November 2013 Archives

in arts and media , family first |

Christmas fair at my niece’s school. Very very crowded with lots of kids, parents and friends. The main courtyard area was all food. It being the german swiss school there were bratwurst, pretzels, ham with sauerkraut, potato salad, raclette, 3 types of beer, Austrian prosecco, Swiss wine (yay!!!) as well as other food like sandwiches, waffles and asian food.

The gym had stalls selling christmas ornaments, handmade crafts and lots and lots of food. Chocolate, stollen, biscuits, homemade cakes, brownies, jams. Business was good, I scored the last 2 bottles of gluhwein and mum bought the non-alcoholic version. Sis worked the chocolate stall and by the time she finished they were almost out of everything.

The sports hall was full of games managed by kids from each year. There were flip the rubber chicken into the basin, shoot santa with a dart gun, net the duckies from the inflatable pool and many others. Lots of kids running around, lots of noise and energy.

I had some video fun again with instagram, this was at the stalls before they ran out of stuff to sell. Edited in iMovie, and added a music track — up on the housetop via uncle dave’s free christmas tunes. I think I prefer editing and saving to flickr rather than sharing from instagram directly. Gives me more control, although I lose some of the frame due to sizing.

in arts and media |

Instagram video experiment #2, christmas decoration at the mall. Went to dinner with mm, cc and am at a vietnamese restaurant at one of the malls. Good food: papaya salad, green curry vegetables, yellow curry fish, roast pork, two types of rice (ginger and coconut). Plus 4 hours free parking. Great to spend time with old friends.

in arts and media , eating and drinking |

We had a curry buffet lunch at dickens bar, one of the old school pubs at the basement of a hotel. Not a fancy hotel buffet with lobster and movenpick ice cream, this one is solid with salads, 3 different kinds of curry, turkey (thanksgiving?), pasta, fruit, cakes and a too-dry chocolate pudding. Had a 25% discount with one of our credit cards.

I was there early so I was able to survey what was available before everyone rushed to the buffet counters. Perfect opportunity to instagram!! Tried out the video function for the first time, to test against vine.

Vine came out in the beginning of the year (I think) and was hailed as the instagram of video; no surprise that instagram itself added video around June. Both are dead easy to use and, by the large number of videos already posted on both services, will only grow and grow and grow. Lots of informative comparisons abound, and techcrunch kindly gave us a nice table:


What I like about these apps is the ease of use, and because of the short duration, it’s almost essential to pause then move onto the next frame. Pausing on video function of a camera means a second file and you need to use something like iMovie to edit sequences together. Although I ended up editing 3 instagram videos together, it’s not the usual thing to do, just like it’s not usual or necesssary to photoshop instagram photos.

At first glance, there are no fundamental differences between the 2 services, however, because of the way they evolved historically, the user base seem to be slightly different. Techcrunch again,

Where Instagram’s user base is mostly made up of people documenting their feet, coffees, and pets, Vine has attracted a group of users who are pleased by the challenges set forth in the app

Interesting observation. I must admit most of my instagrams are of food, so I sort of fall into that stereotype. Contrast to my first vine of engrish subtitles on a korean drama dvd, which falls into one of those “so bad it’s good” categories. This spontaneonity is what I like about vine, but I’ll probably end up using instagram more — I’m already ingrained into its ecosystem, and its ability to edit, add filters and delete frames is useful; plus I’m not into the instant sharing culture of vine and twitter. Definitely don’t like the gif-like constant looping of vine videos, videos that autoplay are a pet peeve of mine.

I’m quite pleased with this first effort on instagram. The filter, graininess and choppiness give it a vintage feel, almost like watching an old 8mm reel.

in about me |

The occasional 25 random tidbits about me series returns. It’s something I used to do, but haven’t done regularly for a while. I think I’m more proud of the fact that these squares are done using css with no table in sight. Heh, geek in motion.

