March 2014 Archives

in 101.1001 , challenges , techtalk |


Task #2 in 101 in 1001 is to get a new idevice. Originally I thought it’d be an iphone 6 or later, seeing that my iphone is 3 years old. Then my kindle stopped charging. Nothing wrong with the battery, I just wasn’t able to get the pin to connect to the jack, something inside seems to have shifted and no amount of wriggling or even turning the device upside down could get the parts to click together. It seems to be a common problem with many complaints and a repair that involves taking it apart and soldering the jack to the motherboard.

I could claim that the kindle problem is an excuse, but it isn’t really. I was always going to get an ipad mini, it was just a matter of time and which generation. I was gonna get it at Christmas but never got round to it. Now this is supposed to be an early birthday present from parents and sis. I paid for it myself, I’m sure they will reimburse me.

First order of business, make sure I have epub versions of my ebooks. I usually buy in epub format, even when I only had the kindle — I would just convert to azw in calibre. But it wasn’t as easy as just uploading the epubs into ibooks. I have to complain to publishers one of these days, there are 2 things I really hate that they do: a) what possess them to add tags to their books? If I want tags, I’ll add them myself. Plus having tags for “science fiction,” “sci-fi,” “sci fi,” “science fiction fantasy” and all the different permutations by different publishers is NOT helpful; and b) do they think I am stupid when they automatically give their books 5 stars?

The least said about the DRM on kindle books, the better. Hate. That’s why unfortunately I don’t have books by authors who are primarily only available at amazon.

The most time consuming part of setting up is to get the apps in. To stay consistent, the ipad has the same apps and the same layout as the iphone. There are a couple of apps that are iphone only, and of course there is no phone on the ipad. If there is an ipad version, I went through the trouble of downloading it.

So far, works like a dream. Reading is just as good, and it’s a lighter and thinner device so a plus. I have to start games from the beginning, which is a good thing, I like going back to level 1 on angry birds and making my way through the series.

in in the news |

festivalwalkblackrain01 festivalwalkblackrain02

So I’m at parents’ and just getting settled for the night after an early dinner. All of a sudden, it started pelting down with rain. We couldn’t get our windows closed quickly enough. Rain was quickly followed by thunder and what sounded like hail. It was completely dark outside with the rain like a ominous curtain. The thunderstorm and rain warning went from amber to red to black in just one hour.

So glad we were all indoors, mm pinged me that she was safely home, having gone gravesweeping with her family. She also told me about how the rooftop windows of a shopping centre nearby (my nearest apple store) got hit by either a column of rain or hail and there was water everywhere. Thanks to the power of social media, pictures are already all over twitter, instagram and facebook. Wow it looks like an indoor waterfall. When it rains here, it’s serious about rain. Welcome to the start of spring, finally!

in |

I didn’t grow up listening to country & western music, I’m simply not knowledgeable nor had sufficient exposure to appreciate it fully. It’s not the first genre I’d pick (not second, or third either, and I don’t apologise for it) but when I do hear a c&w song, I may stop and listen to it, and I may even like it.

That said, here via slate is a short film of three different musicians / groups covering Johnny Cash’s album out among the stars. This album was recorded in the 1980s, but for whatever reason it was never released. His son discovered it in the archives after his death and it has just been released posthumously to great reviews all around.

Okay, I confess, it wasn’t Johnny Cash that caught my eye, but the mention of Brandon Flowers in the headline. The Killers, well, they will be near #1 on my list of music to listen to, and I won’t apologise for this either. I can listen to him all day, and his rendition of “I Came to Believe” was interesting — not a Killers sound, but even to my uneducated ear, quite Johnny Cash-like. I also really enjoyed the other artists on the film, Father John Misty and Local Natives, even though I’d never heard of them before. The video is 16mins long, it’s a good way to spend 16mins.

in techtalk |


Terrible news. televisionwithoutpity is closing. No more recaps, forums will close on 31 May. And, something fishy is going on, because the entire site will be going offline. It’s not enough that there won’t be any new recaps, we can’t even go back to read old ones. There’s closing, and then there’s completely closing. It’s very distressing.

Many TWOPers have been there since MightyBigTV days, I joined a little later but when it was still an independent site. Like many, it was Buffy recaps and forums, which had one of the most active participation. Buffy ended with the explosive growth of reality tv, and those provided even more snark opportunity. Every week after an episode of TAR or Survivor (when I was able to get Survivor), I’d read the recap and go to the forum to see what everybody thought of the ep. I just spent one evening last week going through all the posts for Gold Rush.

I guess it’s a stretch to ask a big corporation like NBC to get TWOP. It has been a surprise that it’s lasted this long. People don’t watch tv like they used to, in the days of instant gratification, on-demand and social media, reading a long recap about an episode on tv seems almost quaint.

Thankfully, God got out of the bathtub this time. Sars, Wing Chun and Glark are now at, together with a slew of TWOP writers and hopefully they will ensure the spirit of MBTV and TWOP continues.

in eating and drinking |


Had a few errands to run in the afternoon, was done by around 5pm. All walking today (okay a fair bit on the escalator). Went to a British pub and had a couple of their house draft seafarers ale. Scotch eggs for dinner, I’m on the fence about whether these were made by the kitchen, they look a bit too amateurish to be shop bought. Besides, not easy to find stuff like scotch eggs at the supermarkets. Stayed for a while, reading, while more people came in and the volume increased.

in eating and drinking , going places |

hok041melon hok007sappshop

Only ten days till our trip to Hokkaido. Yay! This time we are not being overly ambitious and just staying in and around the Sapporo area. Every time we go to Hokkaido, we land at Sapporo then travel immediately to elsewhere on the island and miss that area completely. We’ll still have our onsen experience, with 2 nights at Jozankei, which is 75mins away by bus; and Otaru / Nikka whisky distillery, only 30mins by train.

The biggest draw for going to Japan is the food. Not just the fresh seafood — king crabs, snow crabs, scallops, sashimi — but also the fruits. Sweet melons are a speciality of Hokkaido, and the beautiful displays at the shops!

I’ve been reading a lot at medium recently, and was interested to see this post about why japanese food is better. Sound arguments:

  • there is no need for special “organic” labels because most food is organic, seasonal and often sourced locally
  • simplicity — most dishes are cooked and presented simply and separately, no overcrowding a plate with 20 ingredients; there may be many, many small dishes, but they are intended to be enjoyed on their own
  • presentation is everything — each dish is treated as an artform, down to the pattern on the bowl to the placement of garnishes
  • and most of all, they respect food and treat food as part of life

Yep, agree with all these points. Japanese food is fresh, tastes clean and looks enticing. Definitely prepared with respect and pride. Yes, it’s still regarded with suspicion by some (“raw fish, ewwww!”) but as more people try it, I challenge anyone NOT to fall in love with it. There’s more than raw fish, sushi can be prepared with cooked ingredients, and what about yakitori, tempura, teppanyaki, ramen and don’t forget the yummy sesame dressing they use in salads. Plus, I’m trying to introduce US friends to delicious tasting, oddly named Japanese chocolates and sweets.

in money business , my inner science geek |


I was googling for images of the 2-line stock market ticker for LL cover when I came across this, a periodic table of the stock market. I get excited when I come across displaying information or ideas as a periodic table (or as tetris). In this one, the atomic symbol corresponds to the ticker symbol of the stock. Based on the NYSE and Nasdaq. So the top of group 6 is occupied by C for Citigroup. There are quite a number of blanks, but it’s pretty great anyway.

in techtalk |

Prompted by a picture of an old AOL free trial disk, gizmodo asked, how were you using the internet in 1999. Their comments are filled with tech types who were already coding or building websites or chatting in chatrooms but mostly playing games.

In 1999 I had dial-up at home and a performa 6200 which stumped the techs at the ISP because they had zero experience in dealing with macs. All they knew was how to rebuild the desktop, hahaha. Actually even now, some techs are still stumped by macs, but they have been rendered irrelevant since we can google most problems.

How was I using the internet in 1999? Definitely not spending a lot of time online. Browsing experience was frustrating because almost all the population used PCs, Windows and IE. Optimising for Netscape (no firefox yet then) wasn’t something webmasters did then. I wasn’t, and am still not, a gamer. I played a few simple games, that was it. Other than that, I was on ICQ. Yeah, ICQ. Mainly just with mm, although we spent most of our chats arguing, we weren’t in a very good space then.


I moved in New York in the summer. Didn’t take the performa with me, bought the then spanking new iMac SE as soon as I got settled into my apartment. This is the iMac that people use as fish bowls nowadays. I had a one bedroom apartment with an enormous open living room that could be divided up and one corner became the study.

I did pick up one of those free trial disks to get online initially. AOL or Earthlink or Mindspring. I didn’t want to continue using them though, so I searched for other ISPs, trying to find a free one. I was still using yahoo search (google just starte), buried a few pages deep into the search was metconnect, who provided free ISP service for New York. All I had to do was sign up and dial a 212 number. Amazingly, they are still around.

in 101.1001 , challenges , money business |


Task #78 of 101 in 1001 is to have a money-free weekend.

Which is easy to achieve by simplly staying at home. There was enough food at parents’ place to last a while, and I made glazed chicken wings and ribs for dinner on saturday night. Instead of running outside I used the stationary bike. Most of Saturday was spent reading.

Sunday I did research for the April trip to Hokkaido with mm. Put all notes and links in an evernote notebook, including hotel details, maps, things to do, restaurants, bars and transportation. What I don’t like is you can’t print a whole notebook, you have to print individual notes separately. I printed them to pdf them combined them into a master pdf document. Our accommodation is finalised — start with 2 nights at a regular hotel in Sapporo, then 2 nights at 2 different onsens in Jozankei (5 mins’ walk from each other, so no problem with transferring), then back to Sapporo for 3 nights at an apartment I found on airbnb. It’s the first time I used airbnb, last time in Kyoto it was the more established homeaway/VBRO. Looking forward to the food there — king and snow crab, fresh sashimi, uni, salmon roe, even the famous sweet melons. And of course our visit to Yoichi distillery.

I guess not going out was a sort of cheat’s forced way of having a money-freen weekend. Then again I could have gone on an online shopping spree. And of course there’s the overhead spending — electricity, utilities, food already in the fridge. There are loads of other ideas, I like ideas such as having a cupboard potluck, organising one’s finances / house / junk, pottering around at home and generally doing stuff that is more relaxing and simple. We could all do with a simple weekend.

in photography is life |


This week’s photo friday challenge is flowering which I take to mean fresh spring blossoms. This is an old pic, taken at Changdeokgung Palace Seoul, of cherry blossoms in April.

in about me , evidence of my insanity |

It’s spring. Let’s do another look back in time post.

1 year ago
Video link post about pro scooter riders doing tricks on scooters just like they are skateboards. Awesome. Watch:

I would very much like to have been good at skateboarding, but alas no. I also missed out on the free running / parkour movement. Sigh.

3 years ago
A post about spring, plus the obligatory flower pic. Nice tulip.

5 years ago
Wow, has it already been 5 years? That was the first time I went to a reading. In Chicago. At Women and Children First. I met these awesome people for the first time:


I consider them friends now, some I’ve kept more in touch with than others. I’ve bought every single book this group has published since 2009, and some of the books I read and re-read time and time again. I’ll say it again, an awesome group.

10 years ago
No post on the 21st, but bookended by two strange posts. A random post on the 19th about hair, and I don’t even remember the people I was talking about; and then on the 23rd a depressing, incoherent post about the state of our relationship. Wow, nothing has changed in 10 years.

in 101.1001 , challenges |


Task #64-68 of 101 in 1001 : try 5 new whiskies. This is the second new one.

I finished the Ardbeg 10, which I exchanged for airmiles a few years ago, so I looked especially carefully at the Islay selection at Dubai when I was transiting there. May be Caol Ila, may be Lagavullin, may be stretch the category to island and get a Talisker. In the end, I couldn’t resist the temptation of Laphroaig PX Cask. I already have a bottle, so I bought one I won’t feel guilty at opening. Something like £60-70 I think.

First time I tasted PX was at Heathrow with RM when we were on our whisky binge that year. Heathrow didn’t have any in stock — it’d just been released and quickly snapped up — we eventually found them at Aberdeen airport.

This PX Cask has no age statement, but is distinguished by the type of wood casks it matured in, which seems to be a trend nowadays. It’s also duty free only, which seems also to be a trend. There are the regular single malts (10, 12, 18yrs) and then increasingly there are ones matured in various casks and carrying various special names. It’s hard to keep track. It follows the successful Quarter Cask and Triple Wood and sits on the duty free shelf together with the QA Cask.

I love Laphroaig. I love Islay whiskies anyway, and have very fond memories of the fantastic distillery tour. While the likes of Bowmore don’t even let you photograph inside the distillery, at Laphroaig we were encouraged to stick our fingers into the spirit safe to sample the freshly distilled spirit. What a difference. The tasting at Laphroaig was also memorable.

It’s no secret also that I prefer sweet, sherry-cask matured whiskies. This is a lovely combination of Laphroaig peat and top notch Pedro Ximenez (hence PX) sherry cask. 48%, which is what I like too. The smoke is heavier on the nose than the palate, which is smooth with vanilla and not too strong caramel.

Mixed online reviews. Some feel it’s too young and not peaty enough. Some like the sherry taste. No different from many whiskies, there will be people who like it, and people who don’t. I don’t have the most recent book by Mr Murray, so I don’t know if he has a view on it.

in eating and drinking |


Very common in Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of SE Asia is food flavoured with pandan leaves. It imparts a bright green colour and a gentle coconuty fragrant. They use it mainly with desserts and curries.

