Journal #251 – Chilling rainy Sunday with life review

If I really have to list something useful that I did today, I can probably count them with one hand.

The first most useful thing was writing an blog entry about “Why I buy Apple products as a minimalist”, which I publish here and here.

The second most useful thing was me going for a quick 30 or so mins run at around 4.30pm and earlier in the day, I went and did twenty push-ups, split into two sets of ten.

The third most useful thing? For most people, I don’t think they will call it useful but for me, it’s probably is. I went to watch two more episodes of Dark on Netflix. I actually spent more effort to absorb in the scenes, looked at the expressions of the characters, their behaviors and actions, and start thinking about how I would create the show, scene or characters as a writer. It’s important to train yourself to think like a writer when you are consuming content produced by other people. To me, it is part and parcel of getting inspirations and understand how to get people to consume the content you create.

Other than that, I spent the other part of the day playing Sky Force: Reloaded on my iPhone and iPad Pro so that I can collect enough stars to upgrade my plane. That I definitely won’t call useful but it’s part of my desire to just chill.

I also went to get the Designed by Apple in California book out from the cabinet and start browsing through the pages. As I was browsing through, I spent some time understanding the designs and appreciating them all. It turns out I really found joy in going through the pictures and thinking about the story behind those designs. It’s so much easier to understand the context given that I have read Jony Ive’s biography and is still in the process of reading Steve Jobs’s biography. The process of going through the designs also got me feeling nostalgic as I started thinking about my days in secondary school when I was studying Design and Technology.

Thinking back, I do have some inclination for the design and technology subject in general. I understood the technical stuff rather easily but not so much of the society aspect or aesthetic. For my Singapore-Cambridge GCE Ordinary Level D&T project, the end product was average but I managed to score slightly above average compared to my peers because of my strength in the theory part and orthographic projection. One year earlier, I actually did very well for N-Level examination. If I remember correctly, I actually scored an ‘A’ due to the end product, theory and the drawings. It was actually a useful end product with a pretty good design.

So you see, when it comes to creating things, you will fumble and tumble from time to time. The only difference is how much effort you put and how much desire you have to achieve mastery and greatness.

Back then, I wasn’t sure if I could find a decent job if I went to do product design and I did find an inclination towards writing and interest in programming. So after my O-level examinations, I went with something that has practical uses given the economic situation and culture of Singapore. That was why I chose information technology for my Diploma and subsequently Computer Science for my degree.

Now if I were to do it all over again with what I know now, I will probably put in extra effort on my writing and have it run concurrently to my software development career so that I have more choices. But there is no point in regretting this because it’s a fact that I wasn’t mature or self-aware enough back then. So what I can do now is to forge a new path with the experiences and knowledge that I have gained. It’s never too late. I have already took the steps to improve my writing skills by applying and going for courses, keep writing, and learning from other writers.

So stop your bullshitting about being too old, feel tired or lazy studying, and complain about the fact that you are sick your current, meaningless job yet want to change career or do something more meaningful. Start creating the plan and taking the necessary actions or be quiet about your current life and apply gratitude.

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Journal #250 – Saturday life update

I woke up this morning to a runny and stuffy nose. I don’t know why but I suspect it was either a common cold or allergic rhinitis. I believe it is the former because there is cough associated with it. But neither am I a doctor nor  do I have a microscope to see what I sneeze out, so I can’t diagnose myself.

Regardless, I went ahead to eat breakfast with my family outside. After breakfast, I came home and made myself a big cup of coffee using the NESCAFÉ GOLD BLEND BARISTA machine. I went and take meds for the runny nose with the coffee.

Compared to Starbucks coffee, I never found Nescafe coffee to be any good. It is average. I guess it’s because it is instant coffee and you can’t subject it to the same process as how people make coffee using actual beans, grinding them, and forcing hot water through them over several seconds. Nescafe coffee doesn’t quite have the strong aroma, the right ratio between bitter and sour taste (more towards the former) found with Starbucks coffee.

