#46 wall climbing

Kiipeilyareena walls
image from flickr user Kumpei Shiraishi

Task #46 of 101.1001 is to go wall climbing. I have researched, and one of the best places to go is the YMCA. To begin with, everyone must go through an introductory course, which is great. Unfortunately they don’t accept bookings on the phone or online. It’s stupid. I haven’t had the chance to go there in person to pay yet. And last time I called, they’re booked through September so they don’t take walk-ins.

I’ll check it off, because it’s the last task. I’ll call it done if I go before the end of the year.

pokehunting, happy hour, steak dinner


Met up with mm to go pokéhunting. The shopping centre we went to didn’t have many good pokémons but it was nice to just sit and relax. Our friend D whatsapped us that he’s ready to hunt. We met up first at Hullet House, which used to be the marine police headquarters and now converted to a hotel. The colonial building has been restored and it looks very pretty, both during the day and at nightfall.


The bar had happy hour which included local craft beers. Definitely a colonial atmosphere and a nice place to meet and chat.


D took us to some hotspots: the back of ToysRUs, the far corner of a rooftop car park. Got a few draginis and a golduck. We had dinner at a casual Italian place. I had the wagyu beef set: scallop salad, pumpkin soup, A5 wagyu steak, petit fours. The steak was…okay. Very thin and not rare enough.

After dinner we walked to a place D said he found Pikachus but there weren’t any. It’s next to my bus stop home so it was at least convenient.

2016 olympics


The Olympics finished. Didn’t watch a lot because the tv channel only showed the big sports like swimming and athletics. Very happy and proud that Team GB finished second in the medals table. So many greats, Katherine Grainger, Mo Farah, Andy Murray, Nicola Adams, Giles Scott, Max Whitlock, Nick Skelton, the divers, the hockey team and the entire cycling team. 67 medals in total, 2 more than London 2012, an impressive achievement for an away games.

Another way of looking: 7th weighted medals by team size which is very good too.

Special shoutout to the 10 countries winning their first gold medals: Bahrain, Fiji, Ivory Coast, Kuwait (as Independent), Jordan, Kosovo, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Tajikistan, Vietnam. It’s easy to focus on the big countries and big crowd-pleasing sports, the achievements of the smaller countries and smaller teams is proportionately even larger. And what about Sakshi Malik, who won India’s first ever medal, a silver in wrestling. Imagine the difficulty she’s had to overcome.


There are no better embodiment of the Olympic spirit than Nikki Hamblin and Abbey d’Agostino, who were awarded the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin medal for fair play. One of the best moments of these Games.

lunch and dinner


Went with Mum to renew her teachers union subscription, had lunch at one of the restaurants opposite. The building has plenty of restaurants: korean chicken, japanese buffet. We thought we’d try crystal jade, a noodles and xiaolongbao specialist. Usually long queues but surprisingly quiet for a sunday lunchtime.

We had starters of pickled cucumber and crispy eels. It’s a clever way of presenting cucumbers, rolled up with almost all the middle tasteless part removed. Haven’t had eels for a long time, it’s good.

The xiaolongbao is supposed to be comparable to din tai fung and they were good. The noodles are handmade and also good but the portion too small. Overall, a good place for lunch.


Went to the market to buy fruit & veg. Bought some clams too, for dinner. Simple: clam salad.

#19 write a short story


Task #19 of 101.1001 is to write a short story. The idea came to me after seeing the call for submissions for a gcls fundraiser anthology.

Pretty standard romantic tale. For some reason I decided to write it like the narrator is telling the story back to the two MCs so second person pronouns are used. I don’t know if it works. I have no idea if I’ll even submit it because of possible conflict of interest.

2,871 words written between tuesday and saturday. That’s slow for my standard but I can’t compare with the writer!me of 10 years ago.

steamed egg with pork mince


Tried my hand at making steamed egg with minced pork. The ultimate comfort food. Goes very well with plain rice and supposedly one of those dishes that are easy to make yet hard to master.

Steamed the pork first, seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil and I chopped a few dried mushrooms in with the mixture. Poured in the egg and water mixture and steamed for 10mins.

Not quite as silky and smooth as it can be. The egg was overdone on the outside but undercooked in the middle. Apparently both the heat and egg:water ratio are important. I used 1:1 egg and water (measured in measuring cup) but next time will try 1:1.5. And use low heat.

office drinks


Went over to the office for office drinks. Brought red bean doughnuts from the nearby bakery.

Strange office drinks. Everybody took their glass back to their desk and continued working. I was left sitting there waiting for pokemons to appear. Afterwards mm and I took a bus back and forth to visit more pokestops.

I thought we might have dinner together but I ended up sadly having noodles at place near the bus stop home. Seems like my company is not wanted.

#16: finish LL


Task #16 of 101.1001 is to finish LL. Actually finished a while ago, but still not 100% happy.

I have a deadline now. I need to get it ready and submit it by next summer. One of the best publishers I’ve ever met asked me. Face to face. There is no excuse.

There are parts in the middle that need to be expanded and better explained. Probably need more character growth too. I should stop tinkering with it and let good editors take a look so I can learn and improve.

#18: design a book cover


I have to start working on writing again. Task #18 of 101.1001 is to design a book cover. I had in mind to take some pics in NYC for LL. Not as many or as good potential as I wanted.

The background is of stock market quotes in a newspaper from flickr user andreas poike under cc by 2.0. If/when I get a chance to submit a cover myself I’ll get a copy of FT and substitute my own image, I just didn’t have any newspaper at hand.

The Wall Street street sign and SMELLS graffiti are my own, from the most recent trip. I have a couple of pics of the charging bull but there were so many tourists I had to borrow from someone, this from flickr user sam valadi also under cc by 2.0.

The play on the son of man is based on a pic of me taken at Carleen’s friend Tom’s costume shop last year. The apple is also my own image and the frame from a random google image search for free images. Photoshopped to make it blurry and more like a painting. It’s something that will be referenced in LL, which I’ll need to edit in.

Is it a good cover? A passable attempt I guess. Can be so much better in the hands of a professional.

papa birthday

It’s Papa’s birthday. We went to visit, and it started raining when we were there. Sis tells me about one of his pics showing up on her random screensaver (out of hundreds of pictures). I feel mostly numb today.