recently writing, reading
looking forward cooler weather
in my pocket new watch
gadget waiting for ipad mini
new on iTunes relaxing white, pink, brown noise apps

stress level better, can’t sleep occasionally
running once a week is not a routine
location still hiding at parents’ place
last vacation bbmm kansai trip
love of my life happiness is more time together

food persimmon, passionfruit, pineapple = tropical fruit salad
drink plum wine with lots of water
transport at home, not going out a lot
books catching up with a fb friend’s books
entertainment power thursday — 72 hrs, american ninja, the hero

kit indoors t-shirt and shorts
net citizen skype on saturday
color blue
covet long list of books to buy
obsession going Evernote crazy

freesquare missing my own bed and duvet
like peace, quiet
hate construction outside
daydreaming spotter new story
smell fresh, cold air

in eating and drinking |

artcafe002patio artcafe011cake

We took a drive out to a nature trail area near plover cove reservoir. A quiet area with people fishing, walking or biking on a weekday. We didn’t have time to go hiking on the trail, so we just stayed around the main area. Found a small restaurant for late lunch — minestrone soup, lamb chop, and we shared a frozen cream cake for dessert. Good value at under £10 per person, although the food quality was strictly average. Friendly service and a nice outside patio added to the charm.

The restaurant calls itself an art café with the work of an artist (the owner?) adorning the outside of the house, the interior and there are 2 floors dedicated to exhbiting his artwork. Plover cove is only 30mins’ drive from my parents’ place, not too far. Perfect for a quiet day’s outing. Will definitely return to hike the trails. There’s a 45min easy hike to a small waterfall.

in challenges , random words |


The nanosite is always very generous, google docs and word both counted 50365 but the site validated at 50370. Fantastic. I get the usual winner’s certificate and a bunch of images. In the past the images were random square or horizontal or vertical banners. This year their sizes are targeted towards appropriate social media sites so there are ready-made fb, twitter etc images. I’ll keep my avatar till the end of the month, unless I’m feeling particularly obnoxious I won’t change my profile pic.

I’ll see how the next year goes, whether I have time to write Spotter. I should finish LL as a priority so Spotter will likely be nano 2014. This is the earliest I’ve ever planned and outlined a nanonovel.

in challenges , random words |


Wordcount validation starts every year on the 25th, so I was looking at the nanonovel for the first time in almost 2 weeks. Played around with tag clouds. It’s quite obvious the story is about 2 characters called Indy and Pete, and about building a house. Cool stuff, the website has a random button that changes font, layout and colour. I had a fun 10 minutes randomising.

in workstuff |


The last time I went into the office was May 2012. I was then on garden leave and started my officially unemployed status 3 months later. I guess the better term is sabbatical or semi-retirement, although I’m too young to look retired. In financial services it’s not uncommon for people to retire young though.

Earlier this year, I did have some discussions with a couple of companies on the job front. One I turned down because first they had a hiring freeze and then the manager managed to unfreeze the headcount but only if it’s shared with another department. I’ve done this long enough to know that sharing doesn’t work — the EE is still expected to perform as if they are 100% in both departments, which leads to double the workload. Plus, the politics, ack. The second job was with a consultant firm, it was going well until we started talking packages and timesheets and client marketing. Not for me.

I’m quite happy to exist without a job for the time being, bumming along at my parents’ place. But an opportunity came my way, and it suits my current circumstances.

So now I’m a researcher and case writer at the university’s business school. The university is 100+ years old, and enjoys a high global/regional ranking. The position is freelance, where I work with one of the professors on a particular case. It’s paid on a per case basis too; each case can take 3-6 months to finalise but I can work whenever I like, and from home. No need to be at any office aside from a few meetings with the professor or, if the case is about a company, the company’s staff. Some case writers work on multiple concurrent cases, but for now I have just the one.

Anyone who went to business school will remember case studies. We didn’t have case studies in every single subject but they were definitely used in Marketing and Strategic Management. Harvard is the pioneer of using case studies, apparently their MBA students study and analyse over 500 cases during their time there. It’s a tried a tested method for teaching MBAs, although there are some criticism of the case study method, that it’s not suited for all subjects (eg accounting and statistics), that some cases are too old and outdated, and other methods that mix lectures with real time cases may be the way to go.

Nevertheless, the wheels of academia turn very slowly and case studies will be used and in demand for a long time to come. They have become big business, with the three largest case study publishers (Harvard, Richard Ivey in Canada and ECCH at Cranfield) selling more than 10 million cases every year. Cases are priced per student, so even at $3 each, that’s $30 million in revenue.

I’d never really thought about who physically wrote these case studies. If anyone asked me a few months ago, I would have said that they are like academic papers, right? Even though I was the one who did the experiment and synthesised those compounds, my PhD supervisor wrote all our published JOC papers, so I would assume that business school professors wrote these case studies too.

