October 2015 Archives

in eating and drinking |

cornishgamehen2015

I’m home alone in Chicago, which is okay. Read a bit, watched tv. Walked out to the nearest supermarket, an Aldi’s, to get food. Everything is in such large portions, chicken drumsticks come in a pack of 8 and fish (frozen) in a big family pack. Saw individual cornish game hens in the freezer section, so that was what I got for dinner. 180ºC for about 45mins.

spagsquashkale2015

As it was an Aldi’s, there was a limited choice for veg. Still better than at home. I bought a huge bag of kale for $1.99, then saw spaghetti squash, wow haven’t had that since…I was living in the US. Cut the squash in half and roasted with the hen. Used a fork to remove the strands and cooked with the kale. Added some goat’s cheese, because I had it. Enough veg for 3-4 meals. Overall an extremely nice homemade meal.

honeycrispapple2015

Something else I missed, honeycrisp apples. All we get are red delicious and fuji apples. I can’t stand red delicious anymore and fuji are boring. I wish we can have imported honeycrisp.


in random words |

nanosquare

It’s almost nano time again. Year 11. I see many more people signing up, because nano has gone mainstream. I also see many people saying this is the month they will add 50k words to their 30k manuscript. Sigh. Another problem with going maintream. Traditionally, and for purists like me, nano means starting a novel from scratch and getting to 50k words. But no, the faq has been changed:

Traditionally, NaNoWriMo works best when you start a brand-new project. It may be an arbitrary distinction, but we’ve seen that novelists do better (and have more fun) when they’re free from the constraints of existing manuscripts. Give yourself the gift of a clean slate!

That said, we welcome all writers at any stage. Outlines, character sketches, and other planning steps are encouraged. Just be sure to only count words written during the month.

nano2015plan

Anyway, I’ll continue to do it the traditional way. This year, I struggled to come up with a theme. And took a long time before I was able to come up with some semblance of a plot. But I finally was able to scribble a pageful of stuff. I may have to resort to more dares than usual.

The setting is based on a review I read on workaway, a sort of airbnb for working holidays. The website matches hosts who need help, for instance at a farm, with volunteers who offer around 5hrs of work a day in exchange for room and board. The comments on the review was that the location was great but the host was disorganised and volunteers were not treated with respect. Got me thinking along the lines of undercover boss meets secret diner. Let’s see at the end of the month if it works.

in all about people |

attitude100

Saw this at a car dealership on our travels. It’s quite true. We can learn knowledge and force ourselves to work hard, but attitude is probably the most important attribute.


in going places |

bookstorehotel01

via boredpanda, a cool place to consider next time we visit tokyo is the book and bed hotel, which will open in November. It’s a hostel which is based on a theme of a bookstore because:

dozing off obliviously during your treasured pasttime is the finest “moment of sleep”, don’t you agree?

bookstorehotel02

They will have 1,700 English and Japanese books and comics available, to be expanded to 3,000. The books are not for sale, just reading.

The accommodation is basic, more like capsules built inside bookshelves and shared bathrooms. Free wifi. At ¥4500 (USD37, £25) it’s aimed at the backpacker end of the market. Ikebukuro location is another positive. Then again, we prefer a little more comfort and private bathrooms. Probably not as suitable for us. Still very cool.


in arts and media |



Found out too late (although, we were travelling) that there was a one-night showing of the last night of the proms in some US cinemas on 14 October. The actual last night was on 12 September so it was a recording. Hope the event was well attended, there’s lots of magic at the proms.

in all about people |

padrepio

The news from #moranstrong is devastating. Our dear friend has been given 3 months. There are no words, and the focus is to continue to send positive thoughts to Sandra and her family.

I find direction from Padre Pio; San Giovanni Rotondo is one of the places mm and I want to travel for pilgrimage. I want to have faith and take heart in his words, to pray and hope and not worry. Worry is useless. The prayer for his intercession:

Dear God, You generously blessed Your servant,
St. Pio of Pietrelcina,
with the gifts of the Spirit.
You marked his body with the five wounds
of Christ Crucified, as a powerful witness
to the saving Passion and Death of Your Son.
Endowed with the gift of discernment,
St. Pio labored endlessly in the confessional
for the salvation of souls.
With reverence and intense devotion
in the celebration of Mass,
he invited countless men and women
to a greater union with Jesus Christ
in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Through the intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina,
I confidently beseech You to grant me
the grace of [state petition].

Glory be to the Father… (three times). Amen.


in eating and drinking |

mixedfruitcolours2015

It’s the start of baking season! I helped out by cutting the glacé (candied) fruits for fruitcake. There were 4 tubs of red & green cherries and pineapple. Sweet and sticky. And very colourful. Definitely Christmas-y. The fruitcake has lots of sugar, 2 cups of southern comfort, took around 2hrs to bake and will be soaked in more southern comfort until ready to eat. I had the honour of cleaning the mixing paddle and just that bit of batter had enough southern comfort to give an oomph.


in arts and media |

chitheatrekchenoweth01

We went to see Kristen Chenoweth in concert at the Chicago theatre. I don’t get many chances to see live concerts, and I think this is the second concert I attended in a theatre setting; I remember seeing kd lang in singapore when I was travelling there a lot. Oh and I saw Fleetwood Mac at Wembley when I was in college, that was it.

chitheatrekchenoweth02

It’s also the first time I’ve been inside the Chicago theatre. It’s such an iconic landmark, especially in the city of its name. We had nice stall seats, about 2/3rds of the way down. A slight incline meant I was able to see the stage with no problems.

The concert was great. A 11-person band including string and brass sections. The musical director, Mary-Mitchell Campbell played wonderfully on the piano.

Ms Chenoweth herself. Ahhh. What a voice. We were treated to Moon River, Somewhere over the Rainbow, Popular and an emotional Bring Him Home. She was personable, lively and had great presence. She sipped from a Cubs cup and told of her steak dinner at Gibson’s, conncecting her with the audience. During her tour she always sings For Good with a member of the audience or an invited guest—this time she had a young local singer Jess Godwin, who is certainly destined for a great career. She also invited a group of local youngsters to join her for the last few numbers. And she shared the stage with them, generously giving them credit and attention.



Pics not allowed, so here’s a youtube video of her singing.


in all about people , eating and drinking |

trurowineglass

The Moran Mayhem for Friday is to post pics of gross food, in honour of Sandra’s posting of bags of pork rinds (what they call scratchings) inside someone’s car. Lots of pics of pork rinds, as well as the usual suspects: offal, pickles, processed food.

I have a whole 101.1001 album of bucket list foods, some of which are in the gross category. Century egg, snail, chicken feet, herring, durian. I’ll leave that for later. I posted a pic of what I was drinking: 2013 cabernet franc from Truro winery outside Ptown. I was hoping to get an eye-roll from a wine expert like Sandra because I was drinking it out of a 1970s water glass. I’m not that particular about what I drink wine and beer out of: water glass, mugs, plastic cups, chipped bowls. At home I use a glass made by chopping the neck off a soft drink bottle. I know I should be using specific glasses, but sometimes I can’t be bothered.


in all about people , being healthy |

moranstrong20151022

5.25km 40.51min 7.47min/km

The news that our friend Sandra was diagnosed with an aggresive form of cancer, stage IV was so unexpected, so utterly devastating. I had no words. I met Sandra at her first conference and like everyone I know, became a huge fan of her writing, her cheerfulness, her wisdom and simply everything about her.

Our community immediately rallied around her in support. #moranstrong was established. Then the Moran Mayhem Plan (alternatively titled “Laughter is the Best Medicine”) was hatched:

  • monday: #moraning blurry pet and animal pics
  • tuesday: pie charts, pies
  • wednesday: it’s in the syllabus
  • thursday: neon day
  • friday: gross food (it started with Sandra posting pics of pork rinds, which is equivalent to pork scratchings)
  • saturday: #flatsandra out and about (we started that, on our drive to Portland)
  • sundey: bad hair / no comb day


The first Moran Mayhem day calls for wearing the most outrageous neon. I don’t have my brightest running shirts with me, but I do have the bright blue #runlightstand shirt. Plus my vizio orange sauconys. So I went out for a 5k around the field, my first run since the marathon. I hope it’s fitting, since Sandra is a runner too.


in |

A day of rest and errands. Tidied up the stuff I have all over the guest room. Caught up with emails. Ran an xls report. Went to a supermarket to hunt for glacé cherries and a late lunch at a Chinese restaurant. This restaurant is good for Chinatown-styled food. The spring rolls were huge American-sized but not salty or greasy. The beef and broccoli was well cooked, the sweet & sour chicken batter was a bit thick, still okay.

shunde201501tea

Just a funny observation. They gave us tea with the meal, and I drank many cups. A customer at a nearby table poured the tea into his cup (these are the standard white chinese tea cups) then proceeded to add a whole packet of sugar to it.