It’s also Grandma’s birthday so afterwards Mum and I went to get some flowers and visited my grandparents too. Grandma would have been 100.

Happy Birthday, Papa and Grandma.

masterchef australia

The weather will turn bad next week, so we went to the market and got plenty of veg. We have meat in the freezer and lots of fruit so we’re sorted for at least a week.

The new tv channels are activated, so I was going through them, looking at what’s available. Wow, Masterchef Australia. One of the best Masterchefs in the world, with as much emphasis on learning as competition. Weekend catch up of 5 episodes. It’s now at ep 25, with around 10-12 contestants, so around a third of the way through. Between this and MKR, our evenings will be busy in a good way.

off air


I feel like I’m currently off air. I’m doing the minimum, routine stuff: posting on the website and instagramming food pics. My friend sent me cute cat pics and I haven’t responded. The most active whatsapp groups are on mute. I’m replying to emails that I have to, but ignoring the rest.

I just looked at my PMs and I have to apologise to the friends who sent kind messages when I was feeling down last week. I haven’t replied to a single one and I feel like such an idiot. So rude. All I can say is sorry again and thank you for being such good friends. They made me feel less alone and despondent when I needed it most.

There are things to do, fairly urgent things, before the end of the month. External things and people that do not care that I’m feeling depressed, or lack motivation, or the other three thousand excuses I come up with. And like buses, when they arrive, they arrive all at once.

Just let me get through the next couple of days, the urgency will make me shift gears because I have no choice.

pokehunting with friends

Going out for the third time in 3 days. Met mm and another old friend D to go pokehunting. He’s at level 23 or 24 and goes out every night hunting, so diligent. He has a lot of the high level pokemons. The funniest thing is that his son is already in college and has refused to play because his dad does, hahaha.

We met at a shopping centre, took a slow bus ride to the big shopping centre at ocean terminal. So close to the harbour and in one of the most crowded areas there were plenty of sightings. We couldn’t walk 10m without another fish or squid showing up. The two of them were deflinitely more keen on playing than me.


D’s wife joined us for dinner at a popular authentic korean place. Good food and value for money even though it’s in the michelin guide. Four of us had a 2-3 person set and added ox tongue. We called our friend P who is having dinner with his family nearby and he joined us for ice cream.

Quite tired. Looking forward to staying home tomorrow.

sherry cocktail, vietnamese dinner


Went over to the flat to get some stuff done. Had an hour or so to kill before dinner so I stopped at a tapas place offering $35 happy hour cocktails and bottle beers. Had a cocktail called pasito: pedro ximenez, triple sec, lime juice, mint. Not bad, can taste the sweetness of the sherry tempered by the lime, could do with a little more lime.


Dinner was with my old friend Dr W, we were in the same year at king’s and had lost touch. Reconnecting friends is one of the better things about social media. She lives near me so we met at the shopping centre nearby, at a new vietnamese place. Had 2 starters: sugar cane prawns and vietnamese spring rolls; mains were coconut duck curry and vegetables. The curry came with french bread and wasn’t too spicy. Very nice.

errands, tv channels

Did a bunch of errands with Mum. Bank, teachers union to look at fridges, renewed her cable subscription. The plan she had before isn’t available anymore and of course they now charge more. Then again, we can pick from 3 bundles and we now have more channels than before. After I’m able to cancel my subscription, the cost isn’t significantly higher. We now get all the National Geographic and Discovery channels as well as both BBC Lifestyle and BBC Earth (which I miss having). Food Network, E!, History channel. We now have almost all the entertainment channels that have series programs, not just one. Plus one that has oldies, I see they are showing X-files season 4 as well as, gasp, Golden Girls, Taxi, A-team, MacGyver.

And speaking of X-files. I need to watch them all again.

#88: 101 favourite things

It’s taken me almost to the end of the challenge to complete #88 of 101.1001: make a list of 101 favourite things that make me smile. I didn’t want to list a whole bunch of food or places visited, so I tried to be a little more casual. Had to get help.


  1. aeron chair
  2. air-conditoning in summer
  3. heating in winter
  4. alaska daily life / survival programs


  6. all you can eat japanese buffet
  7. the amazing race
  8. autumn colours
  9. bag of clothes and stuff for charity
  10. basketball
  11. coedobeerflight2016

  12. beer flight
  13. goodfoodmag2014

  14. bbc good food magazine calendar
  15. bless the lord my soul at the end of mass
  16. bouncing on huge hotel beds
  17. checking things off lists, completing lists
  18. chicagosign

  19. “chicago” from licence plates I bought from my ex-landlady
  20. clean crisp sheets
  21. clear skies, no pollution
  22. clothes that just came out of the tumble-dryer
  23. cookery competition programs
  24. cycling along the lake
  25. darth maul double lightsaber I made at disney world
  26. driving
  27. duvet “fluffy” that mm bought for me
  28. eating an ice cream cone huddled together outside in the freezing wind
  29. avmarket20090916

  30. farmer’s markets
  31. fast internet
  32. fizz in soft drinks (was coke zero, now more likely to be soda water)
  33. cx1st04steak

  34. flying first class
  35. flying with entire empty row
  36. foam-rollering my back and hearing it crack back into place
  37. sg061seafood

  38. food that need all fingers to eat
  39. fresh herbs
  40. giant fruit — giant mangoes, giant peaches
  41. mini fruit — mini watermelon
  42. good investment return
  43. half my hair gone after haircut
  44. homemade jam & marmalade
  45. squashsoup03

  46. homemade butternut squash soup
  47. hot shower
  48. leaving/escaping the region, no matter how short
  49. maps on a road trip
  50. menthol crystals that have been in my family for decades
  51. mindfulness
  52. new restaurant
  53. no need to talk
  54. no plans is the best plan
  55. bwp5004

  56. noise isolating headphones on the plane
  57. o holy night
  58. oncoming runner who waves or smiles at me
  59. joz070spaoutdoor

  60. onsen in japan (hot springs)
  61. paddington recreation ground, maida vale
  62. panettone at christmas
  63. parking perfectly into a narrow space (“one hand wheel”)
  64. peace and quiet
  65. dub088guinness

  66. perfectly poured pint of beer
  67. pg tips
  68. photograph that just works
  69. photoshop magic
  70. playing old school games–scrabble, marble checkers, trivial pursuit
  71. playing with excel
  72. propping my knees with a pillow in bed
  73. rachmaninoff piano concerto #3
  74. rain after a hot day
  75. random kindness
  76. tinychoccake07all

