in in the news , sports active |



I love cricket. Summer in the UK, in the days before internet and cable, was spent a) outside playing in the garden and b) sitting in front of the tv watching cricket. In those days there were only 3 tv channels and during cricket season, BBC2 showed the test matches all day. Cricket was a new sport to me then, but I had great teachers. Between the likes of Richie Benaud, Christopher Martin-Jenkins and a revolving chair of experienced commentators, I learned how the game worked, how to score, the terminology and strategy.

I never got the chance to play (aside from bowling a tennis ball at the garden wall occasionally) or to attend a game in person (the only time I made it to Lord’s was for Olympic archery) and I don’t follow the sport as much nowadays (cricket channel is an expensive add-on to my cable).

This week, the cricketing world was shattered by the news that Australian batsman Phil Hughes died after being hit at the side of his head by a bouncer. I don’t know why, I’m even more affected by this accident than normal. We read about tragedies all the time on the news and they are all extremely sad. This one came as such a shock that it’s hard to put my head around it. People don’t die playing cricket, and for this to happen to a 25 year old, world-class batsman, it’s so awful, so awful.



Around the world, people are paying tribute to Phil Hughes on twitter, instagram and social media by putting their bats outside. The images under the #putoutyourbats hashtag are fitting, dignified and very powerful. This is from former Australia captain Adam Gilchrist:



I don’t have a cricket bat (on this occasion, substituting a baseball bat is not appropriate) and I lost my cricket ball during the move back from London. So all I’ll do is pay my respects silently, and share on these images instead. This next one is from the New Zealand team:

Sincere condolences to the Hughes family, but the thoughts of every cricket fan and player are also with Sean Abbott, whose pitch hit Phil Hughes’ head. It was a freak accident, there was no fault.


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in habitat |

madridaptwals

via wired

An architectectural firm in Madrid designed this modern, efficient space from a small apartment. One half is a fixed living area (seen on the slideshow) and the other half is divided into rooms using movable walls. The kitchen units and bathroom are on either side, and 3 plywood units can be moved to create kitchen, bedroom and sitting/utility area. The room collapses when the units are moved to another configuration. The walls themselves double up as storage and closet.

Technology is such that nowadays, movable walls and doors made from heavy materials can be moved with one hand. The walls are suspended from the ceiling and move along using tracks similar to what is used in libraries and archives. The bathroom looks quite small and narrow and it can get to be a pain to raise/lower the bed everyday. These are the only negatives I can see, everything else looks super. Of course, this is pretty much only suitable for people who live minimalistically and tidy up as they go about their day.

The name of the firm is PKMN pronounced pac-man, it shows they have a sense of humour. The video is fun too:



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in eating and drinking |

udon201411

Spent almost all afternoon with mum getting her a new phone, changing her plan and going to the supermarket. We stopped for a snack at an udon place opposite the supermarket. I had udon with a soft boiled egg, mum had udon with tofu sheets—she gave me one sheet. We can add garnishes ourselves—ginger, spring onion and soy sauce: the usual suspects. In addition, we could also add scraps, or bits of leftover tempura batter.

I thought scraps (aka scrumps or batter bits) are more of a nostalgic northern thing, cos I don’t remember ever seeing them. It seems like they’ve been outlawed by Health & Safety. Spoilsports.

I should have known that the Japanese, with tempura frying, will save these delicious bits. Interestingly, the Japanese are also divided in the name of the product. Those in western Japan call it tenkazu and in eastern Japan they call it agedama.


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in evidence of my insanity , outside interests |

brandpeanutbutter

Sometimes I wonder about the weird direction our conversations take. No idea why or how we started talking about peanut butter, mm says she likes planters and I say I like skippy. Why? No clue. I guess for me, skippy is one of the brands that has been available all over the world and is often on sale. It’s less a matter of taste or brand loyalty. Besides, I don’t eat at lot of peanut butter anymore—although at my peak I eat it straight out of its jar on a spoon. Peanut butter and apple, that’s the perfect snack for when I was training.


brandtoothpaste

And then the conversation moved to toothpaste. Now it’s definitely a matter of taste and brand loyalty. Everywhere I go, in supermarkets and pharmarcies, the shelves are overwhelmingly full of colgate. When I was young, all my parents used was colgate (still do). I had to use it too, and I didn’t like the taste or the amount of froth. I switched to crest as soon as I learned of its existence and even though it was (and still is) very hard to get, I stock up whenever I travel to the US.