This is the first time I’ve seen anyone add sugar to chinese tea. The tea they gave us wasn’t very strong, not the strong and dark 普洱 we get with dim sum, it’s jasmine 香片. Then I thought about it. Tea is tea. People put sugar into what we call English tea but is really a type of black tea. The Japanese put sugar into both green and rice tea 玄米茶 so if this customer likes sweetened tea, then great.

Now, putting milk in tea, that’s another matter. I like one of the comments on reddit:

if you can see the bottom of the mug, it’s too weak to need milk


in going places |

00centrefurnace

It was only about 30-40mins’ drive to the town of State College, where Penn State University is located. By located I mean the entire town is the university. I’ve visited some very large campuses in the US, and this one is one of the largest. So very different from tiny King’s.

We were early so we ended up driving up and down the main street several times. Visited the big stadium and Centre Furnace Mansion where the university was founded.

There was even more time remaining, so we ended up at the Hyundai dealership to get an oil change. We’re efficient!

We met with our friend Mary for lunch. It was so wonderful to finally meet her in person—we’ve known each other online for 7-8 years. Great conversation, she is smart and wise and articulate and observant. It was a pity that we only had lunch hour. Hopefully we get to see her in person again.

We finished lunch around 2.30pm. We hit the highway around 3pm. It was 560 miles / 900km back to Chicago. We’d decided that we would head back instead of breaking the trip into 2 chunks. Better to arrive home late. Even with breaks, and a longer break for dinner at a service station (I had turkey avocado BLT and chicken arugula grain salad at Panera) we got back to the house at midnight. Total distance driven to Ptown and back, around 2800 miles / 4500km.


in going places |

The destination today was Scranton PA and the purpose to visit several places that are relevant to my friend Carleen’s family history. The first destination was the Lackawanna Historical Society, located near the university. Unfortunately it was closed on a Monday, what a shame.

00plot

The second destination was the cathedral cemetery. The lady there couldn’t have been more helpful, she found old records dating back to the early 20th century and were able to locate several plots using a couple of truly old maps. One was so old that it was almost undecipherable and was laminated to preserve its condition.

00bivouac

The cemetery also had a section for the military. There was a plaque with a few verses of the poem Bivouac of the Dead and many, many US flags. Quite moving.

00chapel01 00chapel02

At St Joseph’s we visited the chapel. The building was originally an orphanage and is now a medical centre for the mentally disabled, women and families. I took a couple of pics of the chapel because I knew mm will like them.

We also drove around to two locations where the family lived. One of the houses is no longer there, that part of the street having been demolished to make way for the highway. The houses were quaint and for the most part well maintained. However if we weren’t there for a specific purpose, there wasn’t much that Scranton can offer.

Overnight at a Hampton Inn along the road, around 45mins to our destination tomorrow.

in going places |

00ptownharbour

We had tickets for whale-watching, so we set off early in the morning to the pier to board the boat. A last look at the beautiful harbour on a very cold day, temperature in single digits. I wore my hoodie as well as my coat with lining, and when I was out of the sun, it was very cold.

The ride out to the whale grounds was horrid, absolutely horrid. So choppy it was like riding a rollercoaster. The crew said 5-6 feet waves and there were times when we were propelled out of our seats. They gave us travel sickness pills which barely did the job. When we reached the spot, the boat bobbed in the waves and it was very unsteady too. I headed outside immediately so I could get some fresh air. Wah, so cold, my hands were frozen as I couldn’t put them in my pocket—one to hold onto the rail and the other to hold the camera.

00whale

The naturist on the boat was wonderful, he gave us non-stop, relevant and educational commentary. We managed to find and track several whales and the pics turned out pretty well.

The trip back was a doddle, since we were going in the direction of travel. We were all very cold during the long walk from the boat back to the car. There were plans to get clam chowder to go, but we hopped into the car and decided to drive out straightaway.

From the cape, it was just a matter of finding the highway and going. I think the travel sickness pills cause drowsiness because I couldn’t keep my eyes open and slept for a while in the car. Overnight stay at Danbury, dinner at Denny’s.

in going places |

00eggsbenedict

Last full day in ptown. Started early with the annual wiffleball game—from what I can gather a casual game somewhat similar to baseball/softball. Afterwards we had breakfast at the post office restaurant—eggs benedict and bloody mary for me.