Apparently not.

Sometimes their students wrote them, but there is a whole cottage industry of case writers. So far it’s a lot of research. Trawling through a company’s website, reading their annual statements, figuring out their org structure from public information. Then there are the academic theories that the professor wants to incorporate into the case — for someone in the field like I have been, they seem to be a lot of big words to describe a small thing that I already know, but I have to remember that the students may not know these things. There’s quite a lot of writing involved too: not just the case study itself, which can run to 20-30 pages; there’s also the accompanying teaching notes, which is another 20-30 pages.

Can I make a living out of it? Not at the moment, with just one case. It has potential to become more, I hope. Already the prof I’m working with is talking about a series of cases; and then there are a couple of ideas I have that I’ll wait till the right time to pitch. There are even case writing competitions around the world with fairly lucrative prize money. Wow.

in eating and drinking |

twbricktoast01 twfruittea01

Shopping day for bbmm. We had chirashi set for lunch then braved the crowds at the department store for almost the entire afternoon. They were having their semi-annual sale week. Our takings included: laundry mesh bags, a microplane, long sleeved t-shirts, a L’Occitane face cream gift set, kettle chips, ostrich steaks, umeshu and a case of cabernet sauvignon icewine. Also looked at, but didn’t buy at the end, tagines and a pressure cooker. The tagine was small and cheap, but I’m wary of buying single use equipment. The pressure cooker was nice, but too expensive even after discount.

We took a break in the afternoon for tea. After exploring the nearby streets, we came across a Taiwanese style tea and snacks place. We shared one of their monster brick toasts — three thick slices of toast with butter topped with cream, strawberry ice cream, marshmallows, strawberries and blueberries. The inside of the toast was cut up in bite-size chunks and the idea is to eat the cubes together with the cream, ice cream and toppings. Messy but oh so good.

They also served interesting teas and coffees. It being a Taiwanese place there was obviously bubble tea. We opted for their iced tea which was lipton tea topped with either juice or soda plus fruit. There was additionally a small preserved plum in the glass, which gave it a sweet-sour tangy flavour that was refreshing. This is the only time that I think lipton will work, it’s too awful and tasteless to drink on its own, adding it to what is essentially a mocktail is a good move.

in eating and drinking |


It’s cooking with mum day. For lunch we had pork knuckle, baked purple sweet potatoes and tomatoes. The pork knuckle was ready made so it was just reheating. The sweet potatoes we par boiled for 10mins before baking at 180°C for about 20mins. So sweet, so great — purple vegetables are my all time favourite. I sliced the pork and halved the sweet potatoes, everything served Jamie Oliver style on a wooden board.

Dinner was salmon, the same sweet potatoes and steamed thick white asparagus. This is not the same white asparagus as I used to get, these are really thick, almost as big as a small leek. Still have the delicate asparagus flavour though.

in eating and drinking , on the relationship front |

wildfireporkterrine wildfirespagvongole

I had a meeting with the prof in the morning (more about this in another post), then went over to mm’s place. She had been to the doctor’s in the morning to clean the incision, and to get further instructions from the doctor in monitoring going forward. All is well, so it’s a big relief all round.

She’d been at home since she came home on Friday and today was her first venture out. We went to a restaurant nearby for lunch. Set lunch was pork knuckle terrine, spaghetti vongole and panna cotta. I ended up eating my portion, and some of hers too cos she didn’t have her usual appetite.

Went to the market, got some fruit and veg then it was back to her place to rest. She was watching Korean drama and we switched to the totally incomprehensible English subtitles. I tried out Vine for the first time and grabbed some of those in a video. Then I totally fell asleep for half an hour. Too full for dinner, I let her get some rest for the evening and left at 6pm.

in objects of desire |

ripjeans02 ripjeans03

Here’s a story from GCLS Dallas 2013. I was running around all con taking pictures of everything and all the sessions, this is pretty well known. Thursday was a long day, ending with karaoke night. I had a big rip in my jeans all day, and no one said anything.

The jeans were old 501s, a favourite, and already ripped in the knees and the bum. The rip at the seams had been repaired, and the knee area patched up. The thing about jeans is that you can wear them when they are badly ripped, some stores even sell them pre-ripped.

