In the early days of internet, everything was free. Then it got commercial and ads started appearing on webpages. At first the ads were at the side of the page, then they got large and loud and obtrusive with huge flashing banner ads and popups that can’t be closed. Nowadays it’s even worse — users’ online activity and geographic location are collected and ads are targeted. All very annoying and intrusive and creepy.
Thank goodness for plug-ins like adblock plus and ghostery.
But we have a new threat.
A recent medium post talks about how modal overlays are becoming the first wave of the second world pop-up war and how we don’t yet have the tools to fight back. What are modal overlays, or lightboxes? Nice explanation:
dialogs that pop up and disable the background behind them. You can click anywhere inside modal overlays, but you can’t click anything in background until the dialog goes away
Normally modal overlays are used to make the user input necessary information or actions to drive the content on the main page. The find and replace box in google docs, or the share to facebook box found on news sites for instance.
But like most things, modal overlays are being abused by marketers. How many of us have experienced this: click on a new link, the page goes dark and is immediately obscured by a box that contains advertisement, an autoplaying video or begs us to disclose our email to sign up for their newslet—ad delivery mechanism. What’s the value behind this?
I made a screen recording of a recent experience. I was googling mandarin vs tangerine for a previous post, and wisegeek seemed to be a safe enough site. So I clicked on it, scrolled around for a few seconds, and their slideshow came on as a huge lightbox without me doing anything. If I had to continue, I had to click it close. This was a sour experience for me and I ended up closing the entire tab and looking at another site. Goodbye, wisegeek. Not likely to click on your links again.
Here’s another one I found, at trendhunter. More can be found at tab closed; didn’t read, whose author has been curating sites that does this. Although tech savvy people know to close the lightbox to return to the main page, sometimes they are not allowed or obscured. Other people may not know how to close it, or they may think they had to complete the form before moving on. With mobile ads and lightboxes sometimes it’s hard to find the close button. What is clear is that hardly anybody likes these. They are intrusive, and why beg people to sign up for content when they haven’t even had the chance to look at the content?
The counter argument is that how else can websites get people to engage with them? How else can websites survive if people expect free content without advertisements? Valid enough points, but for me, I do not like intrusions to my browsing experience, and most importantly, I do not want my online activities or personal information sent back to people who have no business collecting them. I’m not seeing why I have to sign in with my facebook account when I visit a website for the first time, or like your facebook page before I’m allowed to continue.
A commenter on hacker news talked about how many more signups they got for their email newsletter after they installed a modal overlay. My experience of email newsletters is that they are thinly disguised methods for getting people’s emails into a marketing mailing list. At best, you can unsubscribe after getting the first one; at worst your email has been sold on to third party advertisers. If I like the content of a website, I’ll bookmark it or add it to my feedly, they will get clicks that way.
In the meantime, I’ll keep on closing tabs without reading and wait for the likes of ABP to come up with a solution.
Here’s a fun distraction from the 101 in 1001 stuff. This is a fairly recent lifehacker post that references an older article elsewhere. It shows us how to unroll a mandarin orange into a pretty strip using 4 simple steps:
- cut off the top
- cut off the bottom
- make a vertical slit on one side
- carefully roll it out
I tried with a mandarin, and it worked until it broke in half. My fault for not unrolling on a flat surface and not gently enough. Eight points for following instruction, 9 for easy handling and, hmm, 5 for presentation. Of course it’s a lot easier with a mandarin than an orange because the peel of a mandarin comes off readily. Had to clean off the white pithy bits, all in all a very successful quick experiment. Next time, try with an actual orange.
[ETA: now it’s on huffpo]
Task #89 of 101 tasks in 1001 days challenge.
This is a list of things I’d like to do someday, with varying degrees of achievability. There is some overlap with the 101 places to visit list, I got tired of trying to distinguish between them. Seems like I need to plan on doing a lot of driving, eating and running.
