retroactive posting, and nothing’s changed much in 11 years

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.

None of this is new. Nor is it a surprise.

Frankly, nothing has changed in almost 11 years.

#websiterebuild 3000 posts


It’s taken 2 weeks to import 1000 posts; just finished jan-2008 today. Been fixing flickr and youtube embeds to html5 so they can be viewed without flash.

Funny to skim through the old posts to see how quickly some topics become out-of-date. These are all from jan-2008:

Then again, some things never change:

including what Jason Kottke calls the editorial direction of the website:

The best posts from jan-2008: paid off my mortgage and watched layer tennis:


Just over 4 years to go, to backtrack to sep-2003. Beyond late 2007, it’s not one post a day, so hopefully I can push through the months quicker.

#websiterebuild 2000 posts


#websiterebuild is up to 2,000 posts. Going back in time, I just finished importing sep-2010. Importing around 1,000 posts from the last milestone took just under 2 weeks. Plus of course new posts and I’m counting the drafts that will be scheduled.

It’s quite interesting to read through some of the old posts, like looking at old photos or movies. Moving to London, then leaving. In 2010 I was just about to leave Chicago. My first marathon in 2010. How much more cooking I used to do when I had ingredients I liked. Still lots of travelling. How I saw mm more often when we were living on different continents than this year, when we’re less than an hour away.


#websiterebuild 1032 posts


#websiterebuild continues. The last 2 weeks has been spent importing old posts from MT to WP. As I can’t access the MT dashboard to export the DB; and am uncomfortable working with mysql and myphpadmin, it’s a labourious process using a html import plugin. It takes


static html files from a directory within the same server and imports them to WP as posts or pages. There is limited customisation, the most important being I can specify the tags containing the content I want to import. I know that the actual post content is inside the <div class=asset-body> tag, so it strips out the header, tabs and sidebar of a single post.

The imported post isn’t perfect, the <div> container tags are included, and stupid WP adds <p> tags all over the place. Other manual adjustments: date (everything gets imported with 21-sep-2015 for some reason), categories and tags. Every post has to be opened and edited, no bulk editing available.

I’ve been slowly importing month by month, working backwards in time. I’m now at apr-2013 and have reached 1000+ posts. Only about 3000 to go on the main page. Then I have to tackle the old travel and food sections. May be even the old technical section, although that was mainly how to install MT. Hidden doors will likely not be imported.

Working with WP on a daily basis is like going on an immersion course. Do I like it more now? No. I’m tolerating it. It still feels like a shotgun marriage, where I had no choice. Perhaps the resentment will fade in time and I accept it more. The biggest complaint is the editor. I don’t like the editor font, I hate that it adds stupid <p> tags and ignores my <br /> tags. There’s a lot of scrolling up and down to select categories. Month is a dropdown, why can’t I just type it in a box? After 12 years writing in the MT editor it’s an awkward transition. And I’m talking about the text editor, not the visual editor. Oh, I know there are plugins to fix all that–I read the plugins’ reviews and am not keen to install them.

I’ve also noticed that people (or more likely, bots) are trying to login and attack my website. WP sites are notoriously vulnerable because of its popularity and that it’s open sourced. A bit like PCs back in the day. I installed jetpack and wordfence, which seem to offer good defences. It’s just disconcerting, watching the number of blocked malicious login attempts go up every day. Never had that problem with MT.

So what’s good? It’s quite simple to use, almost too simple. The scheduled post function works. There’s a decent sized support community and codex. If I have a problem, chances are someone has encountered it before.

test ifttt (3)

with excerpt, no image.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec a diam lectus. Sed sit amet ipsum mauris. Maecenas congue ligula ac quam viverra nec consectetur ante hendrerit. Donec et mollis dolor. Praesent et diam eget libero egestas mattis sit amet vitae augue. Nam tincidunt congue enim, ut porta lorem lacinia consectetur. Donec ut libero sed arcu vehicula ultricies a non tortor. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aenean ut gravida lorem. Ut turpis felis, pulvinar a semper sed, adipiscing id dolor. Pellentesque auctor nisi id magna consequat sagittis. Curabitur dapibus enim sit amet elit pharetra tincidunt feugiat nisl imperdiet. Ut convallis libero in urna ultrices accumsan. Donec sed odio eros. Donec viverra mi quis quam pulvinar at malesuada arcu rhoncus. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. In rutrum accumsan ultricies. Mauris vitae nisi at sem facilisis semper ac in est.