  77. recipe successfully executed
  78. reading a new book, discovering a good author
  79. re-reading a favourite book
  80. flr033dining

  81. retreat houses and convent stays in italy
  82. running along the lake in chicago with snow still on the ground, in shorts
  83. running around hyde park in the pouring rain, water dripping down my cap and everything completely soaked
  84. running around reservoir park except at weekends when it gets crowded with baseball players
  85. chimarathon093finish

  86. running: completing a race
  87. saying thank you at 11:11 or 1:11
  88. seafood so fresh, you can taste the sea
  89. scented candles
  90. sharp knives
  91. skiing on fresh snow in the alps
  92. smell of baking in the kitchen
  93. smell of freshly mowed grass
  94. soft, fluffy, thick bathrobe
  95. sourdough starter
  96. ldnhawks043chateaubriand

  97. steak at hawksmoor with a glass of blanton’s
  98. steak from less popular cuts
  99. sunset over water
  100. surprise presents from abroad
  101. tech that follows me everywhere — iphone, ipad, mba
  102. travel research
  103. travelling — anywhere
  104. hrcshirtnewyork

  105. uniform of hard rock cafe polo shirt, jeans, sneakers
  106. vegetables I can’t get readily — kale, savoy cabbage, fennel, parsnips
  107. view of british hedgerows and farms from the plane
  108. wallpaper of queenstown nz at sunset, still not tired of looking at it
  109. warming my hands on the radiator
  110. watching bbc programs outside the uk
  111. watching cricket, wishing I can play
  112. nikka106tastebar

  113. whisky — japanese whisky from nikka distillery
  114. whisky — wee dram of highland park, doesn’t matter which year
  115. whisky hip flask
  116. whisky tasting and discovering a new good one
  117. wine all the time
  118. wine tasting at the winery

bbmm hh hunting

Met mm for tea, wanted her to look at a document I was sent. We met up in a corner of a bookstore where people sat and read. She was also charging her phone. Showed me how to play pokemon gym too. We went to a nearby department store to look at white goods and coffee maker for her, and to the wine department to look at wines.

Happy hour at a burger place where we had draught beer and a snack. Bus to the computer centre, taking advantage of the ride to play more pokemon. Got her an external battery and had quick wonton noodles.

Nice pleasant day out, and cost efficient too.


The gym near me all of a sudden was empty but it was 11.30pm and too late for me to go over there. It’s only 2 mins’ walk. It was quite exciting for a minute because there’s never anything nearby.

king’s friends dinner

Met up with King’s friends for dinner over the weekend. This is the group where I’m one of the youngest. Everyone has done so well, and most people hadn’t changed even though we haven’t seen some of them in over 20 years. Getting to an age where these types of gatherings are enjoyable and nostalgic.

I realise there are roughly 3 King’s groups I belong to: this one with the oldies, who gradutated before me or a year behind. Most of their kids are in secondary school or college now. The medium group, graduated around 2 years after me or around the time I got my PhD. The younger group, more mm’s age, lots of people and quite active.

cauliflower rice / couscous

Been noticing more and more cauliflower getting onto fine dining menus. As a purée serving as a perfect bed for scallops; as a curried tempura and cooked three ways [pdf]. It’s touted as a superfood nowadays.

I made cauliflower rice, aka cauliflower cous cous. It’s described as a low-carb substitute for the starch component of a dish. It’s also gluten-free, vegan and forms part of the paleo diet.

Easy enough to prepare. Grate the florets of a whole cauliflower using a box grater. The stem is harder to grate, just put it in with other vegetables. There are many cooking methods for the rice: steam, sautée, microwave, roast in oven. I just tossed it around in a pan with a little s&p and water for about 10 mins until it felt cooked and there were no visible white uncook bits.


Served some with slow roasted pork and crackling. I don’t have much luck with making crackling in the oven so these were fried in a very hot pan.


Another batch of the cauliflower I treated like regular couscous by mixing in dried cranberries and pecans from a packet I bought at the farmer’s market a long time ago.

I knew it’s cauliflower and I could taste the vegetable freshness. But it’s true, it’s just like rice, couscous, mash in its ability to accompany the main protein and absorb gravy. Doesn’t make you bloated after the meal too. Definitely must make more.

olympics is here, remembering london 2012

The 2016 Olympics is here! Whilst there are undoubtedly problems due to many factors such as weather, illness, incompetence, corruption, the fact is that it’s an event that is worth getting excited about. I hope I can get my once-every-four-years fix of sports hardly seen on tv like handball, rowing, dressage. I’m also hoping that there is more coverage of the Paralympics, the athletes deserve so much more exposure.

Nostalgia time. Four years ago I experienced London 2012 at first hand, having been lucky enough to be in London at the right time and getting lucky with tickets. Been looking through my pics and posts. Pics: olympica | paralympics


Catching the torch on the last full day before it got to Olympic Park. So, so, so glad I decided to hop on the bus. Holland Park was a good spot to see the relay pass not once but twice. Was at the right spot to see one of the handovers too.


Getting a last minute ticket to see beach volleyball at Horse Guards’. Got a nice seat, the atmosphere was carnival-like and for a change I didn’t mind the drunken loud people around me. Watched until the last game ended at almost midnight shivering in the summer chill. Saw two big US names: Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor.


Another last minute ticket to see archery. Walking distance, at Lord’s. Even tried my hand at it in the play area.


I had tickets for 3 diving events, gave one set to Sis’ FIL. The first one was women’s 3m springboard final. First time at Olympic Park too, went there with mm early so we could explore. It was super sunday and I remember someone shouting that Andy Murray had just won the tennis gold medal and there were cheers all round.


Diving was quite spectacular but ended quite quickly. The second diving was women’s 10m platform final, I had 4 tickets so CC and M could join.


What was really enjoyable and eye-opening was going to see the Paralympics. I got a last minute ticket to see athletics. I’d never been to a track and field event in person. It was absolutely wonderful. Highlight was definitely David Weir winning the T54 1500m final.


I had a day pass at Olympic Park and managed to see tennis, football, wheelchair rugby (murderball) and goalball. All very different. Tennis was wheelchair players. Murderball was so exciting, I can’t believe it’s not shown more on tv. Football was 5-a-side and blindfolded. Goalball was played in absolute silence.


