Sis won a prize draw of ten tickets for kooza, cirque du soleil’s touring production. She gave tickets to me, mum and mm as well as rob’s secretary, her mum and her sister (or cousin, I’m not sure). So nice of her.
It’s what we expect from a cirque du soleil show. The tagline for Kooza is that it’s back to basics, it:
rekindles the memories and emotions associated with circuses of old, and brings together two century-old circus traditions
But there’s nothing basic about the spectacle. The production was sleek, the music jazzy with a haunting feel, the skills of the performers topnotch. There were clowns, kings, ghosts, and other colourful characters. All the acts were wonderful, including a lady with multiple hula hoops, scary contortionists, high wire gang cycling across two wires, a unicycle pair, tumbling teeterboard troupe, a gymnast balancing on a column of chairs. Never a boring moment, even the fillers with the clowns were amusing. There was a running theme about the Innocent kiteflyer who gets trapped in this magical world by the jester King, a thief being chased by policemen, and the maintenance worker who popped up here and there.
The most exciting and dangerous act was the wheel of death, where two human hamsters ran and jumped and kept up with two giant rotating wheels. Just watch:
Too much eating out recently. On the one hand I’m relieved I don’t need to cook, on the other hand I’m not 100% enjoying eating out. Thankfully it’s mostly quick meals, with the exception of mm and I going for hotpot at the place at the wet market. Zero stars for location, ambience and decoration. The previous time we went, the seafood was really good but this time was a disappointment. We probably won’t be going back till winter.
Aside from discovering a new korean place, the taiwanese noodle place has good lunch sets. Mum had the signature beef noodles and I had the set with braised meat and a small bowl of beef noodles. Came with a drink too. I can add a small amount and upgrade to bubble tea, and I tried the mint bubble tea that gis likes so much.
When I do cook, I’m trying to finish up the food we brought over so we’re having lots of pasta with canned soup and noodles. For a change, we only have four pieces of salmon in the freezer. I can walk to the nearby market, it’s around 15-20mins walk back and all uphill so I can’t buy too much. The first stall I went to was a mistake, the vegetables were good but too expensive. I think I’ve found a more value for money stall. Keeping to frozen meat right now, will go back to fresh when we move back and I can go back to the regular butchers and fishmongers.
The last time I opened my ipad to read was sometime in April. It’s been so crazy and I’ve been so distracted that I don’t have to time or motivation to read. I’ve been watching youtube videos of game streams before bed instead of reading.
This is not good.
The book I’m in the middle of reading, and I’ll definitely need to start from the beginning, is Dragon Wing by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I’m around 1/3 of the way through, and haven’t gotten the hang of the location or characters yet. May be the slow start is one of the reasons I’m not getting into the book. There’s an assassin who was raised by monks who seems to be the MC, a prince he is protecting/keeping prisoner, and then there’s this dwarf, or in that universe, a geg, who is way too curious for his own good. I guessing the two parties will meet at some point and more will happen.
Like I said, I will need to re-read from the beginning. It won’t be a big deal; it’s a 7-book series, so there’s a long, long way to go in terms of the overall story. I just wish I can pick it up again. ‘It’ being not only this particular book, but the whole reading thing.
When I put in blinds for the study, I picked one that was pale white. It didn’t have any blackout function at all, because I didn’t need it in the study. If anything, I wanted it to be light enough even when I had it closed.
I never anticipated that I’ll need to sleep in the study, but that’s what I’m having to do now. (I never anticipated I needed to share my flat with anyone, tbh.) The sofa bed arrived a few days ago and the first morning afterwards I was woken up by the bright morning light. Ah yes, in addition to pale blinds, the study window also faces east.
The solution, even though I’m not keen on it, is to sleep with an eyemask. There are no side-effects from using a sleep mask, if anything there seems to be tiny benefits. There are also fancy models costing up to £60–this one is made from:
organic, bamboo, silk fabric subtly infused with the scent of natural lavender.
I have a few of them, collected from flights. No need for £60 eyemasks, this simple one did the job. The problem is, I don’t really like using eyemasks. Having a cover for my eyes isn’t the issue, it’s the presence of the straps that makes me feel like I constantly want to yank them off. I just have to suck it up, either get woken up in the morning or get enough sleep.
Went over to check renovation progress, the electrician finished drilling so we’re allowed back. All the places for the wires have been drilled and prepped. Today they’re also replacing all the windows. When we walked into the car park, the old metal windows were there waiting to be collected–our watchman will take them and we’re happy for him to sell and get a little money for it.
Mum went shopping and I met sis late afternoon in the British pub to watch the royal wedding. All the tables were booked but I managed to grab a couple of stools at the bar (someone conveniently finished and left just as I was about to go elsewhere). The place wasn’t crowded at first but it got really really crowded and loud very soon. Our seats were pretty nice, with a good view of the tv screens on the wall. They even had a special Harry & Meghan menu including Pimm’s! I tried both the regular Pimm’s cup and the Pimm’s spritzer, then switched to diet coke. Had dinner there too, I had scotch egg (as befitting the occasion) and sis had fish & chips.
The wedding was really nice, although we couldn’t hear too much due to the noise at the pub. People tried to shush whenever the Archibishop of Canterbury, Harry, Meghan, or someone else was speaking. Even though later I read about how “everyone” loved the address by Rev Michael Curry, at the time people at the pub thought he went on and on for way too long. His way of preaching also seemed out of place. I think Americans love his sermon because he was lively and passionate and presented it in the typical loud American way. Brits heard his message, but personally I wish he could have been more restrained, to match the location. And made it shorter, because it felt like he was hogging the limelight and stealing attention from the royal couple.
I walked home and caught the bit when they were in the procession back to Windor Castle. Very happy about the wedding, very proud and delighted for the couple. Remember the sad and lost 12-yaer old prince walking with his mother’s casket? Princess Diana would have been so proud of her son; and I can just imagine her sitting with Doria Ragland and crying tears of joy together.
