in challenges , photography is life |

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer


The problem with doing 30 day photo challenges is finding interesting material when I spend most of my time at home. I can only take so many pictures of my desk. That said, I thought I’d go through this month’s instagram to see if I can fit them into this photo-a-day challenge. It’s not the right way of doing a challenge, so the results are mediocre at best. Anyway, start with the list:

00list>

01 new is the january 2015 calendar page; for #02 change I scattered some coins on my desk (the desk had to make an appearance somehow); #03 organise is dragonboats stacked up at Stanley beach. And so on. Applied a bit of creative licence on a few, like #05 clean is laundry hanging to dry, #19 ice/icy is space food ice cream and #21 noise is an empty stand at the track (think about the noise when it’s full of people).

12texture 16happy
22whereistand 28traitquiet

A few were decent attempts. #12 texture is the mat we have on the balcony, it turned out quite texture-y; #16 happy is halves of two pastries I shared with mm, it was only when I looked at the pic that I realised they made a smiley face; #22 from where I stand is a shadow. #28 is supposed to be a personality trait. I think you’re allowed to be creative, so I used one of the water bird perched on a log at sunset. I thought it was quiet and peaceful.


in techtalk |

twitterfollowers

Two of my newest twitter followers are from strange accounts, but they haven’t interacted with me or spammed me so I’ll keep them for the time being.

One is probably a spoof / fake Bieber-like account, with a username like @justinbiber with a Bieber avatar. This one has 17k followers and says the goal is 10million followers. Almost all links to some sort of funny pic site that I won’t click on.

The most recent one is @epicmantips. Most tweets are some inspirational quotes but the account description is scary:

Epic tips for the modern male. We’re here to help you become a legend. Download our ‘69 Epic Sex Tips’ guide for FREE: [redacted]

WTF did I do to deserve this one?

p.s. the other new one is a verified Guardian journalist, not surprising since I follow the Guardian and a few Guardian and Indy journos.


in arts and media |

If there’s one creative thing I like doing and wish I were better at it, it’s graphic design. I can play around with photoshop to make decent-ish posters and templates and such like. I’m not confident enough, I feel a little intimidated and insecure because I’ve never had any training. I’m also a little hampered by old software. I try my best, and people seem to like the results.

designcard01mad designcard02keming

One thing that I’ve learned is the importance of layout. So I find myself nodding at these graphic design pun cards I spotted via adweek. Anyone with an eye for aesthetics will get the joke, and I especially like the one about keming.

designcard03comicsans designcard04helvetica

Probably my favourite font ever is frutiger. Like most people, I hate Comic Sans, which should only be used for children’s birthday parties. For day to day use, I stick with Helvetica or, gasp, Arial. I’ve even taught myself how to tell the difference:

avsh


in being healthy |

resistanceband

I like training with weights and TRX, but to mix it up a little, I played with mum’s resistance band for a bit. Lots of exercises available online, articles and youtube. Tried front chest press, bentover row, lunge with twist and pilé squat. Easy to use, and even more perfect for travelling than the TRX.


in easily amused |

shatin10kregistrationb

This weekend is when the major running race will be held. 10k with 4 separate start times, HM and FM. I used to fly back just to participate but ever since I experienced, and found out, how corrupt the race is, I’m boycotting it.

I came across a small 10k to be held in March. I clicked on the pdf document and couldn’t believe my eyes. To register involved:

  • printing, filling in and mailing a paper form to what looks like someone’s home address
  • paying by cheque
  • including a stamped addressed envelope, presumably for confirmation

I ran a disasterous 10k with no training in 2006, proper racing started in 2009. All the races I’ve entered had online registration. And the races that I’ve seen that involved a paper form accepted credit cards. I mean, paying by cheque? It’s so backwards and ridiculous. I had to ask my dad to write the cheque for me, the last time I used a chequebook was probably for my US account because Americans are probably the only people using cheques regularly nowadays. Cheques don’t exist in Switzerland, Germany, Australia and many countries. There’s talk that they will be phased out in the UK by 2018.

And an SAE? What are we? 1980s Blue Peter? What’s wrong with email confirmation? Or factoring the cost of envelopes and stamps into the fee. Luckily we had some stamps at home. The problem is I have no idea where the nearest postbox is located. I can just picture the race organisers as luddites who use Windows XP desktops. I bet there are no timing tags. I’ll register and go just to experience something from the last century.


in family first , how the day went |

farmfest003romanesco farmfest015beetroot
farmfest010mushroom farmfest021turmeric

full set: flickr

Went with mum to an event called farmfest, an organic farming exhibition organised by the department of agriculture and fisheries. The event was split into roughly 3 sections: 1) organic vegetables as an exhibit and stalls selling them; 2) dried goods stalls selling mainly dried fish; 3) household goods stalls like kitchenware, tea and snacks.

We didn’t buy too many things. The organic veg looked good, but at double the price of the market, we weren’t tempted. Bought some dried fruit, dried vegetarian food (a bit like diced quorn) and some natural powder that can be used for cleaning or even shampooing. Everything was for mum or the household, I didn’t get anything for myself.

Walked through a park to the cheapest michelin-starred restaurant in the world. We got there before 6pm so there was no wait, although we had to share a table. This is a neighbourhood place after all. Eight baskets or plates of dim sum (we ordered extra pork buns to takeaway) for US$20, no service charge.


in being healthy |

Organic Wall
flickr / steve oliver

I called the YMCA about their indoor climbing wall. For anyone to use it, they must show that they are competent by being a member of a climbing club, or having gotten a certification from the YMCA themselves. The introductory course is on tuesday evening or saturday afternoon, for 3 hours, and very reasonably priced.

When I was very young, I loved climbing on rocks and stuff. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at wall climbing. I hope I have enough upper body strength for it, but apparently it’s leg strength and coordination. I’m okay with leg strength—at least what I’ve built up whilst running. My only reservation is the current state of my wrist; my left wrist has always been problematic and it’s been swollen with sudden sharp pain for a couple of weeks. The pain manifests in certain situations and positions like taking the laundry from the washing machine, or doing bentover rows. Seems to be fine when gripping.

Anyway, I have the details now.


in evidence of my insanity |

picattoo

I bought a box of boomf marshmallows for my niece’s birthday last year and she was so pleased with it that she still hasn’t opened the box. The idea is to order 9 marshmallows on the boomf website based on 9 instagram pics; or 9 marshmallows from the same instagram pic; or a composite of 9 marshmallows from one instagram pic.

Anyway, the idea is to link instagram with products. Nothing new, we’ve been able to order all sorts of products from cups to caps to calendars from pics for ages.

The newest fun thing to do with instagram is via Rotterdam-based picattoo. For $15 including worldwide shipping we get 12 temporary tattoos sourced from instagram. Lots of potential fun for these cute tattoos, or even useful for marketing. Interesting.


in going places |

nam002farmbridge nam014farmlily

Good day for an outing to the countryside. We drove out to near the wetlands area (actual wetlands is enclosed and needs a ticket). First stop was an organic farm. They have vegetables in a hydroponics system, vegetable patches all over the place that were growing lettuce, carrot, turnip, beetroot, bok choy and even a jackfruit tree. They also have goats, rabbits and carp, more like for pets I think. The main attraction of the farm is a lily pond that has a rickety walkbridge made from wooden crates and plastic pontoons. We were trying to spot lilies hidden amongst the leaves. Nice.

nam032pier nam059house

A short drive along a single lane road brought us to a dead end lane with a small parking area for 5-6 cars. Just beyond that end point is a walking path along ponds and fields. A rickety broken wooden pier is a popular spot for wedding photographers. Beyond that we could see tin huts of a village through the tall weeds.

nam067boat nam091fisherwoman

The village has a few houses and a store selling soft drinks, sandwiches and noodles. The village sits on a narrow river (more like a stream) with a sign advertising the shortest ferry crossing. And the crossing is very short. A boat takes passengers and bikes across in 1 min. Seems to be quite busy, while we were there 3 sets of people crossed already, two sets on bikes, we think it’s because it’s on a popular bike route. Next time we’ll explore where to rent bikes.

The area has many shallow ponds. We spotted an elderly woman casting her nets from her little boat. She was wearing the distinctive fishing hat worn by the local people.

nam098bird

It was almost sunset when we left. Birds were beginning to stir and we saw some water birds around. Not having enough knowledge we guess they are herons?

We loved our day out. Good weather. Clean air. Greenery. Lots of wildlife, we could hear cicadas, birds, crickets along our walk. Great to get out of the polluted city.


in eating and drinking |

lambhotpot201501

It’s still relatively cool so it’s perfect weather for hiking. And what better after hiking than a nice lamb hotpot at a street food place. Tender lamb ribs and belly, tofu sheets, waterchestnuts, mushrooms and lettuce to dip in the soup. Rice to mop up the gravy. Fantastic.


in 101.1001 , challenges , eating and drinking |

201501choctart03

Tasks #49-58 of 101.1001 are to try 10 new recipes. It’s great that the 10th one turned out so nice.