00oysters

The purpose of the day was mainly to catch up with friends and hang out at the bookstore, on the street and squealing pig bar. I had lots of beer—3 in total. I’d also been eyeing the local oysters so I tried half a dozen. Very nice.

Back to our hotel for more relaxation and packing. We’re mostly done, loaded the car except for overnight bags.


in going places |

The last day of our events, I stayed in one place for the readings and chats. Some were more interesting than others. It was thundery and rainy at the start so more motivation to stay put. After the last reading we broke down the room. Then off to find food. Ended up more than 40 miles away at Hyannis, at Olive Garden.

Visited some cemeteries on the way back. The most interesting one was Cove Burial Ground where several passengers from the Mayflower were buried, as well as their family members. It’s amazing to see gravestones of someone born in the 1500s and 1600s.

00capecodlight

It was around sunset, our final stop was a lighthouse located next to a golf course. Very pretty, like many of the landmarks in the area.

There was time to do laundry and watch TAR. Again, really good to relax and wind down.


in going places |

Attended several different events during the day at various locations: author readings, chats, meet’n’greet. The difference between ptown and the con is that I know only a small fraction of people attending, and I’m never sure walking down the street or even at events who the other participants are. There are a few familiar faces, and I gravitate towards them in a sea of strange faces.

00pilgrimstower 00ptownlibrary

In between events, I walked around town taking pictures. Walked up to the distinctive landmark of the pilgrim’s monument but didn’t want to pay $12 to climb up. Walked to the library, the beach and other places. It’s a quaint town, still with character despite the high number of tourists.

00ptownbeach

Spent a little walking on the beach. So peaceful, to watch and listen to the ocean.

00clamchowder 00lobster

After the morning event, we had lunch at the lobster pot. I had clam chowder and lobster bake—boiled lobster, corn, mussels. The lobster was really good, fresh and sweet. The corn was average. The mussels were gritty. Overall, a good meal.

There were other events in the afternoon. I also caught up with a few familiar faces at the pig. Walked back to the hotel, wanted to walk off the rich food and drink, plus it was a nice evening.


in going places |

00herringcove2015

Leisurely morning, didn’t do much except read, play with the ipad and eat leftover pizza. We left at mid-morning to visit the nearby beaches. First to race point then to herring cove. They are pretty beaches and it was peaceful just to stand still on the beach and listen to the sounds of the waves. It was a nice morning, warm and not windy.

Back to ptown and parked in the all-day car park. Headed to the squealing pig in search of a drink and food. Found friends in addition to the drinks and food. I had a couple of their pumpkin beer and a lobster roll for lunch. Found even more friends, walked around the shops and had clam chowder at the lobster pot. I’d been looking forward to the seafood here and I’m not disappointed.

The event we went to was the gcls meet’n’greet at the sage inn. A good turnout, and lots of people I don’t know. I started by hiding behind the registration desk but eventually managed to meet a couple of new faces. A couple of friends bought me wine, I ended the evening with 3 glasses of cab and a beer.

After the meet’n’greet was a comedy show by one of our esteemed members, Fay. I saw the show at the con in NOLA, it was just as great second time around. Instead of doing standup jokes, Fay told funny anecdotes of her own life. And what a life. She was a master at comedy, didn’t need any props or gimmicks, just sitting on stage and telling us the stories. It was a masterclass of comedic writing and timing.


in going places |

It was raining when we set off at around 8.30am, luckily within an hour or so it’d cleared up. The breakfast at the hotel was terrible so we stopped at a mcdonald’s, except that mcd wasn’t very good either. Ah well.

00albany01capitol

At mid-morning we reached Albany. The state capitol building looks impressive. It’s within a complex with different buildings housing different departments plus a conference centre called The Egg. For a weekday there wasn’t a lot of people around.

00albany02firemen

The reason for the stop was to visit the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial. Carleen’s great uncle’s name is on there. It’s a sad reminder of the bravery and sacrifice given by firefighters. The memorial wall has over 2,000 names and in front of it is a very lifelike sculpture of 2 firemen helping a colleague.

00roadautumn

From Albany it was follow the highway to our destination. Driving through Massachusetts was pretty, the trees that lined the road have begun to change colours and there are splashes of red, orange and yellow amongst the green.