I didn’t even notice, I passed 5000 posts on the website. Post #5000 was the one about the Japanese oogui eater on 10-May-2018. Granted, 5000 posts on this WP installation is different from the original MT installation, because I reorganised.
Anyway, I can argue with myself about the date of post #1.
The post with the earliest date is 30-Apr-1996 because I was writing up past trips and that was the trip to Guilin. The post itself was probably written in 2006 or later.
The actual first post on the website was 23-Sep-2003 which I have in my mind as my website anniversary. I’m going to call this post #1.
Met mm for lunch at a new korean place. It’s a branch of the one I went to a couple of times with Mum. It was pretty good so we have another Korean place to go to, yay. I had cold noodles with barbequed pork and mm had her usual seafood tofu pot.
Walked around ikea, we both needed to look at stuff. I continued to look for ideas, a single bed for the helper, shelves and cabinets; mm needed a cabinet or shelf for her bathroom. There were different choices, in order of least expensive to most expensive: a wooden shelf, a pine shelf, an open metal shelf, and a tall cabinet with doors. Each has its own advantage and disadvantage. There’s time to look further.
I was originally going to go home for dinner but decided to stay with her. Her dad is being transferred to another hospital, this one to focus on recovery. She was calling once or twice an hour to check his progress and he finally reached there at 6pm. So we walked over to visit. Her mum came as soon as she knew he arrived, and later we all went to a pasta place for a quick dinner.
In other news, sis made this delicious sticky toffee pudding and brought half over to us. She followed Mary Berry’s recipe to the tee and it was indeed gooey yet light. The pudding wasn’t too sweet, the sauce is sweet but used with restraint it’s balanced. Can really taste the yummy treacle in the pudding.
Imagine going on holiday to the US, visitng a national park, and finding a Leica lens sitting on a rock in the middle of the desert.
That’s what happened to Jorgen Loe Kvalberg from Norway. To his credit, he took the lens home and contacted Leica Norway about the find. Leica Norway contacted Leica HQ in Germany. From the serial number, they traced it to Leica USA and Samy’s Camera store in LA. The store manager checked records and found that the lens had been sold as part of a kit to someone named Arthur Galvao.
It turned out that Galvao had lost the lens in the national park two years earlier. One of the Samy’s Camera store rep was going to Germany for holiday, so he picked it up from Leica Germany and returned the lens to its owner in person.
So when we’re talking about a camera lens and it being sold as part of a kit, it’s not the bog standard 18-55mm that comes with an entry level Canon, we’re talking about a US$3,500 Leica lens that came with a $9,990 Leica M-P with 35mm f/2 Safari Edition camera.
All credit to Kvalberg, all the folks at Leica around the world, and the camera shop in California. What’s amazing is that the lens was still in perfect, if dusty, condition after sitting out in the desert for 2 years. I guess if it’d been sitting in damp conditions, it would have broken down after that time.
I also think it got found and safely returned to its owner because it’s a Leica lens. Not many people will bother checking for the owner of a 18-55mm Canon kit lens. If I found a Leica lens, I’ll know it’s valuable and will try to return it to an official office.
We all knew this would happen, but it’s still very sad. Suntory just announced that they’ll stop selling Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17. Whisky takes time to age; there is no way of fast forwarding a 12-, 15-, 18-, 21-, 30-year process. All Japanese whiskies we see nowadays are NAS. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with NAS, we trust the master distillers. The boom in 2014 cleaned out Nikka’s stock, so the image of shelf upon shelf of Yoichi, Miyagikyo, Taketsuru and others won’t return till at least 10 years from now.
Meanwhile, any single malt especially Yamazaki, Yoichi or Miyagikyo that can be found are selling for higher and higher price. Nikkei chart of prices.
I just spent 20mins on a game of The Librarian, a short game by Octavi Navarro. It really is very short, and uses simple 8-bit graphics. The MC is a librarian, who is woken up in the middle of the night by a creepy gust of wind, followed by the appearance of a mysterious owl with a note that says “There’s something wrong at the library.”
The librarian puts on her uniform and finds her way to the library.
The game consists of exploring and puzzle-solving. Clicking around to move the character; some objects can be picked up to be used later. At one point the former librarian is discovered. Who was the former librarian? How long has the body been there? Who sent the note? What is the end goal of the game?
The are no answers, only more exploration and using collected objects, this gameplay is not unfamiliar to anyone who has played a game. Nothing much goes on, but that makes it more interesting.
All of a sudden, I couldn’t click anymore and the game has finished. That really was very short. The Verge says:
the experience feels less like an adventure game, and more like the video game equivalent of a poem
One of the best known games of this genre of story-exploration-without-too-much-purpose is Gone Home, which tackles a somewhat controversial topic and yet winning Polygon’s 2013 game of the year. Both of these games are more like a visual version of a short novel rather than a computer game, and that may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I thought The Libarian was pretty good, although to be fair I got it for the low, low price of free. Gone Home is US$14.99 and I don’t think that’s a right price point for me.
Mum went to mass and I met her at the Tesco’s nearby. I don’t know if it’s because of Mother’s Day, but mass ran very, very late. I was inside the tiny Tesco’s for a good 45mins. Silver lining is I got to look at every shelf on every aisle and found some stuff I want to buy next time.
Met sis at a Taiwanese noodle place for…Taiwanese noodles. Mum had their signature beef noodles which proved to be the best choice. I opted for the fried chicken noodles, with the fried chicken served on the side. Whilst very crispy, it was way, way too salty. We shared one of their signature desserts. Mango, sago, chewy bits, and about 10 other ingredients. Very nice, refreshing. I’d have that again.
Went to ikea to finally order a bed for me. Or rather, it’s a sofa bed that rolls out into a single bed. When we move back, it can go in Papa’s room as a chair for relaxing. If we have visitors, which is rare, it can be used as a guest bed. Delivery on wednesday. Can’t wait. The sofa is fine to sleep on, except it’s getting hotter and the fabric doesn’t dissipate heat and gets itchy too.
Dinner with mm’s family. Both her parents are quite seriously ill at the moment, so it’s good to get together for a meal.