You can get pandan cake even at Singapore airport. The shop is right next to the departure gate so you check your luggage, go get your cake and then go through immigration. Easy peasy.

Pandan cake is basically a chiffon cake flavoured with pandan. I spotted a packet of pandan sugar at an indonesian store the other day and thought i should give it a try. They have a recipe at the back, although not completely clear (they don’t tell people to whisk the egg white and no oven time or temperature specified).

5 eggs, separated
2 tbsp cooking oil — i used grapeseed
4 tbsp coconut milk
150g SR flour
120g pandan sugar

Mix egg yolks with half the sugar until thick. Normally the mixture turns pale but with the green sugar I had to use texture and experience—took about 10mins vigorous hand beating. Add ccoking oil, coconut milk and fold in flour.

Beat egg whites until soft peak stage, add rest of sugar and beat until stiff. Fold into egg yolk mixture.

Bake at 180°C for about 1hr until a skewer comes out clean.

Very light, fluffy and the pandan flavour was subtle. Some people may be put off by the strange green colour but it really was very good.

in 101.1001 , challenges , going places |

Task #29 in 101 in 1001 is to visit a new country. Israel makes it new country #2 of 3 for this challenge.

jer027oldcity jer102sepulchre

I never planned on visiting Israel. Never thought I’d have the chance. Yes, I know people who have gone on pilgrimages to the holyland, but those are not for me. I’m not Jewish, nor is Israel on a layover route.

I’m so glad I got the chance to visit. To me, Jerusalem is holy. To be immersed in so much spirituality and so many places that are mentioned in the Bible, it’s impossible not to be moved. The old city, the wailing wall, the church of the holy sepulchre, the different atmospheres in the different quarters. Probably too risky to visit on our own, but part of me wanted longer at the holy sites.


In contrast, Haifa was a pretty port with a world heritage hanging garden. Great to spend half a day because there wasn’t an excursion to the Dead Sea. Like the saying goes, Jerusalem prays, Tel Avia plays and Haifa works. It’s true.

in 101.1001 , challenges , going places |

Task #28 in 101.1001 is to visit a new country. As part of the cruise, I visited Greece for the first time.

There are a few places I’m surprised I hadn’t visited, or taken me so long. Spain, Portugal, Greece, the land of packaged holidays (may be that’s why). But Greece’s history and significance means it has to be visited, someday, somehow.

gre054olympia gre165shop

First stop was ancient Olympia. Coming 2 years after personally attending the Olympics, and in the middle of a WInter Games, it’s poignant. I was surprised at the sheer size of the site, imagine the thousands upon thousands of spectators cheering their champions. Sports has changed a lot since then of course, and Olympia will forever have its place in sports history.

Second stop, Heraklion in Crete. No time other than to go to the market and do shopping. The market was fascinating, a mix of tourist shops and local shops. We bought €1 coin holders at a local shop, went to a supermarket, then doubled back to a touristy shop to buy ouzo, spices and typical souvenirs. There are other sights on Crete, hopefully I get a second chance.

gre325parthenon gre358view

Third stop, Athens. And to stand in front of possibly the most important structure in the history of earth. The parthenon was obscured by a giant crane and it was an awful rainy windy day, but its grandeur was no less diminished.

I thought what I saw and experienced was only the tiniest tip of what Greece has to offer. There wasn’t even an opportunity to have a sit down meal, I consider it luck to have at least tried a few pastries and a souvlaki to take away. It’s not merely checking the country off on a list, I really hope I get another chance to visit and see the sights as they are meant to be seen.

use 1 mar as post date

in 101.1001 , challenges , going places |


Task #38 of 101 in 1001 is go on a cruise. This was carried forward from the 2007 challenge; in those days we hadn’t started our cruise career.

I finally finished uploading 860 pics and writing up the entire cruise. I have different feelings after this cruise than after the Norway cruise. I loved the Norway cruise, the fjords, the mountains, Bergen, Oslo — all places I wanted to go to and enjoyed going. I was oddly indifferent going into this cruise, even though the itinerary was stunning — Greek islands, Athens, Jerusalem, Rome — all the classics and so many important world heritage sites. I think I was just (correctly) dreading how frustrated I would be because of the lack of decisions and therefore the need for me to be free tour guide throughout.

Anyway, enough complaining. You get given such a chance to travel, make the best of it. And aside from family frustrations, the places we visited were definitely awe-inspiring. Highlights for me: running at the athletics stadium in ancient Olympia, touching the spot where Jesus was born in Bethlehem, everything in Jerusalem, stepping on the marbles at the Acropolis.

