another vegas buffet

So we did 4 buffets in 24hrs. For lunch today, we went to another buffet, this time at the Cosmopolitan. We can see the hotel very clearly from the room, but walking there took 15mins, having to walk through the Bellagio then to a thankfully covered walkway.

The Cosmo is modern and very pretty. My friend J told me that they advertise themselves using the slogan the right amount of wrong, and there is that feel.

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What I liked about the buffet was the food was different from the buffetofbuffets one, because it didn’t come from the same group of companies. There was a kale salad, of course. Different varieties of cauliflower. A brussels sprout salad that was really good, so good that I had it with the main course. Roast was prime rib and a sirloin, both of which I enjoyed. Skipped the asian and italian food sections.

Dessert was also small bites which I sampled lightly. The highlight in terms of dessert was ice cream. I had berry frozen yoghurt, salted caramel peanut and thai tea. The salted caramel peanut was very good, salty enough for me and the peanut butter came through. The surprise delight was thai tea, or their version of the type of tea found in asia–strong black tea with sweet condensed milk. The creamy and sweet milk came first, then the tea afterwards.

Went back to the hotel after lunch and even though we had intentions to go to downtown, we ended up staying inside the hotel for the rest of the day. Helped a little bit with conference setup, mostly hung around the registration desk talking to people. Dinner with friends at the mexican place inside the hotel. Back to the room by 8pm and caught up with mkr videos.

ate at 3 buffets, walked 13km

tl;dr: spent the day eating, walked 13km in between going from one buffet to another.

Since we activated the buffet of buffets pass at 6.27pm last night, we have until that time today to fit as many buffets as possible. We figured we can do breakfast, lunch and dinner today and planned it out accordingly.

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Breakfast was at Flamingo, just across the street from our hotel. At 8am it was already very hot outside. A showed me how to crush up watermelon and add to iced tea, which was delicious. I had honey roasted ham, sausage, bacon, egg white omelette, and kale salad. Strange to have kale salad for breakfast, it was very tasty. There were blueberries, strawberries, quinoa, cheese and a sweet dressing. I went back for seconds. Also had small bites of a smores pie and cheesecake. Tried to be picky about what to get and stayed away from carbs.

The morning was spent walking south from Flamingo. Past our hotel, then to Planet Hollywood, eventually to MGM Grand. Escaped the heat by visiting the shops too–coke, m&m both have large presence. Caught a lot of common pokémons, and battled in gyms. Distance walked over 3km, including walking around inside casinos.

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At the MGM Grand we crossed the road to New York New York and explored inside. Walked back north via that side of the road, our destination was Spice Market inside Planet Hollywood, perfect timing for lunch. My immediate requirement was a large soft drink, it was hot work walking in the 40ºC sun. They had one of those machines where you can make your own soft drink so I mixed a vanilla, lemon and lime diet pepsi, then followed with root beer.

The buffet has a nice variety of food. Breakfast (brunch) items were still available and there was Mexican, Asian, Middle-Eastern. Started with shrimps and middle-eastern dips. The roast counter had lamb shish kebab, tandoori chicken and courgette on a skewer. The lamb went quickly and I had to wait till the next batch was ready, which was great because it came fresh off the grill and was nicely medium rare.

Dessert is the usual small cakes and tarts, the cheesecake was good. The ice cream was soft serve and melty so I only had one tiny spoonful then gave up.

Again, full but not stuffed. Between being careful what to get, lots of walking and the heat, having so many buffets didn’t seem excessive.

Walked back to Bally’s, stopping off at cvs to get two large 3l jugs of water. Rested in the room for a bit, to allow phones and cameras and people to recharge.

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Plan for dinner was the bacchanal buffet at Caesar’s Palace. There was an additional charge for this on top of the pass, and we could see why. There were so many different sections with enormous selection of food. Just the asisn food section is the same size as entire buffets at other places. The cold seafood section had oyster, clam, crab and alaskan king crab. I was lucky, when it was my turn at the alaskan king crab, the server just brought out a new tray. 10 legs gave a lot of meat, much more than at Paris yesterday.

I skipped the Asian and Italian food sections. The roast meat counter had 3-4 types of beef, turkey and bacon. I asked for small slices of wagyu hangar steak, prime rib and tri-tip and the slices were anything but small! There was also, to my utter delight, roast bone marrow. I think I had 6 portions, forget about cholesterol.

Dessert was again small portions of cakes, tarts, pannacotta, mousse, macaron and ice cream. By then I was pretty full and also full of alcohol. I ordered the all-you-can-drink package and had a mimosa, half a white sangria and 2 glasses of red wine already.

We entered the buffet around 4-4.30pm and there was no wait. By the time we left, around 6.30pm, the queue was extremely long. I can see why, the food is excellent and I’d go back there again.

So, we completed 4 buffets in 24hrs. Definitely worth it. With weekend and 4th of July weekend the price was $75 instead of the usual $50 and the upcharge at Caesars more than usual (can’t remember the exact price). Overall, I’d say around $120 per person for 4 buffets. Considering breakfast buffets are something like $30-40, we probably got over $200 value. But it’s not just about money, the food was enjoyable too. Normally when visiting buffets, there’s a pressure to stuff ourselves and eat too much; with the pass I was able to just get what I really want to eat and not feel guilty because I stopped eating. Highly recommend looking into the pass for anyone who like food.

According to A’s app, we walked over 13km all day. That definitely helped digest all the food.

What else apart from eating? We also saw the robot bartender at work, visited the conservatory and stayed for the fountain show at the Bellagio. When I signed up for the rewards card at the hotel I got a drinks coupon so I redeemed it for a vodka lime soda. The casino at the hotel was too noisy, too crowded and too bright. We sat at the foodcourt for a while and chatted with a few friends who had come in. Nice end to the night.

vegas day 01

Very, very early start. Up at 6am, having a bagel at 6.30am and all loaded and on the way at 7am. The motivation is under 4hrs’ drive to Vegas. We listened to a novella on the way, perfect timing.

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The conference hotel is Bally’s, which is opposite Caesar’s and Bellagio and next to Paris on the Strip. In other words, a very central location. It’s also a weekend so traffic was very busy, making it harder to get around with a trailer. We stopped at one of the hotel entrances to ask the way and were directed around the block (including going on the Strip) to the hotel loading dock. Unfortunately it wasn’t the right loading dock and we had to circle around another time to finally get to the right one.

It was a small loading dock and a hotel supervisor had to come help us reverse the trailer into place. There were 2 hotel workers helping us unload but I was the one who was inside the trailer, untying the rope and moving all the boxes to the back so they could take them. Thirsty and hot work.

Ran a few more errands after that–returned the trailer, found an ATM, at a couple of tacos (first food since 6.30am). Back at the hotel at 4pm to check-in. I received an email in the morning to use self check-in via QR code and was so glad I opted for it. There was a long queue for normal check-in but using the kiosk took 5mins. I scanned the QR code, scanned my passport, added A’s name and the machine printed 2 keys. I also got instructions on how to get to the room, and it was very much needed. Had to walk through the casino, find a sandwich shop, and find the right lift. The room is at the end of the corridor so a long walk.

Dumped my backpack and headed down to the lobby to meet A. Had to get one of our volunteers to help retrieve my suitcase. Finally all settled around 5.30pm.