So mm says she needs to restock her peanut butter supply and issued me a challenge. She’d switch to skippy if I switch to colgate. Hahaha! I said no. Unless it’s a travel size tube of colgate. Then she said it’s not fair, it’s just a sample.


brandteabags

So I offered her an even bigger concession. I’d switch to Tetley instead. This is HUGE. I’m a diehard PG drinker and believe the only cuppa is a PG cuppa. She didn’t believe I’d do it. Ha! Anyway, we have to see if we can find Tetley here first.

I think i have to tag this into the evidence of my insanity category.

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in going places |

ststephensbeach01

On sunday we drove out to st stephen’s beach for a bit. It’s a small beach near Stanley that is as uncrowded as you can get here. A small sandy beach with a pier for people to try fishing. One small bar-café and a few bbq pits. Accessible by car only. Or yacht — there were a couple anchored outside the swimming area.

ststephensbeach03

We sat at a free bbq pit facing the sea and did a little planning for Christmas presents. We got there at 4.45pm and by 5.30pm the sun was going down. We had a good view of sunset.


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in random words , techtalk |

scrivenerpp01

This is the first year I’ve used scrivener for nano. They’ve offered nano winners 50% off for a few years now, and I took advantage a few years ago. I ported LL over to scrivener, and that’s where I’ve been editing since. It was just a matter of switching from google docs, which I now use for backup.

Scrivener is a fantastic app, some say it’s the best dedicated writing tool on the market.

scrivenerpp02

Lots to like:

  • clean interface — I can even hide the file structure on the left and have a full page view, even with the navigation, i have most of my screen to type in
  • hierarchichal container structure — instead of one flat file or multiple files like in traditional word processors, the scrivener file structure is a dream to work with and navigate, it’s easy to go to any chapter and any section, and to move sections too
  • character and place profiles — brilliant to create backstory and to remember features
  • research — write notes, clip webpages, import diagrams
  • word count at a glance — the entire manuscript, selected chapters and sections
  • name generator — this is fun, and is particularly great during nano, to take the headache out of thinking of names
  • compile — no need to worry about formatting and front matter like table of content
  • export — exports to all sorts of formats like rtf, doc, pdf, epub

And all this in one global file and one workspace. No need to toggle between tabs and apps. There are features I don’t use, like the corkboard view, colour scheme or split screen. I hide the inspector and don’t use it to its full advantage. I don’t use project targets. I’m sure there are features I’m not even aware of.

scrivenerpp03

The biggest complaint is that it’s not mobile. The app is still stuck in the web 1.0 era: it sits on the mba and the global file is only saved on the mba. Although I can install the app on different computers, I can’t just open it wherever I like and be synced to where I was. I have to backup to dropbox and remember to save back to dropbox when I finish. It can import webpages, but pales in comparison to Evernote in terms of clipping and ability to store and organise research articles.

Since the promised iOS version has been delayed and delayed and delayed, other apps have come to the market. The most prominent is storyist, which is 50% off for nano winners and is similar in look-and-feel to scrivener. Another one I recently came across is novlr, which is web-based, like google docs. Then of course it’s possible to use evernote as a writing tool, even though its text editing feature isn’t very good.

I may give storyist a try, if the 50% discount extends to the ios version. The fact is, scrivener is too good at its job for me to jump ship, I’ll live with using it on the mba and wait patiently for the ios app.

note: I came across an interesting article from a scrivener user that makes a point I hadn’t realised. It’s great for writing, but if you’re lucky enough to find a publisher, edits are done in Word, using the awful, awful track changes tool. Hmm. My copy of Word is 2003 (yes, really) although I suppose I can use Open/LibreOffice. We’re back to web 1.0 flat file eras. Ah well, moot point.



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in 101.1001 , challenges , random words |

nano2014wincert

Task #14 of 101.1001 is to complete nano 2014. It’s one of those tasks I put in there because I knew I’d get it done. It’s not me trying to show off or anything, the fact is that I’ve finished all the nanos I’ve started, so the odds are very good.