My last Olympics/Paralympics outing as at Excel. Saw boccia, table tennis, wheelchair fencing and sitting volleyball. Love the quiet dignity of boccia and the excitement of fencing.

insurance claim update


Finally chased the insurers enough for them to give me a breakdown of the insurance claim for the Paris/London trip. Apparently they paid into our accounts already but never sent us any communication. Now I have to go to the bank and request a statement for May.

Anyway, they paid everything I claimed for. I didn’t have proof of forfeiture for the Brittany ferry tickets, I should have tried to claim it too by sending in the receipt. Ah well.

it’s watermelon day


It’s watermelon day! Much needed refreshment for the height of summer. I cut up a mini watermelon after dinner and thought I’d make a drink too. Most watermelon cocktails are made with vodka, I’ve found ones with bourbon so I thought I’d give it a try since I don’t want to open a bottle of vodka just for this.

The first try I kept it simple, muddled a few cubes of watermelon with my current bourbon: the excellent Breckenridge. That’s it. I can smell the mixture of bourbon sweetness with watermelon freshness. Tastewise, the strength of the spirit wipes out the sweetness of the fruit and the combo has a slightly unpleasant bitter aftertaste. The remaining watermelon flesh had zero flavour that ruined the whole thing. Very surprised. I’ve kept it too simple; it’s not balanced.

The watermelon julep recipe adds lime juice, basil, mint and sea salt. I think definitely needs mint and a few drops of citrus plus a little sugar syrup. May be even soda water. I’ve also seen cucumber added: not sure about that because cucumber, though fresh, also has bitter notes.

The second try I soaked a few cubes of watermelon in bourbon for a few hours. They tasted better after infusion. Added sugar syrup and a few slices of cucumber for decoration. Much better.

typhoon last night

We got a direct hit from typhoon Nida last night. It made landfall 40km away and there were winds at 150km/hr plus more than 60mm of rain. Many places were flooded. T8 was raised.



I heard some gusts of winds just before I went to bed but I slept through it all. When I woke up, there were winds and some rain but nothing out of the ordinary. There were bits of leaves over the windows but it was only when I looked outside that I realised it was a ferocious one. Branches all over the ground, the cover of our neighbour’s car had blown off and a couple of the papaya trees in the garden had fallen over.

around the world in 80 dishes

Around The World in 80 Dishes – Teaser from Dave Wallace on Vimeo.

One of our favourite recent programs is Around the World in 80 Dishes with Manu Feildel from MKR. Based loosely on Around the World in 80 Days, Manu makes his way around the world in 30 days armed with AUD20,000. Along the way, he can work and trade for food, lodging and travel but can’t accept money or free travel.

He started in London and already he’s endeared himself to me by going to Foxlow for chicken and waffles. Foxlow is a sibling restaurant of my beloved Hawskmoor.

Some of his trades are a bit farfetched. Can’t believe he got luxurious hotel in exchange for cooking at At.mosphere inside the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Selling vegetarian burgers on a train from Mumbai to Kolkata couldn’t have been difficult: a white dude with a camera crew? He sold out in 15 mins.

This is a more relaxed and playful side of Manu we’re seeing, and it is always enjoyable to see a chef host a food & travel program who clearly loves what he is doing.

We love watching MKR and food programs as a family. Every time I see this new show, or the latest season of MKR, I can’t help but think how Papa would like it. He would have loved this new program. Sniff.

p.s. not a lot of online information, turns out that it isn’t due to start in Australia till after the Olympics. Wow, we get a headstart for a change.

move to bond funds

In the spirit of “money doesn’t make you happy but it makes you less sad” I took a look at my bank account. There are these 3 investment funds I’ve had since forever, before I had enough money to open the account with my FA. A global growth fund, a European fund and a leisure fund focusing on hotels, airlines etc. Been sitting around for more than 15 years, it’s way past time to move them around a bit.


The rep at the bank recommended two funds, both mainly bond funds. One has a regional focus and one invests in finance corporate bonds (holdings include Citic, UBS, Westpac).

FA is also moving some of my GBP to UK bonds. I usually like sticking with global equities but I don’t have a sense of how the market is going, it’s too volatile lately. The idea of a little monthly income is appealing.

angry, want to escape

Been feeling very angry recently. I really want my life back, when I didn’t have to spend every day planning and cooking all meals, or doing laundry, or cleaning. Or having the type of freedom and privacy a child has at home (ie zero). I need not feel like I’m carrying a 100 ton backpac. I need to not have to listen to stuff I don’t care about the second I step into listening range. I don’t care which plastic bag is used to carry boxes of biscuits. I don’t care that the #7 bus was late. I don’t care what that receipt is that was on the table. I want to be able to watch tv in silence. I just want to go about my day as if I were living on my own.

Even with bugs and heat and a leaking aircon, I was happy in New York because I was accountable to only myself. I chose to meet up with my cousin and his family and it was a wonderful evening. I chose to meet up with my friend JC to do a walking exploration of the city and it was fantastic. Other times, I chose to be on my own and I didn’t need anyone’s permission or interference.

I did not choose this situation I find myself in.

I feel smothered and trapped.

I have no solution.

The only thought that can calm me down is a fantasy. I imagine packing my bag, may be my duffel. I think about the clothes I will bring: not too many, I can do laundry but I need to be prepared for summer, winter, sun and rain. I’ll bring my electronics and running stuff. Documents. I’ll need to go to the bank to withdraw or transfer money. But I’ll leave behind my books and my whiskies and my furniture, can’t be helped.

Then I will disappear. Go into hiding.

My fantasy is predicable, I end up on a flight to the UK, because that’s where I feel most comfortable. No visa issues, no language barrier, I can get a job if necessary.

I look on airbnb for cheap places to stay, at least in the beginning. The search is for the whole UK and under £50 a night. Own space, not a room in someone’s house. I still want wifi and a proper kitchen so I can cook. This discounts lots of places that only have a hotplate or microwave. A lot of entire place listings are actually rooms in one big house so there’s quite a bit of misrepresentation too.

Here’s someone’s converted shed at the bottom of the garden in Gant’s Hill. Converted sheds, garages, caravans, even tents are aplenty:

A wee flat in the Orkneys:

What a nice fantasy. Keeping me just this side of sane right now.