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A had come across the buffet of buffets, a 24hr pass that allows holders to dine at the buffets at 6 different hotels within the Caesar group. It was $75 which is decent value. We’re planning on trying to fit 4 buffets–dinner tonight, and breakfast, lunch and dinner tomorrow. For round 1 we went to Paris. There were alaskan king crab, shrimp, prime rib, turkey, pasta, sushi, asian, crepes, dessert. The king crab legs were small and served cut in half. 10 half-legs gave just 1-2 tbsp of meat. The prime rib was very good, tender and tasty even though the gravy was far too salty.

Walked around a little bit after dinner. Glad to be back in the room soon because of the crowds, the noise, and the blinking lights.

roadtrip1 day 03

Another early start day, this time we simply had breakfast at the hotel. Lots and lots of driving.

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New states for me today: New Mexico and Arizona. I won’t count them as visited because the only time we stopped was at service stations. There was one along the way with many billboards advertising that they have ice cream, toys, guy stuff, girl stuff, cool stuff, and all sorts of stuff. From what the billboards said, we expected a huge shop full of lots of things to sell. But actually the shop wasn’t that large. The selection was very interesting though, most are handcrafted by local artists. The shop is in the middle of nowhere along the highway. It also had the only pokéstop for miles and miles. I found that there are pokémons around but very few stops because there’s simply nothing around.

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The scenery in New Mexico and Arizona changed to dry desert landscape. I wish the highway had scenic stops so I can hop out and take a picture. The ones I snapped from the car weren’t that good.

We had considered overnighting at Holbrook or Winslow because it was getting late. Then we got in touch with 2 friends who were also driving and they were already at their hotel in Flagstaff so we pushed on, met them at the same hotel and we all went to dinner together. With the time change, we gained 2 hours so it was only 7pm when we got there.

Long, long day but managed to make good ground. Finished listening to yesterday’s audible book, started and finished another one. Another good story.

roadtrip1 day 02

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Early start, 6am alarm. Made a cup of tea at the hotel breakfast but waited till we were on the road before having proper breakfast at Denny’s. I had blueberry pancake with bacon, eggs and hashbrown. Quite nice, the type of comfort food that is filling and familiar.

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The day was spent driving and driving and driving. No adverse weather or trailer issues, just a long way to drive. We passed through Missouri into Oklahoma. Because of the trailer, we had to stop to fill up often. And because of the trailer, we tried to stop at truck stops where the space is larger and can accommodate a large turning circle. Many of the stops are the same, with a shop of some kind that sold food, drinks, souvenirs, electronics, gadgets. This one somewhere along the way had more unusual souvenirs. We were travelling along the modernised version of route 66 so there were relevant souvenirs. I ended up buying a route 66 cup too. The shop also had a whole fridge full of old fashioned sodas in glass bottles, lots of nostalgia.

To pass the time, we started listening to an audible book. I found I paid more attention when I’m listening. May be it’s also a combination of a good book, good narration and nothing else to do.

At around 5-6pm we started looking at nearby hotels. Found a Hampton Inn near Clinton. The friendly front desk guy Robert told us where to have dinner–a nearby family-run Italian place. I ordered linguine with clams which was okay considering the clams and sauce all seemed to be from a can or jar. Huge portions too.

roadtrip1 day 01

Three things went wrong, but bad things come in threes so by the end of the day, our luck changed.

Early start, we went to the storage place to drop off more stuff to free up space in the back of the car. We were there around 8am, this is important for later.

Reached the U-haul place to pick up the trailer aroud 9am. It’s not a proper office but a car repair place that also rents out U-hauls. The guy there was busy so by the time we finished the paperwork and he got the trailer hooked up it was something like 10.30am. We were hoping that we’d be almost finished loading by this time so we’re behind schedule.

#1 thing that went wrong today: the road into the storage place was closed. It was open just a few hours ago and there were no signs to say it would be closed. We had to take a long detour, and ridiculously by the time we came back to the street the workers were reopening the section. We wasted more than half an hour driving in a circle.

trippost002uhaul

But there was work to be done. Had to transfer all the boxes in the storage unit into the trailer. Last year when we took out stuff from the storage unit there were 4 cars and 6 people. This year it was just the two of us. Since I was able to work inside the trailer without needing to bend down, it made sense for me to be the one packing the trailer. It was hard work in hot weather. Although the trailer was parked right outside the unit, we still needed to move may be 100 boxes–some very tall and a lot of them containing books–a few feet, lift them up, push them to the back, arrange neatly and tie them down row by row with a rope. Had to take 2-3 breaks in the car, sitting for a few minutes, rehydrating and cooling down in the aircon. Took 1.5-2hrs but finally got it done.

Estimate start of the trip: 1pm. Had to navigate out of Chicago and driving the trailer seemed quite hard. There were strange noises coming from the back whenever we hit the smallest of bumps on the road. We loaded the trailer as instructed, putting the heaviest items in front. The hitch and the towbar was very, very low and only 1-2 inches off the ground. Wasn’t sure what to do, the hitch and trailer were all installed by official U-haul people so what were we to say. The mpg was atrocious, and we had to drive slowly too. Not a very smooth start.

trippost003storm

#2 thing that went wrong today: as we continued south, around Lincoln and still in Illinois, the sky turned grey and dark, heavy clouds appeared. It felt like tornados would form. I checked the weather app and saw that there was a severe thunderstorm warning with heavy rain and winds up to 70mph. There was no way around the storm, the highway led us straight to it.

When it hit, it was really, really bad. Visibility turned to almost zero suddenly and everyone had to slow down and use their hazard lights. It got so bad that at one point, we pulled over to the hard shoulder, unable to continue. It was getting dark, we’d been up since 7am, driving for 5hrs and we couldn’t go on. At this rate we’d get to Vegas on Monday!

#3 thing that went wrong today: we finally limped into a service station, a truck stop. The rain was pelting down and many other drivers were doing the same.

When we checked the trailer we discovered to our horror that its lights weren’t working. Can’t drive in the dark. Actually, can’t drive at all because cars behind us wouldn’t be able to see brake lights and indicator lights. The call to U-haul roadside assistance was rather frustrating and involved a lot of repetition and waiting. Things looked slightly better when the conclusion was that we should make our way to the nearest U-haul place to get the lights and fuses looked at. The agent said it’s 3 miles away but in actual fact it was 15 miles. We had about 45mins to get there before it closed.

Driving carefully, we made our way to Springfield, IL. Got a glimpse of the capital building and was delayed for 10mins while a train blocked the road. We got to the place around 6.45pm.

The 2 U-haul staff proved to be our angels. They fixed the fuses so we had lights. They also looked at the hitch and said the other guy hooked it up wrong, it should face up and not down which was why the front was sitting so low. Using our jack, one staff raised the trailer, fixed the hitch and it looked so much better–no longer an inch off the ground and the overall driving experience was more stable and smooth. Without their help our trip would have been miserable.

The storm passed but there was still rain, and a lot of lightning. The sunset was very beautiful and we sad a full rainbow. mm and I always say rainbows are good luck. We certainly hope, and it certainly felt, that things were looking up and the trip would get better.

We drove past St Louis and it was 10pm when we found a hotel and checked in.

tl;dr: long day that started in the worst way possible; angels and double rainbow turned our luck around.

busy pre-trip day

todo

We leave for our drive to Las Vegas so need the full day today to do things, run errands, see people.

First stop was to Menards to buy some tape to repair the broken bathroom pipe. While there we stocked up on snacks, because inside a ginormous DIY store were several aisles of food too. I got gummy sharks, popcorn, cheetos, the usual.

We also went to the wine store and I bought a couple of bottles of wine and a bourbon. Then to a supermarket to buy water, bread and cold meat.

Visited with Car’s aunt and uncle, always glad to see them and chitchat.