By right, I should have felt drowsy some thirty minutes to an hour later after taking the medicine but the coffee prevented that. So I was awake for most of the morning and early afternoon. I used the chance to watch Dark on Netflix. I only managed to watch two episodes, follow by two episodes of The Code before I felt very hungry.

I went to make myself lunch. I had Nissin instant noodles with sesame oil. I added an egg to it for protein and taste.

After that, I took another pill and waited for it to kick in again. I used that time to prepare a review of the Apple AirPods because I wanted it. I wanted to share with the world about how I felt about using the earphones. Then I went for a shower and at around 5.30pm, I felt sleepy and decided to take a nap.

By the time I got up, it was around 7.30pm. I felt slightly better. and my family and I went out for dinner. After that, I came home to just chill, and watch some more shows on Netflix.

Ever since I downloaded the game Sky Force: Reloaded, I have been playing it quite often like when I got nothing to do, using the toilet, etc.

The game really does test your patience as there is drudgery involved. You need to collect the stars in order to upgrade your weapons and to collect enough, you will need to keep playing. Your plane will get destroy often if your reaction time can’t keep up or when you make a mistake and that means you will need to try again.

But overall, I do like the game and I’m reminded of playing one of the Raiden game during my younger days. I vividly remember dying so often when I was playing that game. In hindsight, I guess it’s because I was young, had poor hand-eye coordination. After playing so many FPS as I was growing up, I guess I have develop a better reaction time and hand skills in general.

Journal #242 – Haircut Sunday

Slept at around 4am after having too much coffee last night and woke up at around 9.30 am feeling very hungry.

Throughout the night there were moments when I actually heard my stomach growling from hunger and got pretty gassy. But I just chose to sleep through it all.

After I woke up, I went for a cup of water. Upon drinking it, my stomach actually hurt. I suppose it’s because of the pre-existing ass and stomach discomfort caused by the hunger. Then I went about preparing some instant oatmeals to eat and just decided to laze around in bed.

I took the chance to play Sky Force: Reloaded on my phone, collecting as much stars as I could so that I can upgrade my plane to make my life easier in the game. So far, I actually enjoying playing it though I didn’t go as far as buying stuff. Don’t see the need to spend money.

After that, I went out with my parents again to have breakfast.

But today’s main thing was that I got a haircut after three months. I had to time it just right because I got reservist next month and didn’t want to cut my hair twice within a three month period. I waited that long because I do like to show some “f#*& you” attitude. When my hair get long, they make my head look very fat due to the volume. Kind of like a massive mop.

When I was at the salon, the hairdresser was surprised and asked, “how long have you not cut your hair.”

I told her three months and she said she’s can’t believe I can tolerate that sheer volume of hair.

I just smile, told her how I want my hair cut, and let her do her thing. She also asked me how was it like to use the Apple AirPods and how much it cost. She saw me listening to it earlier. We talked about it for a while and said there are cheaper alternatives for bluetooth earphones.

Generally, I won’t outright advise people to get Apple products when there are cheaper alternatives. But if they do want Apple product, I won’t stop them. It’s their money after all and they can decide for themselves what they want or need.

After the haircut, I went to get a waffle from the bread store with red bean paste and a veggie patty sub for my lunch before going home.

Personally, I have no issue with the veggie patty sub but some of my friends do. They say it taste like shit. For me, I do need the protein.

Had a shower, washed my hair thoroughly and just sit back and relax. I went to watch some television show while having my lunch.

Now that I’m done with my lunch and television shows, time for me to go for a run. I don’t want to run in the evening because of the sheer amount of cars and smokers plying the streets.

Finish a run of 4.2 km and I walked the rest of the way home to make up the rest of the distance.

Once home, had a quick shower, and started watching Tokyo Ghoul on Netflix. Surprisingly, I found myself really enjoying the show. I guess it’s because of its dark nature, the gore, and more importantly for me is how does someone so different try to live their lives and blend in.

For the rest of the night, I suppose I will try to write the at least one chapter of my new book.

That’s all for now.

Journal #241 – Kick back Saturday

Today is the 15th of the 10th month on the Chinese calendar. I chose to go to a Chinese temple nearby with my parents to offer some prayers and after that, we went to have vegetarian food at the nearby coffee shop.