I’m with her

Been quiet about the US presidental election while watching from the sidelines. Like most outside the US, and many (hopefully many, many) inside the US, I shake my head as Trump gets nominated in his party by behaving ridiculously towards minority and talking utter rubbish all the time.

Resisted until this week, then couldn’t help but tune into the livestream of the DNC. President Obama’s speech was awe-inspiring. Don’t boo, vote.

Khizr Khan talking about the loss of his son in Iraq and telling Trump he has sacrificed nothing was one of the most heartfelt speeches I’d watched for a long time.

And then Hillary Clinton walked out.

I watched most of her speech live, then had to go out. Watched it again in full later. Here are some highlights.

If I can vote for her, I will. I hope and wish that my friends who can, not only go out and vote in November, but spread the message amongst friends and family that there is too much at stake this time. Learn from Brexit. Look at the big picture. Don’t let anger and frustration destroy everything.

pancake cake, hotpot dinner


Dinner at mm’s brother’s place with his family, sort of at the last moment. It all started when mm showed me a pic of a pancake cake she made at a baking class. Looked nice. She said did I want to try it? So I got invited to dinner. Just a family meal of hot pot, a happy affair with lots of food and lots of fun. I brought some pre-dinner snacks and a bottle of grenache rosé. Cake for dessert, it was light and could taste the raspberry filling.

We were all playing pokémon, just sitting at their flat there were plenty to catch. It’s good to play with the kids. Currently I’ve caught around 30 different pokémons. There are none at home so I don’t bother playing, I try to play when I’m out and about. When mm and I were walking to the train station after dinner, we saw tons of people playing too. If someone suddenly stops and a few seconds later starts swiping at their screen, we know exactly what they’re up to.

duck breast, eggs baked in potato


Lunch was duck breast, potatoes and carrots. Nothing too remarkable, we get duck breasts easily and I’ve gotten pretty good at cooking them. Mum prefers them a little more cooked so I make them medium. Love that every time I have duck fat available for the next week or so. Half a teaspoon to use in sautéing vegetables make all the difference in flavour.

The best thing about the meal were the eggs baked in potato. I’ve made them before a few years ago and always wanted to do them again. It’s dead simple but just takes a little time. Bake the potatoes until tender, around 1hr. Halve and scoop out the flesh carefully, leaving the skins as a shell. Carefully break an egg into each shell and return to the oven to bake until done, around 10-15 mins. Really tasty and healthy, plus there’s mash leftover for the next meal.

italian lunch and snacks


A couple of eating out places. First was an Italian casual bar restaurant in the food hall. This was in the location of the tapas bar and the restaurant seems so new that I can’t find it listed in the directory. We shared a cold meat starter and I had pesto gnocchi. Nicely cooked gnocchi, and we all agreed the portions could be bigger. Shared a pannacotta and lemon tart for dessert. Sis and I also had a glass each of their house red.


I went back to my flat to check mail and open windows for ventilation. No potential tenants yet, sigh. Was meeting mm and our friend B for drinks, I was early so I stopped by the new Calbee plus store. Aside from rows upon rows of Japanese snacks in brightly coloured packaging, they serve chips for eating in-store. Chips with soft ice cream too. More hype than substance, I won’t try it again. If I’m hungry in that area, there’s a starbucks opposite where I can get muffins.

I did get some snacks, they had a few good special offers.

probate office


Our appointment at the probate office is today. I’d filled out the 3 different forms, listed Papa’s assets, included originals and copies of everything into a thick folder. Hopefully that’s everything needed.

It’s all a giant bureaucratic process:

  • get ticket
  • go to counter to present ticket and appointment letter
  • interview with officer to go through forms and documents
  • wait half an hour
  • get documents back from officer, now in an official orange folder
  • go down 2 floors to register to take oath
  • queue up to take oath
  • go up 1 floor to make payment
  • make photocopy of documents
  • take stamped documents and receipt back to officer
  • get letter with reference number

Now there is a 5-7 week wait for the official letter of grant, which hopefully will be what we need to execute the Will.

Despite the bureaucracy, it wasn’t too painful and all got done in about 2 hrs.

trip pics and posts

Uploaded trip pics and got caught up with posts. IFTTT was off so no auto feed to fb until this post.


  • flight, airport hotel
  • day 01: williamsburg, prospect park, smorgasburg
  • day 02: JFK to DCA
  • day 03: quick exploration around washington dc
  • day 04: library of congress, conference start
  • day 05: conference
  • day 06: conference
  • day 07: conference
  • day 08: conference end
  • day 09: DC to stamford to nyc
  • day 10: seaport, 9/11 memorial, fun home
  • day 11: spotted pig, matilda, high line, chelsea market
  • day 12: upper east side, central park, upper west side, chelsea
  • day 13: flatiron building, union square market, family
  • day 14: east village to west village walk
  • day 15: flight home


A few favourites.

tree-lined cobblestone street where I stayed in the west village:

one of half a dozen flower pics taken at the high line:

this guy wrote a poem for me sitting outside the Met using a typewriter:

radio/loudspeaker exhibit at the brooklyn museum:

lobster roll at smorgasburg prospect park:

And again at smorgasburg south street seaport:

DC: Library of Congress:

pretty houses in Alexandria:

visited papa


It would have been my parents’ 52nd wedding anniversary today. Mum and I woke up early to try to beat the heat to visit Papa. Every time I visit, I feel like we made the right decision to go for the memorial park, it was so beautiful and peaceful. Yes, extremely hot but the open views and slight breeze made it better. The small cactus that sis brought last time is still there, surprisingly. And flourishing. I watered it. May be next time I’ll bring a small spade and actually plant it underneath Papa’s plaque.

Lunch at the food court, went to the market and we were home by 2pm.

Bought a whole oxtail for braising. 1hr in the oven and then I plan to leave it overnight in the vacuum pot. For tomorrow. Hopefully it’s good.

#76: make a will


Task #76 of 101.1001 is to make a will. This was a leftover from the 2007 challenge and something I should have done as soon as I bought the flat 20 years ago. It’s even more important now, with Papa gone.

