February 2013 Archives

in techtalk |

I’ve been doing a spot of photoshop designing lately as a favour; it’s been a while but thankfully I hadn’t forgotten everything I used to know. I had problems porting the program to the mba so whenever I had to photoshop my pictures I had to switch back to the mbp. Then in January, adobe opened up cs2 for free download, since it’s an old product they no longer support. I don’t mind, I’m not a professional designer and for the sort of basic photoshopping I do, cs2 is good enough. So now I have PS and Illustrator on both machines. The advantage of having cs2 is that it came with ImageReady, which I thought was a neat little tool.

I also learned a new trick, from someone who is a professional. How to remove backgrounds using the Multiply layer tool. Very nice.

in being healthy , eating and drinking |

200calavo 200calsnickers
200calcelery 200calbaileys

Now that I’m sick and not running, I have to be careful of what I eat. Well, when I have the appetite, I haven’t felt like eating much anyway. My maintenance calorie target isn’t very generous; if I go out for a meal that usually is it.

It’s interesting to see what 200 calories look like. One avocado, half a bar of snickers, a huge plate (almost 1.5kg) of celery, or a tiny glass of baileys. Some quite deceptive.

in eating and drinking |


Bad night, still feeling terrible. But sis called and asked if I could go around to her place and stay with gis for a bit after school. So off I went and we ended up watching tv. Stayed till dinnertime, and we all went to this creperie. I had a goat’s cheese and caramel one followed by apples flambéed with calvados. Sis had just banana and chocolate; gis had ham, egg, tomato, camembert breakfast one followed by a nice lemon one.

in being healthy |

Not a big surprise. Couldn’t sleep. Cough, cough, cough. Non-productive (dry) so there was nothing to bring up. Mum, bless her, dragged me to the clinic and I got some cough syrup. We had a quick dinner and I went home to wallow in my misery.

in being healthy |


official time: 2:54:28 8.16min/km 13.18min/mi

The annual standard chartered race, HM this year. The question when I woke up was, should I even go. Coughing. Not enough sleep. Not enough training. But I thought I may as well try, DNF is better than DNS, right?

I guess having some race experience helped. I was going to tackle the race in 3 segments of 7k, do 3k or 5k and walk whenever I needed it. Started off okay, if a lot slow. The nikeplus went bonkers, telling me I did the first kilometer in just over a minute, clearly the GPS is being optimistic.

The first 7k was almost an hour, with lots of walking in between. Thankfully the water line was long and they also had energy drinks. With a limit of 3hrs, I needed to get a move on. I knew Sis and my niece were coming to cheer me on, and we’d agreed on a time and place. I whatsapped her that I was behind schedule. The second 7k was okay, with the dreaded western harbour tunnel consisting of running the first half and walking the second half.

It was great to see the pink flag that my niece was waving. At that point there were lots of spectators and only about 500m to go, so it was a boost. My nikeplus showed 2:53 and the official time was 2:54.

Long trek to baggage collection. Walked to SIs’ place so I could shower. Parents were there too. We all went to lunch at the bar downstairs, had steak. Went home, totally exhausted, still very very sick. Should I have gone while sick? Probably not. At least I finished.

in being healthy |


Registration opened on the 19th. I didn’t register; it’s like going to the supermarket when you’re full, I didn’t feel like signing up while sick. Anyway, this year isn’t good for a marathon so far away. So I was surprised when I read about how the registration system ground to a halt 3 hours after registration opened. Likely too many people trying to get into one of the last world class marathons that didn’t operate an impossible to get into lottery system. Registration will be closed till the 28th, with apparently 15,000 place still left. This is too painful! Just get filled up already so I’m not constantly tempted!

in being healthy |

At parents’ and I’ve got mum’s cough syrup and soup and dad’s cooking. Trying to get better by sunday. Not enough time left.