So in the morning, I was running around as usual in the main area when I heard this tearing noise behind me. Argh, somehow I’ve inflicted another rip at the back, just underneath the seat of the jeans. There was no time to waste because sessions were beginning so I hoped that my shirt was long enough to cover it. Anyway, no one complained. Either they didn’t notice, or they were too polite to tell me, or they were laughing at me behind my back. Hmmmph.

I had to say good-bye to them though at the end. I bought quite a lot of stuff, had to re-pack and it became a victim of my shopping. Not before I took a few pictures. Currently I have 3 pairs of jeans I wear in rotation, and I’m noticing that my favourite pair is becoming ripped while my least favourite pair stubbornly remains pristine — I was hoping to wear the least favourite one old quicker, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. Typical.

in eating and drinking |

Whenever my dad goes to the library he has dinner out, so mum and I generally fry a steak. Today mum has gone out with her friends so it’s papa’s turn to get the steak dinner treatment. We found a fairly decent value steak from the supermarket, it’s not Hawksmoor (or even Tesco) standard, but it’s acceptable.

I’ve also listened to Heston’s lesson on cooking the perfect steak. I don’t leave it out in the fridge but I do take it out and let it sit at room temperature for a bit. Hot pan for delicious crust, check. Of course resting, I know that already.

The thing I haven’t done before is flipping the steak every 15-20 seconds or so to keep both sides hot. He’s right, it totally works. I can monitor the steak’s doneness much better; even though I don’t use a cooking thermometer I’m a good enough cook to know how to use the palm test for meat doneness. So far my steaks have turned out nicely rare to medium-rare every time. This sounds naughty but flipping works!

in eating and drinking |


A chachaanteng literally translates to tea restaurant. Except for the fact that they serve food they are nothing like restaurants; the nearest equivalent is an American diner or a British seaside caff where they serve strong tea and bacon butties. Why are they called tea restaurants? Because aside from breakfasts, lunches and dinners, they also serve tea, both the drink and the meal.

Tea the drink is like Indian pulled tea / Malaysian teh tarik — very colonial — strong tea that has been poured through a fine net (like panty hose, hence the term panty hose tea) and served with condensed milk, evaporated milk, sometimes both. Supposed to be silky and smooth, I personally find it absolutely undrinkable because of the sweetness and the evaporated milk after taste. I stick to another local favourite, lemon tea. Locals drink it with a ton of sugar, I have to make a special no-sugar request.

Tea the meal is much more interesting, and also has colonial past. It’s western food, only it’s not. The tea set is made up of toast made of crustless white bread slathered with butter, condensed milk, peanut butter or all of the above, you can ask for the bread to be toasted. Served together with a slice of processed meat, scrambled eggs and then there’s the spaghetti or macaroni in soup.

teaset02daitoast teaset03ramenliver

Other popular tea set offerings include french toast made from two slices of the same crustless white bread with peanut butter inside, coated with egg, fried and served with a sticky jar of syrup. Or for a savoury alternative there is noodle in soup like the familiar won ton soup, or this really tasty ramen with pork liver. Sounds horrible, but nowadays we are so much better educated by Bizarre Foods, it’s kinda delicious.

in family first |

chocolate cake

This rich chocolate cake from a hotel bakery reminded me of a few things.

parents love you unconditionally
I’m back at parents’ place and mum saved me a piece for tea. She buys a lot of good food for me, and my dad is responsible for cooking all our meals. I’m like a princess when I stay here, and they make it clear they want me to stay as long as I can.

my feelings for mm
We’ve been together, in a weird sense of the word, for 21 years. I’m not sure what lies ahead for us; she’s quite happy about us being a couple of steps up from friends, I want things to go back to how they were in the beginning. The first thing I thought of when mum gave me the cake was I needed to take a picture and send to mm to cheer her up. In return she sent me lots of happy smiley face stickers.

need to keep healthy
This chocolate cake packs something like 300-400 calories. I haven’t been exercising enough, and mm’s recent health scare reminds me that I need to get back to a better level of health.

chocolate isn’t my first choice
Even though it was professionally baked and parents really liked it, I found the cake too sweet, too dry and too rich. I finished it, but it took me a long time (remembering that I’m a very fast eater.) Given a choice between different flavours, I won’t pick chocolate. I like making desserts, and a lot of my recipes are chocolate, but I just don’t go crazy about it like most people.