I asked our neighbour, the same lawyer who did Papa’s will. He got it done quickly before I went on the US trip. I guess I could have written it myself, because it’s very simple but ah well. The will is now sitting safely in my filing cabinet. One fewer thing to worry about.

bbmm happy hour

Went for happy hour with mm at a hotel bar. Buy one get one free between 3-9pm, nice. I had two glasses of rioja and she had an abruzzo followed by a sauvignon blanc. Only 150ml servings which suited us.

Dinner at a new, authentic Korean bbq place. So authentic the meal came with soju and one of the wait staff was Korean. The bbq was great, the beef ribs super flavourful. The belly pork was good too. Came with a tofu seafood soup and bibimbap. Way too much for 2 people although we did our best.

Good to catch up with mm. I asked her where we should go for holiday this year and she was non-commital. May be we won’t get to go this year, sigh.

jap buffet, errands


Mum and i went to a new ayce Jap place. More expensive than our usual but we agreed, it’s worth coming back even if it means we don’t eat out as often. The sashimi was super fresh and lots more choices. Our first round I didn’t even order salmon because there were hamachi, geoduck, scallop, two types of clams, two types of prawns and two different white fish. Uni sushi, the best grilled ox tongue, small sweet potatoes and lots more.

Dessert was the only slight disappointment even though it was fine. Ice cream, macaroons, panna cotta.

Then we went to the bank, the supermarket and finally home by dinner. Too full for dinner, which was fruit.

#8: old musical | #61: 4-course meal

Completed a couple of 101.1001 tasks during the trip.


Task #8 is to go see an old musical. I saw Matilda, which I’d seen in 2012 in London. Love the production, I can see myself seeing it even more times in London again, in other locations and if it goes on tour. Although based on a children’s book and targetted at children, it has a lot going for adults too. I’m still humming When I Grow Up.

Task #61 is to plan, cook and serve an three-course meal, with wine. I had an idea of what I’d like to cook when at home, which I may still do so another time. This meal was actually a 4-course meal I planned at the last moment when I was in the huge seafood store in Chelsea Market. The sheer variety of seafood there was enough to make anyone want to make a feast.

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For starter I had a mixture of topneck and littleneck clams. I preferred the small littlenecks, with their sweeter flavour but the entire dish was fresh and fabulous.

For mains I panfried a skate wing with spot prawns and kale. I haven’t had skate for a while, can’t get it at home. Probably overcooked it a little, but still tasty. The prawns were wonderful.

course05cheese course06dessert

A small cheese board of cranberry and goat’s cheese I got from the supermarket, a Paymaster goat’s cheese from Brooklyn that was washed in chocolate whiskey and an Alderney hard cheese made from raw organic hard cheese, from a creamery in the Catskills.

Dessert was stuff I had in the fridge: blackberries and raspberry sorbet.

Funny when I posted on fb, people were congratulating me on my cooking. The clams were simply boiled in water until they opened and seasoned with a little fennel tops. The fish, prawns and kale had the most cooking but, er, pan-frying is one of the easiest things to do. Cheese and dessert were putting food on plates. But all in all, I’m very satisfied with the meal. Since it was only me, I couldn’t go crazy with wine and stuck with the one bottle.


Flight arrived early, around 6.30pm. I phoned Mum while I was waiting for my luggage, which came out quickly. I was hot and tired so decided to get a taxi at the airport instead of going to the airport express station and fighting with the rush hour crowd. Was home by 7.45pm. Mum made braised pork for dinner, yummy.

Showered, unpacked and went to bed early.

nycdc trip day 15: flight home

Airport shuttle every 30mins so I was there well in time. Security didn’t take very long thankfully so I had lots of time. Got a bottle of Blanton’s at the duty free, ate a mcdonald’s breakfast burrito and got a glass of wine at the bar next to the gate to kill time.

Flight was pretty full. A middle-aged couple sat next to me so I never had to get up for them.

Watched a couple of films. Hitman 47 and something else. Some Grand Designs too. Slept for a few hours on and off.

nycdc trip day 14: lower east side walk to west village


JC took the train down from Stamford and we met up at the iconic Katz’s deli in the lower east side. Easy crosstown bus ride for me and again, a first. I had the pastrami sandwich and JC had a reuben. Came with a big side plate of pickles. Very yummy. The pastrami was very delicious, no wonder it’s so famous. Expensive, but I’d come again.


I’d planned a walking tour of the lower east side, around 2 miles brought us back to my apartment. Plenty of breaks in between. First stop was what is now know as the Brown Building at NYU but was the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. A fire there in 1911 killed 146 workers aged 14-43 and led to legislation for better working conditions. JC told me about it, I would never have known.


A break at Washington Square park to people watch. A pianist played the piano in the middle of the park. A street performer getting ready by painting yellow paint all over himself. An artist drawing something on an easel. Such was weekend life in a NYC park.


A short walk from the park was Stonewall. I felt like it was a place I should visit. And now I have. I’ve seen people posting about visiting there and feeling part of history and moved to tears etc. I must admit I took a couple of pictures and that was it.


The real destination was the nearby branch of the big gay ice cream shop. I remember when they were a food truck, tweeting his location to his followers. Now it felt like a branch of haagen-dazs, not much character.

More walking brought us back to the west village. Rested at the apartment with aircon and water break. And during our rest period, we were interrupted by an unexpected visitor of a six-legged variety, argh!!! We got rid of it but I decided I wasn’t going to stay there anymore. JC, bless her heart, used some of her points to get me a room at the Hilton JFK tonight, phew.

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There was still time, so we went to visit the High Line (braving a sudden summer storm) and then to the Spotted Pig for early dinner. We got there at around 5.30pm, left our names and decamped to a bar nearby. Around 30mins later they texted and we were seated shortly afterwards. I had roll mops (::homesick::) and one of the best restaurant fish dishes ever: a black bass with delicately cooked flesh and impossibly crispy skin.

Back to the apartment and I called a Uber to take JC to the train station and me to the JFK hotel. All was well, I was settled into a bug-free room and watching tv. Probably a blessing, so I didn’t have to worry about getting to the airport tomorrow.

nycdc trip day 13: union square, family

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Had time left on the Citibike so cycled to the Flatiron Building for pictures, then a few blocks to Union Square Market. So many things I wanted to buy but couldn’t. Bought one tomato (very expensive, USD2 for one tomato!) and two golden beetroots to take back for Mum to try. Yes, crazy. Got talking with the stallholder at Orange County Distillery who made his own bourbon and single malt. I liked both, but could only buy one. In the end, the novelty of a small batch American single malt whisky (he called it whiskey) won. USD50 for 375ml is expensive. Want to support him though.