in going places |

I finally got all the cruise pics sorted and uploaded: set 1, set 2. Lots of potential favourites. There are only 2 videos, one of the waiter presentation at the MDR on the ship and this one of a busker playing Ave Maria at Notre Dame de la Garde at Marseille.

in arts and media |

Since I’m stuck at home, I’ve been glued to the tv and have become addicted to an idiot abroad. I’m not sure if the humour will be understood by non-Brits, but it’s effing brilliant. The conceit is that Karl Pilkington gets sent to all sorts of places by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, Karl being the ultimate reluctant traveller. It’s very much a series of cruel jokes played on Karl by Ricky and Steve. I don’t know whether to sympathetise with Karl or laugh at him. I didn’t have sky when I was in London so I missed out on seeing them first time round. So tempted to get the dvd.

in being healthy |


I have a race on sunday, a half marathon I’ve half-heartedly trained for. I also have a really bad cough — I’ve had enough long term coughs to know it’s probably bronchitis and the cough will last months. Not confident I’ll recover in 5 days. Race or not race, I can’t decide.

in money business |


Met with our financial adviser. Seems like my portfolio is improving from when the market crashed. Our FA had also moved to a new company so it seems to be a good move. Now that I’m back from my London sojourn, I’m thinking of whether I need to keep so much in GBP. The other alternative is to switch to EUR denominated funds. Also may be switch platforms to get access to a larger selection of funds.

in being healthy |

Last weekend before race. Should have gone out for a long run. Dammit. Sore throat and bad cough and aches and pains. Didn’t go.

in being healthy |

The annual SC marathon is next week. Went and collected my HM race pack. Interesting to see the other racers. Not the usual collection of marathoners, some were less athletic than I was expecting. Family galore at the 10k tables. The longest queue was for the HM, may be it was the timeslot for HM collection, I dunno. I have a slight sore throat, I hope I’m not coming down with something.

in how the day went |


Met up with mm for tea. Then her friend called, they were meeting for dinner but she was ready early. We all ended up going for drinks and dinner together. Afterwards we went to the friend’s house and met her dogs. Ugh. Not well trained, barking, following everyone around, reaching up to your legs. Lucky they are small so I can ignore them. Stupid things.

in on the relationship front |


It’s not like we’re anti valentine’s day per se, it’s just that we just spent a long weekend together, and she needs to go to work today, and help a friend of hers who just had a family bereavement. So we didn’t plan anything, and didn’t have much communication either. Ah well.

in how the day went |

Up early again, did more laundry before heading to the same restaurant as yesterday for brunch. A little more packing and it was time to leave. This time there wasn’t much traffic delay, we were travelling back on the coach. Had dinner, then back home.

in on the relationship front |

By the time we woke up it was almost 11am. We were both tired. Quickly got ready and went out to the mall across the road to one of the few restaurants that were open. Nothing much else to do, went to the town centre and walked around.

Dinner was the purpose we all came up, mm’s mum’s birthday dinner. All the family was there. There was a bit of drama with her older brother losing his temper but everyone rallied around to save the atmosphere. Funny how mm and I got the scoop afterwards, everyone wanted to talk to her with their version of the events.

Efficiently did a couple of loads of laundry before bed too. Interesting day.

in going places |


Going to mm’s holiday place with her family. Her brother booked a car that would take us there — 6 adults and 3 kids squeezed into a people carrier, plus the driver. The trip normally takes 1.5-2hrs, but we hit terrible traffic and ended up being on the road for 3.5hrs. Ugh. After everyone got settled, we went to the supermarket and back to his place for hot pot gathering. He bought 2 side-by-side apartments and knocked down the central wall so the living room is huge and there are bedrooms on either wing. Interesting.


in in the news |


It’s the year of the snake. Hmm. It’s supposed to be an exciting year and it’s important not to keep secrets (cos snakes are all mysterious and suspicious and all). There’s also a possibility of great advancement in science and technology. LOL may be facebook comes out with more apps, or twitter stops getting hacked.