Posts for the trip:

flickr sets:
msc fantasia
greece: katakolon, heraklion, athens
holyland: jerusalem, bethlehem, haifa

in eating and drinking |

toastbox01 koreanoxtail01

We finalised and booked the main component to our trip to Hokkaido in April. It will be a trip full of hot springs and fresh seafood. It just happened that we ate our way around Asia today. We met for tea at a place that had singaporean toast, nasi lemak, curry and roti pratha. We had peanut butter thick toast and kaya toast with kopi and teh tarik. Definitely singaporean.

Dinner at our usual korean place. She had tofu soup and I had oxtail soup, all with banchan and rice. The tofu soup was spicy with seafood and the oxtail soup sweet and intense and milky. Now it’s just a 3-week wait for our holiday.

in eating and drinking |


Met mm for a quick happy hour at the robatayaki place near the office. Their happy hour (less than £6!) is one drink plus a choice of 4 skewers. I had sake and she had umeshu, then we had quite a feast of grilled skewers of chicken, pork neck, mushroom, bacon wrapped cherry tomato, quail egg and grilled rice balls. Also ordered thick cut ox tongue and eel on the side. Convenient place, good value.

in photography is life |

Lifehacker asked, what’s the best picture you have taken on your smartphone? Interesting. Mostly I use the iphone to instagram food pics so there are not that many that I would say come under the “best of” category.


One of the few unedited ones I have. Coast scenery whilst on a walk with mm. Nice colours and composition but, gasp, it’s vertical, ugh.

emptypianostage inst001kettle

Of the ones on instagram, the piano at concert has atmosphere and the kettle (instagram #1) has a still life quality to it.

in being healthy |


4.58km 34.53min 7.37min/km (12.15min/mi)

Dragged mum out to the small park so she could walk a bit while I ran for half an hour or so. Did mission 1.5 of zombies run, which gave me 4.58km. Oddly, nikeplus allege that I ran 0.35km in that time, which gave me a pace of astronomical slowness. I can crawl faster than 1hr 40min per km. Backwards. While blindfolded.


in 101.1001 , challenges |

Day 100 into 101 in 1001. According to the official list I have completed and written up 25 tasks, but because it’s so close to the end of the trip, there are a few I hadn’t written up yet so the unofficial count is 29.

    technology — need to get some of these done
  1. upgrade macOS at least once
  2. get a new idevice — the plan was to get an ipad mini at christmas but I’d been dragging my feet so I may wait for the next iteration
  3. become proficient at Evernote — what is proficiency? using it daily? if so, then this is completed
  4. complete an online course
  5. 1001 posts on website (start count=3,775) — 102 done so far

  6. arts, media, books
  7. visit an art exhibition / museum**
  8. new musical — wonder what’s showing in Chicago this summer?
  9. old musical
  10. use my library card** // done 12-feb-2014
  11. read 101 books — 32 read so far, so definitely on target
  12. finish a book in one day // done 20-jan-2014
  13. finish all the Harry Potter books** // done 10-jan-2014
  14. read Mythology for Dummies**

  15. writing
  16. nano 2014
  17. nano 2015
  18. finish Lamplight (seriously, get this done, no excuse) — technically it’s done, just need to edit it a bit
  19. outline book ideas — on track
  20. design a book cover — have idea, just need to execute which is easier said than done as I’m not good at art
  21. write a short story

  22. photography
  23. 1001 instagram/vine/snapchat total (start count: instagram 452+vine 1 = 453) — 102 done
  24. 20,001 flickr photos total (start count=18,555) — will get above 19,000 once trip pics are uploaded
  25. complete a photo challenge using a photo app (was lomo)** // done 12-dec-2013
  26. complete an alphabet photo series // done 12-dec-2013
  27. try one of the challenges on // done 18-feb-2014
  28. tues’ assignment: find colour in an unusual place**

  29. travel
  30. make a list of 101 landmarks and notable places visited // done 06-feb-2014
  31. make a list of 101 places to visit // done 07-feb-2014
  32. 3 new countries**: 1. should add greece
  33. 2: should add israel
  34. 3: not sure if I should add palestine, its status as a country is controversial
  35. 3 new US states**: 1.
  36. 2:
  37. 3:
  38. make a list of World Heritage sites visited // done 09-jan-2014
  39. 3 new World Heritage sites: 1. greece — archeological site of olympia (23-feb-2014) and acropolis athens (01-mar-2014) // done
  40. 2: israel — old city of jerusalem and its walls (26-feb-2014) and baha’i holy places in haifa and western galilee (27-feb-2014) // done
  41. 3: palestine — birthplace of Jesus church of the nativity and the pilgrimage route bethlehem (26-feb-2014) // done
  42. go on a cruise** — definitely done this, need to write it up