- build a sand sculpture
- buy a second home
- car owner —- again
- cater a dinner party and get paid for it
- climb a mountain
- dig for abalone, clams, mussels
- draw/paint a picture — of decent quality, I can’t draw or paint
- draw a picture on an app — that’s wishful thinking, that an app will help drawing skills
- drive a bus — preferably double decker
- drive a classic car
- drive a convertible — can combine with #10
- drive a hummer
- drive a jetski
- drive a race car around a race track
- drive in sand dunes
- earn money from baking
- eat all the omnivore’s 100 — i was at 73 in 2008, around 80 now
- eat at a three-star michelin restaurant — been to one- and two-stars
- eat something deep fried on a stick — at one of those big fairs
- encourage someone to start a bucket list challenge (bonus if 101.1001)
- experience zero gravity
- explore a cave
- extreme couponing
- fly a kite
- get a motorcycle licence
- get published
- go surfing, bodyboarding or flyboarding
- hot yoga
- in the credits of a film or tv program
- jump on a trampoline
- hunt truffles
- learn a dance step
- learn a magic trick
- learn to change a flat tire
- learn to code / write an app
- learn the alphabet in ASL (already know BSL)
- leave a 100% tip
- make a classic dish
- make a list of 101 things I would never do (some people’s definition of a reverse bucket list, more like an anti-bucket list)
- make own beer / wine / whisky
- make own cheese — ricotta counts
- milk a cow or goat
- own business
- pan for gold
- participate in the greatest international scavenger hunt
- pay for the person in the queue behind me
- photobomb someone
- photography: bokeh
- photography: take a “frame and hang on wall” worthy photo — some of these may work
- plant a herb garden
- plant a kitchen garden
- play 18 holes of golf
- play the drums
- read from modern library’s best 100 novels list
- retire and live on investment income
- ride a bike around a velodrome
- running: sub-25 5k
- running: sub-60 10k
- running: 5.00 marathon
- running: 4.30 marathon
- running: 4.00 marathon
- running: big sur marathon
- running: marathon du medoc
- running: northern lights marathon
- running: tokyo marathon
- running: trail race
- sail a boat
- scan all documents
- scan all photos
- scuba diving
- ski a black run confidently
- ski cross-country
- skydive indoors
- sleep in a hammock
- slide down a fireman’s pole
- start a fire without matches or flint
- stay at a silent retreat
- stomp grapes
- take a bartending class
- take a course at a cookery school
- take a first aid class
- take a flying lesson
- take a photography class
- take an advanced driving class
- take up archery or shooting for real
- transport: 25 different modes of transportation
- try a new sport
- try pottery
- volunteer, help build a house
- walk on hot rocks
- watch a drive-in movie
- wear a tuxedo
- weights: 101 pushups
- weights: 30 day shred
- weights: at least one pullup
- weights: bench 25% body weight
- weights: bench 50% body weight
- whitewater rafting
- write a readable letter left-handed
- zip down a zipline
I came across instagrams printed on marshmallows, with a simple process:
- login to instagram
- pick 9 images
- pay £12
- “scrumptious, squishy, shareable” marshmallows appear in mailbox
Available in UK only, and £12 for 9 marshmallows is a bit steep. Good for a laugh or a personalised gift.
Found a recipe for fluffy vanilla marshmallows. The ingredient list isn’t too taxing, although I’m not sure if I can find sugar cane syrup. The process seems really fiddly and involves a stand mixer which, well, I don’t have. It’s easy enough to buy I suppose, and I think I have a cooking thermometer somewhere.
A little more digging gave me another recipe that uses egg whites — and easier for me to read because it uses metric measurements and not cups. It also uses 9 sheets of gelatine, and that’s the fiddly part for me. I’m never comfortable with gelatine, for some reason.
If I’m feeling adventurous one of these days, I’ll give making marshmallows a go.
Last week we went to the apple store and got mm upgraded to the iphone 5s, from her iphone 3g. It’s really light and very sharp with the new case we found. My target upgrade is the iphone 6 or 6s, perhaps even 7 if my iphone lasts that long. The reason for waiting is I want to get an ipad mini first, and I’m not one of those recent apple converts who need to own every idevice.
That is, until I start spotting cool things and apps that are only compatible with iphone 5 or 5s.
This lightstrap cover is a new kickstarter project, and is basically a flash built into the case. A bit expensive though, and I don’t understand why the lower donation amount gives earlier access to the product.
Like many people this Christmas, I’m on the hunt for an activity tracker, and was thinking of getting either a fitbit or a fuelband. The fitbits and newest fuelband sync through bluetooth, which requires iphone 4s, sigh. And the nike+ moves app, which doesn’t even need a band, needs the iphone 5s’ M7 processor.
Argh! May be I’ll just go to the sports store and get an old fashioned pedometer for the time being and stop thinking about iphone 5s stuff.
So I started my 101 goals in 1001 days challenge yesterday and started working on those goals already. I made notes and folders in evernote for all the lists I should be making — places travelled, places to visit, food tried, achievements, books read, walking distance tracker. But mainly I worked on the places and foods list. But then I realised, I should be putting those lists together at the end of the project and not the beginning. Ack. Now I need to work on other non-list goals.
Between 1 December 2007 and 28 August 2010 I participated in the 101 things in 1001 days challenge. The mission is to complete 101 preset tasks in 1001 days (2.75 years).
I ended up checking off about half the the original list, the reasons for a rather poor completion rate:
- timing — 2008 was a big business trip year for me, that was the year I clocked 100,000 miles, which was great for my airmiles account (#45) and getting upgraded to first (#44) but not so great in terms of getting other challenges done
- lack of opportunity — for instance, I never got a chance to visit San Diego zoo (#40) or go rock climbing (#51)
- overly ambitious — visiting India (#41) was more a someday goal, buying another property (#70) when I only paid off the mortgage was definitely a pie in the sky
- too many sub-tasks — 10 new restaurants in 10 new cities (#67), that was one task when it was actually 10 tasks — together with all the subtasks, I was working with 232 tasks, which made it much more difficult and demotivating
- laziness — it would have taken an hour to count all my swatches (#96), so i should have completed that one
I’m a very task-driven person, I function best when I have preset achievable goals in front of me, preferably in an organised list. I was pretty disappointed I didn’t do better, and it sort of put me off long term challenges for a while. I did a few TDP monthly challenges, but I always deliberately set goals that were achievable, to the point that they were too easy.
Not that I’m bored with running x km or staying away from alcohol for y days, it’s now time to go back to the 101 in 1001 challenge and push for completion this time. So I made a new 101 things in 1001 days list which will run until sunday 28 August 2016. Some of the incomplete tasks from 2007 I rolled over, the ones that I’m interested in completing and have a realistic chance too. I didn’t buy a lomo last time, but it’s pointless to do it again when I have plenty of lomo apps on my iphone. No more subtasks either, so visiting 3 new countries are #28-30.
The tasks vary in difficulty, but this time they should all be achievable. Some I know will get done, #38 is go on a cruise, and it’s already booked for Feb next year. The lists 101 of things done (#87), places visited (#26), places to visit (#27) — those should be easy to do. The ones that are harder include #1 update macOS, since I’m still wary of updating to Mavericks, I tend to update only when I buy a new machine. Walk to Mordor, or 1779 miles from Hobbiton to Mount Doom (#40) will be interesting to track, since I usually track running only. I don’t yet have a solution for tracking yet, there are plenty of options but not all are suitable, that’s a post for another day.
The dayzero people don’t have an app yet, so I’ll be tracking progress here, posting when a task is completed. In progress tasks will be tracked on Evernote; after all, I want to become proficient in it (#3).
Google “101 in 1001” and there are a lot of other people doing or having done the challenge. There is a top 101 goals list and it’s interesting to look at other people’s tasks. Current top 10:
- donate blood — which I can only do in the UK; the American Red Cross still claim people who lived in the UK between 1980-1996 have vCJD aka mad cow disease, so most other countries follow
- write a letter to myself to open in 10 years — I find communicating with future selfs a bit odd
- get a tattoo — no, no, a million no
- sleep under the stars — don’t like camping, too many bugs and dirty ground
- leave an inspirational note inside a book for someone to find — I like this, and have included as #90
- answer the “50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind” — these inspirational quote things always make me laugh
- don’t complain about anything for a week — don’t complain much, don’t talk much
- kiss in the rain — sigh, not gonna happen
- fall in love — no comment
- watch the sunrise and sunset in the same day — I can just imagine it being an extremely stressful and busy day
So, let’s get it started.
Christmas fair at my niece’s school. Very very crowded with lots of kids, parents and friends. The main courtyard area was all food. It being the german swiss school there were bratwurst, pretzels, ham with sauerkraut, potato salad, raclette, 3 types of beer, Austrian prosecco, Swiss wine (yay!!!) as well as other food like sandwiches, waffles and asian food.
The gym had stalls selling christmas ornaments, handmade crafts and lots and lots of food. Chocolate, stollen, biscuits, homemade cakes, brownies, jams. Business was good, I scored the last 2 bottles of gluhwein and mum bought the non-alcoholic version. Sis worked the chocolate stall and by the time she finished they were almost out of everything.
The sports hall was full of games managed by kids from each year. There were flip the rubber chicken into the basin, shoot santa with a dart gun, net the duckies from the inflatable pool and many others. Lots of kids running around, lots of noise and energy.
I had some video fun again with instagram, this was at the stalls before they ran out of stuff to sell. Edited in iMovie, and added a music track — up on the housetop via uncle dave’s free christmas tunes. I think I prefer editing and saving to flickr rather than sharing from instagram directly. Gives me more control, although I lose some of the frame due to sizing.
Instagram video experiment #2, christmas decoration at the mall. Went to dinner with mm, cc and am at a vietnamese restaurant at one of the malls. Good food: papaya salad, green curry vegetables, yellow curry fish, roast pork, two types of rice (ginger and coconut). Plus 4 hours free parking. Great to spend time with old friends.
We had a curry buffet lunch at dickens bar, one of the old school pubs at the basement of a hotel. Not a fancy hotel buffet with lobster and movenpick ice cream, this one is solid with salads, 3 different kinds of curry, turkey (thanksgiving?), pasta, fruit, cakes and a too-dry chocolate pudding. Had a 25% discount with one of our credit cards.
I was there early so I was able to survey what was available before everyone rushed to the buffet counters. Perfect opportunity to instagram!! Tried out the video function for the first time, to test against vine.
Vine came out in the beginning of the year (I think) and was hailed as the instagram of video; no surprise that instagram itself added video around June. Both are dead easy to use and, by the large number of videos already posted on both services, will only grow and grow and grow. Lots of informative comparisons abound, and techcrunch kindly gave us a nice table:
What I like about these apps is the ease of use, and because of the short duration, it’s almost essential to pause then move onto the next frame. Pausing on video function of a camera means a second file and you need to use something like iMovie to edit sequences together. Although I ended up editing 3 instagram videos together, it’s not the usual thing to do, just like it’s not usual or necesssary to photoshop instagram photos.
At first glance, there are no fundamental differences between the 2 services, however, because of the way they evolved historically, the user base seem to be slightly different. Techcrunch again,
Where Instagram’s user base is mostly made up of people documenting their feet, coffees, and pets, Vine has attracted a group of users who are pleased by the challenges set forth in the app
Interesting observation. I must admit most of my instagrams are of food, so I sort of fall into that stereotype. Contrast to my first vine of engrish subtitles on a korean drama dvd, which falls into one of those “so bad it’s good” categories. This spontaneonity is what I like about vine, but I’ll probably end up using instagram more — I’m already ingrained into its ecosystem, and its ability to edit, add filters and delete frames is useful; plus I’m not into the instant sharing culture of vine and twitter. Definitely don’t like the gif-like constant looping of vine videos, videos that autoplay are a pet peeve of mine.
I’m quite pleased with this first effort on instagram. The filter, graininess and choppiness give it a vintage feel, almost like watching an old 8mm reel.
The occasional 25 random tidbits about me series returns. It’s something I used to do, but haven’t done regularly for a while. I think I’m more proud of the fact that these squares are done using css with no table in sight. Heh, geek in motion.
We took a drive out to a nature trail area near plover cove reservoir. A quiet area with people fishing, walking or biking on a weekday. We didn’t have time to go hiking on the trail, so we just stayed around the main area. Found a small restaurant for late lunch — minestrone soup, lamb chop, and we shared a frozen cream cake for dessert. Good value at under £10 per person, although the food quality was strictly average. Friendly service and a nice outside patio added to the charm.
The restaurant calls itself an art café with the work of an artist (the owner?) adorning the outside of the house, the interior and there are 2 floors dedicated to exhbiting his artwork. Plover cove is only 30mins’ drive from my parents’ place, not too far. Perfect for a quiet day’s outing. Will definitely return to hike the trails. There’s a 45min easy hike to a small waterfall.
The nanosite is always very generous, google docs and word both counted 50365 but the site validated at 50370. Fantastic. I get the usual winner’s certificate and a bunch of images. In the past the images were random square or horizontal or vertical banners. This year their sizes are targeted towards appropriate social media sites so there are ready-made fb, twitter etc images. I’ll keep my avatar till the end of the month, unless I’m feeling particularly obnoxious I won’t change my profile pic.
I’ll see how the next year goes, whether I have time to write Spotter. I should finish LL as a priority so Spotter will likely be nano 2014. This is the earliest I’ve ever planned and outlined a nanonovel.
Wordcount validation starts every year on the 25th, so I was looking at the nanonovel for the first time in almost 2 weeks. Played around with tag clouds. It’s quite obvious the story is about 2 characters called Indy and Pete, and about building a house. Cool stuff, the website has a random button that changes font, layout and colour. I had a fun 10 minutes randomising.
The last time I went into the office was May 2012. I was then on garden leave and started my officially unemployed status 3 months later. I guess the better term is sabbatical or semi-retirement, although I’m too young to look retired. In financial services it’s not uncommon for people to retire young though.
Earlier this year, I did have some discussions with a couple of companies on the job front. One I turned down because first they had a hiring freeze and then the manager managed to unfreeze the headcount but only if it’s shared with another department. I’ve done this long enough to know that sharing doesn’t work — the EE is still expected to perform as if they are 100% in both departments, which leads to double the workload. Plus, the politics, ack. The second job was with a consultant firm, it was going well until we started talking packages and timesheets and client marketing. Not for me.
I’m quite happy to exist without a job for the time being, bumming along at my parents’ place. But an opportunity came my way, and it suits my current circumstances.
So now I’m a researcher and case writer at the university’s business school. The university is 100+ years old, and enjoys a high global/regional ranking. The position is freelance, where I work with one of the professors on a particular case. It’s paid on a per case basis too; each case can take 3-6 months to finalise but I can work whenever I like, and from home. No need to be at any office aside from a few meetings with the professor or, if the case is about a company, the company’s staff. Some case writers work on multiple concurrent cases, but for now I have just the one.
Anyone who went to business school will remember case studies. We didn’t have case studies in every single subject but they were definitely used in Marketing and Strategic Management. Harvard is the pioneer of using case studies, apparently their MBA students study and analyse over 500 cases during their time there. It’s a tried a tested method for teaching MBAs, although there are some criticism of the case study method, that it’s not suited for all subjects (eg accounting and statistics), that some cases are too old and outdated, and other methods that mix lectures with real time cases may be the way to go.
Nevertheless, the wheels of academia turn very slowly and case studies will be used and in demand for a long time to come. They have become big business, with the three largest case study publishers (Harvard, Richard Ivey in Canada and ECCH at Cranfield) selling more than 10 million cases every year. Cases are priced per student, so even at $3 each, that’s $30 million in revenue.
I’d never really thought about who physically wrote these case studies. If anyone asked me a few months ago, I would have said that they are like academic papers, right? Even though I was the one who did the experiment and synthesised those compounds, my PhD supervisor wrote all our published JOC papers, so I would assume that business school professors wrote these case studies too.
Sometimes their students wrote them, but there is a whole cottage industry of case writers. So far it’s a lot of research. Trawling through a company’s website, reading their annual statements, figuring out their org structure from public information. Then there are the academic theories that the professor wants to incorporate into the case — for someone in the field like I have been, they seem to be a lot of big words to describe a small thing that I already know, but I have to remember that the students may not know these things. There’s quite a lot of writing involved too: not just the case study itself, which can run to 20-30 pages; there’s also the accompanying teaching notes, which is another 20-30 pages.
Can I make a living out of it? Not at the moment, with just one case. It has potential to become more, I hope. Already the prof I’m working with is talking about a series of cases; and then there are a couple of ideas I have that I’ll wait till the right time to pitch. There are even case writing competitions around the world with fairly lucrative prize money. Wow.
Shopping day for bbmm. We had chirashi set for lunch then braved the crowds at the department store for almost the entire afternoon. They were having their semi-annual sale week. Our takings included: laundry mesh bags, a microplane, long sleeved t-shirts, a L’Occitane face cream gift set, kettle chips, ostrich steaks, umeshu and a case of cabernet sauvignon icewine. Also looked at, but didn’t buy at the end, tagines and a pressure cooker. The tagine was small and cheap, but I’m wary of buying single use equipment. The pressure cooker was nice, but too expensive even after discount.
We took a break in the afternoon for tea. After exploring the nearby streets, we came across a Taiwanese style tea and snacks place. We shared one of their monster brick toasts — three thick slices of toast with butter topped with cream, strawberry ice cream, marshmallows, strawberries and blueberries. The inside of the toast was cut up in bite-size chunks and the idea is to eat the cubes together with the cream, ice cream and toppings. Messy but oh so good.
They also served interesting teas and coffees. It being a Taiwanese place there was obviously bubble tea. We opted for their iced tea which was lipton tea topped with either juice or soda plus fruit. There was additionally a small preserved plum in the glass, which gave it a sweet-sour tangy flavour that was refreshing. This is the only time that I think lipton will work, it’s too awful and tasteless to drink on its own, adding it to what is essentially a mocktail is a good move.
It’s cooking with mum day. For lunch we had pork knuckle, baked purple sweet potatoes and tomatoes. The pork knuckle was ready made so it was just reheating. The sweet potatoes we par boiled for 10mins before baking at 180°C for about 20mins. So sweet, so great — purple vegetables are my all time favourite. I sliced the pork and halved the sweet potatoes, everything served Jamie Oliver style on a wooden board.
Dinner was salmon, the same sweet potatoes and steamed thick white asparagus. This is not the same white asparagus as I used to get, these are really thick, almost as big as a small leek. Still have the delicate asparagus flavour though.
I had a meeting with the prof in the morning (more about this in another post), then went over to mm’s place. She had been to the doctor’s in the morning to clean the incision, and to get further instructions from the doctor in monitoring going forward. All is well, so it’s a big relief all round.
She’d been at home since she came home on Friday and today was her first venture out. We went to a restaurant nearby for lunch. Set lunch was pork knuckle terrine, spaghetti vongole and panna cotta. I ended up eating my portion, and some of hers too cos she didn’t have her usual appetite.
