete.