January 2014 Archives

in challenges |

image via flickr user echoesofstars

Good challenge, some tasks were even exceeded even though there were duplicates. Happiest about the summer races and finally finishing LL rewrite. And now back to the 101.1001 challenge.


  • run / walk / bike 55 miles (88km) // 60 miles done, need to keep it up to complete walk to mordor by aug-2016
  • weights or callistentics x8 // 8 done
  • squat 50 reps in 1 set // done — will add 50 rep bw sets as a regular exercise
  • check out June/July Chicago races // done — sundowner registered, proud to run registration hasn’t open but I’ll likely register for it too


  • non alcohol days x20 // 21 done
  • vegetables x24 // 31 done, veg every day, yay
  • fruit or juice x24 // 29 done, missed a couple of days because I got home late after dinner out and just wanted to brush my teeth and shower
  • new recipe x1 // cheesecake done


  • visit parents x20 // 25 done
  • family activity x2 // done [1] [2]
  • bbmm activity x2 // done [1] [2] [3]


  • 5 completed 101.1001 tasks // done [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
  • finish reading Harry Potter books // done
  • 3 LL chapters // done, finished the whole MS, now figuring what to do next
  • first draft of awards presentation template // done

in eating and drinking |


Normally for CNY people eat certain traditional foods because they sound like certain lucky words, or with stuff like abalone is to show how prosperous they are, or with chicken because there’s always chicken in festive meals. These are good examples from Singapore, but don’t believe everything online: these are ridiculous and inaccurate examples.

For our CNY meal, we had…roast lamb, potatoes and carrots. Hahaha, definitely not traditional. But who cares, it’s cooking and eating food we like. It was a boneless leg of lamb that I roasted for 2hrs with the vegs. A little overdone, but still juicy. The gravy from the roasting tray and water that was used to parboil the vegs. There’s enough to serve 12 people, lots of yummy leftovers.

in eating and drinking |

So we have ifttt for automation recipes (if twitter then facebook) and now, spotted via digg, is if you love this beer then you’ll love this wine.

I can’t say I agree 100%. I like wheat beer but chardonnay is my last resort; I like pinot noir but I find lambic too weird. Porter and syrah is okay, and I can see their logic about rich flavours. All in all the whole beer<—>wine thing seems way too simplistic.

in arts and media , outside interests |


A new free online tool from squarespace is a quick way to make a logo. A small avatar and thousands of fonts are available. The target audience seems to be

individuals and small businesses with limited resources to create a simple identity for themselves

Took me just a couple of minutes to come up with an invisiblecompany logo. Quite clean and using similar website colours (same blue but the orange text had to be sharpened to be more visible.) Definitely great for people who want something just for fun, or others without the budget to pay for art and design. The danger of course is that these logos will be instantly recognisable as created by squarespace.

The disclaimer by the company about individuals and small businesses came after some online backlash from designers. Fair, because it did seem to encourage people to bypass using their services, but unfair in the way they mocked the exact people who can’t afford, nor need their services. As one commenter said,
Yeah, it detracts from the quality of logos out there, but these people would be using clipart or dingbat fonts for logos if they didn’t have this tool

Or, gasp, comic sans. The designers up in arms about this tool seems to have forgotten that there is a whole sector of the market who knows nothing of design, and tools like squarespace do a lot to push them gently in the right direction. I’m still seeing new websites with terrible colours and layouts that hark back to the 1990s; not that I have a fantasic website, I know I need a redesign but I also know where I may be lacking.

in how the day went |

A few things to do this week, that I can’t procrastinate anymore.

  1. redeem airmiles — have a few miles expiring on 31-Jan. Not enough for Chicago flight in June, and the cheap ticket I got can’t be upgraded. Can get some nice chocolate or wine or a wine cellar or convert to gift certificates
  2. register for races — I think I will register for both proud to run and sundowner, it’s not too bad even if I can’t go
  3. read over LL — convert the draft to doc and epub
  4. order ipad — or wait, because I don’t really need one right now

in being healthy , challenges |

Been trying to figure out if I can fit in a race when I’m in Chicago in the summer. I like races in Chicago, they’re usually well organised and I know the paths around the lake very well. Narrowed it down to a few options:


  • 28-June: proud to run 5k/10k $35
    pro: part of pride week, my “home” course around Montrose, good value
    con: I arrive only the day before, I’ll be jetlagged

  • rnr1013turn

  • 20-July: rock’n’roll chicago Half Marathon $85
    pro: it was my first HM, so a bit of nostalgia
    con: expensive, overly commercial, expo on 18/19th, not sure if I’ll be back in chicago from portland

  • espritdeshe

  • 24-July: esprit de she 5k/10k $45/$55
    pro: date is good, easy 5 or 10k near the lake, same day packet pickup
    con: never heard of this event before, they seem to be combining a beauty treatment event with a running event, plus the free shirt is this girly purple sleeveless tank that i will never be seen dead in, ugh

  • sundowner

  • 24-July: sundowner 5k $35
    pro: date is good, easy 5k, low price
    con: in Joliet, clashes with esprit de she

Although I really would like to do a HM, I’m leaning towards either the Proud to Run or Sundowner. Pros and cons with both. Heck, I might register for both.

in how the day went , on the relationship front |

Met up with mm in the afternoon to go cycling. Walked around some snack shops and had something to eat first, because she just came from her piano lesson and hadn’t had lunch. By the time we finished it was around 4pm, so we figured we had about an hour or so. The rental bikes were pretty rudimentary, I never quite got mine to shift gears. But the bike path along an urban river was flat and easy. I’d been using mum’s stationary bike so I was quite happily cycling along, but mm isn’t used to exercise so we took a couple of stops. All in all, about 45mins of actual cycling. Sigh, I wish I still had my bike.

cny2014mkt06 cny2014mkt10

Took the train back into town and visited one of the markets that spring up at this time of year, the week before CNY. There were two main sections, one of young people selling soft toys and balloons and useless fun stuff. The other was a flower market. Lots of orchids, narcissus, chrysanthemums in all sorts of colours, and other flowers I don’t know the names of.

Dinner was sashimi set. She also had a grilled fish head and I had a umeshu soda. Good day. She was feeling stressed and teary and the outdoor activity helped lighten her mood.

in eating and drinking |

Been watching reruns of my kitchen rules australia, sort of masterchef in teams. At first I was a bit meh, but I’m not addicted. The competitors are all home cooks and what I like is that they never stray from that — no trying to be nouvelle cuisine, no trying to make them into Hestons. May be it’s because they are Aussies too, that their food is fresh, honest and multi-cultural. No fighting or nastiness like US cookery program competitors. There is competitiveness, and some manufactured bitchiness, but in general these people are a joy to watch.

Sometimes when they are set a task I think about what I would do if I were in the competition. Half an hour to make a herb sing — I’d pick mint, do mint crusted lamb, minty potatoes or pea & mint purée and mint pesto. Will be very pushed for time, but worth the risk.

Competition is also in teams of two, they have married couples, family members, friends. Then it occurred to me that I’ve never cooked extensively with other people. A lifetime ago when mm and I were living together, she made most of our meals of simple student-y food. We would sometimes cook together, mainly baking and making jams.

We hadn’t lived together since 1995. I’ve lived on my own for so long, and cooked for just one person for so long that I don’t think I know how to cook with another person on a day-to-day or competition basis.

At my parents’ my dad does the cooking. Whenever I take over the cooking I prefer doing it all myself and people aren’t allowed in the kitchen. The nearest was at Christmas when Sis came to help. But then it was a special holiday meal, I had an organised plan and set tasks for her, she was definitely sous chef, and a good one at that.

I can just imagine if mm and I cooked together now. Either we will get along fine, or we will fight and fight and fight. May be I’ll ask her if we should try it one day, ha.

in 101.1001 , challenges , eating and drinking |


I usually make chilled cheesecake rather than baked, but after this one I think I’ll switch to baked. Recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course. I used blueberries instead of his raspberries.

500g cream cheese
150g sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp flour
zest of 1 lemon
200g blueberries

Mix cream cheese and sugar, add eggs a little at at time, then flour and the lemon zest. The mixture looked a bit thick at that point so I added the juice of 1/2 lemon. Stir in the blueberries and transfer to baking tin. Tap firmly to get rid of air bubbles and distribute blueberries. Bake at 180°C for about 45mins-1hr.

Like I said, I don’t usually make baked cheesecake. I forgot that you’re supposed to let it cool completely in the tin before removing, so when I took the outer ring off like I would do with cake, I ended up with Michelin man cheesecake that had bulged in the middle like belly fat. Argh. Put the ring back on immediately and let it cool overnight in the fridge.

That said, it was delicious. Rich, good taste and texture. The recipe doesn’t have a biscuit base, and I don’t think it needs it.

in eating and drinking |

Dinner with parents at a food court restaurant at the top floor of a wet market. Cheap and cheerful family style restaurant. Roast goose, sweet & sour fish, prawns, fried rice. The roast goose was too salty because it’s been braised and then soaking in soy sauce. The fish, prawns and rice were good. Mum has been under the weather for a couple of weeks so it’s the first time she’s been out except for going to the doctor’s. We were one of the first people there, arriving before 6pm and were done by 7pm — we prefer to dine early, restaurants like us because we dine early before the main rush.

in outside interests |

I hate shower curtains. They get icky and grimy and wet. They flow inwards and cling to my arms when the shower is on (there must be some physics that explains this). Anyway, I hate shower curtains.

In the absence of shower doors, because installing it will involve $$$ and a workman, I wanted to get a curved shower rod which gives more space in the shower. Problem is my shower rail is L-shaped, and I have yet to see an L-shaped curved shower rod.

Then I saw this idea on indiegogo, of shower curtain rings that pushes the curtain outwards to give more space. $35 for a set and $55 for two. Comparable to the curved shower rod with the advantage that existing shower rods can be used.

The project isn’t very well funded right now, less than 5% with 15 days to go. I wish there were more funders, then I’m more comfortable at putting my contribution in. Thinking about it.

in 101.1001 , challenges , random words |


Task #11 in 101 in 1001 is to read a book in one day. Something I have done quite often. Not one of the Potter books I’d just finished, especially the later ones. Of course, one of these classics would have been okay.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gerri Hill last summer at Dallas; and I’ve read many, if not all, of her 20+ books. Her newest is Weeping Walls which has the same MCs as a previous book, Keeper of the Cave. It’s something she has done several times before, using the same characters or bringing back characters as side characters. It works, because these are good characters.

This book is somewhere in between a mystery, paranormal adventure and romance. The FBI team works well, the 4 agents have distinctive personalities and their interactions are realistic. Also it’s great not to have superhero characters, one of the characters is afraid of ghosts and the others also have their hangups and shortcomings. We don’t need heroes who can fly, walk on water, write prize-winning novels and knit a scarf at the same time.

The case the agents are investigating is a missing person that links to cold cases and involves a haunted house. The paranormal aspect was unexpected, although after the prior book, I should have known. It wasn’t rammed down my throat, and I appreciated not being scared shitless — I don’t read horror stories and there’s a reason why.

The romance is not about two people meeting and falling in love. They did this the other book. This is about what happens after the initial falling in love, and there is skill in writing this stage of a relationship.

I read Keeper of the Cave over a 24hr period too (started late on one day and finished the next). When it comes to sequels I like to read the entire series from the start, and I didn’t mind re-reading. Weeping Walls is a solid, great read. If there is another book with the same set of characters I look forward to reading it again.

in techtalk |


Home, after a long travelling day. We got woken up by the tv guy calling to tell us he was arriving, which to his credit, he was on time and fixed the cable box quickly. We did all the check out stuff — turned off water, electricity, made sure everything was locked — then headed out for brunch. Couldn’t find the place we wanted so ended up at the same dim sum restaurant as yesterday. Ate just as much.

Stopped off at the gas office for more errands, then walked to get snacks and biscuits. Note that we were both carrying pretty heavy bags filled with sweet potatoes, sweetcorn and fruit alreadyy. Lots of weight-lifting exercise.

The return coach was at 3.30pm and we got back in town around 7pm. Quick dinner then we each got a taxi home. Normally I would just take the bus, but my bag was getting heavy and I was tired.

Showered, unpacked, packed up for going back to parents’ tomorrow, did laundry. Watched tv, yay Nigella and Nigel Slater and Ramsay and Grand Designs. Then, and only then, did I turn the laptop on.

I just spent 36hrs with no internet and, actually, it was okay. I’m not obsessed with checking email, and people don’t email as much nowadays. The few games I’m playing, I’m not at the addicted stage where I have to login and declare war, or proceed to the next stage of candy crush, or build the museum in pokopang, or train up my ninja. I had my kindle, and I was happy to limit my activity to reading.

People talk about disconnecting from technology, from social media. I didn’t have internet on the cruises last year, and I did miss it a little. I’m okay with a day or even a weekend. The hour or so when the ship was docked next to a hop-on-hop-off bus that gave me free wifi was like a godsend because that was day 9 on the trip already. Total disconnection with technology, that’s difficult because it means no ebooks, no games, no evernote, no a lot of things. It’s amazing how much I, like so many others, have become completely attached to my idevice.

in going places |

Weekend trip to mm’s apartment in shunde. On the list of things to do: fix water heater and tv cable. Nothing much to do with me, but I thought I’d tag along. Early morning 8.10am coach got us there at around noon so we headed straight to the restaurant for lunch — we only had backpacks for the overnight stay so minimal luggage.

It’s a dim sum restaurant and they served tea a little more sophisticated than usual (so they can charge more) — the hot water continued to boil in a kettle, the tea is made in a small purple sand teapot before pouring into a jug to dispense into tiny cups. Nice tea. Pretty nice lunch too, we had dim sum and congee.

Back to her flat to wait for the gas tech while I sat around reading. No internet, but I had the kindle. Late afternoon we headed out again to the nearby market. Very local, with both a main covered market and other sellers selling fruits, vegetables lined up on both sides of the pavement.

This woman sold us green vegetables for ¥2 (20p or thereabouts) a catty, which filled the whole small plastic bag. She was still using those traditional scales, which arguably can be inaccurate, but for that price, who cares?

I got a new screen protector for the iphone and we snacked on fried tofu flavoured with cumin, salt and a little pepper. The epitome of steet food and it was delicious. Another ¥2.

We bought loads of veg, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn, ginger, bread, sweets and biscuits. Very heavy bags walking back to her place.

Dinner was hotpot at a nearby restaurant. Pumpkin soup base and we ordered pork balls, minced fish, sun fish, tofu, dried tofu and vegetables. The fish was fresh, the filets went into the hotpot and the heads and tails were steamed in a separate plate. Perfect dinner.

I didn’t bring my camera, I just used the iphone. Between vine and instagram I have everything I need for casual record of the trip.

shun201401tea shun201412tofu
shun201404cane shun201405mandarin

in going places |

via mashable, this video is called “Sixth Element” and produced by the production company Level 4. I so hope I have the opportunity one of these days to see the northern lights with my own eyes.

in eating and drinking |

bacon egg pancake stack

Mum and I saw this in the newspaper, about some restaurant café that was serving a bacon and egg pancake stack. The article made it out to be some newfangled thing, to combine savoury and sweet. The saying about the frog at the bottom of the well comes to mind. Anyway, we decided we should try our own version. Cheated and used pancake mix that she has in the cupboard, and some weird ham-like bacon she had in the freezer. She wanted scrambled eggs, so the fried egg topper I had in mind had to be adjusted. I know I could have made scrambled for her plate and fried for mine, but couldn’t be arsed. Threw in some blueberries because we have 8 punnets in the fridge.

Breakfast for dinner, yum. Next time I’ll try to find American-styled crispy bacon, and fry the egg. I’ll also use rings, or my tiny 4” frying pan, so the pancakes are the same size. There might be a next time, because we have a jar of maple syrup now.

in challenges |


Spent most of my free time reading Potter; now they are finished, I’ll continue with the other tasks. Everything seems to be on track.


  • run / walk / bike 55 miles (88km) // 35 done, thanks to mum’s stationary bike
  • weights or callistentics x8 // 5 done
  • squat 50 reps in 1 set // done, was quite easy so I think ramping up to 101 is on track
  • check out June/July Chicago races // I want to do the RNR half, trying to figure out timing


  • non alcohol days x20 // 12 done, wine over New Year’s was the culprit
  • vegetables x24 // 15 done, veg every day
  • fruit or juice x24 // 15 done, fruit every day
  • new recipe x1 // I have an idea what I want to make, just need to make it


  • visit parents x20 // 14 done, heh I’m practically living at their place
  • family activity x2 // [1
  • bbmm activity x2 // [1


  • 5 completed 101.1001 tasks // [1] [2] [3] [4
  • finish reading Harry Potter books // done
  • 3 LL chapters // 2 done, deleted a whole chunk and useless side characters
  • first draft of awards presentation template // have idea, need to put to ppt

in outside interests |

I have 10 years’ worth of posts here, so it may be interesting to look back in time to see what I was posting.

one year ago : kids on food

Nice post about eating habits around the world, inspired by a couple of Jamie Oliver food programs and a youtube channel Rinozawa of a Japanese toddler who loves to try new food. The one that caught my eye was the one where Rino, the kid, tries pho. Seems like Rino now has a younger brother, Yuuma, but their foodie ways continue. This one is where they try satay. There are also videos of Rino cooking with mum, she made scrambled eggs and chocolate madeleine, so delightful.

The thing is, Rino is an exception. Many parents I know would have baulked at serving satay to a young child — flavour too strong, too unfamiliar etc. And many parents would have taken the meat off the skewer onto a plate instead of letting their child try the food the way it should be eaten, because skewers are difficult and dangerous if the sharp point accidentally pokes through the mouth. Note that Rino is supervised by both her parents, and they aren’t afraid of letting her eat off the skewer.

Jamie Oliver’s food revolution is still ongoing. American kids still do not recognise potatoes unless in the form of fries. Idiot parents bring an 8-month old screaming baby to a 3 michelin star restaurant. The comments from the Alinea kerfuffle are all focused on “if I paid $400+ per head for dinner I want to enjoy it” are of course true, but my opinion is that it isn’t the price tag, it’s the fact that Alinea serves a tasting menu that lasts several hours in the evening and why would the parents think it’s appropriate to bring a baby to an event lasting that long? It’s not appropriate to bring a baby to the theatre for the same reason.

three years ago: long surf ride

A video post of a 5-mile surf in Alaska. Beautiful scenery, beautiful photography. Quite peaceful to watch.

five years ago: cheap brics

Investing in the BRIC markets. It was the thing back then to invest in the BRIC markets, and the 5-year performance chart validates the decision to buy in 2009.


Performance since 2011 has been mediocre, and I’ve mostly exited in favour of the more stable European market. My US investments have done pretty well too, over 5 years.

ten years ago: bonus matters

Back before attention fell on financial services bonuses, even people like us in support functions got a small share of the pie. Interesting to read my reaction to a lower bonus compared with the year before; that is why I’m not in the front office. I think I got that special award because of participation in a global project, whatever it was, it was great to be recognised for contribution.

Things are so different now, 10 years later. So many scandals, the whole industry dragged down the entire world economy. Huge income inequality and bankers are now regarded as vile. True, the bonuses were outlandish and mostly ill-gotten, but what most lay people don’t realise is that these huge bonuses only apply to the people at the top. When the pie is smaller, these people don’t get smaller bonuses, they get larger share of the pie at the expense of junior people and support staff. Don’t laugh at everybody who lost their jobs when the likes of Lehman collapsed, the top people got their golden parachutes but how about the desk assistants and account clerks and IT staff?

Am I sorry I ended up in the financial services industry as opposed to, say, pharmaceuticals or engineering? I worked long hours and saw a lot of ugliness, but I also got sent all over the world and managed to save up enough to be semi-retired. All in all, not too bad.

look back summary

Hey, this was fun, looking back over past posts. May do it again some other time.

in challenges , photography is life |


Been a while since I participated in a photo friday challenge, this week’s challenge is climate.

title: parent child clouds
description: the parent and child oak trees at Biei, Hokkaido, Japan
date: august 2008
link to full-size original
© invisiblecompany.com 2014 all rights reserved

in 101.1001 , challenges , family first |

Task #81 in 101 in 1001 challenge is to try a new activity with family.

I’ve never made gingerbread houses, never ever. No special reason, just never had the chance. Sis bought a couple of kits but we never got round to making them over Christmas; doesn’t matter, we can still play with them in January.

Pretty fiddly actually, especially since the walls of my house were broken and had to be repaired with icing. The icing bag also broke so instead of piping, I was using a knife to spread it on — not as delicate and my fingers were soon covered with icing. I picked quite small sprinkles also, and arranged some all around the seams, the windows, the roof and scattered some marshmallows around the house for effect.

All in all, a lot of fun. Sis decorated hers with savoury snacks and mine (the last one on the right) was voted most colourful.

in how the day went |


We met up in the afternoon to go to an event called farmfest that touted itself as all organic farming and fishing. There were some organic vegetable stalls and an exhibit of how mushrooms are grown, but all in all it’s more a miscellaneous food expo rather than anything healthy or organic. One side was taken up by stalls selling dried seafood — fish, squid, shrimp, scallops, oysters were all presented as wind-dried ready to be put in soups or stews. The middle was the organic vegetable farms and the other side sold biscuits, pots, pans and other non-organic farm related things. The event was free to enter, so it was a nice way to spend an afternoon.

in 101.1001 , challenges , random words |


Task #12 of 101 in 1001 challenge is one carried over from the previous round.

I got up to Order of the Phoenix when it came out. It wasn’t my favourite, it felt like it was the Empire Strikes Back of the Potter series with endless exposition of Grimmauld Place, stupid Dolores Umbridge, grumpy Sirius and teenage angst with all the hookups and jealousy. The Dumbledore’s Army arc was great, so that was a silver lining.

I dutifully bought books 6 and 7 when they came out, but then sort of lost interest so they’ve been sitting on my bookshelf following me around the world for years. I saw all the films of course, so I knew what was going on.

It was time to finally finish reading the series. It seems like some sort of cultural heresy that I hadn’t. So I started with Philosopher’s Stone, and the magic came back. Yay! Hard to pick a favourite, I’m going say Deathly Hallows and Goblet of Fire. Despite all the despair and trudging around the country searching for horcruxes, DH was extremely well written. Plus, Neville! Easily my favourite character outside the three. Goblet of Fire I loved the whole idea of the Triwizard tournament, and it was IMO when Harry started growing up. Shame about Cedric, I hadn’t expected it when I first read it, was still sad upon re-read. A strange tidbit is that Mum’s copy of Goblet of Fire is an American version (all mine and all her others are UK) so it was odd to read about people running toward something and all the other American spelling. Didn’t really fit with such a British book and set of characters.

The great thing about reading the books now is that I don’t have to rush to find out what happens at the end. And hats off to the filmmakers, the casting was so spot on that I can picture very clearly all the characters and scenes while I’m reading. Made it very, very enjoyable. In fact, I might re-read the whole series again in a while.

in 101.1001 , challenges , going places |

Task #35 of 101 tasks in 1001 days challenge: make a list of World Heritage sites visited. This is as of January 2014. 45/981, by country:

  1. australia: blue mountains — first visit was 1999
  2. australia: sydney opera house — same visit in 1999, then many many subsequent visits

  3. wh003schonbrunn wh004vienna
    schönbrunn | vienna

  4. austria: palace and gardens of schönbrunn outside vienna — visited twice, once when I was very small on a tour with parents, then in 2001 with mm, but I never wrote up that trip
  5. austria: historic centre of vienna — same as schönbrunn visits, such a beautiful, walkable city
  6. belgium: la grand place brussels — twice in 2012, once during chip and choc walk and then with mum
  7. chile: historic quarter of valparaiso — part of my big trip in 2007 to visit my friend K
  8. china: imperial palaces beijing — beijing tour, sometime when I was still at school
  9. china: summer palace bejiing — same tour
  10. china: temple of heaven beijing — tour again, this was actually quite nice
  11. china: great wall — all I remember was how crowded and unruly the people there were, a tourist trap
  12. czech republic: historic centre of prague — first visit was in 2000 when the eastern european bloc were just opening up subsequently visited in 2011 and 2012
  13. france: palace & park of versailles: with parents on that european tour
  14. france: banks of river seine at paris: not going to count how many times, most recently in 2012
  15. france: historic centre of avignon — avignon was our de facto base of operations during our provence trip, beautiful historic town
  16. hungary: banks of river danube at budapest: same trip as vienna in 2001 that I never wrote up
  17. italy: historic centre of florence — been there several times, first with parents then the fortnight with mm in 1997
  18. italy: piazza del duomo at pisa — parents tour trip, pisa was a bit of a tourist trap

  19. wh018venice wh020verona
    venice | verona

  20. italy: venice and its lagoons — long weekend from zurich 2001 with my friend tan
  21. italy: historic centre of rome — so many places to visit, colosseum, spanish steps, wedding cake, trivoli fountain, something to see everywhere; multiple visits, most recently during mediterranean cruise in 2013
  22. italy: city of verona: long weekend from zurich 2001, really a city of romance
  23. japan: historic monuments of ancient kyoto — there are so many historical sites, temples and palaces it will take several visits to cover them all, we did a few on our first trip 2013
  24. korea: changeokgung palace complex at seoul — on our birthday trip 2006
  25. macau: historic centre of macau — usually don’t associate macau with world heritage sites, but it is worth visiting and there are more to see than casinos and furniture shops
  26. new zealand — te wahipounamu south-west new zealand including mount cook national park and fjordland national park visited during the two week driving trip 2005

  27. berg109harbour wh030lauterbrunnen
    bergen | lauterbrunnen valley

  28. norway: bryggen — the old wharf at bergen was part of the cruise trip 2013 with parents
  29. norway: west norwegian fjords — also on the same 2013 cruise trip we sailed around the fjords with geirangerfjord being one of the highlights
  30. switzerland: st gallen abbey — easy train ride to st gallen from zurich 2000, we went there to visit the olma, an agricultural fair
  31. switzerland: old city of bern — the swiss capital was kinda boring, but worth a visit
  32. switzerland: 3 castles, wall and ramparts of bellinzona, switzerland — the italian part of switzerland was a bit further to drive but so beautiful, went there a few times either to lugano or on the way to italy
  33. switzerland: swiss alps jungfrau-aletsch — took the train up the jungfrau during christmas 2000 and then with mum
  34. tunisia: medina of tunis — what we visited was a world heritage site? perfume shop, carpet shop, tourist traps
  35. uk: city of bath — to think that I almost did my first degree there — bath accepted me for chemistry before king’s came through the last minute
  36. uk: blenheim palace — back when we felt like we were tourists we did blenheim and oxford in a day

  37. wh034canterbury wh042stonehenge
    canterbury | stonehenge

  38. uk: canterbury cathedral — my college friend came from there and she invited me to stay, and then of course mm went to school nearby
  39. uk: cornwall and devon mining landscape — what a beautiful part of the country, last visited cornwall
  40. uk: devon and east devon coast: pretty sure we’ve stopped off there
  41. uk: old and new town of edinburgh — first visited when young, then with mm and a bunch of friends, then with RM and mum 2012
  42. uk: maritime greenwich — lots of changes there, much more to see now
  43. uk: royal botanical gardens at kew — in my mind kew = M4 roundabout, but there is the renowned Kew Gardens there
  44. uk: heart of neolithic orkney — even though the purpose of going to orkney was to visit the highland park distillery, the standing circles at stenness were very impressive when we visited 2012
  45. uk: stonehenge, avebury and associated sites — went to stonehenge when we first came to london, in those days it wasn’t roped off and we could walk inside the stone circles
  46. uk: tower of london — visited when we first came to london, then never again
  47. uk: palace of westminster and abbey — seen it, ran past it, drove past it
  48. usa: statue of liberty — visited when young, when we could climb all the way up to the crown
  49. vatican: vatican city — every catholic should go at least once

in eating and drinking |


It’s getting near CNY, so foodstuff that are traditionally around at this time of year and are supposed to bring good luck are beginning to show up. Fruits like mandarins, pomelo melons and these kumquats. The “kum” part sounds like gold and “quat” sounds like luck, so no wonder people are all over them.