  43. health/sports
  44. run/walk/bike 1001 miles — 177 miles done
  45. complete the walk to mordor challenge — 1779 miles from Hobbiton to Mt Doom (bonus return trip 1625 miles from Minas Tirith to Bags End) — 177 done, long way to go!
  46. break a running PR
  47. db bench PR
  48. 101 crunches — up to 50
  49. 101 squats — up to 50
  50. take a tai chi, yoga or martial arts class**
  51. go rock-climbing (real or wall)**

  52. food & drink
  53. make a list and photoset of 101 bucket list foods already tried — list is done, need to get pics
  54. eat an insect
  55. 10 new recipes: 1. lebkuchen // done 16-dec-2013
  56. 2: chocolate log // done 24-dec-2013
  57. 3: baked cheesecake // done 23-jan-2014
  58. 4: roast belly pork // done 04-feb-2014
  59. 5: roasted cabbage // done 09-feb-2014
  60. 6:
  61. 7:
  62. 8:
  63. 9:
  64. 10:
  65. make vanila extract — just need to gather ingredients
  66. open a cookbook to a random page and make whatever comes up — have an idea
  67. plan, make and serve a three-course meal, with wine** — in planning stage
  68. make a cocktail // done 31-dec-2013
  69. go to a wine/beer/whisky tasting**
  70. 5 new whiskies (bonus if they are in 101 whiskies book): 1. auchentoshan three wood // done 22-dec-2013
  71. 2:
  72. 3:
  73. 4:
  74. 5:
  75. 5 new restaurants in 5 cities**: 1.
  76. 2:
  77. 3:
  78. 4:
  79. 5:

  80. home & finance
  81. put away $10 (or equivalent) for each goal achieved — $250, pretty good
  82. set aside $1 for each goal achieved and donate to charity - $25, I wonder if I can get people to match
  83. make a will**
  84. build net worth calculator // done 21-dec-2013
  85. money-free weekend
  86. invest in a kickstarter-type project — invested, waiting for product to be made and shipped

  87. family
  88. scan 101 family pictures
  89. 3 new places/activities with family: 1. gingerbread house // done 12-jan-2014
  90. 2:
  91. 3:
  92. 3 new places/activities with mm: 1.
  93. 2:
  94. 3:

  95. personal
  96. make a list of 101 things already achieved — sort of done
  97. make a list and photoset of 101 favourite things — this is proving to be more difficult
  98. make a 101 someday list // done 06-dec-2013
  99. leave an inspirational note inside a book for someone to find
  100. take pictures of all my hard rock café polo shirts** // done 13-dec-2013
  101. count how many swatches I have** // done 14-dec-2013
  102. make a font from my handwriting // done 04-jan-2014
  103. pack a go bag — in planning stage

  104. 7 things: this is another dayzero project — an alternative to boring new years’ resolutions
  105. learn how to…rocher (single spoon quenelle)
  106. start…drinking more water
  107. stop…using as much salt and substitute with herbs & spices
  108. take a vacation to…one of the 101 travel wishlist places (see #27) — done, need to write it up
  109. find…a race and train for it — found the race, need to train
  110. try…meditation
  111. be more…grateful and patient with family

in going places |


A lot of time after each holiday is spent on sorting pictures. I had 1,400 total for the trip, and around 860 are keepers. They sort nicely into 4 sets: ship, greece, holyland, italy. Now the monumental time suck to upload them. So far mainly snaps, not many outstanding favourites. These islands were on the other side of the ship when we sailed past Stromboli, which google maps tells me are possibly Santa Maria Salina and Lipari.

in 101.1001 , challenges , going places |

Tasks #35, 36, 37 in 101 in 1001 are to visit 3 new world heritage sites.

The cruise actually took me to 5 (new ones, vatican and rome have already been checked off the list), so I’ll group by country. More detailed description in daily cruise trip reports.

cruise001olympia cruise002parthenon

#35 greece: a) archeological site of olympia, visited 23-feb-2014. This was where the ancient olympic games were held and some of the temples as well as the stadium ruins remain; b) acropolis athens, visited 01-mar-2014. One of the most important historical sites in world history, with the parthenon and the erechtheion both still standing

cruise003westwall cruise004crucifix

#35 israel: a) old city of jerusalem and its walls, visited 26-feb-2014. The prayers at the wailing wall, the ancient via dolorosa (road of sorrows) that traced Jesus’ path up to his crucifixion, the church of the holy sepulchre which marked the crucifix and tomb. Very crowded, but still very significant and powerful;


b) baha’i holy places in haifa and western galilee, the baha’i hanging gardens at haifa visited 27-feb-2014, although only from the outside as we didn’t go inside to the shrines