Vivamus fermentum semper porta. Nunc diam velit, adipiscing ut tristique vitae, sagittis vel odio. Maecenas convallis ullamcorper ultricies. Curabitur ornare, ligula semper consectetur sagittis, nisi diam iaculis velit, id fringilla sem nunc vel mi. Nam dictum, odio nec pretium volutpat, arcu ante placerat erat, non tristique elit urna et turpis. Quisque mi metus, ornare sit amet fermentum et, tincidunt et orci. Fusce eget orci a orci congue vestibulum. Ut dolor diam, elementum et vestibulum eu, porttitor vel elit. Curabitur venenatis pulvinar tellus gravida ornare. Sed et erat faucibus nunc euismod ultricies ut id justo. Nullam cursus suscipit nisi, et ultrices justo sodales nec. Fusce venenatis facilisis lectus ac semper. Aliquam at massa ipsum. Quisque bibendum purus convallis nulla ultrices ultricies. Nullam aliquam, mi eu aliquam tincidunt, purus velit laoreet tortor, viverra pretium nisi quam vitae mi. Fusce vel volutpat elit. Nam sagittis nisi dui.

test ifttt (2)


two images. 1 = strawberries.


2 = ice cream van. See which one the feed picks.

No excerpt. How many words will it post?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec a diam lectus. Sed sit amet ipsum mauris. Maecenas congue ligula ac quam viverra nec consectetur ante hendrerit. Donec et mollis dolor. Praesent et diam eget libero egestas mattis sit amet vitae augue. Nam tincidunt congue enim, ut porta lorem lacinia consectetur. Donec ut libero sed arcu vehicula ultricies a non tortor. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aenean ut gravida lorem. Ut turpis felis, pulvinar a semper sed, adipiscing id dolor. Pellentesque auctor nisi id magna consequat sagittis. Curabitur dapibus enim sit amet elit pharetra tincidunt feugiat nisl imperdiet. Ut convallis libero in urna ultrices accumsan. Donec sed odio eros. Donec viverra mi quis quam pulvinar at malesuada arcu rhoncus. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. In rutrum accumsan ultricies. Mauris vitae nisi at sem facilisis semper ac in est.

Vivamus fermentum semper porta. Nunc diam velit, adipiscing ut tristique vitae, sagittis vel odio. Maecenas convallis ullamcorper ultricies. Curabitur ornare, ligula semper consectetur sagittis, nisi diam iaculis velit, id fringilla sem nunc vel mi. Nam dictum, odio nec pretium volutpat, arcu ante placerat erat, non tristique elit urna et turpis. Quisque mi metus, ornare sit amet fermentum et, tincidunt et orci. Fusce eget orci a orci congue vestibulum. Ut dolor diam, elementum et vestibulum eu, porttitor vel elit. Curabitur venenatis pulvinar tellus gravida ornare. Sed et erat faucibus nunc euismod ultricies ut id justo. Nullam cursus suscipit nisi, et ultrices justo sodales nec. Fusce venenatis facilisis lectus ac semper. Aliquam at massa ipsum. Quisque bibendum purus convallis nulla ultrices ultricies. Nullam aliquam, mi eu aliquam tincidunt, purus velit laoreet tortor, viverra pretium nisi quam vitae mi. Fusce vel volutpat elit. Nam sagittis nisi dui.

#website rebuild: xmlprc

Continuing to work on the WP installation. Internally, I’m copying over old posts. November and October 2015 were done manually (as in, copy-and-pasting each post individually) before I discoverd html-import plugin. The posts still need cleaning up after import, but it’s much more time efficient.


I was also trying to install the popular jetpack plugin. With over 1 million installs ( and hosted) it seems to offer a lot of useful modules. Installation wasn’t successful, I got a site inaccessible error.


So I thought I’d leave it and go do the next thing on my list, set up in IFTTT. Argh. More errors. I have never had trouble activating any channel on IFTTT before.

A lot of googling show tons of similar errors and pleas for help with both errors. Most of the answers were unclear and didn’t offer much in the way of practical solutions. I tried all but the technical suggestions:

  • lame: use www, don’t use www, use http://, don’t use http://
  • somewhat makes sense: disable other plugins, point to wp install directory vs site url, disable two-factor authentication
  • way too technical: DNS/CNAME issue, enable non-https

Turns out, both errors relate to the xmlprc.php file. People are advised to check with their ISP whether this file is restricted. I could see it in cpanel but I got a “Page not Found” error when I tried to access it on my browser.

A little more googling and I found someone with the exact same error who is also an icdsoft customer. So I emailed suresupport and I got my reply in under 10mins (I love suresupport):

Blocking access to the xmlrpc.php file has been implemented as an additional security measure, because xmlrpc.php is a common target for hackers who scan for outdated and flawed versions of WordPress.

Support gave me some code to add to htaccess in the wp directory (not the root htaccess) and that worked. Jetpack installed and configured. I only activated a few of the available options, primarily mobile site and security.

IFTTT channel activated after I figured out the url is rather than just The issue is that IFTTT doesn’t trigger with a test post I added. Seems to be more complicated than it needs to be. What I’m not liking about WP is that there doesn’t seem to be an actual page generated per post. The permalink isn’t html or php–it’s an entry in the database. Same with rss links, I’m used to them being atom.xml or such like, and again there isn’t a actual url. All the stuff I’m having to learn and get used to.

As of right now, my verdict on WP is I’m tolerating it because I have no choice. Yes, the straightfoward stuff is fairly easy to figure out. It’s too easy sometimes, there’s not enough flexibility to tinker and fiddle around.