in on the relationship front |


Why I need to finish nano because things will get busy #2: it takes 2-3hrs to get discharged from the hospital. Most of that time was aimless waiting, with mm resting or playing with the touchscreen computer looking at holiday packages; and me reading on my kindle. Finally it was time to pay the bill, get medicine and hop into a taxi back to her place. She took a much needed shower, we had lunch then I went home so she could sleep. I’m tired too, even though most of the time I was reading. Early to bed for me.

in on the relationship front |


I spent 12 hours at the hospital, sitting with mm. She is in for a small procedure and will stay overnight. I got to her room after she checked-in at 9am and got changed. We explored the touch screen tv/computer combo unit, looked at the food menu and generally chatted while we waited for the time to get ready. The doctor came an hour before the procedure, and she was wheelchaired to the operating theatre at 1.15pm. I went out for lunch — chirashi set at a conveyer belt sushi place full of lunch time office workers.

By the time I walked back to the hospital (having stopped at 7-eleven to get coke zero for me and crackers for her) it was almost 3pm. I sat, firstly in her room then outside near the nurses’ station. She was wheeled back at 3.30pm. I whatsapped her brother to let him know, then sat with her. She was tired after the GA, but we chatted in between her drifting off. I ended up falling asleep on the uncomfortable plastic visitor chair too.

We ordered hospital dinner to share, then it was getting time for me to go home. She was already able to get out of bed and walk around.

It is only a small procedure that took 1hr. But even though you know it’s small, and relatively risk free, it’s worrying. There is no good time for surgery but the best is when you are healthy so it’s less disruptive to the body. It was still worrying, seeing her in the wheelchair going down and then coming back up in the bed still asleep. Health is so important, I think our prayers helped everything go smoothly. Thank you.

in easily amused , objects of desire , on the relationship front |


Early start today, woke up at 5.45am and got the 6.30am bus. Every year in Sept and Nov we go to early morning mass in memory of mm’s sister. It’s 10 years to the day that she left us. I was at the church first, then their family started trickling in. Early morning mass on a weekday is short, so it was finished by 8am.

Breakfast at a nearby diner then went back to her parents’ place to pick up some stuff. Then had to bring th stuff back to mm’s place.

Lunch was just the two of us, I’d made reservations at a hotel café for buffet. We both agreed the buffet was a good one. Back to her place to rest, I actually did fall asleep while she was pottering around in the kitchen.

Drinks at the Marriott with her brother and his wife. Buy one get one free happy hour drinks, I had a malbec while she had a rioja. She drove me home, got home around 10pm.

Additional achievement today: we drove to an industrial estate and bought new watches. Both the same design and colour — taupe sports chrono. She got the smaller ladies size and I got the medium unisex size. Very sharp design, we like it. I haven’t worn a watch for a while, over a year, but I do find it a pain to have to dig out my iphone from my back pocket every time I want to know the time, may be I’ll start wearing a watch again.

in challenges , random words |


4350 words | 50365 words total

Done it. 50k in 12 days, good stuff. Second fastest nano, the 3rd time I’ve done it in 12 days. 10 days in 2004 is safely tucked away as the fastest and unlikely to change. In stealth mode too, aside from my online friends and mm, my RL friends and family don’t know about nano and didn’t know I was doing it. It’s not something they are either interested in or are bothered about.

The next part of the story brought them to a wedding. Since one of my MCs was an ex-banker I went back to LL and inserted her in as a very minor character. This wedding was between my LL MCs, so it was an opportunity to bring back some old characters. Fun. After that I had about 1,300 words to 50k and it was either write something simple and easy or start another chapter. I opted for enjoying a soak in the bath and then a small accident the next day at the site. Nothing serious, cuts and bruises.

I’m not sure I’ll continue with this story for the rest of the month. I should spend spare time finishing said LL, that task is years overdue.

Anyway, good timing for reaching 50k. Lots going on the next 7-10 days.

in challenges , random words |


5888 words | 46015 words total

Had the morning and almost the whole afternoon to write, and got to the end of chapter 10, which sees the relationship between the MCs develop in a good way. The roof lining, windows and doors have been fitted, so the house is sealed and protected from the elements. Lots more to do, finish the exterior walls, finish the deck and porch, plant the roof plus all the interior work.