Snake years are supposed to enhance people who were born in the year of the snake. Both good and bad qualities. Watch out.

in arts and media |

At parents’ this weekend, just hanging out. It’s great. Mum bought a few new dvds so I finally got to see Les Miserables the film version. For me, it’s mixed.

The good first. I love the musical, have seen it several times in London, the first was over 20 years ago. There is a reason it’s one of the longest running musicals in the West End; millions of theatre-goers can’t all have bad taste. Yes, it’s a tear jerker. Yes, too many people die. Yes, the music is emotionally manipulative. But it’s Les Miz. It’s probably the best musical I’ve ever seen. So, with established storyline and music, the film already has a good foundation. I liked that film gives us a lot more in terms of visual richness that is impossible on stage. The dark streets of France, the bars and houses and sewers, and finally I can see rather than imagine (through creative lighting) Javert jumping to his death.

What I liked less. Some of the actors can’t sing. I know that the singing was recorded live and not dubbed later, it means that the actors’ shortcomings are highlighted. Russell Crowe’s voice is too high and too thin; Hugh Jackman overall was good but not all the time; I didn’t like the actor who played Marius (although I loved the one who played Eponine). Lots of reviewers’ praise for Anne Hathaway, I thought she over-acted in I Dreamed a Dream. Didn’t like the Barricade. On stage it was an imposing monster, on film it was a stack of abandoned furniture on a street corner, hardly important when it came support le revolution (though may be, that was the point). I read a review that called it Occupy Paris. Remembering that the original London production was hammered by the critics, it’s kind of auspicious that the film version is experiencing some of the same bashing.

All criticism aside, I’m glad I watched it but I’m also glad I watched it at home. There are simply too many well loved songs to sing or hum along, it would have been embarrassing in a cinema. Fantine’s I Dreamed a Dream, Valjean’s Who am I, Master of the House, Eponine’s On My Own, when little Gavroche started the first line of Do You Hear the People Sing, and of course Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. At the end, it’s the music that carried the film, just like it did on stage. At every stage performance I’ve been to, there is hardly a microsecond’s pause between the last note of the epilogue sung by the company and the audience leaping to their feet in applause. I wanted to do that after the same moment in the film too.

Then again, what I really want to do is to watch the 10 year anniversary concert again. Colm Wilkinson. Michael Ball. Lea Salonga. 17 international Valjeans. Whoa.

in about me , evidence of my insanity |


I had this sudden thought in the middle of the night, that I don’t need an apartment this size. It’s 780 sq ft gross, which is small by UK and US standards but a good size here. I remember mm saying that I only used 1/3 of the space I had in Chicago, which was true. And now I have space left over in my bedroom and dining room that sits empty. Over the last 2-3 years I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff — went from 4 bookshelves to 1, gave away furniture, shredded old paperwork, binned loads of clothes. I still have too much, I think.

I wonder how it’d feel like to truly downsize.

There are a whole slew of websites and experience sharing out there. It’s not just about getting rid of possessions, it’s adapting a change in attitude. I guess in the beginning it may mean throwing more stuff away, or something small like planting herbs in window boxes. Then may be it will grow to something big like buying a smaller place and renting this one out (financial security is a must have). The end goal? Less noise in my head, more focus, less anger, healthy body.

in outside interests |


Some executive search guy got into contact with me through linkedin. We chatted a bit yesterday and he asked if I could come to his office for a more in depth meeting. Not inclined to look for a job yet, but I thought why not. This meant finding my nicely dry cleaned suit, ironing my shirt and cleaning my boots for the meeting. The meeting was okay. He had an assignment but we agreed it’s not what I would be interested in. Just as well.

I took the bus down and back, and there was a little bit of walking in the business district. Not used to wearing anything other than siders or sneakers. My socks kept falling inside my boots. Argh. They’re new and very elasticated as well so I’m not sure why they keep falling down. Rubber bands next time, I think.