Oh, I got rid of the slider on the homepage, it was driving me crazy.


playing with themes


Played around with themes. Initially found one that was like the modern magazine, with boxes for posts. Looks good but I didn’t like just excerpts on the homepage.

Found another clean looking one that shows full posts but, argh, anyone can see it’s a wordpress theme with their eyes closed. Nothing wrong with the classic look…I’m looking for something a little different.

This is the ifeature theme. At the top is a slider where I can place 3 images. Underneath are 3 pinned boxes. For me, a great place to feature various flickr sets. Full posts with right sidebar and space in the footer for more links.

While I was at it, I copied over the About pages and put them in the nav menu. The 101.1001 challenges are also on the top menu.

wp installation


Long story short, I haven’t updated MT since 2007. ICDSoft upgraded their server software causing massive errors to MT and I can’t access the dashboard. MT now costs $499 which, SixApart are you serious?

Options to continue include wordpress, tumblr, medium. Since moving to WP has always been on my mind, WP it is. Played around the free site ( Saw that you can buy a domain name and point it there, so I emailed ICDSoft support on the feasibility. No, no, no. If I point at, it’s for the ENTIRE site. I’ll lose my cpanel and control over all pages and files.

So hosted WP it is. But there is a silver lining, it’s a software included in my domain name. It takes a few clicks and a little tinkering with html and htaccess and it’s done.

Installed a theme, configured footer, added some plugins. Not too bad.

Now comes the hard part. Since I can’t access the MT dashboard, I can’t export the database. It means copying over all 12 years’ worth of posts. I’ll do it slowly, it’s a good opportunity to clean up links and images anyway.

lookback 24-aug

Time for another lookback post.

one year agotokyo trip planning

24-aug-2014 was a sunday; later that week we would be going to tokyo for a short trip, so the post was about trip planning. I made a list of places to go, let’s see how many we actually managed:

  • sukiji fish market — yep, twice
  • ginza — we walked past it, on the way somewhere else
  • shinjuki 新宿 for more shopping — don’t think so
  • shibuya 渋谷 for the iconic busy crossing, shopping at Tokyu Hands and Takashimaya — yep, interestingly our first time to the shibuya crossing, also found a farmer’s market and then visited the meiji temple
  • ebisu 恵比寿 for restaurants and izakayas — nope
  • roppongi 六本木 for bars and clubs — again, walked past
  • akihabara 秋葉原 for electronics — went past on subway
  • ueno 上野 for park and zoo — yep, this was a really interesting area, especially the discovery of Ameya-Yokochō アメヤ横丁 shopping and eating alley
  • asakusa 浅草 for a bit of history, culture and religion — nope
  • odaiba お台場 artificial island with a bridge, beaches, exhibition halls and shopping — nope

View post on

Another tidbit from the post was a pic of greater tokyo compared with london. Astounding.

three years agolunch at ledbury, dinner at hawksmoor

It was mm’s last full day in London after visiting me for 3 weeks. We were both really sad that the holiday was over. I was sad to see her leave, but I’d quit my job by then and I knew we’d see each other in a couple of months when I move back.

2012ldnled001 2012ldnled003

I took her to the ledbury for lunch. Borough market and vinopolis in the afternoon and then hawksmoor for dinner. I still think she preferred hawksmoor over the ledbury, and if I had to choose, I’d go for hawksmoor too. Ledbury dinner prices is sky-high but lunch is okay, around the same price as hawksmoor dinner. Still, we can say we’ve been to one of the best restaurants in London.

five years agobooks vs ebooks

A link to a newsweek article on books vs ebooks. Unfortunately 404 error means can’t find page anymore.

ten years agocrimson room game

No post on the 24th, nearest was 25-aug-2005 when I reported that I was playing this game that required finding 13 objects to escape from the room.

If you found:
0-6 items, your IQ is very low, total idiot
6-8 items, Low IQ, you are an idiot
9-10 items, you are normal
11-12 items, your IQ is high, above the average
13 items found and get out of the room, there are less than 4000 people in the world can do it.

I found 12. Sherlock gave me the game, sigh, I need to get back in touch with her. Original link no longer exists, but a little googling gives lots of options. It’s a flash game so I won’t play on the mba. The exact game isn’t an app, but there are now plenty of room escape apps available.



Culture, fashion, trends. They all seem to go through cycles, don’t they. People left right and centre are declaring that they are getting back to blogging. Matt Haughey (mefi founder), Andy Baio (XOXO co-founder), Gina Trapani (lifehacker founder) are all doing it. I feel like it’s like something that was old-fashioned one minute is suddenly the cool thing to do again.

Except I never stopped. And neither did a bunch of others like Jason Kottke, John Gruber and all the people I follow on feedly, so back is neither here nor there, really.

People abandoned blogging for twitter, facebook, tumblr, youtube, instagram, snapchat and all that. Then came medium and everyone was excited again. Yet medium is considered longer, more journalistic writing. (Or so I wanted to believe, until it slammed its doors in my face.)

