November 2012 Archives

in habitat |


I got home before 1pm and started sorting the kitchen and the study. Time flew by, and it was already 4pm. I thought the internet guy was coming at 4pm, so I called up the office and yelled at them. Turned out that the appointment was 2-6pm, which I wasn’t aware of. More yelling. The technician eventually turned up close to 6pm. And then we discovered I can’t get the fibre optic cable in my flat. By that time I was so hungry and dejected that I had no strength for yelling. I have to reschedule another appointment next week to install regular, non-fibre optic internet.

Sigh. Internet and cable companies are all the same, anywhere in the world. The biggest ones have an almost monopoly, they charge whatever they want, they don’t keep their appointments and installation is a PITA.

in habitat |


WTF. First I get up on the wrong day for a race; and now today I got rescheduled by the internet people. I went earlier in the week to sign up for internet and cable tv, the appointment for the technician to come was 2-4pm today. So I was on the bus at 1pm and they called, regrettably, to reschedule because the technician had transport trouble. The customer service person said he either had an accident or car trouble. I wasn’t pleased at all, because it wasn’t as if I was at home, waiting around.

Anyway, I had to continue on because the curtain person was also supposed to come to measure the windows. Thankfully, he was on time.

So now I have to go back tomorrow for internet and tv. I signed up for the 300Mbps service, my building doesn’t have the 1,000Mbps fibre yet. I’m hoping the 300Mbps as quick as they claim.

in eating and drinking |


I was home sorting the kitchen — about 90% done, most stuff in cabinets, I need drawer liners, cutlery tray and to screw in my new magnetic knife holder. Mum came with me to iron my shirts — I never iron, she insists on ironing everything, even t-shirts we wear at home.

We went to dinner at a local diner. This set had ramen noodles in cheese sauce, fried pork chop and garlic bread which came with scrambled eggs. Adding cheese is one of the ways to upgrade ramen. It tasted good, I dread to think how many calories were in that dish.

in outside interests , random words |


Registered for the 2013 GCLS conference, which will take place at the end of June in Dallas. Got the early bird x2 ticket with A. Getting flights will be more of a challenge, so I need to start researching earlier. This will be my 5th con, I think. But I won’t get my 5 year anniversary badge because I forgot to renew one time so I had to restart a few months later. Ah well. It’s a great conference, and I’m looking forward to readings, lectures and the annual catch up with friends. Not to mention visitingTexas again and may be this time I’ll shell out for that $200 cowboy hat.

They have a silent auction at the conference, and this year’s chocolate shoe went down very well. Not sure how to top that next year, I wonder if I can get my hands on some strange Japanese candy. Failing that, there’s always melty kisses, the winter special editions are hitting the shelves now.

in challenges , random words |


Validated at 50,758 words. Winner’s goodies collected. Another purple year.

in being healthy |


10.23km 1:17:18hr 7.33min/km (12.12min/mi)
overall: 1902 / 2584
gender: 694 / 1148

For some reason I thought this race was yesterday, so I woke up at 5.30am and was almost there on the train when I noticed that there weren’t any other racers on the train. So I checked my email. Ugh, silly me. I considered not bothering today, not wanting to wake up at 5.30am again, but I did wake up before the alarm so off I went. This time, there were plenty of other racers on the train so I know I got the day right.

The race should have been on yesterday when it was cool and windy. Today, it was absolutely drenching with rain. I had a jacket but it got soaked quickly, my Chicago marathon cap started dripping right away. It was tough to run in that rain, and it was quite warm too at 20C. I needed both water stations, at 3k and 7k. Time, well, it can always be better but I did okay considering the lack of practice and the weather.

There were long queues for energy bars so I left, didn’t want to stand in the rain any longer. Got an express bus, then changed to taxi. Home by 10am, there was not a part of me that wasn’t wet.

in eating and drinking |


Catching up on a few posts. This was from 1 November. Sis saw a Highland Park dinner tasting at the yacht club and wanted to go. Not a lot of resistance from me, I got mm to go too. I even wore my HP polo shirt.

The evening started with a tasting of Famous Grouse, which is also owned by the Edrington Group. Fairly innocuous blended whisky, nothing special. The starter of prawn tartar and scallops was accompanied by Naked Grouse, another blend that has a high % of Highland Park. We liked it.