Went to the market, got some fruit and veg then it was back to her place to rest. She was watching Korean drama and we switched to the totally incomprehensible English subtitles. I tried out Vine for the first time and grabbed some of those in a video. Then I totally fell asleep for half an hour. Too full for dinner, I let her get some rest for the evening and left at 6pm.
Here’s a story from GCLS Dallas 2013. I was running around all con taking pictures of everything and all the sessions, this is pretty well known. Thursday was a long day, ending with karaoke night. I had a big rip in my jeans all day, and no one said anything.
The jeans were old 501s, a favourite, and already ripped in the knees and the bum. The rip at the seams had been repaired, and the knee area patched up. The thing about jeans is that you can wear them when they are badly ripped, some stores even sell them pre-ripped.
So in the morning, I was running around as usual in the main area when I heard this tearing noise behind me. Argh, somehow I’ve inflicted another rip at the back, just underneath the seat of the jeans. There was no time to waste because sessions were beginning so I hoped that my shirt was long enough to cover it. Anyway, no one complained. Either they didn’t notice, or they were too polite to tell me, or they were laughing at me behind my back. Hmmmph.
I had to say good-bye to them though at the end. I bought quite a lot of stuff, had to re-pack and it became a victim of my shopping. Not before I took a few pictures. Currently I have 3 pairs of jeans I wear in rotation, and I’m noticing that my favourite pair is becoming ripped while my least favourite pair stubbornly remains pristine — I was hoping to wear the least favourite one old quicker, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. Typical.
Whenever my dad goes to the library he has dinner out, so mum and I generally fry a steak. Today mum has gone out with her friends so it’s papa’s turn to get the steak dinner treatment. We found a fairly decent value steak from the supermarket, it’s not Hawksmoor (or even Tesco) standard, but it’s acceptable.
I’ve also listened to Heston’s lesson on cooking the perfect steak. I don’t leave it out in the fridge but I do take it out and let it sit at room temperature for a bit. Hot pan for delicious crust, check. Of course resting, I know that already.
The thing I haven’t done before is flipping the steak every 15-20 seconds or so to keep both sides hot. He’s right, it totally works. I can monitor the steak’s doneness much better; even though I don’t use a cooking thermometer I’m a good enough cook to know how to use the palm test for meat doneness. So far my steaks have turned out nicely rare to medium-rare every time. This sounds naughty but flipping works!
A chachaanteng literally translates to tea restaurant. Except for the fact that they serve food they are nothing like restaurants; the nearest equivalent is an American diner or a British seaside caff where they serve strong tea and bacon butties. Why are they called tea restaurants? Because aside from breakfasts, lunches and dinners, they also serve tea, both the drink and the meal.
Tea the drink is like Indian pulled tea / Malaysian teh tarik — very colonial — strong tea that has been poured through a fine net (like panty hose, hence the term panty hose tea) and served with condensed milk, evaporated milk, sometimes both. Supposed to be silky and smooth, I personally find it absolutely undrinkable because of the sweetness and the evaporated milk after taste. I stick to another local favourite, lemon tea. Locals drink it with a ton of sugar, I have to make a special no-sugar request.
Tea the meal is much more interesting, and also has colonial past. It’s western food, only it’s not. The tea set is made up of toast made of crustless white bread slathered with butter, condensed milk, peanut butter or all of the above, you can ask for the bread to be toasted. Served together with a slice of processed meat, scrambled eggs and then there’s the spaghetti or macaroni in soup.
Other popular tea set offerings include french toast made from two slices of the same crustless white bread with peanut butter inside, coated with egg, fried and served with a sticky jar of syrup. Or for a savoury alternative there is noodle in soup like the familiar won ton soup, or this really tasty ramen with pork liver. Sounds horrible, but nowadays we are so much better educated by Bizarre Foods, it’s kinda delicious.
This rich chocolate cake from a hotel bakery reminded me of a few things.
parents love you unconditionally
I’m back at parents’ place and mum saved me a piece for tea. She buys a lot of good food for me, and my dad is responsible for cooking all our meals. I’m like a princess when I stay here, and they make it clear they want me to stay as long as I can.
my feelings for mm
We’ve been together, in a weird sense of the word, for 21 years. I’m not sure what lies ahead for us; she’s quite happy about us being a couple of steps up from friends, I want things to go back to how they were in the beginning. The first thing I thought of when mum gave me the cake was I needed to take a picture and send to mm to cheer her up. In return she sent me lots of happy smiley face stickers.
need to keep healthy
This chocolate cake packs something like 300-400 calories. I haven’t been exercising enough, and mm’s recent health scare reminds me that I need to get back to a better level of health.
chocolate isn’t my first choice
Even though it was professionally baked and parents really liked it, I found the cake too sweet, too dry and too rich. I finished it, but it took me a long time (remembering that I’m a very fast eater.) Given a choice between different flavours, I won’t pick chocolate. I like making desserts, and a lot of my recipes are chocolate, but I just don’t go crazy about it like most people.