A lot of emphasis on simplicity lately. With so many outlets, it does become a personal choice on which platform(s) to use and what to write about. Most of my posts fall under the definition of short- or mid-length. Taking a note of Gina Trapani’s new rules for blogging, with one or two exceptions:

  • if it’s a paragraph, it’s a post — thank you, thank you, thank you. Sometimes I find it hard to write more than a few sentences, so it’s validation of sorts. I’ll even go as far as saying, if it’s just one photograph, it’s a post
  • negotiate a comfort zone on two axes — tech/personal, travel/running something like that. I really have to tighten up my topics
  • traffic is irrelevant, don’t even measure it — my traffic has always been depressing, so let’s give up on monitoring it
  • simplify, simplify — she suggested no comments (yep), no categories, tags, footnotes, special post styles, pages (categories and tags are habit I’ll keep though), default wordpress template (does it mean I don’t need to redesign the site? that’s good news)
  • ask for trusted collaborator feedback — I dunno, I never had collaborators or guest bloggers, I can’t see it happening
  • have fun — I like this one

In sort of related news, I see someone I follow on social media referring to updated posts on livejournal. I’m trying not to roll my eyes here. I think that’s taking simplify and back-to-basics a bit too far. Then again, George R.R. Martin still updates his livejournal. I don’t know what to say.

writing for myself in a social vacuum

A few years ago, I thought about moving to tumblr, because it was it for a while and I was at a low point, trying to find a purpose:

What is the No. 1 reason that people quit blogging? Because they can’t find and develop an audience

At the end it was login problems that prevented the move so I’m still stuck on ancient MT4 on my own website. I know I have a few readers (waves thanks!!!) but mostly I think it has become an internal process. It’s almost like a daily task, and I admit sometimes I write a post for the sake of checking the one-post-a-day task on my invisible to-do list. May be that’s why I don’t have six million views a year, because who wants to read about something that occupies the same level of priority as brushing my teeth or mindful meditation.

Okay, that’s a bit harsh. Most days I try to think of something worthwhile or interesting to write. It’s still primarily writing for myself rather than readers (waves some more). I should pat myself on the back for maintaining a website for 10 years and almost 7 years of one-post-a-day.

That’s why I was quite excited when I discovered medium. For me, it fills a space somewhere in between my website and tumblr. It’s more public (at least before the recent collection changes, more in a bit) and for some reason I feel obliged to take more care about the craft of writing on medium. I had in mind that I’d crosspost more thoughtful and serious posts to medium, almost like writing for a magazine. When I post on medium, I imagine that I’m writing for my readers.

I was quite sad when I posted my most recent medium article and found that I could no longer submit to collections. Instead of posters being able to freely submit to any number of collections, they have changed it to only one collection and only if you are already the owner or a writer of that collection. Sigh. This is so disappointing. What I liked about medium was that all members were treated equally, that anyone can write anything and submit to any collection. The chance being discovered was equal. With this new change, it’s getting back to the age-old clique. The most popular collections will be of named and featured writers, while us peons will continue to languish at the bottom of the pit. As one prominent user lamented:

It turned a system that was beautifully democratic and turned it into a system of clique based collections that are closed off to the average creator. It’s like content communism.

My cynical view is that the ultimate end game is monetisation. They can charge to feature certain collections belonging to coporates and writers will clamour to be included in that group in order to get exposure. Imagine a Huffpo or Upworthy collection with millions of followers, who wouldn’t want their article to be a part of that?

Will I continue to post to medium? Perhaps. I’ve had to create my own collection. I’m the only writer, and I’m back to writing for no one / myself. It’s a copy and paste job, and my posts look pretty on their clean interface.

What then becomes of tumblr? My login problem has resolved, so it’s active again. I’ve noticed that I’m using it not as a blogging platorm, but to curate content.


Like many people, I have far too many social media accounts (am I spread too thin? That’s another question for another time). When I signed up for IFTTT i had to figure out how my online presence flows. Where are my active vs passive presences. How I use each site:

  • website: traditional blogging — personal thoughts, experiences, longer posts
  • medium: public writing — more “interesting” posts
  • twitter: random observation, log exercise, feeds to google doc for record keeping
  • instagram: started off as food pics, trying to expand and be more interesting, a little more social, keep an eye on niece
  • flickr: photo repository, not using for social purposes
  • facebook: community, sharing, keeping in touch
  • tumblr: curation for my own and other people’s content

Originally I wanted to curate everything to tumblr, then to facebook. I decided against it and made both tumblr and fb end points to the flow. There are certain things I prefer to curate rather than share openly. There are people on my fb friends list that constantly share cat (and worst, dogs, yuck) pictures, inspirational quotes and minute details of their lives. I don’t want to be the tool who does that. I may experiment a little though, not post for a while, over post for a while, crosspost. I doubt anyone will notice, it’s all an empty vacuum anyway.

random post topic


Yet more people on my twitter and facebook feeds telling the world about their new blog. SMH. And most of them are WRITERS. I wish they’d learn the difference between blog and blog post. grrrrr.