The programmer of the neural network is Janelle Shane and she has a text-generating AI called textgenrnn which takes inputted datapoints and generate related text based on those. Shane had previously used 200 ice cream flavours and the results were less than satisfactory, including silence cherry, strawberry cream disease, sock caramel.
The schoolkids used a total of 1600 flavours, and together with the AI’s learning ability, generated more appetising flavours such as honey vanilla happy, team cherry, oh and cinnamon. That said, other flavour names generated include washing chocolate, mango cat, gravey cashew. There was also one flavour known simply as bug.
We went to frites for lunch, where they have a nice semi-buffet. The salad bar has plenty of salad, and only 1 or 2 have meat so Robert also had lots of choice. I had mussels too, but should have just stuck with the salad bar, there was too much food.
Afterwards, mum and I went to look at bathroom stuff. We’ve looked for a long time, and finally decided on American Standard. Got all the model numbers and prices from one shop. TMI about buying toilets, it’s absolutely necessary to sit on all of them to find the one that is most comfortable.
Yuka Kinoshita is an oogui (“big eater”) and competitve eater who uploads videos of her eating an enormous amount of food. Here’s one of her eating beef-don at yoshinoya with 2 pro wrestlers. The two wresters finished 8 bowls together, and Yuka was still going strong at 10. TEN. I think if I’m very hungry I can just about manage two.
Here she finished five 1kg tomahawk steak.
This type of mukbang is both riveting and scary. She isn’t overly dramatic in her eating, just chomping away at giant portions like she would a normal-sized porton. There is a certain skillset to competitive eating, like how Takeru Kobayashi trains and inhales hotdogs.
[Edit: didn’t even notice, this was post #5000 on the website.]
The contractor had an electrician over to check our fuse box and he told us that we need to rewire as the wires are frayed, old and dangerous. It’s not a con, or contractors adding on work, because I knew it was the most important thing that needed to be done but mum didn’t want to at first. I’m glad we’re finally doing it.
I drew a plan of the flat and where I think the plugs should go. I got the idea from mm who had me draw a plan with measurements when the project first started.
Seemed to work, we went through with the electrician and he drew out where he will install plugs and wires. We want a lot of the plugs about 60-70cm above floor level which surprised him. Why do plugs need to be at floor level? If it’s behind the tv with all accessories like cable, dvd player why isn’t it raised to be easier to reach? I’m also getting 2 doubles next to my desk for all the computer stuff.
Thanks to The Secret Language of Ships, I can tell that there is a bulbous bow under this ship (visible in red just peeking out from the ice), and that the pilot will board the ship in a vertical opening in the hull.
I learned something new too. Even through ice, ships move quickly. And pilots are superhumans. Watch this pilot in Finland casually step onto a fast-moving freight ship from a narrow platform while the ship is still moving. Over ice. Amazing, and so casually done.
Architectural Digest is what people use to describe a beautifully designed home, as in the home is AD worthy. So the magazine has a certain authority when it comes to architecture.
Then they published an articled called 30 ugliest skyscrapers in the world and I started having doubts on their previously untenable position. First of all, the title and content are more Buzzfeed than Home & Garden. Some of those 30 supposed eyesores aren’t even skyscrapers–there are tv towers and low rise buildings.
The Belarus National Library for instance, is not a skyscraper.
Nor is the Longaberger Basket building in Ohio.
Some of the monsters I personally find rather charming and nothing approaching ugly, like that basket building. Or the Elephant building in Bangkok. Or the Lloyds building in London, which is one of the most distinguishing in the City.
There are buildings that reflect national characteristic, like the Belarus library above. Or they are examples of architecture in their respective era, like the MetLife building in NYC, completed in 1963. And what about the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, completed in 1955. I think it looks suitably grand.
Admittedly there are a few duds. The horrible gold Trump Tower in Las Vegas, the Tour Montparnasse in Paris and the Russian Embassy in Havana all stray into eyesore territory.
The National Fisheries Development Board building in Hyderabad isn’t ugly as being too cute for its own good. There’s nothing wrong with it though, except it can never be used for another purpose. It’ll be the laughingstock of the architecture community if a fish-shaped building is used for, say, space research or a hospital.
And to tarnish the clickbait article even further, eagle eyed commenters on the mefi thread even found an error, that the Fernsehturm in Berlin they show is not, in fact, the right building. Ooops.
The world whiskies award winners are in. Not a huge surprise, gear patrol has a summary. Best single malt is Hakushu 25, best blended malt is Taketsuru 17, best blended is jw gold.
In the bourbon category, best bourbon is 1792 full proof, best rye is from distillery 291 in Colorado. It’s harder to find outside Colorado, so I need to make sure we try to look for it when we drive through the state this summer. The distillery itself is in Colorado Springs, an hour south of Denver, so it means around 2hrs’ detour. May be I’ll just try to find a store. Breckenridge distilley, on the other hand, seems to be along our route.
You are organized: you feel a strong need for structure in your life. You are mild-tempered: it takes a lot to get you angry. And you are calm under pressure: you handle unexpected events calmly and effectively.
You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of organization.
You are relatively unconcerned with both independence and helping others. You welcome when others direct your activities for you. And you think people can handle their own business without interference.
I wasn’t sure how accurate it will be, most of my twitter are automatic IFTTT posts when I post on the website, or occasional RTs. But it turns out to be really accurate, especially with regards to being organised and being unconcerned.
It also says I’m likely to like historical movies, read autobiographical books, and read often. 1 out of 3 here. I’m unlikely to be influenced by social media during product purchases, prefer style when buying clothes, or like rap music. 3 out of 3.
Overall, twitter analysis is pretty accurate.
Now let’s try a block of text. How about the current front page. Total 50 posts between 12-mar-2018 and 31-apr-2018. 12000-ish words. This analysis:
You are shrewd, inner-directed and guarded.
You are solemn: you are generally serious and do not joke much. You are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. And you are independent: you have a strong desire to have time to yourself.
You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of organization.
You are relatively unconcerned with both tradition and achieving success. You care more about making your own path than following what others have done. And you make decisions with little regard for how they show off your talents.
I’m likely to be sensitive to ownership cost when buying automobiles, have experience playing music, and like historical movies. 1.5 out of 3. I’m unlikely to be influenced by social media during product purchases, prefer style when buying clothes, and be influenced by brand name when making product purchases. 3 out of 3.
I think this is probably more accurate although there are similarities with the twitter analysis.
They present the results in a sunburst visualisation that is really impressive. The science behind the sevice is fascinating. Essentially marketers and psychologists found that how we use language is a reflection of our personality, thinking style, social connections, and emotional states. Based on these studies, IBM developed models that correlate between certain social media behaviour and real life personality. An example from a retail study is people who score high in orderliness, self-discipline, and cautiousness and low in immoderation are 40 percent more likely to respond to coupons than the random population.
The team at IBM claims a correlation in the region of 0.3 with mean average error of 0.12 for English. In terms of research norm in this area, correlations above 0.2 are considered acceptable.
It’s all very interesting, although I find it somewhat creepy. I hate it when the ultimate goal is to target people in terms of what to market to them and predict their buying behaviour.
This post is dated 02-May-2018 but is written on 07-May-2018. Most posts dated April were written several weeks later, because I went through most of the month not feeling stable enough to post every day. I find lately that posting is cyclical: I go through days without bothering, and then I do a massive catch-up, writing 3-4 retroactive posts a day. All because of a perverse need to continue the one-post-a-day streak that has been going since 25-jun-2007. That’s not a typo, I’ve managed one post a day for almost 11 years.
I don’t think the quality or content of a post deteriorates if it’s written days or weeks afterwards. If anything, I think it filters out the less interesting topics. I instapaper articles, videos, images that I find interesting and find that I delete around half when I come to writing about them, because I no longer find them worth writing about. There’s a recent guardian article about delaying reading the news for a few days. Because of the always-on 24/7 nature of the news cycle, mental exhaustion creeps in, and anxiety level increases.
Of the 45 troubling things you saw on Twitter this morning, two or three may prove to be signs of the rise of fascism/the destruction of the environment/the collapse of Brexit Britain. Yet the rest won’t.
I still read the news everyday, but I take my time. I don’t rely on twitter for breaking news, and I spend no more than 15mins a day on fb. By the time a news item has settled, then I feel like I can read more.
Still, why do I feel like I need to post everyday? I have no idea. Routine, may be. Fear that if I missed a day the momentum is lost. In a way, it’s the same mentality of regret that I felt when I missed nano2007. If only I just wrote rubbish, any rubbish, to get to 50k. It’s a missed event I can never get back.
A few weeks ago, Jason Kottke wrote that blogging is almost certainly not dead and I find myself nodding in agreement. I didn’t get a chance to submit my website, but thousands of others did. One of them, karigee talked about why she’s kept her blog for 15 years:
I also keep it out of spite, because I refuse to let social media take everything. Those shapeless, formless platforms haven’t earned it and don’t deserve it. I’ve blogged about this many times, but I still believe it: When I log into Facebook, I see Facebook. When I visit your blog, I see you.
Emphasis mine, and how I agree.
Let’s look at the 25-jun-2007 post that started the streak. Entitled new old thoughts, it’s my usual jumble of weird thoughts. To my 2007-self’s credit, reading the post brings me back to my situation then. There was an upheaval at work, my last day was that week, and I’d booked myself on a month-long trip to the US and Chile, the first and only time I visited South America. It’s interesting to read about ex-colleagues, some of whom I have kept in touch with but most of them I haven’t.
The big trip is worth reading about, it started off on day 1 with a flight cancellation at JFK, where I had to sleep on the floor next to a vending machine overnight before rather recklessly deciding to drive to Chicago. Once I got to Chicago, we almost immediately hopped into the car to drive to Dallas, Fort Worth, and eventually to Washington DC to see the 4th of July fireworks and the museums. The Chilean leg of the trip was equally impressive, with skiing, wine train, and beaches. Holy moly, I did all that?
Anyway, going back to the post, this is how it ended:
But right now my brain is in a state of frozen limbo shock. I can’t believe I quit my job. I can’t believe I quit my job with no new job to go do. I can’t believe the things that our new management team is getting away with. I can’t believe I’m going on such a long trip. I can’t believe I basically have no plans beyond this July trip.
When the movers arrived at 10am, my room was all ready and so was Papa’s room, most of the living and dining rooms, store room, bridge, helper’s room, bathroom and most of the kitchen. Actually what wasn’t ready was anything to do with mum’s stuff. She was still packing as the movers were packing. I didn’t pack the kitchen except for storing anything we’re not taking in boxes so I asked the movers to pack that. Lots of boxes.
They didn’t have room in the van to take our stuff away so we’ll have to ask the contractors. There was room in the van for both mum and I to ride along.
What did surprise me was how little we actually took with us to rob, because it took them no time at all to unload, for me to unpack essentials, and for the flat to look neat and tidy. The sofa, tv table and coffee table returned to their original positions, we have 2 fridges, and I managed to squeeze about half the kitchen stuff into the kitchen. The rest are in boxes in my room ready to be taken back to ede.
I’m taking the small room which as aforesaid spare kitchen stuff, my plastic boxes, a box of stuff from my desk, my clothes rail and tools. I packed the most important items–passports, documents, money, chequebooks–into one backpack. I’m still sleeping on the sofa until I get the ikea sofabed.
Everything was done by 3pm. Sis came over and she had nothing to do! We all went to the globe for dinner, which was extremely nice.
I’m trying to cook and eat up as much food as we can before moving. We had rack of lamb when sis came over on saturday so for meals today were lamb. I try not to do that, serve the same meal twice in a row. There’s a guardian article about eating the same sandwich for lunch every day. I’m quite horrified by that. A 2017 survey found that 77% of people surveyed had the same lunch every day for 9 months. A 2013 survey found 50% had the same lunch every day for 6 years. Cheese sandwiches and ham sandwiches were the most popular lunch items.