I’m very pleased they opened up validation on the 20th this year, I think it’s the earliest they’ve done so. Actually I don’t see why validation isn’t available on day 01, since there are people who challenge themselves get to 50k in one day, and the validation code surely hasn’t changed in years.

nano2014profilechart

Anyway, I validated at 60k words, but actually only 57k was written in november. I could have deleted the pre-nano words when I copied over to validate, but I couldn’t be bothered. Details, details. I got to 50k on day 12, which is pretty good. (My average finish is day 15.) Since day 12, I’ve slowly written a few hundred words a day. I’m not sure if I’ll finish it now, or leave it till later. It’s not a bad story.


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in eating and drinking |

lobsternoodles

The restaurant near the library my dad goes to changed hands and is offering a meal deal of lobster or whole chicken for the equivalent of £3. Other items are normal price. Went with parents and we ordered the lobster, plus steamed fish and roast goose.

It’s very odd, lobsters in this part of the world are cooked either in a brothy sauce or a heavy cheese sauce and served over e-fu noodles. This is the type of noodles eaten at birthdays for longevity and have a nice taste. The lobster was all chopped up, and there was enough for 3 people.

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in eating and drinking |

panevino02antipasti panevino03spaghetti

We went for lunch at an Italian restaurant called Panevino. It has been around for a long long time near where I live, and sometime in the past year opened a branch at this new location. They have a set lunch of antipasti buffet and a bowl of pasta. The antipasti buffet was good, they had salad, olives, roasted vegetables, mushrooms, stuffed tomato, grilled polenta, arancini, tortilla and bread. The pasta in the set lunch were standard like bolognese, pesto, carbonara. I had my favourite spaghetti aglio e olio.

A small additional charge for non-standard pasta, dessert, coffee tea and wine. The add-on charge was minimal so I had a small glass of red wine and mm had coffee.

We don’t normally go out for Italian because we can make pasta at home. This was decent value because of the antipasti and the pasta was good too.


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in techtalk |

Things have been happening in the science & technology world lately that make me feel uncomfortable and sad.

#gamergate

I’m at best a very casual gamer. I don’t have the patience or interest to spend more than a few minutes playing a game, however much I’ve tried since I was young. So I peripherically follow games news without paying much attention.

Twitter exploded with something called #gamergate during the summer. A simple summary:

  • a nasty breakup led to one of the party writing terrible, bitter blog posts about his ex, accusing her of a) sleeping around and b) sleeping around with a games journalist
  • he implied that games journalists are not objective since they are in bed with devs
  • somehow the posts went viral in certain quarters
  • trolls attacked the dev, including doxxing her (releasing her personal information such as address and phone number) and sending her death and rape threats
  • other women who came to the dev’s defence were also horribly harrassed using the same methods
  • a female journalist who wrote about the death of the identity of ‘gamer’ (because of popularisation of gaming) was also horribly harrassed
  • more women who spoke up were equally horribly harrassed
  • interestingly, a male gamer who called #gamergaters every name under the sun was not harrassed

Ostensibly #gamergaters are up in arms about ethics in games journalism, but they have never been able to articulate exactly what they were after. The turning point for me, was when well-respected, well-loved gamer who wasn’t a dev or a journo got doxxed within an hour of her writing a personal post on the subject. Which part of ethics in games journalism was that attack?



It’s a no-brainer, really. They have been exposed as a emotionally retarded boys who don’t want girls to play video games.

Makes me sad, reading all the threats against the women, and it’s all been against women.


#shirtstorm

On 12-nov-2014, the European Space Agency (ESA) landed a small space probe on a comet, after a mission spanning more than 10 years. It was an incredible moment in human scientific achievement.

One of the scientists, while on a global livestream broadcast, wore a colourful shirt with cartoon naked / semi-naked women. In one stroke, he spoiled the vast achievement of the ESA by his stupidity and insensitivity. The STEM industries have had trouble recruiting and retaining women, and this was symptomatic of the reasons why. Lots of negative comments on the topic of #shirtstorm.



Then, guess what? Women scientists who spoke out got horribly harrassed with death and rape threats.

The scientist has since made an apology, but I feel it’s a hollow one. I’d like to see what he, and the ESA, do to recruit and retain women into the industry. My fear is, nothing.