Stop. Take a deep breath. Remember what SB&T has been teaching.

Let it be.

Alright. Do something else. What shall I blog about today? How about using random topic generator. As one blogger described it,

a tool for bloggers utterly devoid of inspiration and internal thought process

Good one. Sometimes though, I do find myself utterly devoid of inspiration and internal thought process. The most exciting I did in the last 24hrs was I cooked pork chops and okra for dinner. I could write about that, I suppose. How to pan-fry okra without them going slimey. Except I’ve done that already. Or that I made a packet of instant grits, added too much water and had to use up another packet. Note to self: add instant grits to US shopping list.

So, back to random topic generator. Not sure how random it is, or how many topics it has in its database. It splits topics into 12 categories, so let’s try a few of them.

health — eating late at night

I try not to eat after around 9pm, even though my bedtime ranges from 11pm to 1am. Not quite for health reasons, I just don’t like going to bed with a full stomach and (TMI) don’t like waking up all the time to go to the loo. My family’s dinner time is early, sometimes even before 6pm and I try to have some fruit after dinner too.

Even in my younger days when I used to go out drinking, I was never tempted by the post-pub foodstuff like a greasy kebab or fish & chips. There’s a program on tv called last call food brawl where chefs face off against each other cooking epic iconic late night food of whichever city they were visiting that week. The creations are more gigantic, stodgy, crazy than epic. Anything deep fried, smothered with sauce with bacon added seemed to qualify. Who in their right minds would want to eat that? I guess only drunk people at 2am.

Another image of eating late at night is of Nigella, in her sleeping gown, raiding the fridge and getting something yummy she made earlier, be it ice cream, biscuits, leftover dinner or fish finger sarnie. Then smirking at the camera with a combination of self-satisfaction and guilt. Now that’s eating late at night.

science — early uses of the abacus


I’m not sure what early uses mean. Abacus is a calculating device used in many parts of the world dating back to BC times. It’s pretty much used for the same purpose. Early uses that didn’t include calculation? As a weapon? As a foot massager? To build houses? The random topic generator should have said, uses for abacus in early history.

I was taught how to use an abacus, I can read numbers off it and probably use it very slowly if necessary. It was more a toy. Very occasionally in one of those traditional herbal medicine shops I may see one in use, I hope I remember to take a picture if I see it.

technology — european architecture


I wouldn’t put architecture under technology, but I get what is given to me, right? Anyway, one can’t live in or travel to europe without having some appreciation of architecture. Do I know the difference between romanesque and renaissance? I could probably recognise examples if someone told me or I looked it up. Like for romanesque imagine the Tower of London, St Albans cathedral and L’Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque in Provence, where we visited a couple of years ago.


And for renaissance what better example than St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

recreation — history of baseball

Skipping the topic. I only have a small passing interest in baseball. I guess if I grew up in the US I’d like it better, I do like playing rounders.

opinion – chocolate or vanilla?


Vanilla. That’s all.

all — cities to visit


There are other categories like businss, world, people, art, music. And then the all categories gave me cities to visit. Now that’s a task by itself. A long list. The next city I’ll visit will be Seoul, going there with mm in a few weeks’ time. New Orleans next July hopefully. There may be others in between.

In terms of travelling, I tend to prefer cities rather than, say, beach resorts. Nothing much there to do at beach resorts since I’m not a big fan of swimming in the sea or getting a tan. I’d rather find quiet time in a park or village café.


lookback 14-may

one year ago


Good timing, a year ago I just got back from the norway cruise and posted my trip highlights. Great memories of Copenhagen, Kiel, Geirangerfjord, Flam, Bergen, Oslo and Dubai. How will the glaciers in Alaska compare with the fjords of Norway as I prepare for the cruise next week. I’ve been a bit down and meh about the trip (not related to the destination because…Alaska) and looking back at the highlights of the norway cruise cheered me up a little.

five years ago


For the five year lookback I’m going to cheat a little. On 14-May-2009 the post was about coldplay’s latest album which they were giving away as a free download. Aside from gossip inches about chris martin, I hadn’t noticed a lot of news about coldplay in 5 years.

The post that was important that week 5 years ago was on 16-May-2009, when I signed the lease for my chicago apartment. I had been living out of suitcases in a serviced apartment for 5 months so it was particularly exciting to finally have my own furniture and stuff. I would call that place home for the next 18 months and it’s probably my favourite out of all the places I’d lived in my life.

ten years ago

I did not make a single post during May 2004. Those were the early days of blogging and I was travelling quite a bit. The closest was 26-Apr-2004 when I complained of gaining weight. Nothing new, but it would be a good few years before I finally got round to seriously losing that weight.

look back 21 march

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

today we fight back


Visitors to the website today 11-feb-2014 may get a black overlay banner that asks them to join a virtual movement to fight back against mass surveillance. Reddit and tumblr and upworthy and many other sites are also part of today’s movement. In the US the purpose is to ask people to ask their legislators to support the USA Freedom Act; in other parts of the world it’s to raise awareness and to ask them to sign a petition in support of the principles against mass surveillance.