6 years of cheese sandwiches or ham sandwiches.
Some theories on why. Budget, laziness, not wanting to change. I guess there’s apathy too. No one is happy at work, and I can understand not wanting to have to expend energy thinking about what to eat for lunch. I used to bring a lot of chicken and savoy cabbage lunches to work too.
But 6 years of cheese sandwiches or ham sandwiches?
Interestingly, mefi commenters point out that many people have the same breakfast every day, and no one bats an eyelid. Good point.
I sometimes find it tough to have to think of what to cook twice a day. Which is why I have leftovers, but usually never two meals running. I rotate too, only I have a large enough pool to rotate through so it doesn’t get too boring.
On the sandwich front, tomorrow’s lunch will be roast chicken and roasted peppers wrap. Leftovers from roast dinner and easy to assemble and eat whilst the movers are here.
I’ll stop posting about packing updates because it’s making me depressed and very stressed.
I wish I have the motivation to go out and take a walk or go for a run. Sigh.
Anyway, a town in Texas will hold a 0.5k in May. That’s not a typo, the race is all of half a kilometer. The race starts at a local brewery (free beer), there’s a doughnut & coffee stop at 150m, and the race ends at another local brewery (more free beer). There’s the usual t-shirt and medals.
There’s even a VIP option, where for an extra $25, the VIPs get to go from start to finish in a 1963 VW bus. They still get the free beers too.
Proceeds go to a charity that provides food for underprivileged children. It all seems so much fun. I think they should expand it, who needs Rock’n’Roll races when there are 0.5ks to be organised.
Today is the semi-annual charity collection. One of the collection points is diagonally opposite us, so it’s really convenient. We had been storing up stuff to give to them, there’s a big pile of clothes, books, kitchen and home stuff. Sis came over to help too, and we carted some bags to the collection point. The building janitor expressed interest in some of the stuff, so we gave some to him. I usually give him old electronics that he can use as parts or sell.
The part-time helper came too so we had 4 pairs of hands packing today. Made some progress. I should be pleased that so much got done, but I’m not. We’re running out of time and there’s still so much stuff not sorted. Why is it so difficult? Takes mum 5 minutes to go through one item of clothing. How can one person have so much clothes?
In terms of distraction and entertainment, how about this 9-year old captioning New Yorker cartoons. It started when her aunt posted her work, which then got noticed by the magazine itself.
I have several favourites. This one is most apt to my current circumstances. I’m trying very hard not to judge, honest.
And, more packing. I made a start on Papa’s room, clearing the old desk and his desk. Keeping paperwork with me when we move, just like I packed the files in my filing cabinet to 4 office boxes.
For a bit of light relief, I’m playing geoguessr. It’s been around for a while. It’s a game that drops the player in a random location and the trick is to put a pin on the google map to as close to the actual location as possible. We can focus on a smaller area, like central london. There’s the blazingly obvious, like the London Eye above.
Or the obvious to Londoners, like the Odeon Shaftesbury Ave, which I’m surprised is still around.
There are really obscure building sites and residential streets. Luckily we can move around the map and sometimes street name signs are vaguely visible. If not the street name, it may be possible to deduce council. This pretty mews can be anywhere, but walking out to the main street and I could see Post Office Tower in the background so I can guess the approximate location.
Pretty fun game to take my mind off things for a few minutes.
Packing continues. I’m working on my next sideboard and the kitchen. There seems to be something to pack everywhere. So.much.stuff.
I know I put a ton of books to be given away, but I kept all my David Eddings and all the Potters. News about Potter, its US publisher is releasing new covers to mark the 20th anniversary of book 1’s release in the US. The 7 covers come from one giant image and are designed by Brian Selznick.
Think about that for a moment.
Technically 21 years because Philosopher’s Stone was first published in 1997. And honestly, at this point, they should just scrap the stupid Sorcerer’s Stone name.
Have to start packing in earnest, the movers are coming next Tuesday. They will pack everything that is being moved, but our complication is we’re not moving a substantial amount of stuff, which needs to be boxed and labelled ourselves. Plus so much rubbish to throw away.
Took me more than a day to pack the huge glass cabinets in the living room. An entire set of Hornsea dinner set plus an entire cottage tea set. Wedgewood, decoration, wine glasses. Now I need to sort my room, then I can tackle the rest of the flat. But I soon realised: a) I have a lot of stuff crammed into one room; b) I don’t have any space to manoeuvre. The only solution is to dismantle the bed to clear space. It’s amazing how much footprint a bed takes up.
Winter clothes will be packed away and stored in the wardrobe during renovation. The clothes I’ll need for the next 3 months will go in my suitcases. I’m taking the entire contents of my filing cabinet but not the cabinet itself–4 document boxes. I can leave the files behind but I don’t want confidential and personal stuff around while the builders are in. I put 2 shelves of books to the pile for charity collection, there are some books I never read and will likely never read so may as well give them away. Others, I’ll get the ebooks.
It’s becoming clear that most of our possessions are not needed and we keep them due to some hoarding instinct. Why do I need 100 pens? Three large boxes of shoes when I wear one pair at a time? What’s the point of collecting a whole drawerful of small toiletries?
Anyway, I’ll be sleeping on the sofa for the foreseeable future. We’re taking my bedframe and Mum’s mattress and she will sleep in the larger bedroom. I’ll stay on the sofa until we buy a single bed, which will eventually go into the helper’s room.
I read about this new game in the app store called PUBG mobile. The reviews are very good, and lots of praises for the quality of a mobile game.
I’m not a prolific gamer. I play candy crush or farmhouse heroes. Sometimes I find a game I like I’ll play it a little more then I tend to lose interest. I’ve never paid any attention to shooting games, and this PUBG is just another shooting game. Or so I thought. It’s something called a battle royale game:
Each match drops 100 players into a vast, open map where they scrounge up gear and wage gun battles in an effort to be the last player or squad standing. A randomly selected “safe” zone pushes players into an ever-shrinking portion of the map, ensuring that matches end in a reasonable amount of time.