#ubergate

This week, something else blew up. It’s all about ride-sharing service, uber. This storify gives a good summary. Basically, a senior uber executive suggested at an official dinner that the company could hire a team to dig up dirt on journalists who write critical articles about them. He threatened the family of a particular journalist and said they could expose her personal life.



The uber exec in question half-heartedly apologised to the journo (by creepily calling her, when she had never given him her phone number), and the CEO of uber issued an apology that was more like an internal memo, while not firing the exec.

Other journos revealed that uber was not careful with confidential data, accessing and showing ride history and location without the permission of the customers involved.

There are 2 stories here that dovetail into each other. One is the threat against the family of a woman journalist who wrote critical things about a company. However much someone disagrees with any person or company on a professional level, to bring the fight to a personal and family level is unacceptable. It’s sad and scary that a company such as uber would even think of such action.

The second is the seemingly casual attitude the company has when dealing with their customers’ data. They have personal info like credit card, phone number and home address. Furthermore they can deduce where the customers work, what they do on a Friday night and where their kids go to school.

No wonder the journo who was threatened has now hired security for her kids.

uberdelete

I’ve never used uber. Taxis and public transportation are readily available and cheap where I am, and the couple of times I looked into uber, it’s been more expensive than a taxi. I get that ride sharing services are useful in cities where there’s poor public transportation and/or insufficient taxis. I downloaded the app for a) emergency and b) when I’m in another city and may need a ride. In any case, after #ubergate, I’m heeding the call of many techies to delete the app. It doesn’t matter to me, I hope that people who have loyally used it can find another, more ethical and more trustworthy, service for their needs.


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in eating and drinking |

choctruffles201404

Mum asked my niece what she wanted for her birthday and the reply was chocolate. Mum normally gives her nice chocoalte like godiva or equivalent. This year, I offered to make truffles. I made two types: mint choc and salted caramel.

The mint choc used 70% mint chocolate as base, and the usual add cream and butter method. The end result was a very subtle, almost non-existent mint flavour. If I had more time I’d infuse mint leaves in sugar syrup or find mint flavouring.

The salted caramel truffle came from an Edd Kimber recipe. In case people are not aware who is Edd Kimber, he was the winner of the first Great British Bake-off. I used 1/3rd of his recipe, to get about 20 truffles.

100g 70% chocolate
100g caster sugar
7g light brown sugar — probably not needed
100ml double or whipping cream
7g butter
1/2tsp salt

  1. break the chocolate into a large bowl, set aside
  2. in a heavy saucepan, slowly melt the white sugar, gently moving the pan until all the sugar has melted
  3. add half the cream and the recipe says brown sugar but I don’t think it’s needed
  4. the mixture will bubble madly, remove from heat if it gets too violent
  5. when the bubbling has subsided, add the rest of the cream, butter and salt
  6. pour over chocolate and stir until all chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy
  7. cover and set overnight. Roll into balls with hands, coat with cocoa powder (or icing sugar or chocolate shell), decorate with a crystal of rock salt

Very nice. I added more salt, it contasted well with the sweetness of the caramel.


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in eating and drinking |

boomf2014

For my niece’s birthday I ordered her a box of boomf marshmallows. They print them from instagram pics, either on your own or your friends. They’re pretty expensive, but look very cool. Haven’t tried them yet, let’s see how they taste.


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in evidence of my insanity |

shampooconditioner

I’m becoming a cheapstake.

The plan is good. Short run today, so run halfway to the normal turning around point, walk to the value mart to get shampoo, get a bus home. Yes, good plan.

Problem was, the value mart didn’t have shampoo. And neither did the Japanese good value shop. The other value mart branch disappeared, closed down. ARGH.

Yes, yes I know I can get shampoo from the supermarket or drugstore, but this brand of shampoo and conditioner is one of the cheapest I can find (still not as cheap as the $1 in the US, but I can’t shop for toiletries in the US).

I was walking around, trying to figure out what to do. Luckily I found where the other value mart branch had moved to. And they had the shampoo and conditioner.

I ended up walking something like 1 mile looking for these wretched bottles, so they’ll be called extra mile shampoo from now on.