I know i’ve said before that I don’t like overlays but THIS IS IMPORTANT. There is such a massive amount of stalking and surveillance by governments that is becoming creepy and intrusive. I’ve also said that I accept that my online activity is being tracked, but I’m angry at the denial and the seemingly ineffectiveness of said surveillance.

Will this protest work? It’ll probably make only the tiniest of dents, as the guardian (always good for an NSA surveillance story) points out,

the relentlessness of the surveillance forces and their enablers in the technology industry, and the fecklessness of the politicians who are supposed to honor their oaths of office, make it hard to be optimistic

For me, the recent Edward Snowden and NSA revelations have made me realise much more about what is going on behind our backs. Is it all in the name of “it’s for your protection and your own good” as governments claim? I think it started there, but has become more of a desire to control and exert power over people rather than to protect them. Governments, corporations and individuals all need to abide by a set of moral code, and although morals have grey areas, respect for human right is so basic that it cannot be disputed.

And privacy is a human right so it’s up to all of us to respect and be aware of it.

look back in time

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

one year ago:
kids on food

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

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

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

three years ago:
long surf ride

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

five years ago:
cheap brics

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


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

ten years ago:
bonus matters

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

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

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

look back summary

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

test tumblr

Resurrecting tumblr, see how the blog feeds to it now. I stopped using tumblr when they stopped taking full post rss feeds, but I can probably live with truncated post or a link now. I changed the website landing page back to tumblr. This post will feed to both fb and tumblr via ifttt. I have to figure out whether I want tumblr or twitter or facebook at the beginning or the end of the process.

Here’s a picture:


a bunch of blockquote text

A random link: 10 rules of surveillance dystopia stories on io9.

this is not a blog…

On my twitter feed and my facebook wall are occasional status updates to the tune of “check out my newest blog!” I do a double-take every time because that particular social media friend already has a website and did it mean that in addition to and the newest blog she announced last week, she now has

By saying “check out my newest blog!” she was actually trying to alert us that she has a new blog post up as opposed to a spanking new blog site. There is a subtle difference. And this casual interchangeability of two related but different terms kinda bothers me a wee bit.

I searched “new blog” on twitter, and it was about 80:20 split between new blog posts vs new blog when they mean new blog post. PwC Australia does it the correct way:


whereas the Arsenal fans’ tweet was misleading:


Of course there were people who genuinely did start a new blog:


or people who have new things happening at their blog (typos not withstanding):


Apparently it is a very common mistake. I thought it’s a rookie mistake, but according to Slate, people like the late great Roger Ebert, geek royalty Amanda Palmer and…gasp…Arianna Huffington also do it.


Let’s go back to the very beginning. The term blog is an abbreviation of web log, or in its early incarnation, a web diary. Blogs are made up of posts. You tend to only have a new diary every year, although you will have scores of entries inside. Another good analogy:

  • blog = newspaper
  • blog post = newspaper article

Try this: The journalist wrote a newspaper about last month’s unemployment figures. See what I mean?

So my social media friend who has just added content to her blog, would have been more correct in telling us to “check out the newest post on my blog!” I’m guessing the additional words make it more clunky and is potentially less impactful? IDK. People have the tendency to squish words together, so may be in the future it’ll be “check out my newest blost!” Snerk.

Why am I getting worked up about it? Aside from it sounds weird? I’ll categorise it as a pet peeve, like your vs you’re and their vs there. If someone is making a living writing for a blog, they should know the basic terminology of their job, right? Even if it’s just a personal blog, good spelling, grammar and proper word usage make a good impression. Slate was harsh, but take away the snarkiness and they have a point,

I’m not going to sugarcoat this—is that calling a post a blog makes you sound stupid. That may seem harsh, but I’m doing you a favor. Every time you make this mistake, it sounds like you don’t understand this newfangled thing, the World Wide Web.

I know I’m right about this. I’m a blogger. I’ve been blogging blogs and posting posts for over 10 years.

happy 10th birthday, website


With all my focus on the Japan trip, I almost missed that this webite turned 10 years old last week. The whole dates back longer than that, I first registered it in 1997, early versions of the very basic website was hosted at xoom, which doesn’t exist anymore ( is now some sort of money transfer site so don’t click on it). Transferred over to tripod, anyone remember that? As Steve Jobs said,


Got my own host and started designing Sept 2003. With a basic siteplan. And those first posts seem so lame now.

Who knows what will bring in the next 10 years? Who will still have blogs? Or self-hosted sites. It’ll all be mobile and instant gratification. The whole concept of websites will probably be something kids scoff as being so old fashioned.

watch out, i’m posting about running


6.40km 50.49min 7.56min/km (12.47min/mi)

It’s been pissing down with rain, but I was determined to go running today and managed to take advantage of a lull in the storm. Pretty slow, but it’s nice to be active again.