I have (I don’t want to jinx myself but it seems feasible) one more day of writing to reach 50k. The story is only about halfway at 50k so it depends if I have time or motivation to carry on. I’ll see when I get to the finish line.

This evening was dinner to celebrate my niece’s birthday. Went to a dumplings place because she saw these chocolate dumplings in a magazine and wanted to try. They were very good, like chocolate fondant with the melted chocolate oozing out when I made a hole. A good choice.

in challenges , random words |


3764 words | 40127 words total

Alright, I sort of cheated. I knew I was going out on sunday, so I finished at around 8pm on saturday, saved all the files, submitted my wordcount and filed it all under day 9. Then I wrote some more so I can bank some words for day 10. All in all, 9000 words for the weekend and does it really matter I wrote 7k on saturday and 2k on sunday vs 5.5 on saturday and 3.5 on sunday? It’s just so psychologically the daily wordcount chart looks prettier. I’ve missed whole days before.

The point is, I got to 40k. 80% done.

So at 40k in a romance, it’s time for the first sex scene between the MCs. I don’t write sex scenes during nano, only

[insert sex scene here]

and later

[another sex scene]

When / if this story is edited, I’ll work on those scenes. Oh joy (not).

Anyway, they had a great weekend, visited the art museum, saw some new architecture, had some good food, and spent a lot of time in bed getting to know each other. It’s now the end of chapter 9 and they’re back home. Complaining a little because they have to spend the night apart back at their respective homes to run errands — laundry and sorting through bills and stuff like that. But there is a promise of being together back at work on the site and also nights to come.

In some books, and stuff I’ve written, when things go so well something angsty happens that the MCs have to overcome so their relationship gets back on track and becomes even stronger as we near the end of the book. This story I don’t feel like putting up roadblocks to ruin their relationship. Not the huge ones like being disowned by family or an abusive ex showing up or a natural disaster, may be a elating to the construction or a minor injury.

So, where did I go today? Went over to mm’s, our plan had been to drive out to a new spot at the country park and go hiking. Had to postpone due to bad weather. Instead we stayed at her place and watched bbc lifestyle, drank a whole bottle of prosecco and polished off a whole bag of prawn chips. Nice afternoon. I was home by 8.30pm.

in challenges , random words |


5428 words | 36363 words total

A boring kind of day reading, watching tv, writing. It’s also nano marathon day:

Join us on Saturday, November 9 for day-long noveling madness in person and online, and donate to help us reach our $50K goal. Keep NaNoWriMo running the course for years to come! All the glory of a traditional marathon, none of that pesky training. Just you, your novel, and a deep and abiding love of helping others discover the joy of writing.

I can’t go to an in-person event obviously, but I did follow on twitter for a bit. I’m at 5.4k for the day and 36k total just after dinner. Good point to save everything. I’m using writely (aka google drive), saving to word and the doc is also saved on my flashdrive and this year there’s the additional backup at dropbox.

In terms of the story we’re now at chapter 8. The rest of the roadtrip passed by uneventfully. “Mostly roadkill” as one of the MC described it. They checked into their hotel (one room, two beds) and visited the green roof supplier whose name was, ta-da, Mr Ian Woon. Lots of opportunities for exposition about types of green roofs, growing medium and what vegetation to use. Then it was onto dinner at an Italian restaurant, drinks at a nearby pub and at the end of the section they were asleep wrapped in each other’s arms. Awwww.

in being healthy , challenges , random words |


4307 words | 30935 words total

5.10km 40.47min 8.00min/km (12.52min/mi)

The 5k is going over to the small park and running around the jogging track, the football field and the basketball court. I sprinted the last 200m to try to get the pace down below 8, got it to 8min exactly, need to run faster.

The 30k is getting to the 30k mark in nano. I said I was gonna do it yesterday at 26k, and I did it. I’m using well-used nano tricks — road trip, dream sequence and talking to yourself. We’re now at the beginning of chapter 7, and they just started driving. The dream sequence, which included a nice intimate distraction, and the talking to yourself both occurred in the car. There’s the whole night and a long way to go. Who knows what will happen next.

I’m getting into the story, the MCs are growing on me. They also made me laugh in this exchange. Indy and Pete (Petra) are the MCs, Anders is Pete’s brother and Indy’s architect. When edited, the clunky language, the “she said” will all be edited out. This is nano, only wordcount matters.