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in being healthy |



#‎weights‬ 3x8: db bench 20, bbell squat w/curl 30, goblet squat w/twist 10, woodchopper lunge 10, pushup, crunch

Trying to get back into training. After more than 2 years, sigh. Running and weights. For weights I’m adding movements to bodyweight exercises. Squats with twist or curls, woodchopper lunges. Hope they do me good. I’m still not very good at pushups, will keep at it.


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in 101.1001 , being healthy , challenges |

1001kmtable

Task #39 of 101.1001 is to run/walk/bike 1001 km/miles. It started off as 1001 km, but then I changed to 1001 miles, since I was going for the 1779 mile walk to mordor (task #40) anyway.

Of course there’s a spreadsheet, keeping track of actual km/miles as well as progress needed to complete the 3 goals of 1001 km, 1001 miles and 1779 miles in 1001 days. I count running, walking, cycling and swimming too.

1001kmchart

I’ve tried to follow the mordor target (green line), so the actual (red line) fairly mimics it. Today’s run of 5km brought me past the 1001km mark. Almost 1 year, from 01-dec-2013. More walking and stationary bike during the summer months, more running to come with winter and marathon training.


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in objects of desire |

goodfoodmag2014

Hurray for thoughtful friends who remember what you like, mm’s friend CC is visiting from the UK and she brought me a copy of the Christmas issue of BBC goodfood magazine. The one that sells out quickly and has a 2015 recipe calendar. I’ve used this calendar for many years, but the past couple of years haven’t been able to get a copy of the magazine. I didn’t want to bother people to find and send a magazine. The shipment will probably cost more than the magazine itself. Sigh

I intend to read the magazine very, very slowly. I’m even looking at the ads and the inserts that came with it. Miss London so much. Love, love this magazine. Recipes, events and gadgets. Already seeing recipes I’d like to make. Persian lamb tagine looks scrumtious, but I can’t get neck fillet. Lime semifreddo cheesecake, wow. There’s an article about unusual foodstuffs that are produced in the UK like caviar from the west country, saffron from Norfolk and even escargots from Aylesbury.

In the age where I look up recipes online rather than in cookbooks, and sales of paper newspapers and magazines have fallen, I’m very tempted to subscribe to this magazine. £25 for 12 issues is good value, if I were still in the UK. International subscription is £61, and I can’t justify that. Sniff.


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in challenges , random words |

nano2014chart

3050 words 50081 total

Another year, another nano finished. The story isn’t done, let’s see if I have the interest and motivation to finish it this month. I may be able to carry on this year, I’m not tired of the story yet. There’s a good 10-15k left, and if I can stretch it out to 20k, it brings me to 73k overall and a good length. Even though there is A LOT of editing and probably deleting needed. That’s the point of a first draft.


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in challenges , random words |

nanobrown

3254 words | 47031 total

I spent most of the day frustrated. In the morning, firefox updated to v33.1, and then decided not to load all google sites. This meant no search, no google maps and no google docs (plus no gmail, no youtube—it’s amazing how we rely on google). Important because the next chapter was about the MCs going on a road trip and I need to look at distances, routes and sights. I tried skipping to the next chapter but I find that I can’t write out of order. I was pretty mad.

I’m extremely glad I’m writing on scrivener and not google docs this year.

I was able to get search working by using google.co.uk, and I google maps worked perfectly fine on the ipad. The problem was solved after dinner by deleting all google cookies, clearing the cache and restarting the mba. I should have thought of it earlier but it never occurred to me that updating firefox would screw things up like this. Not sure what happened.

Yes, even though it would have been good to push to get to 50k, it doesn’t matter. 3000 words needed tomorrow, I’m relaxed.


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in challenges , random words |

crepesupercomplet

3374 words 43777 total

Today is my niece’s birthday. We went for dinner at the crêpe restaurant near their home, her choice. I was busy in the afternoon, and we left early to go to the market beforehand. Great dinner, good food. I had buckwheat crêpe with ham, egg, emmental, roquefort and salad, we had a couple of large bottles of cider. Little one was very happy with her presents.

In terms of nano, today was a short day. 3000-odd words is not bad. I’m not in any hurry because, touch wood, there is no way I won’t make 50k. Let’s see how I feel, whether I want to finish the novel or finish at 50k.