Then it was back to the house to start preparing for the trip. Make sandwiches, clean up a little, pack. I already packed one suitcase with things I’ll need in Vegas when I flew over, it’ll stay in the car on the drive. The muji bag will have enough clothes, toiletries, that I’ll need for a few days plus camera, electronics, teabags.

I’m still jetlagged and tired. I totally fell asleep just sitting on a chair at one point. Early start tomorrow too.

flight to chicago

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The flight is at noon, and we’re all told for US flights to get to the airport early. I also left home early to try to beat the rush hour fight for taxis. Of course there was no wait for taxi, no traffic, and no queue for check-in either. Sod’s law, eh. I also got upgraded to premium economy, bulkhead seat to boot. I was at the gate already at 10am, two hours before departure. Luckily the gate wasn’t busy and I had a relatively quiet corner where I could charge my phone and read for a bit.

The flight was completely full, so I was especially grateful for the upgrade. Didn’t really get a lot of sleep, just odd naps here and there. Watched Black Panther, The Post, Inside Out, Pitch Perfect 3, there was nothing interesting on the tv channel. Listened to Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto #1 twice too. Dinner was a nice beef tenderloin with chocolate ice cream. Lunch was seabass and fruit crumble. I only drank half a glass of red wine the entire flight.

Touched down around 2pm at ORD. Long 15min taxi, then 2 queues for immigration–one to scan passport, one for the human agent interrogation with only two agents there for the entire queue. The agent this time was more thorough than the past couple of years, sometimes I get the feeling they don’t want people to visit.

Luggage claim was utter shambles. Honestly, American airports are the worst I’ve even encountered, not even up to third world country standard. Every single luggage belt was full of people and bags. No staff there to organise the bags so they were stacked on top of each other. My first bag only came out when I reached the belt, considering I’d been at passport control for so long. I waited and waited for the second bag. Then the belt stopped, just stopped. Three times. With bags still coming out, stuck on the conveyor belt bit before they reach the carousel bit. The poor airline staff member there was trying to help passengers and talking on her walkie-talkie to get someone from the airport to come and restart the belt. She was saying she was tempted to get one of her staff to climb up and grab the stuck bags.

I finally managed to escape just before 4pm and headed to our usual meeting point at the car park to meet Car. Rush hour traffic meant a long drive. Dinner was pizza (yay!!!) and half of an Andy’s frozen custard. I got 4 of the seasonal blackberry concrete and stored them in the freezer. I find the blackberry one is available until around early- to mid-July so I want to make sure I have enough supplies for my entire trip.

Bed at 9.30pm.

big station heritage and arts centre

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Sis and I took my niece to visit tai kwun centre for heritage and arts at the site of the former central police station/prison. It’s free to enter but visitors need a reservation. Sis had lunch plans, so ony stayed with us for about 10mins, my niece and I explored the site together. Tai Kwun translates to Big Station, which was the nickname for the police station. It’s always been an imposing building as seen from outside, but we didn’t realise how large the site is. The station was decommissioned in 2006. The jockey club funded the 10 year, almost USD500million restoration to a heritage centre.

The visitor’s centre had a small exhibition showing the site’s history, from the first building put up in 1864 which then grew in size until the last building in 1925. Part of the site was destroyed by Japanese bombers during WW2, to newspaper clips of famous criminals and trials. The revitalisation project aims to set up the site as a centre for heritage and arts, with space built for concerts, exhibitions and education.

Our first impression, really nice. The complex was built in Victorian times and consisted of the police station, barracks, magistrate court and prison. There are 16 buildings in total and all meticulously preserved and restored. My niece says it feels very much like a National Trust property, a rarity here because the government has a habit of destroying and pulling down historical buildings so property developers can profit.

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The prison courtyard is now a pleasant sitting area with a smattering of sculptures and interesting pieces. Some of the prison cells are open for visit. None of the smell or dirt that presumably was there but we could see how crowded it was, they kept the beds in one cell and the entire cell is filled with one bunk bed and one extra bed. No space even to walk.

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The clever way they showed prison life is through projections of images and short animation onto the wall. We could see how many were placed in a cell, what they did during the day, hard labour, counting the days, and even an escape attempt.

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There are 2 new buildings, both will be used for exhibitions and concerts. Made from aluminium blocks, the modern and cubic designs contrast and compliment the century-old Victorian architecture of the other buildings.

Overall, 10 out of 10. We were both so surprised at the quality of the restoration, the aptness of the exhibit and the general sense of tranquility of the centre. We stopped at one of the caf&#233’s for mango smoothie and the café décor has the police staion feel. And the smoothie was made from real mangos. Even if they had charged a modest admission fee, it’ll be worth it.

flickr set: https://www.flickr.com/photos/invisiblecompany/albums/72157692568354080

your flight to chicago is departing in 48 hours

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It’s that time of year again. Flight to Chicago in 2 days, got the reminder to check-in. I already reserved my seat so I’m less anxious than usual. Let’s hope that paying extra for bulkhead pays off. I booked my ticket too late to get the window seat so I have the aisle, which isn’t my first choice.

Check-in took a minute; 2 at most. Everything was already filled in, I only needed to confirm my email and give them emergency contact information.

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The email reminder isn’t as annoying as before. I actually took the time to read it instead of deleting it straightaway. They have some info about in-flight entertainment, a newspaper reading app, and info about sockets and weather. Plugs I know, although first time visitors will find it useful. Weather looks like it’ll be thundery when I arrive but better on wednesday.

bbmm home cooking

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Went over to mm’s for lunch. She made many, many jars of homemade tomato sauce so we decided to simply do pasta. I went to the market on the way and got some clams–both on the shell and shelled. The pasta turned out to be really nice, very homemade flavours. She thought it lacked a bit of character, may be next time she’ll cook out the sauce a little more and add more garlic and chili. I thought it was great. We also did the most sacrilegious thing–tomato seafood pasta and we sprinkled cheese on top!! Hahaha.

All of a sudden it got dark, heavy rain and a few bursts of thunder too. The hills visible from her living room were covered with clouds one minute, then they peeked out. I took a snap, then played around filters in snapseed.

Went to visit her dad, running into her brother’s family on the way out. She drove me home, I was showered by 8pm. Didn’t feel like dinner because I was still full from the pasta, just fruit for me.

home renovation update

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Have to complete some tasks for the home renovation project before my trip. What we did this week:

Picked up lights. One for my room quite expensive but the rest either display or from a shop that is closing down. For mum’s room she picked one with fan and for Papa’s room we found one that usually goes in kids’ room–an airplane shaped light. Other lights are variations of standard LED lights.

Picked out door lock for front door, accessories for kitchen and bathroom (toilet roll holder, mirror cabinet, shelves), light switches, colour for skirting board.

Ordered oven last week and it was delivered on thursday. They called the day before but I missed their call but they got through to mum. They left a message that they’ll deliver between 12-2pm. I was early, arriving around 11am. But just as I was getting off the bus, our contractor called that the oven had just been delivered, one hour early. Bless him, he dealt with them, even paying the small stair fee.

I remember when I bought my flat 20 years ago, I had a hard time trying to find an oven. Built-in ovens were extremely expensive and in the end the only option was an all-in-one with hob. Nowadays, ovens are much more prevalent. For the new kitchen, I’m getting an Electrolux. Very happy about it.