Back to the apartment for more laundry and then a trip tip steak for lunch. Like the feather steak, quite tough and I should have cooked it more. Watched MKR on the mba and checked into my flight.


Met my cousin at the extremely busy corner at 34th and 7th at 4.30pm, rush hour. The train ride back to their house was 1.5hrs and I salute him for doing this every day. We had a nice dinner with his kids and my aunt at the Old Dock Inn. Food was okay, the view was fabulous. They drove me back into the city. It was lovely to see the family, and I need to make sure I see them more often.

nycdc trip day 12: upper east side, central park, cycling

Tired from all the walking, woke up at 10am. Took the subway to 86th, back to my old neighbourhood.


Brunch at Papaya King on 86th, same as always. Also found a wifi station on the street, so I had wifi for a bit.


Walked the 10 blocks up to 96th, to see the old building. The place I used to do my grocery shopping is still there. The library is nearby and provided aircon and wifi break.

nyc516poetry nyc518poetry

Down museum mile past the Guggenheim and towards the Met. There was a guy outside the Met advertising free poetry and when I walked up he was feverishly typing on a typewriter writing a poem for a previous customer. When it was my turn he asked me what I wanted him to write about so I told him that I used to live in New York 15 years ago and this was a sort of nostalgic trip for me. Took him about 10mins to type out a poem for me. He would go into true creative mode, thinking and moving his hands about. I thought it was pretty cool, tipped him $5. Here’s what he wrote:

fifteen years
i began my quest
to climb towering
with each storied window
reflecting the impossible height i desired

along the concrete
where taxis and subways
ruled the city
defeated i would shrink to the size of pigeons

and every experience
between i gained
private wisdom only new yorkers could achieve

but unfortunately
i begun to unfurl my wings
to this foreign city
(has it been that long)

i retrace my path
and wonder

what the average studio rent is now


Onto Central Park. Amazingly, it was the first time I’d spent any significant amount of time there. Paid USD12 for a 24hr Citibike pass and cycled around the park. Well marked road, segregating cars, bikes and pedestrians. Only park vehicles allowed so very few cars. I realised just in time that each trip on a Citibike is 30mins, so hurried to return one bike before getting a second one. Didn’t do all of Central Park, but had a good time cycling.

Now at Upper West Side, really thirsty but went first to the Apple Store to use the wifi then to Bed, Bath and Beyond to get a dish drainer for home. Yes, crazy. Finally able to find drinks at a CVS, ahhhh. The plan was to slowly make my way back to the apartment, which meant progressively utilising the Citibike network, first down Columbus and some city streets, then along the Hudson River Park. It was a bit tense cycling in the streets especially the side streets where there were no designated bike lanes. I was careful and got off to walk when I felt unsafe.

There were no free docks at 20th and 16th. Ultimately returned the last bike to the dock at 14th street. Was headed towards Chelsea Market when a tremendous thunderstorm hit. Took almost 20mins, sheltering in a doorway. Then as suddenly as it arrived, it left and the sun came out again.

Dinner was feather steak bought at Chelsea Market. The sinew in the middle made it quite tough, and I should have cooked it more. Lots of flavour though.

nycdc trip day 11: spotted pig, matilda, high line

nyc051myers nyc052myers

Laundry in the morning. About 10mins’ walk towards 14th street ACE stop. Good to take a rest. Visited Myers of Keswick, which sold British goodies like Marmite, brown sauce and pork pies. But no Walkers. Everything three times the price of the UK.


Lunch at the Spotted Pig. There is no excuse for not going, since it’s 5 mins’ walk away. Beautiful building, all red bricks and plants everywhere.


I got there just before 12pm when it opened. No reservation so people were milling around. I asked for a bar seat and ordered the burger and their bitter. Their burger is supposed to be the best in town. USD25, not bad price either, for a Michelin-starred place. And it was a great burger: medium rare as I requested, the roquefort really added to the flavour and the shoestring fries had rosemary and garlic in it. I forgave them for not having mayonnaise.

Back to Broadway for Matilda. Saw it in London and wanted to see it again (um, not only because it’s a challenge item in 101.1001). I should have realised that matinée in July = 50 million kids. There were 3 queues to get into the theatre and they all went around the block. I waited near the entrance to allow everyone to get in first, since I knew I had an aisle seat. I was probably the last person in. Luckily the people next to me were fantastic, not part of a group. The group behind was loud and talked throughout the performance, teenagers who should know better. The group in front of me was younger and instead of talking, there was copious fidgeting and standing up. Still, it didn’t detract from the show. I had sort of forgotten the story, and now after a second viewing it’s much more memorable. Lovely songs and performances by all.

nyc134highline nyc226highline
nyc175track nyc193flower

Walked a long, long way to 30th and 12th towards the entrance of the High Line. By the time I got there I was really tired, so I was glad that section had shade from nearby construction. The High Line is a park located on an abandoned elevated railway track and extends all the way to 13th Street. Mostly wildflowers, which added to the charm. Some sections of the track were still visible.

nyc098balsamicoil nyc103cheese

Left the High Line at Chelsea Market, wasn’t sure where to go for dinner. The seafood, wine and cheese shop made the decision for me: get food to cook myself. Made a nice 4 course dinner: topneck & littleneck clams; kale & spot prawns with kale; small cheeseboard; blackberry & sorbet. Opened the bottle of wine Carleen gave me.

nycdc trip day 10: seaport, 9-11 memorial, fun home

Long day planned, including trying to see a musical if possible.

My friend Brayden gave me a couple of websites in addition to tkts, so I bought a wednesday matinée ticket for Matilda. Aside from completing one of the remaining 101.1001 items, I wanted to see it again, enjoyed it when I saw it in London in 2012.

Headed via subway to the tkts booth at south street seaport, apparently fewer people. Got there 25mins before they opened at 11am and there was already a fairly long line. Helpful staff members were there to answer questions. Looking at the list of available shows, my first choice was Fun Home. The couple in front of me was after Fun Home too. USD82 including fees for a ticket in row A, which probably meant first row.