Why I need to finish nano because things will get busy #2: it takes 2-3hrs to get discharged from the hospital. Most of that time was aimless waiting, with mm resting or playing with the touchscreen computer looking at holiday packages; and me reading on my kindle. Finally it was time to pay the bill, get medicine and hop into a taxi back to her place. She took a much needed shower, we had lunch then I went home so she could sleep. I’m tired too, even though most of the time I was reading. Early to bed for me.
I spent 12 hours at the hospital, sitting with mm. She is in for a small procedure and will stay overnight. I got to her room after she checked-in at 9am and got changed. We explored the touch screen tv/computer combo unit, looked at the food menu and generally chatted while we waited for the time to get ready. The doctor came an hour before the procedure, and she was wheelchaired to the operating theatre at 1.15pm. I went out for lunch — chirashi set at a conveyer belt sushi place full of lunch time office workers.
By the time I walked back to the hospital (having stopped at 7-eleven to get coke zero for me and crackers for her) it was almost 3pm. I sat, firstly in her room then outside near the nurses’ station. She was wheeled back at 3.30pm. I whatsapped her brother to let him know, then sat with her. She was tired after the GA, but we chatted in between her drifting off. I ended up falling asleep on the uncomfortable plastic visitor chair too.
We ordered hospital dinner to share, then it was getting time for me to go home. She was already able to get out of bed and walk around.
It is only a small procedure that took 1hr. But even though you know it’s small, and relatively risk free, it’s worrying. There is no good time for surgery but the best is when you are healthy so it’s less disruptive to the body. It was still worrying, seeing her in the wheelchair going down and then coming back up in the bed still asleep. Health is so important, I think our prayers helped everything go smoothly. Thank you.
Early start today, woke up at 5.45am and got the 6.30am bus. Every year in Sept and Nov we go to early morning mass in memory of mm’s sister. It’s 10 years to the day that she left us. I was at the church first, then their family started trickling in. Early morning mass on a weekday is short, so it was finished by 8am.
Breakfast at a nearby diner then went back to her parents’ place to pick up some stuff. Then had to bring th stuff back to mm’s place.
Lunch was just the two of us, I’d made reservations at a hotel café for buffet. We both agreed the buffet was a good one. Back to her place to rest, I actually did fall asleep while she was pottering around in the kitchen.
Drinks at the Marriott with her brother and his wife. Buy one get one free happy hour drinks, I had a malbec while she had a rioja. She drove me home, got home around 10pm.
Additional achievement today: we drove to an industrial estate and bought new watches. Both the same design and colour — taupe sports chrono. She got the smaller ladies size and I got the medium unisex size. Very sharp design, we like it. I haven’t worn a watch for a while, over a year, but I do find it a pain to have to dig out my iphone from my back pocket every time I want to know the time, may be I’ll start wearing a watch again.
4350 words | 50365 words total
Done it. 50k in 12 days, good stuff. Second fastest nano, the 3rd time I’ve done it in 12 days. 10 days in 2004 is safely tucked away as the fastest and unlikely to change. In stealth mode too, aside from my online friends and mm, my RL friends and family don’t know about nano and didn’t know I was doing it. It’s not something they are either interested in or are bothered about.
The next part of the story brought them to a wedding. Since one of my MCs was an ex-banker I went back to LL and inserted her in as a very minor character. This wedding was between my LL MCs, so it was an opportunity to bring back some old characters. Fun. After that I had about 1,300 words to 50k and it was either write something simple and easy or start another chapter. I opted for enjoying a soak in the bath and then a small accident the next day at the site. Nothing serious, cuts and bruises.
I’m not sure I’ll continue with this story for the rest of the month. I should spend spare time finishing said LL, that task is years overdue.
Anyway, good timing for reaching 50k. Lots going on the next 7-10 days.
5888 words | 46015 words total
Had the morning and almost the whole afternoon to write, and got to the end of chapter 10, which sees the relationship between the MCs develop in a good way. The roof lining, windows and doors have been fitted, so the house is sealed and protected from the elements. Lots more to do, finish the exterior walls, finish the deck and porch, plant the roof plus all the interior work.
I have (I don’t want to jinx myself but it seems feasible) one more day of writing to reach 50k. The story is only about halfway at 50k so it depends if I have time or motivation to carry on. I’ll see when I get to the finish line.
This evening was dinner to celebrate my niece’s birthday. Went to a dumplings place because she saw these chocolate dumplings in a magazine and wanted to try. They were very good, like chocolate fondant with the melted chocolate oozing out when I made a hole. A good choice.