Heh, My Socks Keep Falling Down in My Boots. Sounds like a country song.

My socks keep falling down in my boots
The Sheriff doesn’t ask questions before he shoots
[guitar twang twang twang]

in arts and media |


I came across a review of book 1 of a comic series called charm school. Wow it brings back memories. Charm School is a comic series set in the town of Little Salem, where good teen witch Bunny has a perfect girlfriend in vampire biker Dean, until a dark, and very insistent faerie comes along causing chaos. It’s cute and fun and, as befit the series title, quite charming.

I was an internet acquaintance of the writer a long time ago, long before social media came along and made everyone connected. I had lost touch, and am very glad to come across this mention of her work. Amazingly, book 1 is listed on amazon at over $10, and checking my copy I note that the cover price was $2.95 for the 2000 edition. How the world has changed. I have books 1-9, I think it’s time to read them again.

in eating and drinking |


Went with mm to a shabu shabu restaurant called something like Mou Mou club. Fun name. It’s an all-you-can-eat affair, with pricing depending on the quality of beef and pork you want — it goes from the normal sliced beef all the way to wagyu beef. There’s also a buffet counter with lots of vegetables, noodles, miniature sausages, fish balls and rice. We picked a tomato soup base. Unlimited soft drinks and ice cream included too. The only downside is the time limit of 90mins, which meant we couldn’t linger. A good deal overall.

in being healthy |


Registration for chicago marathon starts in just over 2 weeks, at noon CST 19 February. I’m nowhere near marathon readiness, even though it’s in October and I have the whole summer to train. I also know that logically I should go for marathons nearer home, like Tokyo, which recently celebrated being added to the world marathon majors. Or Great Wall (um, no. Way too tough). Or at least VLM or Paris or Berlin.

The problem is, my heart tells me Chicago is my home marathon. I don’t have a lot of time to decide. Places will go very quickly, as it is one of the few major marathons that are still first come, first served. Sigh. I’m in so much trouble.

in in the news |


On the way back from running I bought a newspaper. A physical paper. Can’t remember the last time I did that, I tend to read online. So, what was in the paper? Politics, protests, lament at falling language skills, American football shared space with test match cricket. The magazine had an article by a reporter who tried 7 different diets on each day of a week — he lost 3.5kg (almost 8 pounds) but had zero energy and didn’t seem to enjoy any of it. There was also the listing of the week’s TV, which at the end of the day, was the most useful for me.

in eating and drinking |

1976 McDonald's Hot Pie & Coffee sign
1976 McDonald’s coffee and apple pie, by flickr user daniel85r

Met mm for lunch at a Japanese place near her home, then we took the bus to one of the beaches. We walked round the very touristy market stalls for a while then decided to stop for a coffee (for her) and coke (for me). Instead of going into the overpriced and crowded cafés, we headed to Mcdonalds. She only wanted a regular coffee and quite honestly, my coke zero was cheaper and tasted exactly the same as those expensive places. We even got a pie each. The 4 items together would have bought us just a coffee at the other places. I showed her my cruise pics on my camera and we continued to get caught up on 10 days’ worth of news.

in going places |


Over 800 pics from the cruise to sort, delete, rename, touch up, resize and upload. Yes, I rename all my pics in an organised manner and check each one in photoshop. It will take a while. Progress so far — put each batch in separate folders for easier handling. 12 folders, eg 00ship, 09rome. One per location visited and another one especially for food.

Here’s a teaser. This was from Sidi bou Said just outside Tunis, Tunisia. All the houses in the village have uniform white walls and blue doors. Together with the cobbled streets set on a hillside overlooking the Gulf of Tunis, it makes for an extremely pretty and photogenic location. Even though it was full of tourists and the usual tourist trappings like souvenir shops and street sellers it didn’t take away the charm.


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