We reached Ptown at around 5pm. Our hotel is located about 1-2 miles from the town centre. It’s a nice hotel, our room is spacious with a small dressing area, fridge and microwave. Ran an errand into town centre but didn’t stay, even though we saw a few friends. Ordered pizza for dinner at our room, so we could rest, relax and have an early night. It will be a busy next few days so it’s a good opportunity to re-energise. Knee update: much better today, I was even able to jog around lightly at our stop in Albany. Mostly muscle soreness at this point.


in going places |

The alarm was at 3.30am, our aim was to leave at 4.15am. By the time we checked everything and loaded the car, we were close—left at 4.30am. The start of our road trip, with final destination provincetown. The aim today was around halfway, to western new york.

Snacked on hard boiled eggs, leftover pizza and cheese in the car. I also managed to nap for about an hour or so.

yogafredonia01 yogafredonia02

Reached our friend R’s house in western new york state at 2pm. Great to see her and her son, I love their house—typical wooden cladding outside and even more beautiful wooden flooring inside. We also made time to visit the yoga studio of our friend L. More beautiful interiors, the studio is located in what looks like a warehouse and looked quite plain outside. Inside was pretty and peaceful, I can feel how great it would be to do yoga there.

Said goodbye to our friends and continued for about 3hrs. Overnight stop at Syracuse. Had a quick dinner (salmon and 2 sides for me) then spent the evening watching tv and relaxing. Nice to have time and room to veg out after a long day of travlling. I woke up with a swollen left knee and have been hobbling all day, I’m looking forward to putting my feet up—Carleen made me an icepack to ice the knee too.


in 101.1001 , being healthy |

chimarathon101split

42.2km 6.35.15hr 9.22min/km

overall: 36785 / 46033
gender: 16841 / 16955
age division: 1029 / 1041


Set alarm at 5am but woke up at 4am. Tea, a couple of waffles, a banana and a cereal bar for breakfast. Superfriend Carleen dropped me off and I joined thousands of people walking towards the start line. Found a quiet spot to watch the sunrise then joined the horrendous line for the portaloo. After half an hour in the cold wind the line hadn’t moved much but then someone came over and told us about other portaloos with shorter lines.

The corral was crowded. Wave 2 start was 8am, I crosssed the start line at around 8.11am. I felt great and happy. The crowds were fantastic and pushed me on, soon I found myself at LaSalle and 5k already. Lots of fun signs from spectators urging us on.

chimarathon049theatre chimarathon063drums

Things haven’t changed from 2010 and 2011: I stopped for the traditional pic outside the chicago theatre, there was warm support at Moody’s church, music at boystown, Japanese drummers at mile 10, the lasalle church opening their toilets up for us at mile 11. The roar of the crowds really did help.

chimarathon058flag

I also caught up with a runner holding an American flag at lincoln park, same as 2011 but different guy. Saw a fireman in full gear too. And a man in his 70s with “50th marathon” on his shirt. I spent quite a bit high-fiving kids and grinning.

Around mile 10 was when it started going pear shaped. First I got a nasty side stitch, which I hardly ever do. Then my left knee started hurting, which affected my calf and then moved to my right leg and finally my back. Basically anything that could hurt, was hurting. So disappointing, the wall came early. Even the biofreeze and tylenol at mile 12 wasn’t much help.

chimarathon071beer chimarathon077turbo

It’s always good to reach halfway, located just behind the old office. HM was at almost exactly 3hrs. I was pretty behind schedule at that point. After mile 13, the crowds thinned out and there wasn’t much shade. I started slowing down significantly and walked a lot. From mile 14 onwards it was boring and tough. Mile 19 was good, loud crowds through Pilsen. Lots of music and drums. Still a lot of walking. When first the 5.10 then 5.25 and finally 5.45 pace groups caught up with me, I tried my best to follow them for as long as I could.

After mile 22 from chinatown to sox park it was awful. Walking and walking. Turning into IIT and back north on michigan was more walking. I was keeping track of my time and I knew I was perilously close to the 6.30 cut off time. At mile 25 it was the final push. I picked up the pace and ran the last mile. It seemed forever before I saw the screen and the right turn up the hill. 400m, 200m and then it was finally the finish line. My iphone registered 6.33. I think they pushed the cut off time because of the hot weather.

chimarathon092finish chimarathon096medal

I collected my medal, a couple of bottles of water and a banana. There was a beer truck right at the finish, but unfortunately the beer was warm. The best thing was a cool, wet towel they gave us. Had my pic taken with the medal, couldn’t be bothered to go to the other side of the park for the tents. The exit closest to me was nearest the train station so that was where I headed.

I had more than 30mins to wait for the train. Felt a little dizzy and realised I hadn’t had much to eat for 7 hours apart from gu, bloks and gatorade. Fished through the goodie bag and found chocolate, and chocolate milk. That helped.