I incorporated one of the dares:

have your characters get involved in a food fight
BP: if it takes place in a place you wouldn’t expect a food fight
DBP: if it takes more than 1667 words to describe
TBP: if it’s important to the plot

So MC2 got fired because she called her boss on him taking money from the restaurant’s bank account. Although ultimately all profits go to him, as the owner, it wasn’t the right thing to do. So her best friend decided to hold a food fight party to cheer her up. That satisfies the dare.

BP: best friend’s family owns a swimming pool supply and maintenance business. The food fight party took place there, they had pools and gardens set up on display so it was easy to clean up.

DBP: the entire section of party planning, the actual party, the fight and the après fight party was 4568 words; the part dealing specifically with fight prep (had to prepare all the food), actual fight and declaration of winner was 2089 words

TBP: was it important to the plot? The entire story is going from party to party, as the MCs’ relationship strengthens. This food fight party was to transition between MC2 getting fired and the next section, of them going on a road trip. I guess it’s important to the plot.

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in challenges , random words |

poppy2014

5000 words | 40403 total

No one sets out deliberately to write exactly 5000 words in a day, and neither did I. When I came to an appropriate stopping point at the end of today’s writing—the end of a section—I saw that I had 4999 words. So it was easy to add a single word to the last paragraph bringing me to exactly 5000. I’m now at 40k for nano, 80% done. Not bad.

Today is Remembrance Sunday. I was delighted to see I could get a poppy the other day when mm and I had lunch at the Marriott. There are still some isolated pockets of Britishness left, it’s one of the unspoken aims of #occupyhk, to retain the heritage. One of my favourite quotes for Remembrance Sunday is from Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, which was first published in The Times in September 1914:

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them

I can’t incorporate Remembrance Day into my story, since it’s set in Nashville and my characters are too young. I did have them have a discussion about Memorial Day menu in the restaurant where MC2 works. I could have written a poppy in, but it would have felt forced.

Coming up: a food fight party and a surprise party for MC1. The entire story has been written from MC1’s pov so I guess the trick is to establish the surprise party without her knowing about it and then having the surprise element.

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in challenges , random words |

nanobokeh

5369 words | 35403 total

What is surprising is I’m 35k (actual total 39k) in and I’m not hating the story. There’s enough to story to write on, and my MCs have only been together 4 months. May be I’ll bring them to 6 months together, or 1 year. Find other events and parties. End on a high note.

Today is what the nanofolks call #doubleupday. They want us to double our daily wordcount target, double the time we write, and in return they will double the rewards for donation. Since my A goal is 2000 words, I’ve been doubling up almost every day. I’ve done 10k days before; but with my wrist in this condition, it’s not something I particularly want to do these days.

Anyway, the first saturday or sunday is usually back up your novel day. I make sure I have backups. I’m writing in Scrivener for the first time this year, the .scrv file is copied to dropbox and the flashdrive every night. I also copy what I’ve written to both google docs and Word every night, the .doc is copied to dropbox and flashdrive. So basically there are copies on the mba, google docs, dropbox and flashdrive. That’s more than doubling up, right?


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in challenges , random words |

The Collywobbles
flickr / ministryofstories under CC

4458 words | 30034 total

I got to 30k. Looking at last year, 30k was on day 8 so I’m one day ahead. One of these days I’ll do a chart comparing daily progress of all 10 nanos. That’d be a busy chart, heh.

All but about 300 words written today was for one chapter. And I had the MCs spend the entire chapter making lunch. Cooking, discussing about cooking, tasting and eating. At the beginning of nano, Carleen posted as one of her words of the day the word collywobbles, and the word made me laugh so much that I said I’d include it as a challenge. So here is the passage:

Melody settled on her usual seat against the open counter and watched as Samantha marinated chicken in a soy, honey, mirin and ginger sauce, then checked a pot of simmering mushroom broth to which she added a tablespoon of miso paste. On her chopping board were diced onions and crushed garlic.

“Asian styled chicken?” Melody asked.

Samantha sighed. “I wish.” She picked up a packet of arborio rice and shook it at Melody. “Lenny challenged us to a cook-off. He and Rich wanted to add deep fried teriyaki chicken with a miso and mushroom flavored risotto to the menu.”