I’d anticipated having to hang around till 2pm, but I was already done at 11.30am. More time than what I know what to. I had to go to the bank at one point, but I had to find lunch first. Thought about going to the hole-in-the-wall Thai place sis introduced me to, decided on frites instead. I like their salad lunch buffet. I ordered my favourite st bernadus ale before I realised it wasn’t happy hour and the beer cost as much as the lunch! Argh. Ah well, it’s just me.

how to be happy in 5mins

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Came across 25 ways to feel happier in the next 5mins at the aptly named happier.com. Very much one of those personal empowerment type of website, and they of course have an app that people can download so some of it is for money. I’m not convinced these work. In fact, as I read down the list, I’m like no, that’s stupid.

  1. listen to a favourite piece of music–this may work
  2. write it down–they say that writing down 3 positive things each day will make us more optimistic and less stressed
  3. get outside–fresh air, and I believe in this one
  4. walk it out–for me it’s filling up items on a list for the sake of filling it up, what’s the difference between this one and #3
  5. make a statement–no, not write it out, they say make a statement with accessories, like wear a necklace or sunglasses or shoes, which I think is completely naff
  6. give yourself a boost–like superfruit boost such as fruit smoothie
  7. leave a note–don’t see how this will help
  8. do something–I think I’m getting increasingly cynical of this list
  9. say thank you–how does this make us happy
  10. learn something new–wow, that’s completely ignorant of how depression works
  11. be a good listener–what? no, I need peace and quiet
  12. let it go–okay, the second tip that works
  13. straighten up–mm is forever telling me not to slouch
  14. try something new–first we learn something new, then it’s try.
  15. spend money–seriously, forget this
  16. text a friend–and burden them with our problems, yeah right
  17. make plans–huh?
  18. h=elp someone–only if they want to be helped
  19. stop comparing yourself–#3 that may work
  20. smile–tone deaf
  21. power color–now this one is really, really stupid
  22. treat yourself–yeah, like spend money
  23. read something–in 5mins, okay
  24. cute overload–seriously, they want us to look at kittens and puppies to get happier
  25. think positive–again, totally oblivious to the effects of depression

ON dining

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Met sis and mm for lunch at ON dining. I’ve been wanting to get mm to try the food there. Great fine dining but not too stuffy.

I had king crab, pea and burrata to start. Sis had hamachi and mm had beef tartare. I thought the crab was good, and there was a freshness with the pea. Not a great deal of burrata though.

We all went for the veal tendeloin for mains. Very, very good. Love veal and it was cooked perfectly. I find veal hard to cook well, so I’ll always try to order it when I’m eating out.

They have one of the best cheese celllars around so we shared one portion of cheese: brie, comté and roquefort. Warm bread and a glass of wine with the meal too.

I’m not sure if mm enjoyed it. She’s even more stressed than I’ve been. May be it wasn’t such a good idea to drag her out, I don’t know.

ikea comedy of errors

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Our new domestic helper arrives tomorrow, so we’ve been getting ready for her. She’ll sleep on my sofabed while I’m on my trip so we won’t need to get her a bed yet. We’ve looked around and have an idea where to get it, the frame from a chain furniture shop and the mattress from ikea.

We got sheets, duvet, pillow and towels from ikea plus a couple of sets of duvet covers from another shop last week. Our problems started this morning when mum went to wash the covers, only to discover they are actually sheets. Argh, we have sheets already, now there are 4 sets. But it means no duvet covers. So I went to ikea after lunch to get them. I made sure they are single duvet covers, these came with pillowcases too. So now there are 5 pillowcases because some of the sheets come with them.

Second problem. When I got home we discovered the duvet we bought last week was the wrong size. Instead of single we must have grabbed a double. Argh again! Back to ikea we trudged. I was pissed off and hot and tired by then.

Initially they wouldn’t accept the return because the package was opened. Mum persisted and got us the refund in the end, phew. We made sure the duvet was the right size. There was some money left over, enough for me to get 2 bottles of cider. Silver lining.

I’m so tired of this.

lovecraftian nightmare

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This is one of the funniest reddit comments I’ve ever read. Really needed the smiles because of all the stress and nonsense in my life right now. It’s someone’s answer to an askreddit question: what really happened in real life that if you saw it in a movie you would say “that’s totally unrealistic.” I’ll quote the comment from u/bookmark32345 in its entirety below. It’s so incredible it needs to be incorporated into a tv program or a film or a cartoon or something.

The image is the cover of Mythos Monsters: A Creature Codex of Lovecraftian Horrors by Jacob Walker, to go with the Lovecraftian nightmare description below.


When my grandfather was young he owned a roadside motel, and my mother used to do work around the motel for the family. The building was old and they had bad pipes, so visits from the plumber were a fairly regular occurrence over there.

At one point they had a clogged toilet after a guest checked out, so they called the plumber to come and clean it out. The plumber came in with his bag of gear and set to work, but the clog was stubborn. After a few tries, he decided he needed to get the snake.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a serious plumbing snake, but the big ones are a sight to behold. This isn’t a little crank auger, it’s a full-on electrical powered snake with a big motor on the back and a little grabby claw on the end.

So he fires up the snake and sends the metal coil down into the pipes with the claw closed, figuring whatever’s down there he’ll just bump it a bit, push it down the pipes until it clears – but this doesn’t happen either. Finally, in frustration, he twists the control to open the mechanical claw at the end of the coil, closes it on something, throws the motor in reverse and starts to pull it back up.

By now a couple of members of the staff have gathered in the room to try and figure out what the hell got flushed down the toilet that this giant machine couldn’t remove. The motor is really straining – you know that sound an electric motor makes when it’s working really hard? The whole machine is struggling to pull whatever this is back up through the pipes and into the room.

Finally, after an extended wait, the object is slowly dragged, sopping wet, out of the toilet bowl – and it’s a shower curtain.

The staff is dumbfounded. They’re trying to figure out how this could have happened. It would be weird enough if the guest had ripped the shower curtain down and flushed it down the toilet, but the shower curtain in the room is still there. It would be even weirder if the guest had brought their own shower curtain to the motel and tried to flush it down the toilet, but it’s clearly one of their shower curtains. Did they try and steal the shower curtain, leave with it, then feel guilty and come back only to find that the shower curtain had already been replaced, and then flush the shower curtain down the toilet to hide the evidence?

While they’re discussing this, the room phone rings. The person on the other end is screaming, hysterical, so it takes a few minutes for them to figure out that it’s the housekeeper who was cleaning the rooms. After a few moments, they manage to get the story out of her:

The snake had missed the clog entirely. Rather than spiraling down into the plumbing where it was intended to go, it had wound its way into the central line, and then back up the pipes in the room next door. It spiraled its way up, out the toilet bowl, and then started flailing wildly around the next-door bathroom like a Lovecraftian nightmare made of steel, knocking things off of shelves and clattering furiously around the room. Then, while the hapless housekeeper watched in horror, a metal claw opened on the end of it and snagged the shower curtain, ripped it off the bar ring-by-ring, spun it around the room until it was coiled tightly around the cable, and dragged it back down into the toilet bowl.

The actual clog was never found.


photofriday: yellow

This week’s photofriday challenge is yellow. Let’s see what flickr comes up with when I search yellow.

Hahaha, I get 2014 yellowstone set, duh. Plus all the pics tagged with yellowstone. The rest are pretty.

Yellow duckie and pikachu from the yellow umbrella movement:
oclp257duckpokemon

Yellow pattypan squash from the farmer’s market:
pattysquash

Mechanics from a tractor spotted at the crazy horse monument:
sd216engine

Yellow lorries, the most impressive because the only description is “little india” so presumably from singapore:
07truck

And yellow flowers:
lv047bellagio

larvitar community day recap #pokemongo

pokelarvitarcd2018

Pokemongo community day for June is larvitar. It’s one of the most highly anticipated CDs. I haven’t played in every CD but I had time to do this one. I only have one tyranitar and I’ve been walking larvitar for candies the past few weeks.