I don’t know what drove me to download it but I did. It’s pretty hard to see on the small iphone screen, I try to make do.
So I parachute onto an island:
I pick up weapons (the game automatically picks up items when I walk over them) and explore the island on my own in a solo game, or with teammates in a duo or squad game:
Other players shoot back and it’s a strategy of whether to go in guns blazing or be more cautious. I find when I play in squads I spend a lot of time figuring out where my teammates are and trying to follow them. Teammates are random people, since I don’t have any friends to play with. No idea who or where these random people are; or if they are real people. I usually go to a quiet place to loot then make my way to the circle. Sometimes I get killed by the playzone, I’ve had top 10s a few times. Not very successful in terms of winning.
Winners are given a chicken dinner. Dunno why, it’s kinda funny. This win was in a duo, my teammate and I drove up to the top of a hill in a buggy and there was shooting. Teammate was killed, I killed the killer. Then I retreated to behind the buggy to heal up. Just as I was drinking an energy drink, the chicken dinner screen popped up. The last person got killed by being outside the playzone.
Recently, an update gave more game features, including training, faster vehicles and arcade mode where 28 people play in a small playzone. Much faster pace and good practice. Each arcade game focuses on one type of weapon or there’s an all weapons mode too. I’ve played pistols only, melee which has no guns, sniper rifles etc.
The first few games in squad I got chicken dinners. Then it either got harder or I got worse. It’s still quite fun.
PUBG (pronounced pub-g, I didn’t know till I watched some youtube videos) is one of a bunch of similar survival shooting games. The others include Fortnite and Rules of Survival. Fortnite has a huge following, and has the most players. I can’t play the mobile version because it doesn’t support iphone 6, ah well. These games are free, and the in-game purchases are quite limited. Different clothing, or a loot box that gives a chance of different clothing. Considering clothes don’t matter in the game, it’s incredible that the games make millions. Must be something about clothes that I’m not getting.
Fortnite is more cartoon-y and allows players to build defensive forts. This spoof video makes fun of the difference. The effects are pretty cool and tongues are firmly planted in cheeks.
I also came across an article describing a ransomware that locks files unless the user plays PUBG. Huh? I think it’s PC only, and infected computers will show a message telling users to play PUBG for an hour. Security experts discovered that playing for 3mins will unlock the files. It feels like an April Fool’s joke.
Anyway, I play a handful of games occasionally. I’m still really bad at it, not having a lot of shooting game experience. I’m not sure how long my interest will hold.
My first EX raid invite! I don’t raid a lot though lately I’ve tried to make sure I get at least one of the legendaries. I had to look at the directions on the invite to see where the gym that I won the qualifying raid is located. Aha, it’s the park next to the market. Makes sense, it’s one of the gyms I’ve raided at most frequently. I think I even remember the exact raid that got me the invite.
So anyway, monday at 1pm isn’t a very user-friendly time. I feel sorry for people who need to go to work or school.
I finished lunch early and walked to the park. On the way there was a latias raid so I participated, but didn’t catch it.
I was at the gym around 12.45pm and I was pretty shocked to see there were like 80 people there already. Wow. I had no idea what to do, luckily I overheard someone talk about team yellow, and I asked if I could join. They kindly said yes. It was only when I looked around that I noticed people were standing in small groups by team colour. My Instinct team had 8 people. Almost all the people there seem to know each other! From snippets of conversation, these people play a lot more than me, and take it much more seriously. They talked about an unspoken rule about what time they should occupy gyms, I’m nowhere near that sophisticated.
When the raid started, we got into a private group and began fighting Mewtoo. Took him down really quickly. Now I see why teams are split by colours, we all got 11 balls.
I fed him a golden raspberry and threw an ordinary ball, not even nice. And then I got him. First ball. Everyone in my team seemed to have been successful, although one of the aunties asked the younger guy to throw for her, hahaha. Done, I was on my way to the market and the shuttlebus in 10mins.
SmugMug has acquired Flickr.
If you use our products today, rest easy, they aren’t going anywhere.
The future is bright, but we’ll only get there together.
Let’s do this.
I don’t know whether to be glad, relieved or afraid. I’m hoping for the best, because under yahoo, it couldn’t have gotten worse. What used to be one of the best photography websites was completely and utterly rundown by a monster corporation. Many people are surprised flickr is still around.
I’ve heard of smugmug, they seem to be doing well in their niche market of providing storage and sharing facilities for professional photographers. An independent business, they’ve never taken on outside investment nor have they shown any interest in buyout offers. CEO Don MacAskill seems to understand, and has stated that he is a longtime fan of flickr:
Flickr is an amazing community, full of some of the world’s most passionate photographers. It’s a fantastic product and a beloved brand, supplying tens of billions of photos to hundreds of millions of people around the world.
There can be overlap. Smugmug’s core users are enthusiasts and professionals, flickr has professionals but are mainly for enthusiasts and casual users. This is a way for smugmug to expand its business.
There are a massive number of loyal flickr users. If smugmug makes it great again, I’ll probably go back to paying for pro. Member since 2005 with over 33k pics.
Oh, a little tidbit. Did Stewart Butterfield consider buying flickr back:
Never really considered … not something you can really do part time. But, I think this is an excellent outcome given the circumstances.
Last weekend was the Boston Marathon. The unsurprising results were in the wheelchair division: Tatyana McFadden and Marcel Hug. In the non-wheelchair division the results were complete surprises–Yuki Kawauchi won the men’s and Desiree Linden won the women’s race. Only one Kenyan in either podium positions–Geoffrey Kirui came second in the men’s race. No Ethiopian, and the women’s podium had 3 North Americans.
The weather contributed a lot to the results. Conditions were horrid, cold and windy and rainy. Which made Kawauchi’s and Linden’s victories all that special.
Desiree Linden is an experienced marathoner, representing the US in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and came 4th at Boston last year. She is also a fabulous team player, slowing down mid-race to wait for Shalane Flanagan and again helping Molly Huddle try to close the gap on the leaders. If that isn’t the epitome of sportsmanship, what is.