Melody made a distasteful face. “Gives me collywobbles just thinking about it.”

“Collywobbles, that’s perfect. May be we can name the dish fried chicken collywobbles with risotto,” Samantha said.

This is also the point in the story that I feel as if I’m repeating myself. I keep having those déjà vu impressions that I wrote the risotto cooking scene already in another nano, but I can’t remember which one because I don’t re-read them. May be it is time to re-read and edit some of them.


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in challenges , random words |

oclp371duckpokemon

3658 words | 25576 total

Had lunch with mm at the marriott lounge — salad, noodles, curry, a little pasta, dessert. She had a 50% off card she borrowed from a friend so we took our time and sampled as much of the food as we liked. Afterwards we walked around occupyhk main site, it’s the first time she visited. Still lots of tents and more artwork. We came across an origami station and a display table with umbrellas, pikachu and giant duckies. Very cute.

Got home at 7pm, so with futzing around and shower, writing started at 9pm. Two hours and 15 later, I got to 25k. Halfway in 6 days, that’s about right, looking at the past few years.

This is the point when the story gets a little rambling, some of what I wrote will definitely need to be either rewritten, moved or deleted altogether. I’m not bothered, it is what it is. The point is wordcount, nothing else. Heh, I’m not only preaching to the converted, I’m preaching to myself.


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in challenges , random words |

nano5thnov

3607 words | 21918 total

Happy Guy Fawkes!!

No fireworks, and I have more than 8335 words. At almost 22k for nano it’s pretty good for day 5. Also, I know I’m only counting nano words, but overall the novel is at 25k, which is a nice landmark to reach.

Most of the latest chapter was at Vegas where the MCs’ best friend and sister eloped to get married. It’s sort of a portend to what may happen to our MCs, somewhere down the line. Their friend is stinking rich, so they got the best suite, superstar service and had a 5-star wedding banquet (as much as a meal for 4 can be a banquet).

Oh, and Mr Ian Woon showed up. He was the officiant at the wedding.

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in challenges , random words |

nanotemplate

3239 words | 18311 total

Went running and then a little bit of shopping at the market. Barely hit 1000 before dinner. I noticed I’m too distracted during the day and most of my writing is done for around 2-3hrs at night. Decided to finish early today, before 11pm. Want to read a bit.

A fb conversation led me to post about my tracking spreadsheet. I didn’t make it, someone shared on the nano forums a few years ago (I just went to look at the original, it was 2009, back when it was called a report card). I’ve used this every year, changing the dates at the beginning of each nano. There are other versions floating around. I fixed some of the charting idiosyncracies so people using it won’t have to manually adjust. So far, about half a dozen people have asked for it. Good stuff.


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in challenges , random words |

nanobokeh

5064 words | 15072 total

Another 5k day, good stuff. MC1’s best friend gets introduced and there’s another party. This one wasn’t as successful as the previous one, ending pretty much in disaster and tension all around. I was reading nano2005 yesterday to get a sense of how these character feel about each other, and I wanted to foreshadow the tension. The sequel takes place 13 years after this, but first impressions are so important.

I also managed to, gasp, write a 300 word sex scene. The last few years sex scenes have taken the form [insert sex scene here] so I’m quite pleased I got this one in. I remember one of the most important writing lesson of show-not-tell, and I was afraid that I wasn’t showing my MCs more in love. Hence the little sex scene.

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in challenges , random words |

nanobrb

5880 words | 10008 total

Yay, 10k in 2 days.

Started in the afternoon, took a while to hit the 1667 mark, but once I got over a small hump, it was fairly smooth sailing. I got to the end point of the short story, with MC1’s planned party successfully completed. Trying to add some more background and family interactions. There is a bunch of side characters (both MC’s best friends, MC2’s family and sakura festival people) still to be introduced and of course more parties to be planned.

The wrist is…okay. Need to wear the brace whenever I type.

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in random words |

uk10k001start

4128 words

Another year, another nano. I’m writing PP this year, and starting the wordcount at 3604. Reached 7732 today, so nano wordcount is 4128. Going forward, I’ll just report nano wordcount.