#37 palestine: birthplace of Jesus church of the nativity and the pilgrimage route bethlehem, visited 26-feb-2014. Going into bethlehem involved crossing the border into palestine-held west bank. We were able to squeeze into the church before it closed for service and there was a scrum down to the grotto. It did not take away the emotions that came with touching the spot where Jesus was born.

in going places , on the relationship front |


I just got back from the cruise, the pics still need to be sorted and the trip written up. Already planning the next trip. Met with mm for korean lunch, then to travel agent to get information. Retreated to happy hour place to work out what we wanted. Too much information! Too many choices! We’ve narrowed it down to either Tokyo and surrounding or Hokkaido. Both we hadn’t visited for a long time. In any event we will end up in the land of fresh seafood, beautiful scenery and relaxing hot springs.

in being healthy |

5.12km 39.05min 7.33min/km (12.15min/mi

I downloaded the run, zombies app because I hadn’t been running and needed some serious motivation. The idea of the app is to run through missions (30 or 60mins) that roughly follow a post-apocalyptic story — run to pick up items, escape zombies and help a survival township. It tracks progress via GPS, there’s a radio operator to guide the runner and it plays music in between tasks from a specified playlist.

I tried it on the cruise, and it was really great. The 30mins went by extremely quickly, both when I ran on deck and at the treadmill. I had to manually enter the distance of course. The run today (mission 1.4) was the first with GPS, and I had to escape zombies by increasing my speed. The first couple of times I didn’t realise I had to run faster, but I got it when they came after me the third time. Overall speed of 7.33 is still a minute from the 6.30-6.40 baseline I’m used to when I’m marathon training but a lot better than the 8.00 I’ve been clocking (hence the demotivation).

I spent most of the flights in and out to the cruise watching the entire season 3 of the Walking Dead, and it’s telling how the app is so similar to the walking dead storyline. Gives the story even more of a context and now I can’t wait for the next run/mission. The app is also integrated with the web which gives a nice breakdown of the whole run. Lots of stats and pretty charts. I was also able to run nikeplus in the background so it’s tracked in both places.

in eating and drinking , family first |

ludwig01schnitzel ludwig03cheesecake

Hung out with sis and niece in the afternoon while little one had her drum lesson. Had dinner at this place called king ludwig restaurant that serves, surprise surprise, german food. More people and better quality food than we expected. Shared a ginormous wiener schnitzel and cheesy spaetzle, followed by baked cheesecake. I didn’t have much of an appetite after all the food on the cruise, and I’m jetlagged. Still cold enough for mulled wine, which was what we had with our meal. Good to be back with family and a place we’d go back especially since it’s within walking distance from sis’ place.

in going places |

I have no idea what timezone I’m in. There was about 5-6hrs from milan to dubai, more sitting around then 7-8hrs from dubai. Bought laphroaig at dubai airport. The leg from dubai was on an A380 so I’m glad parents have the opportunity to fly in one. We were in the front of the plane, it was roomier and taller. I finished watching the walking dead season, saw frozen and some other tv programs.

Home at around 11pm. Shower. Bed.

in going places |

This is without doubt one of the most stupid and waste of time day in my life. We were on one of the earliest groups to get off the ship, so we sat at the lounge waiting for our 8.25am group call. The bus to milan airport left at 9am and we were at the airport around 11-11.30am. Couldn’t do early check-in because they didn’t have early check-in at milan airport. Stupid. The counter would open at 6.10pm for our 9.10pm flight.

So yes, the entire day was spent sitting around at the airport. Stupid. At least there was free wifi and wall sockets. So many idiots travelling on the same flight as us, I do not ever want to see or hear any of their face or voice again. Disgusting people.

in going places |

Civitavecchia for Rome 9am - 7pm


Quick exit at 9am, no delay today. A free port authority bus took us to the entrance of the port and we got a day pass for €13. 10min walk along the pretty promenade to the train station and we were on the 9.43am train to rome in no time.

rome032vatican rome040vatican

The guidebooks told us to get off as rome ostiense station then change to the metro to the colosseum. We realised we didn’t want to go to the colosseum, so we got off at san pietro station, which i figured out was st peter’s, ie the vatican. Couldn’t resist taking pictures again. Tried to find a map but the tourist information kiosk had run out, so i was quite bummed. We did manage to find the market we had lunch at last year, but no reaction from anyone so we were stood there like idiots with no directions. So frustrating.