I’ve mentioned before that even though I’ve been baking for a long time, it’s usually cakes and biscuits. I only tried bread a few months ago and choux is the only pastry I’m comfortable with. I rarely work with the most basic pastry of them all: shortcrust.

So we were watching MKR4 repeat and I decided to try the double chocolate tart one team made, because it looked so indulgent.

for the pastry:
150g cold butter
185g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk

for the filling:
350g chocolate
80ml cream
50g brown sugar
2 eggs + 4 egg yolks

Sift the flour, cocoa and icing sugar into a large bowl, mix butter until resembling breadcrumbs. In the recipe they use a food processor but I couldn’t find mine, and besides I’m not sure it works anymore. Takes longer using hands but it’s not too bad. Put the mixture back in the fridge for 5mins to cool, then add the egg yolk. Combine into a dough. Initially I thought one egg yolk surely wasn’t enough to bind so much dry ingredients, but it worked after a bit of elbow grease. Knead on a flat surface briefly. Chill dough in fridge for 30mins.

Roll out dough to a tart tin. Well, I don’t have a tart tin, so I used half the dough and rolled out into a regular small cake tin, mending gaps where necessary. I tried to trim the side so it was flat. Cool the pastry in the fridge for 5mins, then blind bake at 180°C for 15mins with baking beans, followed by 10mins without. Didn’t have baking beans at parents’ place, so substituted with rice.

While the baked pastry case cools, make the filling. Melt chocolate and cream in a bain marie. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolk and sugar until frothy. Combine with melted chocolate carefully then pour into pastry case. Bake at 160°C for 30mins. Cool at room temperature, then in fridge until set.

201501choctart05

The pastry was quite short, may be a tad too short, but I like it. The filling was rich and, yes, indulgent. Should have served it with strawberries or raspberries but didn’t have it. Added to the richness by pouring a little cream over. I’ll have to buy a proper tart tin, it’s one of those desserts I’m going to add to my repertoire.


in being healthy |

chimarathon2011001tshirt

I’m trying to compile a list of marathons I’d like to try. There are a lot of marathons: at least one every weekend somewhere in the world. I’m sorting by the date registrations open, but sometimes the websites are coy about it, either it’s not the right time of year or they want people to sign up for their email newsletters. We all know it’s not the newsletter but the email address that matters.

So, my wishlist. Mostly I like bigger marathons because of organisation and crucial crowd support. Otherwise the route has to be an attraction by itself.

    world marathon majors:
  • chicago — I’ve done chicago and it’ll always be my home race
  • london — I try, and I try, and I try the lottery, I’ll get in one of these days; I’d love to call london my home race but I can’t do that until I’ve actually run it at least once
  • new york — registration opened this week and I got as far as the final page before realising they charge $11 just to enter the lottery and the race fee for 2015 is $255. Can I just say, daylight robbery? Yes, I am aware of the enormous amount of resources needed to organise a major marathon; I’m also aware that the NYC marathon is worth $340million and the NYRR reports $55million in revenue. So, the $11+$255 price tag? They charge it because they can, ugh
  • tokyo — I’ve heard great things about tokyo, in terms of organisation (no surprise) and the fantastic crowd support, may be I’ll try the lottery for 2016
  • I’m less keen on berlin, because it’s more important to get into london
  • I’ll never get into boston so I won’t even think about it

  • city marathons:
  • uk — brighton which I’m glad has shaken off the London consolation price image; stratford-upon-avon, windermere and others with scenic route; islay single malt marathon (whisky, yay!); may be not perhaps more boring locations like milton keynes, sorry
  • europe — amsterdam; copenhagen; paris because of the route; vienna; zurich—any major city will be great; smaller places like seville and malta could be great to combine with a trip
  • americas — big sur, MCM, niagara—mostly for the scenic routes, there are way too many marathons in us and canada, my eyes glazed over the list
  • asia — any japan marathon like osaka, kyoto, hokkaido; not singapore or hong kong because of weather, inferior organisation and terrible routes through empty highways, tunnels and car parks—outside of japan there will be very little crowd or organisational support so it’s not worth considering
  • ANZ — melbourne great ocean road, sydney, rotorua

  • destination marathons:
  • easter island — just imagine
  • arctic circle in finland or midnight sun in norway
  • marathon du médoc — oh the wine
  • tarawera — it’s actually a 50k ultra, but it combines stunning new zealand features like geysers, waterfalls with cream tea, that’s worth the extra training to get to 50k

That was just marathons. The list for half marathons is even bigger.


in arts and media , being healthy |



It’s January. People make resolutions which inevitably include losing weight and exercising more. Newspapers and magazines are full of articles about the 10 ways to start running or 5 foods to eat instead of cake. The intentions are noble and grand; the tone of these articles at times seem condescending, but if it inspires someone, then it’s all for the good.

Except, apparently, women in the UK aged 14-40 are not exercising. Sport England conducted extensive research to find out that 2 million fewer women than men regularly participate in sports. Worryingly, there doesn’t seem to be such a big disparity in other European countries. They heard that one of the main reasons is that of body image and fear of judgement. With that in mind, they launched a campaign called this girl can:

to inspire women to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement is a barrier that can be overcome


The campaign includes videos showing real women of all ages, shapes and sizes exercising and enjoying the exercise. The beat of Missy Eliott’s Get Ur Freak On is combined with catchy inspiration quotes like “I jiggle, therefore I am” and “hot and not bothered” to get the inactive off their couches.

There are criticisms for the campaign. The ads have been described as clumsy and and having some of the worst typographic design you’ve seen in ages. The Guardian is disappointed that the campaign still plays into the norms of objectifying female flesh by referring to women of all ages as girls and using the familiar video formula

where highly mobile, athletic female bodies are performing for a male audience

I think that any campaign that gets people exercising and watching their health is a good thing. Healthcare shouldn’t be just about curing illness; it should also focus on improving health to prevent illness. Not enough money, resources or focus goes to the latter. With binge drinking in women increasing at an alarming rate, any effort to get them from the pub to the gym is worthwhile.

thisgirlcan

Will the campaign succeed? Let’s hope so. It needs more positive images and messages. I guess they had to use innuendos like “I kick balls” to grab attention when they should have focused on the friendship and camaderie of participating in a team sports. I like the one of the cyclist lapping everyone on the couch. I also like the one where a mum exercises in the living room with her kids [youtube]. There should be more emphasis on the benefits of exercise besides looks.

Will it change people’s attitude towards body image? That’s a longer battle to fight. I never understand the issues behind body image concern, although I know plenty of people who are worried about how other people see and judge them. I’m puzzled at why, for instance, mum spends so much money on eye gel, goes for dubious skin treatments and stands in front of the mirror for what seems like hours before going out. I try to tell her that no one on the street will give a damn about how her, and why on earth is she bothered about what the shop assistant thinks. I’ve come to the conclusion that people believe certain things and act in certain ways because they themselves are like that—people who are afraid of being judged on how they look are the ones who are guilty of judging others. This type of attitude is what needs to change.

Anyway, I have 6 miles to run this weekend. In my tatty t-shirt and cheap shorts. I will end up covered in sweat with my hair like a rat’s nest underneath my cap. I won’t look at anyone and I don’t think anyone will look at me.

in challenges |

nikefree201502

Running and exercise on schedule. Food & drink on schedule. Family activities on schedule. Need to get started on LL edits and call the YMCA about wall climbing.

health

  • run 80 km (50 miles) // 45km (30 miles)
  • run/walk/bike 120 km (75 miles) // 75km (46 miles)
  • weights or circuit x4 // 2 done
  • crunch 50 reps in 1 set // done
  • check out wall climbing / boxing / tai-chi course // not started

food

  • non alcohol days x20 // 10
  • vegetables x24 // 15
  • fruit or juice x24 // 14
  • within daily calorie goal x 24 // 12

family

  • visit parents x20 // 10
  • cook for family x2 // 1
  • family activity x1 // not started
  • bbmm activity x1 // done

misc

  • 3 completed 101.1001 tasks // done [1] [2] [3]
  • random from photo-a-day // shortlist started
  • photofriday x1 // done
  • lookback post x1 // done
  • LL edits x5 chapters // not started


in challenges |

One of the tasks for the 30 day challenge is to look back on old posts.

one year agolookback

I deliberately chose today because the post on 14-jan-2014 was…a lookback post hahaha. One year ago, the lookback post looked back to 2013 with a delightful video series of Rino the Japanese gourmet toddler. To 2011 with a surfing video, to 2009 with thoughts about BRICs and to 2004 about bonuses.

Yep, meta.

three years agorestaurant: goodman

ldngoodman015sirloin

Three years ago, I was in London. RM and I visited Goodman steakhouse at Canary Wharf. We’d visited Hawksmoor previously and wanted to try the other well-known steakhouse. Similar cuts, but instead of sourced from one farm, the steaks were sourced from around the world. I had a charcoal-grilled 650g (23oz) bone-in sirloin and a side of truffle mac-n-cheese. I was in the middle of Brighton marathon training so that big a meal was okay for me then. I note from the post that I enjoyed the steak, but thought Hawksmoor was better.

I miss London.

five years agoweekend plans

eggpotatoskin02 muffinblueberry02

Five years ago, I was in Chicago. It was a friday and I was making plans for the long weekend. I was quite excited about the Martin Luther King holiday because I never had it (although not getting Boxing Day the December before was horrible). I wanted to do some cooking, and I ending up making tons of stuff including braised turkey legs, roasted brussel sprouts, eggs baked in potato skin, chicken & mashed potato for the rest of the week, and blueberry muffins.

wilmot006green

As if that wasn’t enough, I also planned, and managed to go skiing at Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin. Well, it’s more like a hill covered with man-made snow, but I hadn’t skiied for a while, I missed it and it was a nice day out. Turned out, I didn’t get many more opportunities to ski since then.

I miss skiing.

ten years agoback to the gym

Heh, I forgot I used to be a member of the gym near my then office. That was before I started properly running. I went for a few months, mostly at lunch time. No record of my speed or distance from then; I hadn’t started keeping track. Most of the post was about this woman at the elliptical who was impeccably made up, with a fancy watch and loads of jewellery. Apparently she was also wearing tights underneath her shorts, plus socks and the obligatory cute sneakers. Unfotunately, even ten years on, there are people who go to the gym like that.

Sometimes I miss having the facilities of a gym, especially a treadmill with intervals setting. But I’ll make do with going to sis’ place occasionally.



in 101.1001 , challenges , eating and drinking |

bunnacruachmhona2015

Tasks #64-68 of 101.1001 are to try 5 new whiskies. This is #4 of 5.

I finished the dalmore 18 fairly quickly, about 6 months, probably because I didn’t quite like it. The next in the mainland rotation should be either the magnificent dalwhinnie, a strangely-named ancnoc from my sis, or perhaps mortlach 16. But I opened a bunnahabhain cruach-mhona instead, because…I don’t know why. May be it’s because I had 2 bottles? Anyway it means I currently have 2 islays open, this one and laphroaig PX. Co-incidence much? Both are duty free only.

Bunnahabhain and laphroaig are like heaven and earth when it comes to peatiness. Bunnas’ peatiness is subtle, while laphroaigs are peat monsters. I loved visiting both distilleries though. Bunna was closed when we went there, but the location and the weather that day brought home how wild and unfettered the distillery was. I’d love to go back there when it is open.

Anyway, I love Bunna 12 and I completely adore Bunna 18. Cruach-mhona in gaelic means peat stack, although its peatiness is nowhere near laphroaig or ardbeg. It’s un-chill filtered and uncoloured, resulting in a very light golden colour, like sunflower oil without the viscocity. NAS and doesn’t taste very old, may be 10-12 years. Peaty and seaweed on the nose. In terms of taste, slightly smoky, sweet, smooth with a long finish. Reviews are average and Mr Murray gave it a not terribly mind-blowing 83 points. I like it myself, I’m sold on the smoothness and the long finish.


in going places |

201501stanley04

We met with a couple of college friends for tapas lunch, then took a bus ride to the southern beaches, finding ourselves in Stanley. Weather wasn’t great, it started raining the minute we got off the bus. We took cover in the indoor mall and then mcdonalds for a while.

201501stanley01 201501stanley02

It was also sunset when we came out. Cold but the rain had gone. We walked around the stalls (not full of tourists, must have all gone), the harbour and the watersports beach. Stayed a while at St Anne’s church, mm wanted to see the inside and say some prayers.

Took another bus back out to the central area and had noodles for dinner. Raining again.


in being healthy |

nikefree201501

9.51km 1.12.09hr 7.35min/km

Opened a new pair of running shoes and braved the crowded weekend route. A little surprised at the discipline of the people running and walking there today; the majority were able to keep to one side of the path and share happily with other users. Except one idiot dog owner who was playing catch ball with her two medium-sized dogs on a narrow path thatbarely accommodates 3 people abreast. What did I expect? It’s a dog owner, dog owners are the shits.