“Who says I’m having a house warming party?” Indy challenged.

“Oh, you’ll want to. You’ll definitely want to. How else will you get to meet The Great Anderski,” Pete said tantalizingly.

“The Great Anderski?” Indy felt stupid, repeating what Pete said. The Great Anderski sounded like—

“The Great Anderski hails from coldest Siberia and is the greatest magician that has ever come out of the great country of Russia,” Pete said dramatically, rolling the r of Russia. “Or, well, Anders when you’ve fed him a couple of glasses of vodka.”

“That sounds like enormous fun. I’ll make sure I have a house warming party, with casserole and vodka,” Indy said. “Do you become someone after you’ve had a couple of glasses of vodka? The Great Anderski’s sexy assistant Petralicious?”

in challenges , random words |


3308 words | 26628 words total

Happy about my 2 achievements today. I finished a deck consisting of the case design, case outline and background material and sent them to the professor. I hope that if I get the chance to write more cases, it’ll take me less than a week to complete this first step. Then again mm was so encouraging, she said that a week is good progress regardless of whether it’s my first time or not. She looked through my previous draft and liked it, even though I completely rewrote it for the final draft.

Achievement #2 is getting to the halfway mark on nano. At this rate, according to the nanosite, I’ll finish on 14 November. Depending on how much time I can spend on it this weekend, it may or may not be the right date. In any event, I’m at or about where I’m comfortable. I think the past 3-4 years I’ve settled into a routine. My official goal is still 2000 words, but I’m able to hit 3000 so it’s working for me. Tomorrow I’ll aim at hitting 30k.

Chapter 6 is finished. Work started on the frame for the roof — a strong lattice of plywood is needed in addition to the steel wall frames to support the soil and turf. I rewatched the Grand Designs episode this is based on, and the soil and turf isn’t as heavy as I thought — they also use a thick layer of wood as the base for the roof so I’m on track. The personal story gets better, they have an unexpected and unexpectedly sweet first kiss and are about to hit the road on their road trip.

in challenges , eating and drinking , random words |


3236 words | 23,320 words total

Had a nice lunch with mm, at our usual happy hour place. The first time we’d had lunch there. I got there early, because they didn’t take reservations, and got us a good window seat. Carrot and lemongrass soup, roast rump of lamb with cous cous and ratatouille, lemon meringue pie. The portions were not that large, well suited for lunch.

Stopped off at the supermarket, then had to wait a long time for the bus. Half the afternoon had gone by the time I got home. Sorted some of the papers I needed to read then got started with nano.

Finished chapter 5 at a good place, the MCs got to know each other better over dinner. Chapter 6 is about putting up the roof frame and going to a supplier to pick out what plants to go on the roof. I know one of the rules of nano is no editing, but I realised that with soil, plants and water the roof will need a huge amount of extra reinforcement and support I had to go back to add a steel frame to the wall frames — can’t have just 2x4s and OSB supporting all that.

I also placed the supplier at a place 12 hrs’ drive away. A road trip is on the horizon.

in challenges , random words , workstuff |

3675 words | 20084 words total

I signed and sent back a service agreement and spent almost the whole day researching. Because I’ve now been hired as a researcher for the business school at the local university to research and write a case study abot a large conglomerate. The service agreement is per case, so I don’t know if there will be any more after this. The morning was spent looking for background information on the company and the afternoon writing the case synopsis. It’s slow-going. I’ve never written an MBA case study before and I find I have to think about what to write and how to write it. I’m only halfway through the case synopsis.

So after 5-6hrs of internet searching, clicking around and typing what did I do for the rest of the day? I typed some more. Wrote a bit before dinner, had dinner, showered then wrote some more. It’s great to reach another milestone, 20k in 5 days is pretty good. I’m now on chapter 5 and they are putting the walls up on the house. I learned about the difference between plywood and OSB (which I typed out fully as oriented strand board every time — 3 words vs 1 word, it’s a cardinal nano rule), that 16” on center is the standard spacing between 2x4s in the frame, and the importance of studs in giving support for large windows. Paradoxically, although the walls of the house are going up, the personal walls between the MCs are starting to break down, they actually went for dinner together after work. That’s the writing for tomorrow, to write the dinner conversation and interactions.