Every religion has their specific days to do certain things. For us taoist, it’s the same. On the 1st and 15th of the Chinese calendar, the devout will go to the temple to offer their incenses and donations. After which, they will proceed to eat vegetarian and local vegetarian food tend to include quite a lot of mock-meat.

After that, my parents and I spent sometime watching a local Chinese TV production call Happy Can Already on my Apple TV through the Toggle app. It is actually one of the only shows in Singapore that feature Chinese dialects primarily.

Now that’s what I call spending time with family.

After that, I went to download an app call Sky Force: Reloaded on Apple TV and spent some time playing it. Drudgery is involve too. Patience is required. It’s a vertically scrolling shoot ’em up game that more closely resemble a roguelike due to its persistence of the plane upgrades. It reminds me of Everspace, which I throughly enjoy playing too.

You know, in the past, I never had the patience to play such game. If I keep dying in a game like more than three or four times, I just give up. Now, I suppose I have outgrown the traditional FPS games for their instant gratifications and moved on to something else. Or maybe it was companies like EA, Activision Blizzard, and Ubisoft that ruined games for me- excessive micro transactions, franchises milked dry, lack of innovation, and overpriced. And I find fault with their lack of investment in the lore of the game. The games these company make doesn’t scream investment or quality anymore unlike the old Westwood-made RTS like Command and Conquer…

Oops…sorry, I digressed. Ranting about video game should be a blog entry on its own.

After playing that game for a while, good thing that it also sync to my iPhone via Game Center, I went to watch Tokyo Ghoul on Netflix. If I remember correctly, I’m already on Season 2.

After that, I went out with my family to eat dinner at Hot Tomato. I had fish and chips while my parents and sister had salmon mango salsa. Then we went shopping at NTUC to get grocery. It was one just half an hour ago that we reached home and I got down to write this journal.

On the way home, I found myself enjoying Hollwood Undead’s album called Five 1 with the Apple AirPods. The bass and mid-range is just good and the music doesn’t sound cramp together.

So indeed, tonight is a kick back Saturday.

Journal #235 – Did some gaming, sick again

Today was nasty because I woke up to a bad cold. I had to deal with lots of sneezing, puffy eyes, and runny nose. By the end of mid-day, my room’s dustbin was full of tissues.

But I didn’t let it stop me from playing some games. Today I specifically went with playing Starpoint Gemini Warlords.

Originally I bought the game (that was several weeks back) because I thought it was interesting but I didn’t quite like the first few hours of playing it. It felt a little clunky and the learning curve was a little bit too much. As I had Everspace to keep me occupied, I didn’t put much focus into Starpoint Gemini Warlords.

And today when I went to play it for several hours, it was starting to get the hang of it and I found myself enjoying the game.

By about mid-afternoon, I decided to stop and play Cities: Skylines. It was a short game because I didn’t know what else to do and I was still dealing with the cold. Before that, I took a pill for it and by the time I was done with the game, I was already feeling sleepy.

So I went to take a nap until about 6pm when I woke up. I was already feeling better and I decided to go for run. By now, the rain had already stop but the ground was still wet but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

I ran about 4km before deciding to stop. Since I ran on the pathways beside the roads, the evening air was particularly bad. There were cars everywhere and most of them were diesel-based. Some could be from Malaysia too and may not have installed any quality filters. So all I could smell was car-exhaust. I suspect I have already breathed in an insane amount of toxin into my body.

I have been looking at the AIR+ Smart Mask to protect myself from the bad air quality in Singapore as you guys know I am particularly sensitive to cigarette smoke, car-exhausts, etc. I just hadn’t gotten around to get the mask because I was lazy and self-conscious. And now I have reached the tipping point.

And now as I’m writing this journal, my runny nose came back. Sigh.

Time for another pill and sleep early.

Journal #221 – Some decluttering, reading, and gaming

After I woke up today, I decided not to use the computer and instead focus on reading books. I spent most of my morning after breakfast reading the Jony Ive biography and managed to finish the whole book by earlier afternoon.