Deep fried pigeon with citrus and nut salad came with HP18, now we’re talking. Lamb chops with turnip and risoni came with HP21. Chocolate crème brûlée was served with HP25. And we finished with HP30. Fantastic.

in eating and drinking |

hkboq005steak hkboq015churros

My niece came to hang out with me in the morning while Sis went to Parents-Teachers meeting. She did homework while I worked on tidying up. All clothes are now in my wardrobe, and shoeboxes underneath the bed. A good start.

After Sis finished at school, we all went for lunch at boqueria, had the tapas appetiser buffet, then I had flank steak while Sis had garlic prawns. Finished off with churros. Everything was good, lots of serrano ham, roasted veg, manchego cheese, even purple tomatoes. The only slight complaint was the churros weren’t crispy or fresh enough, it was as if they’d been sitting out there for a while and gotten more doughy.

in habitat |


My shipment got delivered today. I had to battle rush hour commuters at 8.30am to get home before the shippers arrived. In the morning they unloaded all 113 items. In the afternoon, they did the unpacking. Almost all boxes were unpacked, they took everything out and placed on any available surface. I asked that they leave about 5-6 for me to unpack — small items like stationery, glassware and ornaments. The best thing is they took all the empty boxes and wrapping paper away with them.

Tiring day, although basically all I did was tell them which item goes where. I did unpack all the clothes myself. My bed is now full of clothes, towels and bed linen. That said, I’ve been standing up all day, from 9.30am to 4.30pm, only sitting for may be 15mins while I had lunch. Other times I was hanging around, moving out of the workers’ way.

Now the real work begin for me. Have to be systematic again, work room by room.

in eating and drinking |


After running in the park yesterday, Mum and I went to a Chinese Halal restaurant and had their famous beef pastry. They call it juicy beef cake, and it’s their signature dish. Freshly made when we got there at 5pm. Crispy outer dough and the beef filling oozes out gravy when you bite into it.

Just like there’s a synagogue near my apartment, there are muslims here too. Quite unusual. This is a family business that has been around for 60 years. Strictly no pork and no alcohol served or allowed. It’s one of those no frills place where service is quick, prices are low and it can get busy at meal times. Good reviews too.

in being healthy |


5.80km 43.13min 7.27min/km (11.59min/mi)

I dragged Mum to the park so I could run on the track there and she can play on the all-weather gym. Not a very fast run, still a ways to go to get back to fighting fitness.

What was nice, was the badge that came up on nike+. I joined 4 years ago, logged 420 runs totalling 3,473km (2,158 miles). I’ve run 3 marathons, 4 official half marathons (not including 13.1miles run during training runs) and quite a few 5/10k races. My longest run came at 5hr 45mins (first Chicago marathon, I think), my fastest mile was 5.41mins and there’s a lot more running still left in me.


in in the news |


One of the happy things about being here is that I get to watch TAR again. I missed a few seasons, and yes I could have caught up on youtube but it was a case of out of sight, out of mind. This week they are in Moscow and it’s a thrilling episode. The teams are surprisingly split into 2 bunches with a good 10+ hours between them. There’s a team who has lost their passport. Teams who aren’t realising it’s a RAAAACE.

And a timezone task. Russia has 9 timezones, and the map they were shown showed Moscow at UTC+4, then other regions and cities. I was surprised at how many teams didn’t know what UTC means. I always thought it was GMT+1 but actually it’s still GMT, but using an atomic clock to measure which means a leap second added once in a while.

in challenges , random words |


3,579 words | 50,755 words total

My 8th nano is done. At the rate I’m going, this particular novel will reach 100k, there is still quite a long way to go with the story. The missing friend has been found, having been in a car accident somewhere up north. Our MCs go visit, and more intrigue is revealed. Once they get back home, the friend’s son gets into trouble, and MC1’s status as anti-terrorism sleeper agent is put at risk, as is her budding relationship with MC2, because of the need to keep undercover. But I’ll stop here, if I have the inclination to write, I should work on the LL rewrite rather than continue with this story. There are many other stories ahead of it in the queue.

I think I may have hit upon a nano-winning method. I’ve learned to write filler. Lots of it. The words add up when I use descriptions and spend a chapter or so on backstory. Bear in mind that I’m not a descriptive writer, and my method of advancing the story is usually dialogue — short dialogue — it’s not very natural. A large chunk of these 50k words will not pass the first read through test, so a 100k first draft is reasonable, expecting 10-20k to be cut.