Oh, and Happy Guy Fawkes Night!! Since nano and bonfire night will always overlap, I thought I’d combine the two and make an avatar.

in challenges , random words , techtalk |


3549 words | 16409 words total

Most of the afternoon was spent looking for and buying a printer. After speaking with the salesperson and getting information about how much ink cartridges cost, eventually I got an HP 5520 over an HP Envy 4500. Seems that over time the running costs are lower, we’ll see. Around US$110, but with credit card points and a supermarket voucher gift, the actual amount spent was around $85. I did have to spend over 2 hrs setting it up. Had to download the drivers and work with Mum’s slow internet. Repeat for her laptop. Stupid HP, installation was easier on Mum’s windows machine and there are still glitches when scanning to my mba.

What with Monday night being a busy TV night (Deadliest Catch, TAR and there used to be MKR), I tried to fit in nano whenever I can. Happy with the wordcount today.

I should add titles to my chapters, corresponding to where they are in terms of house building. If chapter 3 was the first meeting between the MCs, then chapter 4 is tearing out the defective floor frame and starting fresh. Things are going pretty well with the house, but the MCs haven’t moved beyond the sort of awkward formality of people who have just met.

in challenges , random words |


6067 words | 12860 words total

Five, six thousand words on a Sunday that I stayed home all day is okay. I’m pleased that it’s only taken 3 days to pass the 10k mark. Not completely liking the story so far, too much exposition. It’s kind of turning into a step by step guide to how to build your house. But I need all the filler I can incorporate because I haven’t planned on a drawn out story between the MCs. At least they have met and begun to build (pun not intended) a tentative working relationship. They are circling each other, trying to get their professional interactions on the right track, no wonder after all the set backs that our homeowner had to suffer through. Personal interactions will develop out of this hopefully.

in challenges , random words |


3676 words | 6823 words total

Started at 4.30pm, with distractions and other stuff, finished at 8.30pm. Still working on backstory. First chapter is done at 4000-ish words. Now comes the first obstacle, there is a danger the house won’t get built or there will be a long delay. Setting up for the MCs to meet, may be at the beginning of chapter 3.

In other news, I need to look for a printer.

in challenges , random words |


3147 words

It’s November, which means it’s nano time again. I see all these people on fb and social media telling their friends about nano and how they’re gonna do it or how they can’t / won’t / don’t know how to do it and I want to shake my head and ask them “have you been doing nano since 2004? Where were you November 2004? Stop talking about it like it’s the newest thing that you just discovered and are now imparting your discovery to the world.”

And then I read about these people who have already written x words and want to add 50k words to their novel, or people who want to write 50k as blog posts or a play or a technical manual, or people who want to edit 50k of their manuscript and I want to tell them that nano is defined as writing a 50k+ word novel in 30 days from scratch. These people are writing, congratulations to them, but they are not doing nano.

And then these people on the forums who have already reached 50k — there are always people who get there in a day and there are always others who cry “cheater” — I tend to give them the benefit of doubt. Then I remember, yet again, that nano is all about achieving my own goal and I’m not competing against anyone and I shouldn’t give a shit what others are doing, whether they are nano-ing or whether they have low IQ and dont get nano or whether they cheat.


I had a meeting this morning, so I didn’t start until mid-afternoon. The experience from the past couple of years is to set a reasonable daily target of 2000 words instead of 5000 words. At 3000-odd I’m partway through the first chapter, which is mostly backstory; in a finished novel it’ll probably get heavily edited or rewritten elsewhere, but it’s fine where it is right now.

I’m also sticking with the outlined novel about building an eco house by a lake. This has not been the story in my head lately, the other story is about a parallel world where some time travel element has eradicated all wars and disasters in the past thousand years. Supposedly good, but the world population has grown to a point where there is not enough food and water. Drastic measures are being taken by the ruling governments where the plan is to create a catastrophic event to eliminate most of the population. Spotters are sent out all over the world to mark those to be eliminated first. The personal story is about a spotter who accidentally marks someone she is attracted to and their struggle with a big brother system to try to overcome that. Anyway, it’s an outline for another time. Need to focus on green roofs, larch cladding, an idealistic homeowner and a by-the-book contractor. Sparks need to fly!


This page is an archive of entries from November 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2013 is the previous archive.

December 2013 is the next archive.

Return main index or look in the archives.