Carleen picked me up at the train station and we had pizza for dinner. I was more tired than hungry, and my feet were hurting. I came back to the house with the news that my fb friends had been tracking my progress online and there were dozens of comments and well-wishes. So moving. I posted a thank you status plus a pic of the medal and there were even more well-wishes. My fb friends are so wonderful. I didn’t even meet my most basic goal (beat 6.30) but the overwhelming support from the organisers, volunteers, fellow runners and my friends more than made up for the disappointment. Looking on the positive side, I finished. And that’s the most important accomplishment.

I didn’t take my camera with me, just used the iphone: uploaded to flickr.


p.s. this also counts as #99 of 101.1001 because I found a race, and I trained for it

in |

Race day prep consisted of resting and getting into a positive, relaxed state of mind. Packed for the race and for Ptown, since we will be leaving first thing Monday morning.

Race goals:

  • D goal: finish before cut off time of 6.30
  • C goal: beat 5.38 (Chicago time)
  • B goal: beat 5.05 (Brighton time, all time PR)
  • A goal: 4.59.59

I signed up with the 5.25 pace group, I hope I can keep up with them. My aim is to keep them within sight at all times and it’ll be a bonus if I can go past them.



Here’s a really nice view of part of the course, taken by drone. It shows the city at its best. Drones are, of course, not allowed on the race (except officially sanctioned ones).

Some of the good things I remember from last time: the excitement going through the Loop, beautiful Lincoln Park, noisy crowds at Boystown (but that’s also where I lost my sunglasses clip-on), halfway point near the office, the nice Hispanic grandmother who gave me an orange ice lolly at mile 19, struggling back up Michigan and then hitting the crowds and cowbells on the final right turn.

People are joking about why runners run and put ourselves through this. The answer is simple:

runforbeer

There’s a free 312 waiting for us at the end, plus pizza and bananas and water and free massages. I’ll see what my time is, and how long I have to hang around the park afterwards. May be a second beer before I have to catch the train.


in being healthy |

Caught the train to the city and walked about 15mins to the Hilton to catch the shuttlebus to the marathon expo. The queue for the bus was long, I had to wait for bus #4 before it was my turn to board. Took about 15mins to get to McCormick Place. The expo started at 9am this morning and I got there around 10.30am. The place was big enough that it didn’t feel crowded.

chimarathon011fast

Got my confirmation scanned, got my bib, got my shirt. Nice shirt colour this year, a deep red, more maroon than the bright red of 2010. I made it a point to systematically visit every stall. I had on my shopping list the race cap and a few gu packets. I bought the cap ($30!!!) and resisted the t-shirt ($45). Bought a combination of gu and bloks. Sampled many cereal bars, bloks and gatorade. Bought a set of 3 bondi bands since the ones I have are getting grubby. Looked into socks but decided the pair I brought is good enough and I’d buy socks when I get back.

There were also tons of freebies. Encouragement signs, cowbells (sponsored by ML so in ML blue), a poster, space blanket, shoe bag and lots of leaflets in the official bag. Got a 30 second massage on my ITB at the free massage stand. Chatted with people at other marathon desks. Osaka marathon in October (though I’m wary of autumn marathons now) and Dusseldorf marathon in April. The lady at the Dusseldorf desk was super nice, it’s just a shame that it clashes with Paris.

chimarathon029pizza

By the time I was finished it was 12.30pm. The bus back downtown was less crowded and I walked around the corner to go to Lou Malnati’s. It’s been a while, and I had a craving for deep dish. The wait was around 15mins for a table, during which we were encouraged to put our order in to shorten the wait for food. I ordered the lunch special — small pizza with salad and a drink for $8.95. The pizza was smaller than expected, very tasty especially the crust and the sausage. It appeared that many people had the same idea for carb-loading, I saw many people with the marathon bags or marathon t-shirts in the restaurant.

chimarathon31gear

Train back and it was time to empty the bag and sort out my gear. Less than 2 days to go, it’s getting closer.


in eating and drinking , how the day went |

Rested in the morning, didn’t do much apart from reading and munching on snacks. Nice way to get over jetlag.