After I was done with reading, I went ahead to do some decluttering stuff by going through the big boxes that I have for storing other electronic boxes. I used this opportunity to go through old electronic accessories or gadgets like modems that I no longer use, old cables, old computer power supply units, etc. I also used the chance to go through old manuals, receipts that I have for these electronics. I separate them out and discard them in the recycling bin near my house. Through this process, I was able to free up some space within these big boxes and I stuffed the other smaller boxes that I had that were sitting on the outside. These smaller boxes belong to the Network Attached Storage and a drone that I got from my drone piloting course. I kept them for warranty purpose. Servicing centers tend to want the full package when you send your devices in.

Hmm… on second thought, the drone box could probably be discarded…another time.

After going through this process, it made me feel better because these are actions that fulfill the desires of my inner soul, which need the peace and cleanliness associated with having less (junk).

After that, I decided to buy The Frozen Wilds DLC for the PS4 game, Horizon Zero Dawn. But for me to do that, I need to reset my Playstation Network password. So I did that, added my PayPal account to my PSN account and buy the DLC.

That game was one of my favorite ones on the console due to its insanely good storyline. I have deep respect for the storywriter of this game.

So when I started out writing this journal, the DLC of about 7.7GB was downloading. Of course in the middle of writing, I went to get some snacks, etc. Reaching this point of writing, now that I turned around to look at my television, the download has finished. I finally can start playing.

Hurray.

You know, it felt kind of good to actually finish the main story of Everspace and then moving on to another game. This kind of closure is important because it allows you to move on. It’s part of the decluttering process too. Think about it. Finishing a game is like finishing a task from your todo list. When you finish the task, you remove it from the list, just like how you remove a physical item from your space. If you didn’t finish that game and proceed to get another and then repeat that a few times, you will find yourself overwhelm by “stuff”. I have a friend who did that. So now he actually have nearly twenty days that he didn’t get around to play because he is now paralyzed by choice. On another hand, it’s a waste of money. You buy something but never actually consume it. Overall, it’s kind of stressful for him too. So you see, it is not so different from having a big pile of clothes, or boxes, or whatever.

I’m pretty sure most minimalists can agree. Digital clutter is not different from physical clutter. It creates mental stress, especially if you are someone like me who spent a vast majority of his time in front of a screen.

So yeah, minimalism can also be applied to video games.

The last couple of hours, I played The Frozen Wilds DLC on my Playstation 4. So far, I am loving the new story and the new weapons. The new enemies are pretty challenging too. The aesthetic of the game has always been great. With this DLC, they expand further on the snow environment. I suppose it’s $26.90 well-spent. Now I really hope Guerrilla Games spent as much effort, or maybe even more, to create the next sequel or DLC. I like to see expansion of the story. To me, I don’t mind paying if the end product adds tremendous value in terms of storyline, aesthetic and gameplay. Quality is something I care a lot about.

One last thing before I move on to catching up on other TV shows that I have missed. My family joined me on a vegetarian diet too. We had mock meat with beans, stir fried vegetables, and seaweed soup. My younger sister however is not particularly happy with our recent diets. But I can’t blame her really. All of us have different taste when it comes to food and that she always preferred a diverse choice so that she can pick and choose. I personally have to agree that a pure vegetarian diet is at times boring. Mock meat can never replace the taste of actual meat. The nuances in terms of texture, taste, smell, etc. However, for me, ecological conservation is more important. So I guess we will have to wait for the day when lab-grown meat is a reality and only then I can switch to a mixed diet.

Journal #220 – Singles’ Day, Just another chilling day

Today is actually marked as Singles’ Day. It’s a festival that originate from China celebrating single hood. It is also a day where irresponsible consumerism rules because things will be on massive sales and people buy these things en-mass. Just like Black Friday or any other day where companies make compulsory consumption a thing.

To me, it doesn’t really affect me. It’s just another Saturday. I woke up much later today, at around 9.45am. After brushing my teeth, I went out with my parents to have breakfast. After we came back home, we made our respective coffees and I proceed to start up my desktop to play Everspace.