I’ve had dried kumquats from dried fruit and health food stores and even though they are supposed to be good for dry throats, I didn’t like the aftertaste so I tend to get other dried fruits instead. Thought I’d try the fresh ones. They are eaten whole whole, including the skin although there may be small pips inside. The skin was nice, citrusy without being too bitter; the flesh inside was a mixture of sweet and tart and quite pleasant. It’s the aftertaste again that I didn’t like. Don’t think I’ll try more. My parents like them, I’ll stick to the apples and strawberries that are also in the fridge.

in in the news |


Chicago is frozen and much of the UK is flooded. Here it’s been cold enough for 2 duvets and a fan heater. Today it’s almost t-shirt weather but I would still much rather be anywhere but here. I haven’t been outside since Friday, and I’m perfectly happy to stay indoors for days. I guess I don’t suffer from cabin fever a lot.

in techtalk |


The iphone battery has been acting up lately. Either it doesn’t charge or it never reaches 100%. I don’t know if it’s the age of the iphone (3 years), the charger, the usb wire, the power strip, the socket, the electrical circuit, or some other reason. I bought an external power supply for travel, but what has actually worked is this power pack that slips over the iphone just like a regular case. Charge up the pack, put the iphone inside and I’m good to go for the whole day. Probably a little thick to slip into my jeans pocket but better than the external power pack. And best of all, it came free when mm bought a couple of bulk packs of batteries.

in easily amused |

Spent a chunk of the weekend playing geoguessr, which I’ve bookmarked since it came out wanting to try it. Basically it drops you at a random google street view location, you can move around, make your guess on the map at the side and the game awards points based on how close your guess is. Sometimes it’s easier, with street signs, buildings even buses as clues, sometimes it’s just a dirt path with vegetation all around it. It’s an honours game, and you’re not supposed to google but, well. So here’s a typical game, you get 5 locations.

in 101.1001 , challenges , easily amused |


Task #93 of 101.1001 is to make a font from my handwriting.

It’s one of the simplest and most fun things to do on the list. I used a free site called paintfont: downloaded a template, filled it in with a black sharpie, scanned the 3 pages and within a minute or so the font was ready for download. Had to go back and fix some dots in photoshop to eliminate extra white space but still easy.

Not exactly how I’d write a sentence, because handwriting tends to join up the letters, but if I had to write something in print, this is close to how it would turn out. The 7 things card was written in my font.

in 101.1001 , challenges |


I don’t normally set new year’s resolutions, they seem kinda generic. For quantifiable tasks and goals I do the odd monthly TDP challenges, scheduled challenges like nano, or photo challenges that crop up here and there. I just started the 101 in 1001 challenge, which will give me structure for the next 2.5 years.

Anyway, the people who brought us 101 in 1001 have come up with an alternative to boring new year’s resolutions with seven prompts to get people thinking about what they want to achieve in 2014, like learn how a new skill, start a new habit or try a new thing.

It’s still kinda generic, but I thought I’d give them a go. I incorporated them into 101.1001, because I was thinking about it in December. I’ll come back at the end of 2014 to evaluate these 7 tasks.

in challenges |


I’m 30 days into the 101 tasks in 1001 days challenge, so this is a good opportunity to see how I can incorporate some of those tasks into a monthly challenge.


  • run / walk / bike 55 miles (88km) — task #40 is walk 1,779 miles from hobbiton to mordor, which averages over 1001 days to 53.3 miles per 30 days
  • weights or callistentics x8
  • squat 50 reps in 1 set — the end goal is #44, 101 in one set
  • check out June/July Chicago races — #99


  • non alcohol days x20
  • vegetables x24
  • fruit or juice x24
  • new recipe x1 — #51


  • visit parents x20
  • family activity x2
  • bbmm activity x2


  • 5 completed 101.1001 tasks
  • finish reading Harry Potter books — #12
  • 3 LL chapters — #16
  • first draft of awards presentation template

in how the day went |

I was watching Ramsay when I heard plop-plop sounds outside. I can hear fireworks in my apartment, although all I can see is the sky turning bright and some smoke. Switched over to the tv channel and caught a bit of the new year’s fireworks. Video on vine under the cut, so annoyed that it doesn’t stop playing.


This page is an archive of entries from January 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2013 is the previous archive.

February 2014 is the next archive.

Return main index or look in the archives.