The new shoes are nike frees that I bought either at an outlet or as a running warehouse special. Can’t remember: I’ve had them a while. They are v3.0, and even though the newest versions are already 5.0, I’m happy with these older versions. Most of the time, it’s worth buying one generation back because they are a lot cheaper. They feel a bit long, fit comfortably and definitely light. I like lightweight neutral shoes and these are exactly what I want.


in eating and drinking |

bamboonoodles201501

Every travel and food show has been there: Bourdain, Bizarre Foods, nomad chefs, adventurous chefs, Hairy Bikers, even Samantha Brown. In a cramped, unassuming kitchen a thin, middle-aged man in grubby t-shirt and shorts kneads and presses noodle dough by bouncing a bamboo pole up and down using his bodyweight. Every single visitor then proceeds to sing their praises for said noodles, which have a smooth, fine and al dente texture. A far cry from mass produced noodles.



There’s a mesmerising quality in watching the sifu make the noodles. Or it’s Bourdain’s narration. Or the edgy cinematography. Or the haunting score. It seems…romantic.

Parents thought it’d be a good idea to try, after watching an episode of the Hairy Bikers. The branch is opposite the big messy computer centre and near the food court where we get chili prawns. I had the basic wonton noodles. Always go for the most commonplace item, because if they can’t get the staples right, they shouldn’t be in business. It was good. The noodles had a great chewy yet smooth mouth feel, the wontons were decent and the broth was light. There were jars of pickled turnips that was a bonus. Since it’s where I sometimes go for computer stuff or gadgets or to the market I’ll likely visit again.


in 101.1001 , challenges , eating and drinking |

Task #47 of 101.1001 is to make a list and photoset of 101 food & drink items that are on popular bucket lists. These lists are subjective: exotic to one person may be normal for another. I’ve tried a number of items from the ominvore’s 100 and various food challenge lists, i’m at 92/100 on the foodie list. This list combines typical bucket list foods with food from a specific place.

Pics are clickable thumbnails, there’s also the full size set

in 101.1001 , challenges |

Task #87 of 101.1001 is to make a list of 101 notable things and activities achieved, excluding food and travel. These are tasks/goals that are popular on bucket lists—when I started putting this challenge together I was like, “drat I’ve done this, it can’t go on my list.” Sometimes referred to as a reverse bucket list.

in 101.1001 , eating and drinking |

vanillabourbon2015

Task #59 of 101.1001 is to make vanilla extract.

Vanilla beans are expensive, so it’s a waste to discard the pods after using the beans. (In my case the beans went into some really creamy homemade vanilla ice cream.) Vanilla extract, the good stuff, is also quite expensive. It’s actually really easy to make from vanilla beans and some alcohol. Most recipes use vodka because it’s flavourless, but bourbon, brandy or rum can also be used to impart an extra flavour dimension.

I’ve had one bottle with bourbon sitting for a couple of months, and it smells divine. The bottle is just a screwtop soft drink bottle, I could use prettier bottles or mason jars but why waste money? I also have another bottle with vodka in the cupboard, that one is newer, about 2-3 weeks. The good thing is I can continue to add used vanilla pods and alcohol and the extract lasts for years.

Haven’t used it in cooking yet, can’t wait.


in photography is life |

hk2015001aldrichbay

We were going to get our hair cut together, but mm was too tired and decided to wait for a couple of weeks. So I went on my own. Chatted a little with Sam (our hairdresser) and we calculate that he’s been cutting my hair for more than 15 years, may be even 20. I like him because I don’t have to tell him what to do, and he’s not talkative. He knows I don’t like talking, unlike 95% of the other customers there, so he gets on it.

I went looking for panettone afterwards, but couldn’t find any. Sigh. Bought a couple of pastries to bring to mm for tea—they were really good. She was feeling more energetic and it was a nice day so we went for a walk along the seafront next to her building. Caught the sunset too. I like the colours on this pic.

She had dinner plans with her school friends, so I stopped off at my last resort supermarket to look for the elusive panettone. Yay, found them. Got an apricot & chocolate one for mum and a marron glacé for me.


in 101.1001 , challenges |

emergencygobag201501

Task #94 of 101.1001 is to pack an emergency go-bag. This started with Sis, who is obsessed with survival. She’s had an emergency duffel bag for a long time, and I bought her some survival stuff and a few MRE packs in the US last year.