And as usual, I posted to twitter, which auto-posts to fb; and updated fitocracy. No action required on nikeplus, it syncs by itself. Compared to other obsessive people, I don’t think I post too much about my running or weight training or other exercise activities.

I don’t post to brag — my results aren’t good enough. I post because I want someplace to record my efforts. It’s motivating, in a way. I made sure I speeded up when my speed fell below 8min/km because I’d be embarrassed to show this slow speed on a public forum.

Seems though that perhaps others don’t share my view. Apparently, people who post about their diet and fitness progress are the worst thing about social media.

Ugh. At least I’m not an overly proud parent, ticket seller or serial commenter.

movable type year 12


Movable Type turns 12, which surely is fit for celebration. In this day and age of twitter, tumblr and mobile computing, it’s probably old-fashioned to be blogging, let alone blogging on a self-hosted CMS platform. From its early life as Ben and Mena Trott’s baby, to the glorious early SixApart days, to the disasters that were livejournal purchase, vox and to a certain extent, typepad, it’s been interesting to watch and experience.

I started with version 2 before quickly migrating to version 3. Stayed with version 3 for ages. Now still on version 4. More than 8 years with them.


Since the Japanese took over development at version 5, there have been lots more improvements. I’ll get round to upgrading one day. Will I ever switch to wordpress or tumblr? Every so often I think about it, and then I procrastinate.

tweet this post


So I added a tweet button to the website, at the bottom of individual posts, right after Evan Williams tweeted about it. I’m probably too optimistic to think that my posts will ever get tweeted by the handful people who are kind enough to follow me. If this post gets read, chances are that it’ll be on fb anyway, and how many people actually know about the website or figured out that hitting “View Original Post” will bring them over here. Heh.

p.s. I just realised it tweets the website, not individual posts. Or does it? I’ll have to test.

my blog is the exact opposite of me

via mefi again, a tool to analyse the MBTI personality of your blog. This is what I got:


I’m INTJ, occasionally ISTJ. 100% introvert. We all know this. And this here tool is saying I’m ESFP, which is the exact opposite??? I don’t get it.

Well, actually I do.

What I write here can be described as light, light-hearted, and even…trivial. I don’t post about anything controversial or deep. There’s tons of pictures of food, music I found, anything mac related, or quirky stuff I come across. Occasionally there’d be a rant. Mostly, I keep to basically harmless stuff, not only because I am aware that this is permanent public record but because this is a place where I want to record some interesting stuff that I like. It is my little escapist heaven. No wonder the tool thinks the writer of this blog is entertaining and friendly. evil laugh


Oh great. I start posting on tumblr and another similar site shows up.

This one is called jottit and its tagline:

Jottit makes getting a website as easy as filling out a textbox.

And it’s true! Type some text into a text box, and if it’s the first time it will prompt you to claim that site. Give it a name, a password, enter an email address and make some simple font and colour settings and it’s done. Obviously no further customisation, but I can edit my jottits which is more than I can do with my tumblrs.

After playing around, I came to the conclusion that it creates webpages, not posts listed in reverse chronological order like I’m used to. I randomly added 2 posts and they show up as separate pages. So, different concept from tumblr.

Oh my, I can sit here all day updating all my various websites.


I signed up for tumblr. I have no idea why because it overlaps with so many parts of the website. What is tumblr?

If blogs are journals, tumblelogs are scrapbooks.

In other words, a more organised way of side- or link-blogging. For the big bloggers who churn out magazine article length posts and who regularly entertain lots of comments, it may be something useful. A big advantage over regular blogs (be it mt, wordpress, LJ, blogger), according to lifehacker is that:

unlike regular blogging – which confronts you with a large, empty textarea to type your thoughts into – there are 6 distinct types of posts that have their own visual format: a “traditional” blog post, a photo, a quote, a single link, a conversational transcript, and a video.


This means even fewer formatting and coding headaches, and instant posting gratification.

The disadvantages are no comments, no trackbacks, no categories, no search and no functionality to change the timestamp. Actually, this what-you-post-is-what-you-get type of low touch posting has its appeal. The tumblelogs are hosted at their site, though there is a functionality to bring it on-site — but it looks like they can only point to the root and there’s some palaver about A-record and needing to mess with domain name DNS. Oh hell no.

The other thing is, it comes with standard themes. To make it look like the rest of the website will take some nifty (and time-consuming) css work.

Still, i can’t quite distinguish in my mind how I’d use the tumblelog vs the website. There’s no clearcut demarcation unfortunately, grey like the rest of the world. I’ve posted one youtube link before, and theoretically it should belong to the tumblelog now. hmm.

And besides, this is yet another social networking tool (like twitter and facebook) that is supposed to keep me in touch with my friends. I doubt it, cos I can’t see many of my friends joining. And like the my first tumblepost quotes, “If no one reads your post, does it exist?”