Yuki Kawauchi is the first Japanese winner and he’s always been a legend. He participates in an average of one marathon per month. Just this year alone he’s run 4 marathons and look at his results:
Marshfield Road Runners–first
New Taipei City Wan Jin Shi–first
What’s more amazing is he’s still classified as an amateur–he has a full-time job working for the government of Saitama prefecture and unusually for Japanese runners, is not part of an ekiden. Because of his amateur status, he doesn’t have a sponsor although he is eligible to receive prize money. [Edit: he announced after Boston that he is turning pro.]
Brett Larner at japan running news has a detailed account of Kawauchi’s career leading up to Boston. He ran 2:08:27 at Tokyo 2011 and started looking at entering races abroad. Before this year his work schedule didn’t allow him to run Boston, which takes place on a monday. He has run NYC 3 times because the november race falls in a long weekend in japan.
The planning for Boston 2018 began one year earlier. Brett tells the story of meeting Bill Rodgers at a Red Sox game in 2017 and him recording a short video for Kawauchi. The message: “I know you haven’t run Boston yet. You HAVE TO run Boston.”
Kawauchi’s 2018 results show how versatile and tough he is. He finished 3rd on the brutal downhill 6th stage at the Hakone ekiden which shows he can tackle downhill. He won the Marshfield New Year marathon, Marshfield being south of Boston and it was sub-zero in January. Wan Ji Shi in Taiwan was in hot and humid conditions. All his bases were covered as far as possible Boston weather conditions.
That left strategising against the competition. The Kenyans, the Ethiopians, and the Americans, especially Chicago winner Galen Rupp. What became clear was it’s historically impossible to win Boston by going out fast, leading for the first 25k, and not fast enough in the last 10k. Nobody who goes out hard wins Boston.
So what did Kawauchi do?
He went out hard, very hard, 4:37 first mile. He made everyone in the field go out hard too, and played a little psychological warfare with them. They knew they shouldn’t be going out fast, but had to keep up with him, and at the back of their minds is the conventional wisdom of not going out hard. It must have played on the minds of the others. And then he started breaking them one by one. Rupp broke and ended up DNF, as did many others. The only remaining obstacle was Geoffrey Kirui, and he got passed at around 35k.
Kawauchi came to Boston fully prepared for any situation. In the words of outside:
On a day when the conventional running wisdom dictated that it would be absolute suicide to take the lead early and bear the brunt of the gale-force winds, Kawauchi not only took the lead, but jetted out at sub-world record pace for the first mile, opening up a huge gap between himself and the rest of the field.
Anyone who used macs before they got popular will have heard of Susan Kare, or will go “duh” when shown her work. From the AIGA medal page:
she created some of the most recognizable icons, typefaces, and graphic elements in personal computing: the command symbol (⌘), the system-failure bomb, the paintbrush, and, of course, “Clarus the Dogcow.”
She drew many of her creations by hand, using the smallest graph paper she could find–a 32×32 grid that so happened to total 1024, one square per pixel. Other iconic creations include the Chicago font. She later spent time at facebook and pinterest, but it’s her work at apple that is so meaningful.
I’ve started to tidy up my stuff in readiness for moving back to rob while we have builders in. In the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet I find my old electronics:
original sony ereader
One of those is not like the others.
I’ve used every single one of those, almost all to the end of their lives. Except the OLPC, which is new and still in its packaging.
I got it when it first came out, paid USD199 or something like that. Pay for two, get one and the other one goes to a child in a developing country. That was their sell anyway. I’m not sure if it ever reached its intended destination; after a lot of buzz the whole project seems to have died out. There’s an article in The Verge that tried to explain why everything went wrong.
The idea was noble. Keep cost of laptop to under $100 and send it to children all over the world so they can use it to learn and be connected. It would be powered by solar energy or by hand-cranking, like one of the torches I have. It runs Linux, every techie’s dream. But from the moment at the demo when the crank handle fell off, things went downhill. It’s typical of:
tech industry hubris, a one-size-fits-all American solution to complex global problems
which doesn’t work. It also didn’t help that costs escalated to beyond the $100 mark, so its biggest selling point was lost. Other manufacturers soon started making small netbooks that were $200-400 but ran windows, I remember the Eee and I myself bought an MSI netbook too.
When talking about computers in classrooms, we get an image of tablets–cheap android tablets or even ipads. I’m surprised OLPC is still around and making laptops. Small markets in Latin America sustains its business. Nowadays. it looks so outdated. I’m also surprised to read that most OLPCs still work, may be I should try cranking mine up and see what it does.
We signed up for an exercise class at mm’s complex. One lesson a week will get us started. The class is called funky dance, and is basically cardio to music. The class is small, only 5 people including us. The other classmates apparently have been going to this class for a year.
Feeling a little sore, not too bad. My knee acted up, and I had to slow down on some of the routines. The hardest was plank, because I’m so unfit. I used to be able to do 2min planks but today I couldn’t even go 20 seconds.
Continuing the healthfulness, we had salad bar lunch at Wildfire. Lots of salad–beetroot, pumpkin, leaves, spinach soup, fruit and small dessert.
It’s mareep community day!! After playing for a long time, I finally hatched 3 mareeps a few weeks ago, and had enough candy to evolve to flaafy. I’m looking forward to evolving ampharos.
For us the event ran from 11am to 2pm. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t cooperating, heavy rain and wind. We went to a nearby diner for late breakfast first. It took about 10-15mins before mareeps started appearing. At first we were toughing it out with the rain, then it got lighter and the sky brightened up again. We just stuck to mm’s local area that has a seafront and two parks. That was enough to catch lots of mareeps.
We allowed time to go home and evolve to ampharos to get the special moveset. I managed to get 3 shinies too, so I have one each shiny.
Good event. Rumour is next month is charmander. It’ll be great to get a charizard with special moveset. Oh, and shinies too.