5.02km 40.20min 8.02min/km

Easy 5k around the field next to the church in the afternoon. It was hot but not as humid. My legs felt stiff and my whole body felt heavy so it took me a long time to get into any sort of pattern, and then it was time to head back. I wish I brought my roller with me, but in its absence I’ll do some stretches. Anyway I just taped it up.

monkeybread02

Did some baking in the evening before dinner. Cinnamon monkey bread from this recipe. I’d never heard of monkey bread, so had to look up its definition: sweet, sticky, gooey pieces of soft bread with cinnamon sprinkled on it. The ingredients are in cup measurements so I tried to convert, with dubious success.

  • 3x16oz (1.36kg) packages refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough — this is the pillsbury dough they have available in the freezer cabinet
  • 2 sticks (250g) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (180g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120g) brown sugar
  • 2tsp ground cinnamon

Cut biscuit dough into quarters, mix sugar and cinnamon in ziploc bag, add dough and shake. Arrange in a bundt tin. Melt butter and brown sugar then pour onto the dough pieces. Bake at 180ºC for 35mins, then turn out.

A very typical American recipe, using pre-packaged ingredients. I can’t get over the fact that they use packet cake mixes and pre-made frozen dough. There is a huge amount of butter and sugar and carbs in there.

The end result is definitely a sweet, sticky, gooey mess. It’s tasty though, and perfect as a tear and share bread/cake. I found it very rich, and liked how it was slightly undercooked so the dough pieces were melt-in-the mouth-inside.


in arts and media , how the day went |

I went to bed at 9pm last night, so no surprise that I woke up at around 5-6am. Had cereal bars and a nice cuppa. No particularly plans today, relaxed till almost lunchtime. Went to the laundrette then to the cinema.



I hadn’t been to the cinema for ages. Can’t even remember the last time, probably also at Crestwood. We saw Sicario. I’m so out of touch with what’s on that I haven’t heard of this film at all.

It was a very intense film. Set in the chaotic lawless world of Mexican drug gangs on both sides of the border with the US. Emily Blunt is the FBI agent who was volunteered into an interagency task force led by a dubious flipflop wearing Josh Brolin and a mysterious Benicio del Toro who was clearly involved but not from law enforcement. Blunt gave the audience their POV and we felt for her when she realised that things weren’t as black and white as she had previously believed. What the drug gangs were doing were certainly illegal, but what the taskforce was doing was too, so who was the bad guy?

The film was violent, very much so. But that’s realistic because we’ve all read about the mass killings and the missing schoolkids and the turf wars. It’s also realistic that conventional policing methods may not be effective against gangsters who were above the law or even controlling the police.

The performances were brilliant. Emily Blunt was a perfect blend of tough FBI cop and naïve citizen expecting law enforcement to follow the law. Josh Brolin, I didn’t recognise. He reminded me of surfer dude Jeff Bridges. The best performance IMHO was from del Toro, wonderful wonderful wonderful.

By the end, some of the problem had been solved but it was the tip of the iceberg. Other issues, especially Blunt’s character’s conscious, are unresolved at the end. That did not detract from the enjoyment of the film. It’s the sort of film that makes you think afterwards. As EW said in its review

Sicario is a brilliant action thriller with the smarts of a message movie. And the message is this: Are we willing to bend the rules and sell our souls to fight a war that will probably never be won?

beeftaco201510

Dinner was homemade beef taco. Minced beef, taco seasoning, refried beans, shredded cheese. It was nice, and hit the spot.

in going places |

Woke up at 6am. Showered, did quick laundry. Out the door at 7.30am. I thought I’d beat the rush hour madness but every taxi that went past was either occupied or on call. It was raining very heavily (10cm this morning already) so chances of grabbing one off the street was zero. Had to call one at the end.

Already checked in so dropping my suitcases took less than 5mins. Two suitcases total less than 20kg, hahaha. I was meeting mm at the check-in counter, she was early and was already there. We had a nice breakfast, had time left so I treated her to starbucks.

yamazakinas201510 kavalan201510

Security and immigration took another 5mins. Wandered around the duty free, but I know I can’t buy anything. There was Yamazaki NAS and Hakusu NAS, but nothing else. Texted mm and we decided that it’s not worth getting, since it’s NAS and not Nikka. Then again, to complete our collection I may, if I remember, get it on the way back.

Flight was around 80% full. If I’d just picked the row in front or behind I’d have a free middle seat. Unfortunately I was sat next to a young couple. And probably the only mainland people in the whole cabin. Ugh. Why do I have to be near those effing people. Ugh.

Food on the flight was forgettable. Beef with mash and beans plus ice cream for lunch. Chicken with more mash and beans and creme caramel for dinner. Had instant noodles in the middle. Watched Pitch Perfect 2, Entourage, Ant-man and 10 episodes of Veep. No bake-off this trip.