In any case, go check it out.

century club

Officially this is entry #100 here on quiet thoughts, although on the database it’s probably something like #341. It’s small potato compared with the weblogs out there that’s been around for ages.

But to show the power of this all, I’m posting this inside the Silver Kris lounge in Singapore airport, having just gorged myself with fried rice, chicken nuggets, soda water and a pretty ordinary tasting brandy. They don’t have enough terminals so I kept watching until someone finished. I have about an hour till the plane departs so what better use of my time?

Reflecting on why am I doing this, the weblog, the website? To make my mark in the world may be. Like most people I have a collection of thoughts, photos, travel stories and stuff that makes up … me. Usually they get lost cos I forget them quickly. I won’t be around forever, so perhaps this is an attempt to have something of mine that has a chance of outlasting me, I dunno.

I don’t know precisely, apart from that I enjoy it all, the html learning, the redesign, setting up the weblog, and I can’t imagine giving it up now.

One of the reasons is to rediscover myself. I find that as I grow older I’m becoming more and more uncaring, detached and indifferent; my motto has become I don’t care. Or on a more expressive day, I don’t fucking care. I have emotions but none are on any grand scale, be it grief, sadness, anger, love. Nothing burn in flames anymore, the intensity has all but disappeared.

The hope is by being disciplined and writing down my thoughts I might learn about the art of feeling again, if I don’t record my thoughts I might end up losing them.

membership is open

I have my first member! I created pizzaorme, using Movable Type. Now I’m 2 authors and 3 “proper” weblogs, which I think is already over the allowance in the free version of MT3. Luckily I haven’t upgraded, under 2.661 I can have as many as I like.

The pizza section looks like the rest of the site, we’ll have to work a bit harder to customize it, too many links are to my stuff, like I think we need to come up with a different faq and picture.

I read that under their definition a “weblog” is one that’s regularly updated (a 90-day frequency has been mentioned). I think they mean that the static pages like pictures, writings don’t really count as a weblog. Definitely in my mind they’re not, I just use the MT technology to build these pages.

Anyhow, I’m not upgrading to MT3 till I get the whole site done so there’s a little while to go yet.


I got approved for obscured logs and verbosity, both webrings. I was checking, the previous and next links for obscured logs seem to be random links but for verbosity they’re fixed. The previous verbosity is called heart failure by this 21 year old girl. The next link is someone’s test blog. I’m a bit annoyed at that. And there’s no link to the ring, which I think contravenes the rules?

I got a comment for quiet thoughts. Amazing. I did a trackback to Mena Trott’s post on weblogging, I guess people do read her writings, seeing that she’s co-founder of Six Apart afterall. I don’t know whether the commenter came from the trackback or via the rings. I’m just glad someone’s popped by.

Scary. It’s like first night on stage, peeping my head out, trying not to get noticed, but wanting to be.

the world doesn’t want to know about your sore toe

I read about increasing traffic and generally getting noticed and I think, why? No one comes here much. I don’t encourage it. I don’t have friends with websites let alone weblogs. I don’t have many friends anyway.

So what am I doing here? I mean, this is getting towards entry #100 and I’ve only had 2 comments. And that’s when I was on tripod, a more public community. I joined a few rings recently but they probably don’t do much, just seemed fun to try out.

I don’t need people here.

This place, it’s there so I can get disciplined and actually record some of what goes through my mind. It’s meant to be boring. I don’t whine about school cos I’m not at school. I don’t write about work cos as soon as I leave the office work is forgotten. I don’t have any hobbies. I’m not a pundit or expert on anything. I’m not embarking on any adventure. But sometimes I do describe the cheese sandwich I had. May be cos it was made from an interesting cheese. Or that I’d been having cheese sandwiches 3 days running. Yeah, it’s a metaphorical cheese sandwich, geddit?

33% of weblogs are private. 10% are password protected. This statistic, from none other than the founders of Six Apart, seems surprising at first glance. But begins to make sense the more I think about it. People want to express themselves, but they don’t really want to air their dirty laundry in public, at least not all of it.

The world doesn’t want to know about your sore toe, it wants to show you its sore toe.

So hide. A small degree of anonymity is offered by the internet. People do chat rooms, icq, have internet sex, all under the guise of some personality or other. But increasingly, I come across people publishing under their real names, like they’re saying, I have nothing to hide. My sore toe is just as important as yours.

Pretty soon I won’t have a spoken voice. I’ll speak through the weblog or website. I’ll lose the ability to articulate speech, already I’m finding it harder, much harder, to speak on the phone or in person. I sit all day in front of one screen or another and that’s my whole life.

But I still won’t tell you who I am.

blah blah blah blog like me

Started weblog. Everyone’s doing it, why not me. Eventually I’ll put it on the website but for the time being it’s at tripod.

It’s easy to set up, just register and select which default style to use. There’s not a lot of customisation that the use can do, just changing the links and generally how the page looks. The free version has ads, which can be a bit annoying but it’s a temporary measure for me anyway.