I’m sort of an old hand at this, hahaha I have no excuse. This is my 10th nano. I’m still smarting over missing 2007, but I have to get over it one of these days. For the past few years I’ve adopted a relaxed approach:

  • basic: 1667 words
  • BP: 2000-2500 words
  • DBP: 2500-5000 words
  • TBP: anything over 5000 words

It’s worth remembering:

IN NOVEMBER, ONLY WORDCOUNT MATTERS. NOTHING ELSE.

Anyway, I’m on chapter 4, the MCs have already met, stalked each other, had the beginnings of getting-to-know-you conversations, kissed and faced a family emergency. I’m around 2/3rd of the way through the original short story, so I haven’t padded it out too much. The plan is to go into the party in question in more detail, then expand from the short story to other events and parties.

In terms of wrist pain, this will be a tough year. I injured my left wrist I think when I was doing weights. It’s the same left wrist that gets RSI during nano, so it has been occasionally painful the last month or so already. Something is visibly swollen, I don’t know what it is. I’ll just have to push through and wear the brace more often.


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in eating and drinking |

lambflat02

I saw diced lamb flap at the supermarket the other day. Lamb flap is belly, or sometimes called breast. It’s not a cut of meat I see very often—lamb comes in leg, shank or shoulder, occasionally neck fillet. Looks very much like any other belly cut—layers of meat and fat with some bones. Cheaper than shank and looks perfect for braising.

I used the standard braising method and ingredients. Brown the meat, remove. Sweat mirepoix in browning juices, return meat to pan. Add chopped tomatoes, red wine and seasoning. I splashed out and got fresh rosemary this time.

Instead of braising for 3hrs in the oven, I used my dad’s thermal pot. This is a device that is made up of an inner cooking pot and an outer insulated container. The idea is a vacuum is created around the cooking pot, keeping it hot and the food slow cooking for a long time. Apart from the initial heating no other energy source is needed. A good video demo by one of the manufacturers showing how to cook lamb shanks:



I brought everything to a rolling boil for 20mins. Then it was simply a matter of leaving the stew overnight, total around 15hrs. It was still hot when I took it out, apparently the food can be kept at around 60˚C for 12hrs. I returned it to the hob, brought it to boiling for about 10mins to reduce the gravy a little. Cooking in a sealed device meant no evaporation.

Served the braised lamb flap with grilled okra and rosemary flatbread. Everything homemade and economical. Success all round.


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in 101.1001 , eating and drinking |

flatbread01

Tasks #49-58 of 101 in 1001 are 10 new recipes. This is #9, and the first bread recipe.

I’ve been baking since I was 11 or 12, but I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve made bread. I’ve been watching too many GBBO and masterchef episodes and I want to have a bread recipe I can master and keep in my back pocket. This is based on a jamie recipe.

500g strong bread flour
15g (or 1.5 packet) yeast
1/2 tbsp salt
1tbsp sugar
300ml water

Mix the dry ingredients with about half the water, add more water to get to a sticky consistency. Knead until a silky, elastic dough is formed. Leave in a covered bowl for 30mins to prove, until doubled in size.

Knock the air out and knead a little more. Tear off chunks of the dough, add fresh rosemary leaves and roll into small balls. Pat between palms into flat shapes about 0.5cm thick.

Pan fry in olive oil until golden. Sprinkle sea salt and drizzle rosemary & oil.

I’m very pleased with the results. A little yeasty, I think I added too much yeast. They fluffed up nicely during cooking and had a wonderful golden brown colour. Slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. I’ll definitely make them again.


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in in the news |

oclp144bbcardsign

This week marks one month since police threw 87 cannisters of tear gas at unarmed people who were fighting for something quite fundamental: a say in the way their city is governed. The background and development of how #occupycentral turned into #occupyhk and #umbrellarevolution have been well documented and analysed. Here are some personal thoughts, observations and pictures.


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in eating and drinking |

chocsoilicecream2014

The whole family went for curry buffet at the yacht club. It’s very hard to take a picture of curry, and of buffet dishes so I won’t even try. My niece didn’t have the curry, instead she ordered spag bol and ice cream. The ice cream was mint choc and topped with chocolate soil, served in a flower pot. Looks great! The soil was broken up oreos. How a little creativity and artistic presentation gave additional wow factor to a good dessert.


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