Bus arrival determined where I would go–Central Piers, where I went for dratini day. Got there early, in time for a kyogre raid nearby but didn’t get it.

Promptly at 11am a larvitar appeared and I caught it, yay! Then it all went pear-shaped. Can’t login. Spinning wheel. Blank map when I was able to login. It wasn’t just me, there were around 30-40 people in the area and every single one was looking at their phones with frustration. I checked reddit and it was happening elsewhere too.

For dratini day the login problem went on for around half an hour. Mareep day there was a 10-min delay. For larvitar day, the problem persisted for THREE HOURS. I did screenshots at the top of the hour, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm. The one at 1pm at least showed stops–see how they’re all lured up?

The game was pretty much unplayable. There were may be 10- or 20min windows when I could get in. And when it was working, it was okay. Larvitar everywhere. The stretch of piers is around 500m, so walking up and down was also great for hatching eggs. I’d say when I could get in, 50% of the time it was working fine but 50% of the time the game froze when I caught larvitar, I did a screen recording. See how many times I had to click to get to the catch screen. Sometimes i can see it in my storage when I finally got back in, sometimes it wasn’t there.

I cracked 2 lucky eggs at first, but totally wasted so I didn’t dare crack any more.

They announced that the event will be extended for 2hrs. Not enough but ah well. I feel bad for people who made time and had to leave at 2pm. And for the kids who must surely be disappointed. I was able during the 5hrs that I was attempting to play to get a lot of larvitars. I also got 3 shinies, which means I have now one each of shiny larvitar, pupitar and tyranitar. It was a hot day, luckily there was shade and a nice breeze. A sports drink company set up a free tasting booth and I got hydrated that way, I must have sampled 10 cups of their drink.

I see people online complain that it’s not fair that we get an extension when they don’t. That they should also get extra time too. An Australian trainer on twitter replied he’s absolutely for the idea of other regions getting extensions on the condition that they also have to have 3hrs of network errors, error 25, error 26, GPS issues, blank maps, lost pokemons, lost items etc. That’s only fair, right.

Edit: I read after the event that Europe had problems too but didn’t get an extension. That’s not fair.

cyclo knitter

I’ll let design student George Barratt-Jones talk about his invention, the Cyclo Knitter, in his own words:

Imagine Its the midst of winter. You are cold and boared waiting for your train at the station. This pedal powered machine gets you warm by moving, you are making something while you wait and in the end you are left with a free scarf! That you can decide to keep yourself or give to someone who needs it more.

Its all about spreading joy and making those boring moments more fun.

cycloknitter

Cycle on a stationary bike for 5mins, get a 1.5m scarf. Genius.

airpods

Went to Sam’s to get my haircut for the trip. Summertime so he tends to cut it rather short, so it’s easy to manage.

airpods

Did a few things beforehand, bought gifts and miscellaneous stuff to take with me. Oh, and airpods.

I haven’t listened to music for a long time, but lately I wish I had earphones to listen to sound on eithe the mbp or iphone. Sometimes videos, sometimes when playing a game. The criteria are wireless and that they fit in my ears. Conventional earbuds don’t fit, I can’t stuff them in or they fall out. The airpods seem to stay in place.

Are they the best choice? Probably not, definitely not in terms of price. But that’s always been the case with apple products. They connect up with the iphone immediately with zero issue, and I can make some customisations. Some reviewers ding the sound quality, but I’m not enough of an audiophile to tell the difference.

I see enough people with them that the odd design doesn’t look stupid to me anymore. In time, people will just get used to it. We got used to the equally bluetooth earpiece, didn’t we?

I used them to play pubgm and there is a big difference; I can hear shots more clearly and the direction they come from. The biggest advantage for me is how easily i can use them. Bluetooth is always off but as soon as I turn it on in either my iphone or the mba, pop one or both airpods in my ear, they’re connected. It’s been so long since we heard

it just works

that I’m so happy to have an apple product that does just that.

stock photo fail

handmixersfail

Recently I saw someone post an image that still had the stock photo watermark. I’m not sure if it’s a draft or part of the design so I didn’t mention it.

Not so for pictures used in packing boxes of these hand mixers spotted in Poland. They took shutterstock images, presumably off google images, and…didn’t do anything about the watermark. As petapixel said, it seems that

no one noticed (or cared).

beer in a bowl

dinnertungpo201806

Running home renovation errands with mum. Went to the electrical shop to confirm oven and ask about fridge. To the curtain shop to choose blinds. We’re getting there, cm by cm.

Finished relatively early, so we went to tung po seafood restaurant. The famous one where every food and travel writer and presenter around the world visits. The chef used to work at a five-star hotel and opened the place in an unlikely location, the top floor of a dirty, grubby wet market. Busy all the time and fresh food. We had prawns with salted eggs, clams with black bean sauce, pork ribs with mayonaise. The seafood was fresh, still swimming in the tank just before cooking. The pork was a bit weird, more mayo than I remember. The beer is served in a bowl.

The meal reminds me of Anthony Bourdain. RIP. Here’s his No Reservation visit a few years ago. The food and décor has not changed.

meatfree week

It’s the start of world meat free day. I don’t know how much I can contribute; it’s already getting to the point when it’s a chore to cook or plan meals. If I were on my own I’d just have cereal or a packet of ham. I guess if I were on my own I’d still have positivity in my life instead of this bottomless pit.

couscouspepper

I’ll compensate by posting this pic of one of my favourite vegetarian recipes. Peppers stuffed with mushroom, halloumi and giant couscous. Just looking at it…yum.

brutalist cuckoo clocks

brutalistcuckooclock

These cuckoo clocks make me uncomfortable, I don’t know why. They’re designed by German artist Guido Zimmermann and replaces the traditional alpine chalet that sits on top of the clock with modern (or post-modern?) brutalist concrete residential buildings. He describes the clocks:

the classic cuckoo clock stands for the prosperity of the middle class and counts as a kind of luxury for the staid home, the updated version as a panel construction shows today’s urban and social life in apartment blocks.

The blocks are based on actual buildings, an example being Glenkerry House in the East End of London. There are details like different curtains in different windows, satellite dishes, and even the dark mark left by rainwater on the concrete.

via colossal

explorer’s guide for the world’s most adventurous kid

atlasobscurabook

I wish I were a kid again, then I can ask for this book coming out in September, as recommended by kottke, called the atlas obscura explorer’s guide for the world’s most adventurous kid.

The book covers 100 of the world’s

most mesmerizing and mysterious wonders

in 47 countries and all 7 continents. Places like the Devil’s swimming pool in Zambia, Skeleton Lake in India, Blood Falls in Antarctica.

A bit expensive, US$17.95 for hardback only. I bet it’s beautifully illustrated.

lunch home

Met with sis’ and mm’s ex-colleague L and her husband W for lunch. W does all our conveyancing so he’s a lawyer too. Yum cha at a restaurant called Yum Cha that is quite modern and fusion-like.

Then have to go look at renovation progress. Long wait for the bus and I ended up getting the train instead. It’s getting towards the final stretch so there are builders everywhere and the place is like a warzone. Tiles for kitchen and bathrooms are done so it’s installing kitchen and bathroom, plastering, painting, changing doors.

raining sis lunch

Was going to go to yacht club lunch with sis and mum but it started raining very heavily, T3 was raised, so we thought we should postpone. I was already out with sis at the bank. We had a quick lunch buffet at dicken’s bar instead. How does quick buffet work, isn’t that an oxymoron? We didn’t have too many portions. The salad was nice, especially the grilled vegetables, beetroot and pumpkin. The roast beef was not very good, the server didn’t understand when I asked for a not too well done piece, he attempted to give me the end piece (I was the first customer), luckily the chef was next to him and told him what to do.