I played for quite a while consistently and for the first time while I was playing through Sector 5 to 6, I didn’t die. I had been very very careful with my resources and the battles I got into. My longer than usual sleep and the coffee definitely helped with my reaction time and calmness.

Then I finally reached Sector 7. There was a moment when I felt excited. It was the last sector of the game and also the end.

After several nerve-wrecking situations in sector 7, I managed to finish the game by early afternoon.

I took 35 tries just to reach this stage. Talk about patience and drudgery.

After that, the game was about collecting 8 DNA pieces. I played for the next couple of hours but by then, I got pretty tired.

I had my late lunch and was waiting for the rain to stop. These past few days, the weather in Singapore had been rather wet. The rain can get pretty heavy.

Once the weather cleared up for a bit, I went for a 5km run. That actually wore me out but it was good.

I went for a shower and decided to just lie down and read the Jony Ive biography until my family members are ready to go out for dinner.

We went to Crystal Jade and ordered a whole bunch of dishes, including meat. I didn’t eat the meat but it doesn’t mean my family don’t.

First dish, steamed buns and Po Lo Pork.

Second dish, Xiao Long Bao.

Third and fourth dishes, stir-fried french beans with minced meat and sautéed vegetable with three kinds of eggs (scrambled, salted, century).

I want to note that the fourth dish was the worse due to the strong ammonia from the century egg. At first, we thought the food was spoilt until we narrowed down the ammonia. So, next time we will not order this dish.

Fifth dish, sweet and sour fish.

Sixth dish, stir-fried prawns. And these prawns are frozen. Very obvious from their sheen.

So you see, even Crystal Jade’s standard isn’t even there. They can’t even use fresh prawns.

Seventh dish, was a vegetarian one. It’s the fried beancurd skin with mushroom strips.

Overall, the dinner was filling but in terms of quality, it’s just isn’t there. I expected better. Anyway, it was my treat.

After the dinner, my family went to the NTUC supermarket to get stuff for a vegetarian soup that my mom wants to prepare tomorrow.

By the time we got home, it was already 10.15pm. That’s when I got down to business and start writing this journal. I shall spend the rest of the night watching some show and turn in.

Journal #199 – Prioritising Gaming

I am prioritising and had prioritised video games today.

Spent much of the morning and afternoon today playing Everspace, which saw me going through the drudgery of collecting in-game resources and upgrade my spaceship.

Then later in the afternoon, I went and play Cities:Skylines. I also bought the Green Cities DLC today. Reloaded the save game and continue to play as well as modifying my city with the new contents from the DLC.

All good. Shall spend the rest of the night playing that.

Journal #179 – Gaming Sunday 2 With Lessons to Learn

I actually thought about doing some work today but decided to play some games instead.

Cities: Skylines

The first game I decided to play was Cities: Skylines as I wanted to repair the tax deficits that my city is suffering from. But before playing, I went and get the Natural Disaster DLC for the game. I intentionally didn’t want to get it earlier on because I didn’t want to deal with the stress of seeing my city crash and burn caused by random disasters. I got it now because I want the full experience afforded by the game and to also develop certain kind of management skill or coping mechanism when facing extreme adversity.

With the Natural Disaster DLC, I think trees are very vulnerable to fire. So one of my building caught fire and it just spreads.

Oh dear, there goes my trees. I have painstakingly planted the trees almost everywhere in my city I felt was necessary. To see them all burnt… it upsets me. However, the DLC does include some new service buildings like the Fire Fighting Helicopter Depot. So the forest fires, if any, are put out by helicopters.

As I’m at what I think is late-game, my city had just finished maybe its sixth massive immigration. The baby boomers then started dying en-mass across my city.

By right, my city’s health-related services should be able to handle this mass dying but because I made a mistake of keeping the budget for the health service at 50% for the night cycle. That caused massive downstream problems. The dead bodies started pilling up and people start leaving the city en-mass too. At its worse point, my city was bleeding nearly 8000 citizen per week. Oh my goodness!

So as you can see from this statistic chart. The population change is so drastic. I went from around 290k population to 260k by the time my city started recovering. By now, I had already set the budget for health services back to 100%.