Supposedly, a go-bag should have enough supplies to survive for 72hrs when evacuating from a disaster. Some people pack for longer, and there are dependencies for factors such as climate and location. Typical survival programs talk about surviving in the wilderness but realistically, I think my go-bag should cater for an urban environment since I live in a city. We can even buy ready packed emergency bags, even deluxe editions, for 1, 2 or 4 persons. Mine is from stuff I already have, supplemented by a few specialist survival items.

  • backpack — one of the company swag I got from Communications, good regular size with outside pockets
  • food — one MRE pack, cereal bars. gu, chewing gum, sweets
  • drink — 500ml water, empty water bottle, lifestraw water filter, tea bags
  • small keychain hipflask with whisky — because whisky is important
  • medicine in a ziploc bag — painkiller, anti-histamine, band-aid, mentholatum, mask, tissues
  • toiletries in a ziploc bag — toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, shampoo, deodorant
  • spare clothes — t-shirt, zip-off pants, hat, underwear, socks — I should find a lightweight jacket or something long-sleeved to add to the kit
  • spare glasses
  • notebook, pen, sharpie, chalk — the notebook has personal information, contacts, passwords and passport photocopy
  • wallet with money and a few photos — photos for ID and to show people if I need to search for family or mm
  • carabiner with keys for my place and parents’ place
  • flashdrive with documents and personal information
  • hand-cranked radio torch with USB port — supposed to be able to hand-crank enough charge to make phonecalls, which is all that is needed in an evacuation or emergency
  • world adaptor, charger, cables for iphone, ipad, microusb
  • small towel
  • survival blanket
  • survival pouch — flint, waterproof matches, whistle, parachute cord, ties, rubber band, sewing kit
  • swiss knife, nailclipper — may want to swap for a leatherman
  • survival quick guide leaflet


Everything packs neatly inside the backpack and I can carry it comfortably. I’ll need to grab the iphone if I need to run, and I’ll just have to contend with whatever shoes I have on me at the time. It’s not a perfect kit, but it’ll do if there really is an emergency. I could pack more, or use a bigger bag, but I decided a backpack is the easiest and most flexible.

I’ll check and swap out food items every year. The idea is that the bag will never be needed.


in being healthy |

klntsaipark01

8.22km 69.50min 8.30min/km

If I’m at home I run along Bowen Road, which is a 12km round trip if I go all the way to the end and back. At parents’ place I run at two different parks. Shorter runs I go to a small park nearby (which I’ll call park A) which has a small football field, 2 basketball courts and a jogging path. It’s not even a running path because it’s only 265m around and usually overrun with old people. One circuit of the jogging path together with 2 circuits around the football-and-basketball area just about makes it to 1km.

For longer runs I go to a larger park (park B) that has several full-sized football pitches, a swimming pool, tennis courts and an athletics track. For odd reasons they close the track at weekends, but there is a marked running path that goes all the way around the athletics arena that measures 600m. The trail (pic above) that surrounds the various playing fields in the central area is 1km so between the 2 routes, it’s already 1.6km (1 mile).



Parks A and B are next to each other on the map, separated by the famous checkboard hill, that was where airplanes made the 47° right hand turn before landing at the old airport. As an aside, watch the video, it shows how planes used to make that spectacular (and dangerous) landing in the middle of a crowded city onto a runway that has notorious crosswinds.

Anyway, I tried to look on google map and street view to see if the two parks are connected. Couldn’t really tell, but it seemed like there is a narrow path that goes up the hill and back down. So I went exploring today. The answer is, yes, the two parks are connected. As expected, from park B it’s a steep, narrow path partially hidden by trees that leads to about 100 steps on one side of the hill, then a steep and winding road down the other side that ends up at park A.

waterdeptfield01

What was utterly charming are two discoveries at the top of the hill. The first is a lookout point, now partially blocked by trees. I guess that’s where plane-spotters used to go to look at planes landing at the old airport. The second discovery is an enclosed field with a big open grass/dirt area in front and a few benches at the back. Only one entrance which is gated. The sign says something like water department recreational park (can’t remember exact name, forgot to take a pic) and it’s right next to a few buildings with water department signs on the outside. What a discovery. The pic makes it look bigger, I’d say it’s about the size of a football pitch. Hard to get to, with steep access up and down, there were only about a dozen people there. I’ll try to go there again next long run.


in photography is life |

trip108antelope

The first photofriday challenge of 2015 is stillness. This was one of the shortlisted 2014 favourites that didn’t make the final 10.

title: antelope island state park, utah
description: Antelope Island state park is the largest island on the Great Salt lake outside Salt Lake City in Utah. The barren yet beautiful scenery consisted of beaches and deserts; the hot day making it hazy like a painting
date: july 2014
also available to view full-sized

©invisiblecompany 2015, all rights reserved


in being healthy |

running20150102

5.04km 38.37min 7.39min/km

May be it’s the longer distance weekend runs, or may be it’s the modified strides I did the other day. I finally managed a sub-40 5k at week 12 of the 52-week marathon training program.