Walked around South Street Seaport, where I used to visit a lot. The A&F was still in its location but there are many other changes. Construction too, blocking some of the view of the river.

nyc266smorgasburg nyc268lobster

Had lunch at Smorgasburg. Unlike the Prospect Park version, it was more like a food court with 6 stalls. Had the lobster roll again. I ordered without fries but they put it there anyway. When I pointed it out they said have it for free. Washed it down with a beer, much needed on a hot day.

By then it was lunch time and I’m glad I’m not in the industry anymore. Millions of people descended on the surrounding areas for lunch. Good thing was there seemed to be an explosion of food trucks. Found a little peace and quiet, and aircon break at the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary near Battery Park. It is also the site of the shrine for Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American-born saint. Walked on to Wall Street to see the charging bull (too many people, impossible to take a picture without people).


More walking brought me to Ground Zero. The first sight was the very tall and very impressive Freedom Tower. Quite awestruck. Where the towers were are now two reflection pools, with names of the victims carved into stone surrounding both pools. Time for reflection and a prayer to remember the victims. 69 people at CF, I still remember the remembrance book that was for some reason in my office. The mood of the visitors felt more like tourists taking selfies, although everyone was respectful, no loud kids running around.


I also made a point to visit the survivor tree. A volunteer told us the moving story. A callery pear tree was found in the rubble and someone noticed it still had a few leaves. They took it to a nursery in Brooklyn and nursed the tree back to health. When the memorial site was being built, they moved the tree back to the site where it stands between the two pools. Now it’s totally thriving and is a symbol of hope and survival.

Wanted to find 222 Broadway for a pic, walked the wrong way and endup in near City Hall, Brooklyn Bridge and uptown. Too hot and tired to backtrack. Took the subway back to the apartment for a rest. Had early dinner of steak and fennel, meaning I didn’t need to find food near Times Square, always a bonus.

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Times Square was as loud and overwhelming, even more so, that I remembered. Millions of tourists and neon everywhere. It was good to absorb the atmosphere for a bit, then it got too much and I quickly headed to the theatre.


Yes, definitely first row at Fun Home. It was a circular stage so I was smack bang in front of it. If I stretched my feet out I was already touching the stage. The show was wonderful, the stage setting gave an additional intimacy, it was like we were actually in the antique family house, the funeral home (the “fun home” of the title), the dorm room. So close that I could reach out and touch the actors, and even saw the tape holding their mics behind their necks! I’m glad I caught this one before it closes in September.

nycdc trip day 09: DC to stamford to NYC

I checked into my flight yesterday already but have almost half a day to kill. Saw Carleen off early in the morning as she started her drive home with another friend B. My new friend JC gave me a hotel breakfast voucher so I made plans to have breakfast with her. She was going to drive up to Ptown to spend a few days there before making her drive home to Texas. She suggested that she drove me to New York. Interesting idea. We enjoyed talking with each other, so it would be a nice roadtrip. I cancelled my check-in but wasn’t able to get a refund, ah well.


So that’s how I ended up driving north with JC. We made good time, taking it leisurely. Didn’t go into Manhattan, she was actually headed to Stamford for the night so I said just head there and I’ll take the train down. Like I used to. What nostalgia, seeing the UBS building for the first time since 2000. Stamford has grown, lots more offices there now. We had a late lunch at a middle-eastern place, a quick drink at the bar next door and I was on the train back to Grand Central with my ex- future-colleagues.


Took a cab to the airbnb place. West Village / Chelsea / Meatpacking district near 14th street. I was early, the host’s friend was still cleaning up. It’s a nice studio apartment, with a bed, sofa, lots of closet space. Proper kitchen and bathroom. A little grubby, especially the bathroom. No natural light in kitchen or bathroom. No windows in kitchen and bathroom. Definitely not hotel standard. It’s living like a local. Small, I doubt even bbmm will be comfortable there.

Walked to the supermarket two blocks down. On the shopping list was milk and drinks; came back with almost USD60 worth of groceries: fruit, veg, steak, milk, sorbet, water. Hahaha.

nycdc trip day 07 | gcls con day 04

Time flies. It’s saturday already.

The main event in the morning was the keynote speech. To a packed house, Fay Jacobs again gave us a masterful lesson on her humourous observations.

Lunch was back to high standards with roast turkey and beef. Second helpings again.

The last session I attended this con was one where authors discussed books by other people that they wish they’d written. Came away with a nice list of books to add to the reading list.

And then the mayhem started. Rehearsal for awards presenters went very well, we’d sent out notes beforehand so the whole thing only took 20mins. The time after rehearsal and before we needed to start the ceremony was supposed to be hooking up the computers and doing sound check. Argh! Tech difficulties of all sorts. Finally we ended up having to use someone’s computer and I had to copy over the ppt and fonts and get to grips with someone else’s machine. Nice mbp, so it was okay.

There wasn’t time to shower, gobbled sandwiches and had to be back at the tech desk.

Fortunately the rest of the ceremony went fine. There were a couple of tech hiccups, which thankfully most people didn’t notice. Didn’t go near the dance floor, had a nice chat with friends and shared wine. Was there till they closed the room down at 1am.

nycdc trip day 06 | gcls con day 03

Wasn’t planning on going to any of the morning sessions but since I was up, I went to one about making apps and games from books. So glad I did! StoryStylus allows users to create games that are either a representation of their book’s story, or use characters in a standalone game. The UI seems straightforward and they are keen to come into our community. This should be a session for next year, especially since the company is in Toronto.

More learning at a session about writing what we know, or how we should develop knowledge that our characters know. Then time for our special speaker. Rachel Spangler did a fantastic job in dove-tailing her own experience and that of the past 10-20 years’ history to make a call for action. Build a bigger table, she said. Increase exposure, increase tolerance, build our history. What a great speech.

Lunch was buffet again but less good than yesterday’s. Mostly pasta which I found heavy. No second helpings.


Skipped the afternoon sessions to go do laundry with JC. It was fantastic to spend time with her, she’s smart and thoughtful. I even got to try Mexican coke. Even though I missed the book club, it was time well spent.

I usually miss the author autograph session, spent the time chatting with another friend and sharing her huge bottle of Makers Mark. She asked a friend to buy what she thought was a regular bottle, but the one that showed up was supersized. So we will all try our best to make inroads.

Dinner with Carleen at Ruby Tuesday. I had the steak and lobster combo, with salad bar starter. Evening ended with karaoke.