The flight was early. Landed at 1.30pm. Immigration was fast, now that I have a new passport I can use the machines. Luggage came out fast too. Carleen picked me up at the car park and we were heading back quickly.
Had food at our favourite steakhouse, then went to the supermarket. Lots of pumpkins out in the front, aha, it’s Halloween coming. Bought some stuff to take back, aiming at not too many purchases this trip. Unpacked, showered and relaxed. Lasted till just before 9pm, my eyes can’t close anymore. Time for bed.


in eating and drinking , how the day went |

The day before a flight is always neither here nor there. I did a quick job of packing last night and had to cancel lunch and/or dinner with mm so I’m on my own all day. No fridge means either instant noodles, canned soup or eat out. I had a couple of errands to run so I decided to find something to eat at or near the market.

vegetarianlunch201510

It was around 11.30am, so before the lunchtime rush. Went to Sister Lai’s vegetarian restaurant. Haven’t been there for a long time, still nostalgic for the days when it was a small shop near the market. Now it’s more commercial, and with posher crockery. At lunch there is a choice of 3 dishes from 6. I had mixed vegetables, cauliflower and tofu. What hasn’t changed is that rice and soup were freeflow. I had 2 bowls of rice and 3 bowls of soup. Fantastic.

Bought fish, clams and mushroom for dinner. Snacks for travelling and chewing gum. Got back home pretty early, around 1.30pm. Still a few more hours to wile away.

5.0km 38.51min 7.42min/km

Went for a short 5k, as it was part of the training plan. Uphill for the first 2k, and it was raining pretty heavily too. Luckily the rain went away at the end so I took a walk around the elevator home. Nothing to buy, just ambling around.

Still too much time on my hands. After shower and snacking on some of the clams, it wasn’t even 5pm. Argh. Watch tv then. Early dinner then more tv. Do laundry. Early alarm tomorrow so early to bed tonight.


in going places , in the news |

I checked in as soon as the 48hr window opened up. The flight looks around 90% full already, but I got the seat I wanted. Since I’ll be travelling for almost 1 month, and into November, I figured I need to pack my coat and a couple of sweaters.

weatherchicago

The forecast for race day is 15-23ºC, feeling like 25ºC. Ugh. Too hot, with no clouds. It’d be great if it’s 10 degrees cooler. The 2 days before and after are supposed to be cooler, so I’ll keep an eye out on the weather.

weatherptown

The weather in Ptown looks variable too. From 20ºC down to 10ºC. Add the windchill from the exposed position, definitely need my coat and fleece lining.

Packing is done. Taking enough clothes for 7-10 days. Hopefully we can find laundry facilities in Ptown, and I can handwash if necessary too.


in easily amused |



Love watching dominos. Each of these patterns were made from approx 17,500 dominos.


in photography is life |

German photographer Marius Vieth described how accidentally breaking his $1600 EF 24mm lens gave him the idea for a

trippy & abstract photo set dipped in red about broken characters captured with a broken lens by a former broken soul

Broken: Hell's Angels

His photoset, Broken, was taken in the red light district of Amsterdam and is full of blurry, bokeh-like, atmospheric imagery. The lens doesn’t focus anymore, so it’s credit to the photographer’s skill to be able to get pictures that tell a story.

This is an interesting take on the phenomenon of autoposting blurry, poorly composed phone pics on fb without any sense of curation. Seriously, people, stop autoposting your 500 phone pics. Delete the duplicate or the poor quality ones. Upload them in proper order. Tell a story. Sigh.


in being healthy , eating and drinking |

chickencouscouspumpkinokra

12km 1.30.10hr 7.31min/km

Went out to the end of bowen road and back, 12km went by quite quickly. Since it’s a public holiday, there were tons and tons of people out walking and hiking. Glad it was only out and back once for me.

On the way back I stopped at the supermarket and bought some chicken drumsticks. Grabbed a butternut squash and was horrified at the price tag at the till, so had to exchange for another type of pumpkin at a more reasonable price. Cooked it all with okra and israeli couscous. Found a small tin of olives that dated from chicago, so added to the roasting tray for flavour. There are leftovers, which ended up proving problematic as I have no fridge. Had to leave the aircon and wrap the food tightly in a box then foil.

Met mm for drinks then dinner. Many places were closed so we just went to a nearby pub and then a small diner. We’ll meet again tomorrow for lunch, so nice.


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