I’ve also learned that having a smaller 2,000 word daily target as opposed to tough 5,000 words is better, and I don’t get too stressed. So I don’t finish on the 10th, it’s not the end of the world. Carving out a 2 hour block in the evening is good discipline too.

There’s hope for me. I may become a real writer one of these days.

in challenges , random words |


1,295 words | 47,176 words total

Was out from 6am to almost 11pm, went with parents to a large airshow. It was interesting, except that it took a good 5-6hrs each way to get there. Parachutists, biplanes, space rockets, tanks, commercial planes, various aero acrobatic displays, and more. Tired, tired, tired.

But I didn’t want to log a zero words day, so I sat and wrote the beginning of chapter 10. Time to get some police resources moving on finding the missing friend.

in challenges , random words |


3,300 words | 45,881 words total

Chapter 9 is done, and it’s loosely the end of Act 1 — setting the scene. After the burrito breakfast, it’s time to get back to work. A couple of developments bring the story to the next act. The missing friend’s son (the prime suspect in her disappearance) suddenly re-appears but is resistant to questioning. Then I throw in a clue about why he might have taken her away — it’s all to do with money and a race to identify beneficiaries to an inheritance. It’s always money isn’t it.

Today my left wrist starts to hurt really badly. Every year it’s the same. Every year I complain. Too much typing and my left wrist protests. Well, not long to go now, so the left wrist just has to grin and bear it.

in challenges , random words |


3,524 words | 42,581 words total

The start of chapter 9 brings the morning after the night before. But fear not, all is good and there is no awkwardness which again speaks to the chemistry between the two MCs. They wake up, chat comfortably, get themselves organised logistically, and enjoy a cooked breakfast together. This is a relationship that doesn’t seem to have angst or conflict. Yet.

And on day 15, more than 40,000 words in, Mr Ian Woon finally makes an entrance. He is mentioned as an instructor specialising in teaching Mexican food in a cookery school.

in challenges , random words |


2,275 words | 39,057 words total

Two thousand odd words in 1.5hrs isn’t bad, especially considering we’ve come to the love scene part of the story. I’m glad that our two MCs have good chemistry and are able to communicate easily, taking away a lot of the first time awkwarness. The scene wasn’t hard to write per se, all I can say is that I used to be much better at it. Lack of practice.

in challenges , random words |


4,045 words | 36,782 words total

I wrote over 4,000 words today. That’s really good. They’ve now gone to the police about the disappearance, and there’s nothing else to do tonight. Oh, except to go talk to MC2 and get to know her better. Here’s the romantic part of romantic mystery.

in challenges , random words |


2,513 words | 32,737 words total

Continuing at my rather leisurely pace. Chapter 7 which is mostly background, is finished. A whopping 7,972 words. That must surely be a record. Now that the MC has seen what the son did to her friend, it’s time to involve the local police. Meanwhile, the MC’s romantic interest, our second MC, has appeared but up to now is still a secondary character, albeit one on whom our MC has a gigantic crush.

in challenges , random words |


2,014 words | 30,224 words total

The first few years I did nano, I wrote and wrote and pushed myself furiously. 2004, 2005, 2006 I was done by the 10th or latest the 15th. Last year when I finished on the 23rd was the longest I’ve taken for a nano. This year, I’m deliberately slow. I wrote 2,000-odd words this morning, and even though I could have gone further than the 30,000 total, I took it easy. 2,000 words a day isn’t to be scoffed at, it’s just a lot less than my usual nano speed. However, I think this is more realistic and I imagine more like how real writers write. (If any real writers are reading this, and write more than 2,000 words a day, feel free to chastise me for being presumptuous.)

I’m still working on the backstory bit. It’s now the turn of the son of the MC’s friend who has gone missing. His point of view, what went through his mind, what brought him to that point where he did what he did.

in challenges , random words |


2,148 words | 28,210 words total

My niece’s birthday today. We went to an indoor skiing place, where the slope operated like a conveyor belt. I tried both snowboarding and skiing. Very strange experience. Absolutely nothing like a real slope. And I’m out of practice.