Main dishes were curry–beef, vegetable, chicken. They are good with their curries, so reliable. Dessert wasn’t impressive at all, fruit was the best. Sis ordered macaroni cheese to take home for my niece, the side portion was as big as a normal portion. Seemed to be lacking in cheese so I took a ramekin of cheese from the desser and we added it. Strictly speaking shouldn’t have done that, but hey.

Sis took a taxi home, she had a lot of stuff. I walked through the park a little bit for pokémon to get the minibus. Rain stopped a little, but there will be sporadic bursts for the next few days.

no fun weird holiday today

june2018holiday

So according to timeanddate.com’s fun holidays there are no fun and weird holiday today. It’s the only day in June with nothing, that’s pretty sad. They have Leave the Office Early on both the 2nd and 4th, so why not add the 5th too.

What other weird holidays can we look forward to in June:

  • 07-jun is vcr day–this list needs to be updated, i doubt anyone has a vcr anymore, I threw away the last of our videos when we moved, we still have the baby tape that we really really need to convert to digital
  • 10-jun is iced tea day–i’ve been making a whole jug of iced tea from the long teabags I get from the local daiso, really nice
  • 14-jun is bourbon day–may be I’ll remember, I’m not sure, my bourbons are all packed up in boxes though
  • 17-jun is eat your vegetables day–great!
  • 22-jun is onion rings day–I won’t be participating
  • 26-jun is chocolate pudding day–it’s the day I fly to chicago, i’ll only celebrate if they serve chocolate pudding on the plane

match 2 book covers

bookcovergame

This is really a really fun match-2 game: there are 12 book covers which consist of 2 editions of 6 different books. No titles or author names. The game is to match the books by the covers alone.

Some are a little more obvious than others. Some are guessable and some are like “what!?” They reveal the answer after clicking one book, so it’s possible to examine the rest to figure out the best match. A more challenging game will be titles are revealed after 2 covers are clicked.

bbmm pokémon at a new park

It was a nice day, if a bit hot. We went out walking around, to take advantage of the 25% egg walking distance as well as adventure week of 2100xp when spinning a new pokéstop. Went to an area we hadn’t been before, with a park next to a residential area. Lunch was at a SE Asian diner, the old fashioned place that has laksa and curry. Efficient service and they didn’t make us share tables or hinted at us to leave when we finished.

lckparkpebble

The park was surprisingly nice. Lots of paths, about half shaded. Children’s play areas, quiet garden areas, and generally enough space to walk around. We caught many pokémons and spun many new stops. There was a pebble walk, a circular path of massage pebbles to negotiate without shoes. Harder than we thought! Initially for the first 10, 20 steps it was fine, and then it started hurting and we had to take frequent breaks. I found that walking sideways like a crab was better, because that’s the direction of the pebbles. Quite fun.

Next community day is in 2 weeks, gotta go catch larvitars. I’m walking one so I can get as many candies as possible. The 25% distance really helped.

GoT on labo

Whenever mum is out I try to catch up with game of thrones. I’m at season 2 now and hopefully by the time season 8 comes out next year I would be completely caught up.

Anyway, here’s Ramin Djawadi playing the theme on a nintendo labo. What is the labo? It’s a physical extension for the switch made out of cardboard and simple materials, intended to teach users programming, engineering, robotics etc. Looks so fun, just a few pieces of cardboard makes a keyboard, a console, a fishing reel (for a fishing game), a steering wheel, a VR unit and all sorts of accessories for switch games and programs. The intro video is pretty amazing. The cardboard seems to hold up pretty well after a few weeks.

And with the announcement of let’s go pikachu and let’s go eevee, to be released in november for the switch, with integration with pokemon go, the temptation to get a switch is very high. I’m not a big collector of console games–the last one I bought is the original PSP–may be I won’t get it in the end. See see.

barkley marathons

A new documentary about the Barkley marathons dropped. This one, at 1:16hrs, follows Canadian Gary Robbins over the course of his attempt to finish the Barkeley in 2016 and 2017, suitably called where dreams come to die. As a reminder, the Barkeley is an annual race held at Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee every April. It is a 5-loop race total 100 miles where runners have to retrieve pages from books that match their bib numbers. In addition to sleep deprivation, extreme exhaustion, weather, altitude changes. It’s one of the most legendary races in the world.

Amazing documentary, well worth sitting down and watching.

lookback 30-may

Been a while since the last lookback post so here’s one for 30-May. Trying not to limit myself to landmarks like one-, three-, five years ago.

2017chocolate truffle ice cream

Ah, that was the day we met our friend L for lunch, went to look for fridges for mm, and had early dinner at hmv.

choctruffleicecream

We also exchanged 2 vouchers I had for chocolate truffle ice cream. Truffle as in the fungus found in forests not the cream-melted-chocolate mixture. Even one year later I can still smell it and there’s memory of an awful ice cream. Seriously, I like truffle, but paired with chocolate ice cream is such a bad idea.

2014new state: alaska

glcr067margeriecalf

The cruise arrived at Alaska. I saw glaciers, whales, bald eagles. Lots of snow, ice, pristine scenery. Ate king crab, went gold prospecting in the Yukon, saw a snowplough taller than me.

2013lunch at le fauchon

Hahaha, even more vouchers! This one at the French bistro near central, for a set lunch. After lunch, walked mm back to the office. She was still working then.

2008 — <a href=”http://www.invisiblecompany.com/2008/05/30/” title=”post>i will possess your heart

Wow wow wow, ten years already? DCFC’s I Will Possess Your Heart dropped. I have the short version on my running playlist. I love that the video was filmed in so many favourite and instantly recognisable places–London, Paris, Tokyo.

2006bzzzt

Hahaha, the sound of a lightsabre turning on.

gcse art exhibition

artgcse001fragments

My niece’s GCSE art class held an exhibition today showing their coursework and the piece they submitted for their exam. They’re marked throughout the year as well as on their exam piece. They’re given a theme, this year it’s Fragments and they have to complete their pieces in 8hrs.

I like the simplicity and clean lines of her exam piece. Seems like just cardboard cutouts, but there’s more to it.

artgcse024art

Other students had different pieces. Some are larger, one included burned charcoal. Some of the students included their notebooks in the exhibit, and those really showed their thought process, practice pieces, and how they came up with their ideas.

I’m very blown away at the sophistication of their work, it’s very advanced and more than what I could have done at 16 years old. Well, more than what I could have done at any age.

flickr set: https://www.flickr.com/photos/invisiblecompany/albums/72157667895910337

natgeo planet or plastic

natgeo201806

The June edition of National Geographic magazine launches their Planet or Plastic initivative:

aimed at raising awareness of the global plastic crisis and reducing the amount of single- use plastic that is polluting our world’s oceans.

The amount of waste plastic floating in the earth’s oceans is horrendous, and the effects on wildlife so devastating. The cover image of the magazine was created by Jorge Gamboa and won first place at Bienal del Cartel Bolivia 2017. I think usually NatGeo uses their own photographers and their own photos so the use of what amounts to a stock photo is unusual. As petapixel pointed out

considering the topic, this cover could hardly be executed more effectively.

recursive recipes

A recursive recipe breaks down the ingrediens of a recipe until it’s truly made from scratch. Let’s take apple pie. The simplest recipe, aka method, is to buy a pie. It costs $3.98 and takes no time:

applepierecursive01

Most people who say they make food from scratch will mean they make the apple pie using fresh apples, pie crust and store cupboard staples like sugar and salt:

applepierecursive02

But in the words of Carl Sagan (blurry old video on youtube):

If you wish to make apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe

every ingredient comes from another ingredient. From “scratch” means from nothing, so the pie crust comes from flour, butter, water. The butter comes from milk, the milk from a cow, and a cow from…etc.