Walked along the street and eventually bought a map from a roadside newsagent. We were near the palace of justice. Visited a spar supermarket and bought biscuits and more balsamic.

rome071pizza rome066lasagna

Lunch at a snack bar: potato pizza, lasagna and an artichoke. Came to €17 without drinks. The pizza was really really delicious. Simple thin crust with potatoes — crispy, nicely seasoned.

rome092river rome099church

Walked to the river, it was I think my first time seeing the river tiber. The thing about rome, you walk along a street and all of a sudden there’d be some ruins or a church or a nice square. I wish I could enjoy it more and not constantly be pissed off.

rome114trevi rome136spanish

There was time, so we walked to the trevi fountain and then to the spanish steps. Very crowded and dangerous metro, first to the hard rock café to find a shirt (duplicate of stockholm, didn’t buy) then to termini train station. Long trek to the platform to find the right train back to civitavecchia, everyone was relieved when the train finally got going and we returned to the port.

fan338falsomagro fan339cannoli

Dinner at restaurant: aracini, salad, falsomagro (beef meatloaf), cannoli, bread pudding. Our last night on the cruise, luggage had to be outside by 1am and everything packed and ready to go.

in going places |

My newest breakfast concoction, bacon and egg waffle sandwich, with waffles as bread. Baked apple and semolina again. More walking on deck, it was quite cold and windy so not as many people outside. The disembarkation briefing was mid-morning but nothing interesting about it.

fan321pasta fan322beef

Lunch at restaurant: potato mozzarella croquette, salad, penne, beef pizzaiola (beef in pizza style, very dry), melon tart, ice cream. A little sick of all the food now, but still couldn’t resist ordering big when presented with the menu.

Started to come back nearer shore, in the afternoon we were sailing along the calabria coast then past sicily. Kept to my cabin most of the time.

fan326stuffedolive fan331appletart

Dinner at restaurant: stuffed fried olives (interesting idea), salad, cannelloni stuffed with swiss chard & ricotta, chicken cacciatore, apple tart, mascarpone cream. Running treadmill again. Ran out of zombies run episodes, couldn’t download new one until i have wifi.

in going places |

Piraeus for Athens 8am - 4pm

Very skillful parking by the pilot into a narrow berth at Piraeus, Athens’ port. Arrival was 8am and we were already lined up ready to disembark by 7.45pm, wanting to avoid the excursion scrum. Unfortunately there was a delay of almost 1hr in disembarkation. The official reason was they had to wait for permission from the land authorities, but we saw someone being stretchered off from the medical centre so may be that had something to do with the delay.

We walked to the entrance of the cruise terminal and got a day pass for €4. The #843 bus took us to the metro station and from there we took the train to Acropoli station. Quite straightforward once we got the hang of it, and managed to avoid the idiots from the ship. Acropoli station was, no surprise, next to the Acropolis. Entrance was €12, and parents got in half price. Idiots following us tried the same trick but they didn’t have EU passports, stupid people.

gre306parthenon gre325parthenon
gre337erechtheum gre293theatre

It had been raining all morning and would continue to rain all day, so not ideal to visit an outdoor site with slippery marble paths like the acropolis. But we perservered. There was a giant crane at one side of the parthenon, part of the restoration project, but the other side was clear. Also noteworthy and still in good shape were the erechtheum, the temple of athena nike and the theatre of dionysus. If the weather was nicer, I would have enjoyed staying longer to appreciate the ruins even more.

gre380shop gre421street

Came out on the other side of the site and walked around some of the streets. Made our way to the planka district which was behind the acropolis and made up of pedestrianised streets lined with shops and restaurants. Not a terribly great experience, with one parent utterly bored and giving no opinion or contribution; and the other parent not knowing when to stop shopping and just generally being inconsiderate. I was able to hurriedly buy some balsamic vinegar and some baklava in between trying to navigate and not lose my temper.

gre483cheesepie gre485sweetpie

Bought some strawberries and a greek pretzel for snack. Metro back to Piraeus, and we decided to look for kebab. Instead, we came across a bakery where we bought a cheese pie and a custard pie smothered with chocolate sauce. Flaky pastry and absolutely delicious. A helpful customer (she was the one who recommended the custard pie with chocolate sauce) also got us directions to a nearby kebab place. Or they call it souvlaki in greece. Bought pork doner and skewers. Got the bus back to the ship and had the souvlaki with cafeteria salad for late lunch. The strawberries were sweet and juicy too.

fan308medprawn fan316alaska

Rested in my cabin, did a few bw exercises. Dinner at restaurant: smoked marlin, gorgonzola mousse, pasta with veal, mediterranean grilled prawn, baked alaska (with waiter parade), tasteless jelly. Ran a bit on treadmill, there were very few people at this time of day, so I might have hit upon the optimum time.


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