I guess I should be cautiously pleased, at the beginning of the program my pace was abysmal, sometimes struggling to reach 9min/km. I can’t be complacent though, I need to shave another min/km to get to my baseline of 6.40min/km and I have to do it in less than 12 weeks. The real challenge is then to take 20 seconds off. A 4:30 marathon is 6.24min/km.

in challenges |

challenge20150101

My friend R challenged us to another 30 day challenge. I thought I’d go back to the original TDP challenge format, after doing a couple of 30in30 last year. I realised my life is pretty boring, sometimes it’s tough to find something to do for the day.

health

  • run 80 km (50 miles)
  • run/walk/bike 120 km (75 miles)
  • weights or circuit x4
  • crunch 50 reps in 1 set
  • check out wall climbing / boxing / tai-chi course

food

  • non alcohol days x20
  • vegetables x24
  • fruit or juice x24
  • within daily calorie goal x 24

family

  • visit parents x20
  • cook for family x2
  • family activity x1
  • bbmm activity x1

misc

  • 3 completed 101.1001 tasks
  • random from photo-a-day
  • photofriday x1
  • lookback post x1
  • LL edits x5 chapters


in photography is life |

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer


I posted over 6,000 photos and videos to flickr in 2014. And I thought 3,500 in 2013 was a lot. So many trips this year: Mediterranean cruise to Greece, Italy, Israel, West Bank; cruise to Alaska including stayover at Seattle and Vancouver; month-long visit to the US including epic road trip from Chicago to Portland that took in several national parks; 2 trips to Japan: Hokkaido & Tokyo; an end of year trip to Seoul. Not to mention family events, outings with mm (and her family). Plus my part in documenting the 79 days of the umbrella movement.

It was very tough to narrow 6,000 pics to ten. Mostly I went for scenery or ones that were memorable for me. I tried to include diverse regions but it was difficult, for instance most of the pics from Tokyo and Italy were repeats or food, since it’s not the first time I’ve visited those places. That said, I guess I managed to pick pics of the sea, lake, mountain and desert.

vic159vsunset

This was a surprising one. Out of the entire Alaska cruise trip, many pics of glaciers and mountains made the shortlist but this one of sunset at Buchart Gardens stayed with me longer. The light was fading fast, we’d just gotten to the bottom of the Japanese garden and making our way back to the entrance. I had to stand on a fence to get this quickly. No filters, no adjustments.

Not as good a year for food photography. Most food pics were instagram eating out, I had a rather poor cooking year. The product I was proudest was making a box of truffles for my niece’s birthday.

in eating and drinking |

2014christmaspud

We purposely didn’t buy christmas puddings before christmas, hoping that they’d be on sale afterwards. Mum went to the shops at the weekend to look for them, but was disappointed that they were not there anymore. The supermarket even told her that they took them off the shelves after Christmas.

I think it depends on the area. Parents don’t live in an expat area so the demand for themed food like christmas pud probably does wane after the holiday. Plus, the shops in the area main cater for f@#king mainland locusts who probably can’t recognise christmas pud even if someone explained to them in tiny words.

I went back to my area to look at the supermarkets and shops there. Lo and behold, puds and mince pies were 35-50% off. Got her a couple waitrose ones and a couple of m&s ones. She’s the only one who likes them, and she has supplies to last a year. What a relief. To my chagrin, panettones weren’t on sale yet, may be a couple more days.

in outside interests , photography is life |

201412landmark01 201412landmark02

Had some errands to run in the afternoon, walked from PP to Central and even up the escalator to almost back home. Not as crowded as normal, except nearer the end of the working day. Saw the christmas decoration at the atrium of Landmark mall. Pretty. And the bright lights of Harvey Nics in the background helped. There’s a sort of tilt-shift quality to the pic but when I put it through the tilt-shift app it didn’t work out as well as I thought. Original instagram on the left, tiltshifted on the right.


January 2015

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not so invisible

  • facebook profile
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  • medium
  • instagram profile
  • flickr photostream

101 tasks in 1001 days

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