Without going to the extreme, the most basic ingredients for making apple pie are: soil, water, seawater, cow, cinnamon.

applepierecursive03

It takes over 7 years to make, which takes into account growing the apples from a tree and making butter from cow’s milk:

applepierecursive04

Snerk. The first step in making cow’s milk is tie the cow in a secure are so she cannot escape.

Quite a fun game. There are other recipes like vanilla ice cream and eggs benedict.

ice cream sculpture

sculptureicecream

It’s really hot already and it’s not even June. Perhap a typhoon is coming but not according to the weather forecast. Sun, sun, sun.

Hot means ice cream. The guardian had an article about artist Jourdan Joly who makes ice cream sculptures. They do look realistic except the cones look fake. Reminds me of Japanese plastic food.

On real ice cream, he mentions miso cherry ice cream from a place in New York, and that his normal favourite is green tea. He actually is reported as calling it “green tea matcha” but that falls into the same trap as American Ninja Warriors calling the final obstacle Mount Midoriyama.

gdpr

gdprwptool

GDPR comes into effect today. Although it directly affects organisations based in the EU, with today’s globalisation it actually impacts everyone that

offer goods or services to, or monitor the behaviour of, EU data subjects.

Implications for personal websites like mine is minimal, especially since I don’t have any other users, nor do I offer goods and services via e-commerce. I don’t allow comments, so I’m not collecting or processing data from anyone. I have no mailing lists or other means of outreach or communication. The only potential area is third-party cookies from plug-ins and embedded posts but I think I’m okay there.

Someone wrote a detailed WordPress GDPR guide. Everyone who runs a personal or business wp site should read it. Some typical ways a standard wp installation will collect data:

  • user registration
  • comments
  • contact forms
  • analytics
  • logging or security plugins

Again, I think I’m okay there. WP has automatically updated with a tool for exporting and erasing personal data. I probably need to include some wording on the collection and processing of data at some point. I’m sure there will be standard wording available as templates.

Even though people know gdpr is coming for years, lots of corporate sites are caught unprepared. A bunch of US newspapers, including LA Times, Chicago Tribune, has shut down or stripped their websites for EU visitors. Instapaper users in the EU are suffering the same fate. So instead of complying with the regulation, they’re choosing to keep their heads in the sand. These aren’t small personal sites, but big high traffic sites.

Makes me think they are collecting and using people’s personal data for purposes that users haven’t consented to. Advertising is the culprit here, what else. From Jason Straight from a company that sets up gdpr compliance programs for businesses:

For many years it’s been, ‘How much data can we trick people into giving us?’

I think gdpr is wonderful. Its aim is to protect users from the rampant disregard for personal data that has flooded the internet in recent years. Time to fight back.

cirque du soleil kooza

kooza015all

Sis won a prize draw of ten tickets for kooza, cirque du soleil’s touring production. She gave tickets to me, mum and mm as well as rob’s secretary, her mum and her sister (or cousin, I’m not sure). So nice of her.

It’s what we expect from a cirque du soleil show. The tagline for Kooza is that it’s back to basics, it:

rekindles the memories and emotions associated with circuses of old, and brings together two century-old circus traditions

But there’s nothing basic about the spectacle. The production was sleek, the music jazzy with a haunting feel, the skills of the performers topnotch. There were clowns, kings, ghosts, and other colourful characters. All the acts were wonderful, including a lady with multiple hula hoops, scary contortionists, high wire gang cycling across two wires, a unicycle pair, tumbling teeterboard troupe, a gymnast balancing on a column of chairs. Never a boring moment, even the fillers with the clowns were amusing. There was a running theme about the Innocent kiteflyer who gets trapped in this magical world by the jester King, a thief being chased by policemen, and the maintenance worker who popped up here and there.

The most exciting and dangerous act was the wheel of death, where two human hamsters ran and jumped and kept up with two giant rotating wheels. Just watch:

earth-moon fireman’s pole | juno images from jupiter

earthmoonpole

A five-year old asked on xkcd: If there were a kind of a fireman’s pole from the Moon down to the Earth, how long would it take to slide all the way from the Moon to the Earth?

First things first, it’s impossible to place a pole between the moon and the earth because of the two bodies’ constant movement. There is no stability whatsoever between the two end points of the pole. Then there are the scientific impossibilities–can’t slide because there’s no gravity between the two points, the relative rotation of the earth and the moon, the moon’s equivalent ground speed. Then there is the effect of sonic waves and the atmosphere. Plus the adventurer will gather so much speed coming towards earth that a huge giant mattress is needed to cushion the sudden stop.

Basically, too many variables.

But what if we froze the earth and the moon, and all of time except for our adventurer. It should be an easy calculation:

timedistancespeed

Assume we use the average lunar distance of 384,400km. The issue is, what do we use as speed? The earth’s gravitational acceleration is 9.8m/s, but that isn’t very helpful.

Anyway the answer.

Spoiler below.
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There is no answer.

Hmm. Too many unknowns.

So I don’t end a post with such an anticlimax, here’s a link to pictures of Jupiter that the spacecraft Juno has sent back. (All images below ©NASA.)

The familiar red spot, taken when Juno flew just 5,600 miles above it in July 2017:

junojupiter01

Then there’s this of Jupiter’s south pole, which is not visible from earth. It’s like the inside of a crystal:

junojupiter02

Cloud systems in the northern hemisphere:

junojupiter03

More at vox. Vox also reports that the mission is approved until July 2018 and if it doesn’t get extended, Juno will be abandoned and left to fall and get burnt up by Jupiter’s atmosphere.

eating

teawoodlunch2018

Too much eating out recently. On the one hand I’m relieved I don’t need to cook, on the other hand I’m not 100% enjoying eating out. Thankfully it’s mostly quick meals, with the exception of mm and I going for hotpot at the place at the wet market. Zero stars for location, ambience and decoration. The previous time we went, the seafood was really good but this time was a disappointment. We probably won’t be going back till winter.

Aside from discovering a new korean place, the taiwanese noodle place has good lunch sets. Mum had the signature beef noodles and I had the set with braised meat and a small bowl of beef noodles. Came with a drink too. I can add a small amount and upgrade to bubble tea, and I tried the mint bubble tea that gis likes so much.

When I do cook, I’m trying to finish up the food we brought over so we’re having lots of pasta with canned soup and noodles. For a change, we only have four pieces of salmon in the freezer. I can walk to the nearby market, it’s around 15-20mins walk back and all uphill so I can’t buy too much. The first stall I went to was a mistake, the vegetables were good but too expensive. I think I’ve found a more value for money stall. Keeping to frozen meat right now, will go back to fresh when we move back and I can go back to the regular butchers and fishmongers.

reading

The last time I opened my ipad to read was sometime in April. It’s been so crazy and I’ve been so distracted that I don’t have to time or motivation to read. I’ve been watching youtube videos of game streams before bed instead of reading.