Meeting mm in the afternoon but I had a few errands to run before that. Had to go across the harbour to central post office. I hadn’t realised that the price of postage had gone up so a letter I sent was returned. I had to pay a penalty (the equivalent of 5p lol) and the additional postage (another 5p) to send the letter again. The cost of the penalty and additional postage was less than how much it cost me to travel to the post office and back! But it was a management fee payment and I didn’t want the cheque to get lost forever. Anyway, it was a surprisingly clear day with no visible haze. I still had to take anti-histamine so there’s still a lot of pollution.
Had tea at toastbox with mm then took the bus to the area where there are a number of home decoration shops. Saw more tiles and other stuff. She had made me measure out the dimensions of the rooms in the flat and draw the whole flat out. Used that to ask for price estimate for tiles and the like. I’m so inexperienced with home renovation that I hadn’t given the process much of a thought.
Normally we meet for lunch at the foodcourt then take a taxi. We were very early today so we thought we’d take a look around the restaurants inside the shopping centre. Decided to try a Shanghainese place that had 30% off for dimsum. Order a selection and a main dish. Pretty good, makes a change from foodcourt food.
Lots of people at the cemetery. Saw nearly 20 taxis going down as we were going up. There was a long, long queue when it was time for us to leave, but it only took 5-10mins for us to reach the top of the queue.
Went to an ikea nearby. This one is huge!! More like the size of ikeas in the UK and US. Plus a restaurant too. Saw some useful furniture and designs. I’m not taking my bed with me when we move; I saw a nice sofa bed that I can use, and we can use it if we hire a helper.
Pretty full from lunch, just had noodles for dinner.
Very rarely do I learn so much from just one article, and this is what I just did, reading about The Secret Language of Ships, or how to interpret the names, numbers and symbols on huge container ships. The names and symbols are not only for officials, they also tell tugboats all the information the pilots need to help steer a ship. I remember the Hastings singlehandedly rescuing our cruiseship just outside Melbourne, and one of our neighbours is a tugboat pilot and it’s simply amazing, what they can do.
The owner, name and flag of the ship is paintec at the stern. Here the owner is Hanjin, the ship’s name is Beijing, and it sails under the flag of Panama. The International Maritime Organization, or IMO, number is the ship’s identification. Over its lifetime, the owner, name, or flag may change, but the IMO never changes. It’s possible to look up the ship’s history and location using IMO.
The human-shaped dummies are there to deter pirates into thinking there are crew members on watch.
This ship has what is called a bulbous bow, a round shape at the bottom of the bow that reduces drag, increasing speed and fuel efficiency. When at sea, the bulb is underwater so it’s necessary to tell tugboats that information, so there is no accidental collison. The white symbols, the one that looks like a 5 without the top line and the circle with a cross, is used for that purpose. The 5-alike symbol says there’s a bulb and the circle-cross says there’s a bow thruster also equipped.
The white rectangle with yellow border tells pilots this is the place to board the ship. It’s called the pilot boarding mark and the tugboat will wait till the rope ladder and gangplank are deployed. On some boats there is no gangplank and the pilot climbs solely using a flimsy rope ladder. Makes them even more kickass. Negotiating a huge ship into a narrow port is already amazing.
I know hydroponics is the future of agriculture, if we have a chance of keeping our species and the planet in good shape. I was glad to read about a group of German scientists who successfully grew greens, radishes and cucumbers in Antarctica.
Of course they didn’t grow the veg outside, in sub-freezing temperatures. They use optimised lighting and temperature conditions and a closed water system in a greenhouse next to the research station. No soil involved. Take a look at the flickr set of the project, called EDEN-ISS. They expect to be able to regularly harvest 4-5kg of vegetables each week.
The idea isn’t merely to grow vegetables for the scientists at the research station, this is an experiment to see whether it’s possible to grow vegetables on the moon, on Mars, and under harsh climate conditions on Earth.
Mum and I went to loom at bathroom and kitchen tiles. First we had lunch at a new Korean place. Good lunch set, value for money. She ordered the bbq set and I had an oxtail noodle soup set. I ended up eating almost half her grilled meat anyway.
Saw a few tiles we like, there’s one especially that caught our eye. Pretty plain, off-white, very clean-looking.
Somehow it feels like a normal day, I had to look at the calendar to realise it’s a saturday. Days bleed into each other nowadays.
Mum and I went to central to the electrical appliances shop to look at ovens, fridges and washing machines. They also have air-conditioners. I saw a double door fridge that I like, will need to get someone in to measure the stairs and kitchen space.
Lunch was simple noodle soup. There’s some superstition that says must have noodles on birthday to ensure longevity, probably because noodles represent longevity. Anyway, suited our purposes. Popped back to my flat to check mail.
Met sis and gis for tea buffet at the Conrad. Nice atmosphere, small atrium café with not too many tables, and we got a corner table to boot. Debated whether to get the free flow drinks but decided against it. In terms of food, there was more than enough to satisfy the most hungry: salad, dimsum, noodles (more noodles, I had laksa), satay, cheese, fruit, waffle, pastry, ice cream. When I called round the hotels to book, I asked if they offered anything for birthday and the answers were disappointing. The Marriott and Conrad both said they can bring a cake from the buffet selection and ice “happy birthday” on it. I was like, nope. I did the birthday cake myself, took a piece of chestnut cake–one of my favourite–and sis brought a candle. We did a low key birthday celebration, that was fine.
After tea, they all went home. I met up with mm for an hour for a glass of wine. She couldn’t join tea buffet, and she has a family dinner. The dinner as it happens is in the same area as the Conrad so it was convenient.
I was still very full, so didn’t need dinner. Only afterwards did I see a missed text from sis at around 7.30pm asking me to join her and R for dinner. Hahaha, I was already home by 7.30pm.
Braille Neue is a font designed by Kosuke Takahashi that combines regular Latin characters with braille dots. It can be easily read by sighted people, and visually impaired people will be able to identify the characters equally well. Most braille characters fit almost perfectly into the letter, with a few exceptions.
A Japanese version is in development. I wonder how braille works in different languages. I know sign languages are different around the world; I expect braille to be different too. Wonder if it’s possible to design a font that can be understood by as many sighted and blind people as possible.