In terms of nano, I did my writing in the morning before I left. Got my soft daily target of 2,000 words. I’ve detoured a bit, started writing some background. Our MC was watching some CCTV surveillance tape, so I wrote what she saw from her POV (the story is in first person) then I wrote the backstory of what actually happened. Things are getting interesting for our MC, who is trying to search for a friend who has disappeared. The surveillance tape showed the missing friend meeting her son at a cafe, having a heated discussion and then he grabbed her and dragged her away.

in challenges , random words |


2,728 words | 26,062 words total

Chapter 6 is finished, at a whopping 5,606 words. Made some headway into chapter 7 too. The massive chapter 6 helped push me past the halfway mark. Nice.

in challenges , random words |


2,066 words | 23,334 words total

I was going out for after work drinks with mm, so I did my writing in the morning, bookending lunchtime and hitting my target of 2,000 words for today. It’s going pretty well. I’m dragging out the action and including a lot more trivial stuff and description and repeating dialogue than usual. Still working on chapter 5.

in challenges , random words |


2,543 words | 21,268 words total

Spent the morning watching the results of the US election start to come in, quite exciting. Had to leave to go to SZ to pick up my other 3 lights. Bless my parents, they came with me and between the 3 of us we managed to get the bulky boxes on the train back home. By the time we got on the train we saw that President Obama had won re-election. It’s a good thing. I trawled the news sites for articles to get updated.

The custom is I write after dinner. Today I finished at 10pm. And here is the state of play after a week. Pretty much on track with plenty of story left. It’s good.

in challenges , random words |


3,382 words | 18,725 words total

Got my first light, the ceiling light for the living room, and lugged it by myself up to the flat. It wasn’t heavy, just a big bulky box. Came down to the office to see mm and worked out where we should go for a short break. Had a glass of rioja with her also, at the place nearby that had cheap HH prices.

Becoming a habit now, start writing after dinner. I gave myself the target of 17k words, then I can watch tv or read or play a game, but I didn’t need the reward, I just carried on writing. Chapter 5 is done. It helped that this chapter has more dialogue than the previous ones. Boy I’m a rambling fool this year. If I ever revisit this novel, I need serious serious editing. But then, that’s the point of nano. I remember not being very keen on last year’s, but reading it a bit before I started this year made me realise there’s some potential if I ever get round to working on it. May be in a year’s time I’ll feel the same about this one. Ah well, no judgment until 50k words.

in challenges , random words |


2,675 words | 15,343 words total

I had to go order the living room lights, go to the flat to check out the progress of the windows, and wait for the gas people to deliver the hob. Then went to Ikea to look at narrow shelves for the kitchen.

TAR was on at 10pm so that left after dinner and after TAR. Managed to hit 15,000 before the start of the show, so that’s where I’m leaving it for the day.

in challenges , random words |


5,083 words | 12,668 words total

Didn’t go out today. Hit 10,000 words mid-afternoon which meant I had a little reward of playing on the wii for a bit. Just tennis and baseball, nothing special. The rest were written after dinner. Chapter 3 is finished and I’m about halfway through chapter 4. Narrative is all over the place, but I’m doing a good job padding. Not feeling too stressed, I can continue writing for another hour or so, but I’m done for the day. A 5,000-word day and 12,000 words total, those are good milestones.

in challenges , random words |


2,522 words | 7,585 words total

Went with my parents to SZ to order lights for my flat, we went mid-morning, had lunch, went to the shop, walked around some other shops, had dinner and took the train back. The end result is, I only got started after 9pm.

2,500-ish words in 2 hours, not too bad. Very rambling though. We’re at the end of chapter 2 and barely into the scene setting. I had one character ask my MC a question, then had the MC think about her response to the question for a couple of paragraphs before she actually replied. So, thoughts and dialogue were almost exactly the same. Good old nano tricks.

in challenges , random words |

2,756 words | 5,063 total

Had to get up early to go over to the flat. Spent almost 5 hours there, waiting for deliveries: oven, air-con, extractor. Since there’s no furniture, I had to either stand, walk around, or sit on the floor. Brought the kindle so I wasn’t bored. Could have brought the mba to write, was too tired, so decided against it.

Home by 5pm. Chatted to mm, played a little. Settled down to write at around 7pm. Got distracted by dinner (big bowl of fruit) and parents coming back from their days out. Target was to reach 5,000 words, and it’s done.

in challenges , random words |


2,307 words

I had lunch and dinner plans and was out all day, so it didn’t leave a lot of time. Luckily I didn’t need to leave for lunch until 11.45am, so I did my best to fit in a couple of hours in the morning. Happy about the good start.


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