This is not good.

dragonwing

The book I’m in the middle of reading, and I’ll definitely need to start from the beginning, is Dragon Wing by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I’m around 1/3 of the way through, and haven’t gotten the hang of the location or characters yet. May be the slow start is one of the reasons I’m not getting into the book. There’s an assassin who was raised by monks who seems to be the MC, a prince he is protecting/keeping prisoner, and then there’s this dwarf, or in that universe, a geg, who is way too curious for his own good. I guessing the two parties will meet at some point and more will happen.

Like I said, I will need to re-read from the beginning. It won’t be a big deal; it’s a 7-book series, so there’s a long, long way to go in terms of the overall story. I just wish I can pick it up again. ‘It’ being not only this particular book, but the whole reading thing.

sleeping

eyemask

When I put in blinds for the study, I picked one that was pale white. It didn’t have any blackout function at all, because I didn’t need it in the study. If anything, I wanted it to be light enough even when I had it closed.

I never anticipated that I’ll need to sleep in the study, but that’s what I’m having to do now. (I never anticipated I needed to share my flat with anyone, tbh.) The sofa bed arrived a few days ago and the first morning afterwards I was woken up by the bright morning light. Ah yes, in addition to pale blinds, the study window also faces east.

The solution, even though I’m not keen on it, is to sleep with an eyemask. There are no side-effects from using a sleep mask, if anything there seems to be tiny benefits. There are also fancy models costing up to £60–this one is made from:

organic, bamboo, silk fabric subtly infused with the scent of natural lavender.

SMH.

I have a few of them, collected from flights. No need for £60 eyemasks, this simple one did the job. The problem is, I don’t really like using eyemasks. Having a cover for my eyes isn’t the issue, it’s the presence of the straps that makes me feel like I constantly want to yank them off. I just have to suck it up, either get woken up in the morning or get enough sleep.

checked home progress, royal wedding

Went over to check renovation progress, the electrician finished drilling so we’re allowed back. All the places for the wires have been drilled and prepped. Today they’re also replacing all the windows. When we walked into the car park, the old metal windows were there waiting to be collected–our watchman will take them and we’re happy for him to sell and get a little money for it.

globewedding05food

Mum went shopping and I met sis late afternoon in the British pub to watch the royal wedding. All the tables were booked but I managed to grab a couple of stools at the bar (someone conveniently finished and left just as I was about to go elsewhere). The place wasn’t crowded at first but it got really really crowded and loud very soon. Our seats were pretty nice, with a good view of the tv screens on the wall. They even had a special Harry & Meghan menu including Pimm’s! I tried both the regular Pimm’s cup and the Pimm’s spritzer, then switched to diet coke. Had dinner there too, I had scotch egg (as befitting the occasion) and sis had fish & chips.

The wedding was really nice, although we couldn’t hear too much due to the noise at the pub. People tried to shush whenever the Archibishop of Canterbury, Harry, Meghan, or someone else was speaking. Even though later I read about how “everyone” loved the address by Rev Michael Curry, at the time people at the pub thought he went on and on for way too long. His way of preaching also seemed out of place. I think Americans love his sermon because he was lively and passionate and presented it in the typical loud American way. Brits heard his message, but personally I wish he could have been more restrained, to match the location. And made it shorter, because it felt like he was hogging the limelight and stealing attention from the royal couple.

I walked home and caught the bit when they were in the procession back to Windor Castle. Very happy about the wedding, very proud and delighted for the couple. Remember the sad and lost 12-yaer old prince walking with his mother’s casket? Princess Diana would have been so proud of her son; and I can just imagine her sitting with Doria Ragland and crying tears of joy together.

5000 posts

post5000

I didn’t even notice, I passed 5000 posts on the website. Post #5000 was the one about the Japanese oogui eater on 10-May-2018. Granted, 5000 posts on this WP installation is different from the original MT installation, because I reorganised.

Anyway, I can argue with myself about the date of post #1.

The post with the earliest date is 30-Apr-1996 because I was writing up past trips and that was the trip to Guilin. The post itself was probably written in 2006 or later.

The actual first post on the website was 23-Sep-2003 which I have in my mind as my website anniversary. I’m going to call this post #1.

Between post #1 and post #5000:

  • 14 years, 7 months, 17 days
  • 5,343 days
  • 128,232 hours
  • 7,693,920 minutes
  • 461,635,200 seconds

Next 5000 posts, may be in 5000 days.

bbmm meetup, sticky toffee pudding

Met mm for lunch at a new korean place. It’s a branch of the one I went to a couple of times with Mum. It was pretty good so we have another Korean place to go to, yay. I had cold noodles with barbequed pork and mm had her usual seafood tofu pot.

Walked around ikea, we both needed to look at stuff. I continued to look for ideas, a single bed for the helper, shelves and cabinets; mm needed a cabinet or shelf for her bathroom. There were different choices, in order of least expensive to most expensive: a wooden shelf, a pine shelf, an open metal shelf, and a tall cabinet with doors. Each has its own advantage and disadvantage. There’s time to look further.

I was originally going to go home for dinner but decided to stay with her. Her dad is being transferred to another hospital, this one to focus on recovery. She was calling once or twice an hour to check his progress and he finally reached there at 6pm. So we walked over to visit. Her mum came as soon as she knew he arrived, and later we all went to a pasta place for a quick dinner.

stickytoffeepuddingsis

In other news, sis made this delicious sticky toffee pudding and brought half over to us. She followed Mary Berry’s recipe to the tee and it was indeed gooey yet light. The pudding wasn’t too sweet, the sauce is sweet but used with restraint it’s balanced. Can really taste the yummy treacle in the pudding.

a camera lens’ two year journey

leicasafariedition

Imagine going on holiday to the US, visitng a national park, and finding a Leica lens sitting on a rock in the middle of the desert.

That’s what happened to Jorgen Loe Kvalberg from Norway. To his credit, he took the lens home and contacted Leica Norway about the find. Leica Norway contacted Leica HQ in Germany. From the serial number, they traced it to Leica USA and Samy’s Camera store in LA. The store manager checked records and found that the lens had been sold as part of a kit to someone named Arthur Galvao.

It turned out that Galvao had lost the lens in the national park two years earlier. One of the Samy’s Camera store rep was going to Germany for holiday, so he picked it up from Leica Germany and returned the lens to its owner in person.

So when we’re talking about a camera lens and it being sold as part of a kit, it’s not the bog standard 18-55mm that comes with an entry level Canon, we’re talking about a US$3,500 Leica lens that came with a $9,990 Leica M-P with 35mm f/2 Safari Edition camera.

All credit to Kvalberg, all the folks at Leica around the world, and the camera shop in California. What’s amazing is that the lens was still in perfect, if dusty, condition after sitting out in the desert for 2 years. I guess if it’d been sitting in damp conditions, it would have broken down after that time.

I also think it got found and safely returned to its owner because it’s a Leica lens. Not many people will bother checking for the owner of a 18-55mm Canon kit lens. If I found a Leica lens, I’ll know it’s valuable and will try to return it to an official office.

via petapixel

a long wait for age-statement japanese whisky

yama060taste

We all knew this would happen, but it’s still very sad. Suntory just announced that they’ll stop selling Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17. Whisky takes time to age; there is no way of fast forwarding a 12-, 15-, 18-, 21-, 30-year process. All Japanese whiskies we see nowadays are NAS. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with NAS, we trust the master distillers. The boom in 2014 cleaned out Nikka’s stock, so the image of shelf upon shelf of Yoichi, Miyagikyo, Taketsuru and others won’t return till at least 10 years from now.

yamazaki12

Meanwhile, any single malt especially Yamazaki, Yoichi or Miyagikyo that can be found are selling for higher and higher price. Nikkei chart of prices.