3764 words | 40127 words total
Alright, I sort of cheated. I knew I was going out on sunday, so I finished at around 8pm on saturday, saved all the files, submitted my wordcount and filed it all under day 9. Then I wrote some more so I can bank some words for day 10. All in all, 9000 words for the weekend and does it really matter I wrote 7k on saturday and 2k on sunday vs 5.5 on saturday and 3.5 on sunday? It’s just so psychologically the daily wordcount chart looks prettier. I’ve missed whole days before.
The point is, I got to 40k. 80% done.
So at 40k in a romance, it’s time for the first sex scene between the MCs. I don’t write sex scenes during nano, only
[insert sex scene here]
[another sex scene]
When / if this story is edited, I’ll work on those scenes. Oh joy (not).
Anyway, they had a great weekend, visited the art museum, saw some new architecture, had some good food, and spent a lot of time in bed getting to know each other. It’s now the end of chapter 9 and they’re back home. Complaining a little because they have to spend the night apart back at their respective homes to run errands — laundry and sorting through bills and stuff like that. But there is a promise of being together back at work on the site and also nights to come.
In some books, and stuff I’ve written, when things go so well something angsty happens that the MCs have to overcome so their relationship gets back on track and becomes even stronger as we near the end of the book. This story I don’t feel like putting up roadblocks to ruin their relationship. Not the huge ones like being disowned by family or an abusive ex showing up or a natural disaster, may be a elating to the construction or a minor injury.
So, where did I go today? Went over to mm’s, our plan had been to drive out to a new spot at the country park and go hiking. Had to postpone due to bad weather. Instead we stayed at her place and watched bbc lifestyle, drank a whole bottle of prosecco and polished off a whole bag of prawn chips. Nice afternoon. I was home by 8.30pm.
5428 words | 36363 words total
A boring kind of day reading, watching tv, writing. It’s also nano marathon day:
Join us on Saturday, November 9 for day-long noveling madness in person and online, and donate to help us reach our $50K goal. Keep NaNoWriMo running the course for years to come! All the glory of a traditional marathon, none of that pesky training. Just you, your novel, and a deep and abiding love of helping others discover the joy of writing.
I can’t go to an in-person event obviously, but I did follow on twitter for a bit. I’m at 5.4k for the day and 36k total just after dinner. Good point to save everything. I’m using writely (aka google drive), saving to word and the doc is also saved on my flashdrive and this year there’s the additional backup at dropbox.
In terms of the story we’re now at chapter 8. The rest of the roadtrip passed by uneventfully. “Mostly roadkill” as one of the MC described it. They checked into their hotel (one room, two beds) and visited the green roof supplier whose name was, ta-da, Mr Ian Woon. Lots of opportunities for exposition about types of green roofs, growing medium and what vegetation to use. Then it was onto dinner at an Italian restaurant, drinks at a nearby pub and at the end of the section they were asleep wrapped in each other’s arms. Awwww.
4307 words | 30935 words total
5.10km 40.47min 8.00min/km (12.52min/mi)
The 5k is going over to the small park and running around the jogging track, the football field and the basketball court. I sprinted the last 200m to try to get the pace down below 8, got it to 8min exactly, need to run faster.
The 30k is getting to the 30k mark in nano. I said I was gonna do it yesterday at 26k, and I did it. I’m using well-used nano tricks — road trip, dream sequence and talking to yourself. We’re now at the beginning of chapter 7, and they just started driving. The dream sequence, which included a nice intimate distraction, and the talking to yourself both occurred in the car. There’s the whole night and a long way to go. Who knows what will happen next.
I’m getting into the story, the MCs are growing on me. They also made me laugh in this exchange. Indy and Pete (Petra) are the MCs, Anders is Pete’s brother and Indy’s architect. When edited, the clunky language, the “she said” will all be edited out. This is nano, only wordcount matters.
“Who says I’m having a house warming party?” Indy challenged.
“Oh, you’ll want to. You’ll definitely want to. How else will you get to meet The Great Anderski,” Pete said tantalizingly.
“The Great Anderski?” Indy felt stupid, repeating what Pete said. The Great Anderski sounded like—
“The Great Anderski hails from coldest Siberia and is the greatest magician that has ever come out of the great country of Russia,” Pete said dramatically, rolling the r of Russia. “Or, well, Anders when you’ve fed him a couple of glasses of vodka.”
“That sounds like enormous fun. I’ll make sure I have a house warming party, with casserole and vodka,” Indy said. “Do you become someone after you’ve had a couple of glasses of vodka? The Great Anderski’s sexy assistant Petralicious?”