The damage is already done and I have to deal with massive amount of abandoned buildings. My industry zone suffered the worse. There just isn’t enough workers.

Look at my forestry zone.

Look at my farming zone.

When my city recovered, the population went up to 300k. Way more than before the mass exodus of people.

Of course, I’m still bleeding money. I had way too many services running concurrently. I went from 16 million in treasury to 13 million. I was bleeding 20k to 40k per week in game.

I will let this statistic chart do the talking.

As you can see, my city’s budget was several thousand more than my taxation. And notice the sharp spike in taxation? I raised the taxation for majority of the zones from 11% to 12%. But I honestly don’t know if it’s enough. The amount of micro-management is just strenuous for me but I think it helps in training me to prioritize one thing at any point in time.

This game also taught me the importance of having some kind of safety net. I have enough in my treasury to deal with the kind of losses I was dealing with. Of course, it pains me a lot (I actually felt very sad) to see all the hard earn money gone down the drain due to my own mismanagement of my own city. Same thing applies in life. You need to build up a series of safety nets that will allow you to live a relatively stress-free life.

Everspace

I got another game alongside the DLC for Cities: Skylines. Everspace caught my eye on Steam and I thought it looked like an interesting space game. I love the graphics. It’s just so beautiful.

Once I’m in game, playing for a couple of hours, I came to appreciate the game’s environment and gameplay.

The game is a roguelike, a sub-genre of games that relies on procedurally generated game world with permanent death. Every time you die in the game, you restart from the beginning. All your game progress are lost except for the upgrades you made to the aircraft. That is the only persistent thing.

In the past, I will not pick up such games because its arduous and boring. But now I think it maybe a good time to try something new, make myself uncomfortable. Playing such a game can, I hope, train me to be more careful and more intentional with what I wanted to do. One wrong move, you die and you have to start all over again. But then in real-life, you don’t always get to restart but failures and mistakes are everywhere. Lastly, I hope I can use this chance to learn how to cope with repeated failures and picking myself up again and again. Learning to live and deal with drudgery I think I can see it as a form of training my patience because I know I lack it. I always wanted results right away.

So now, who say video games are useless? If you are intentional with what you want to achieve, it can serve as a very good tool.

Journal #157 – Gaming Sunday

I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t feel as depressed as I was yesterday when I woke up at around 1030hrs.

Upon waking up, I actually went searching for jobs with my phone while still in my bed. I manage to find one that I thought was interesting. It was a full-time writing position with a media company in Singapore. I actually shared the job description with some of my friends.

I am excited and wanted to apply. I also shared my discovery with my mom and subsequently, the whole family. I told them that I wanted to try something new and I got sick of working with computers already ( as in software development).

I went for a shower after dinner and I am suddenly reminded that I don’t have a decent resume. My resume was mostly geared towards looking for software development job and I don’t have any writing experience in a “professional” setting. I admit that my low self-esteem kept rearing its ugly head, sabotaging me, forcing me to rethink.

Applying the five-second rule. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

I will prepare a new resume geared towards career change.

As per my journal title, let me talk about video game; specifically, Cities: Skyline. I love this game a lot. Well, the base game with the various DLCs. I personally don’t do mods. In case you are wondering why, it has something to do with my personal value of authenticity. I apply it to video games too.

I actually spent almost the whole day playing this game. I was focused on trying to stabilize my city’s tax income. It had been fluctuating rather badly even though I fixed the “traffic” issues, and the industrial zones and commercial zones are getting raw material and goods respectively.

After some tweaking and redoing the roads, my city’s treasury managed to accumulate 15 million dollars as at 2000hrs and the population stood at around 290k, if I remember correctly. I hope to go beyond 300k with the base game.

I also decided to start designing my city better. Area by area, I started adding greenery. I was spam clicking my mouse as I randomly placed trees and bushes in empty areas of my city. My right index finger kind of is aching now.

The following screenshot was taken at 1819hrs today. See the whole bunch of trees between the buildings.

Compare it with a very old screenshot of the same area I took exactly two months ago (Yeah, it has been that long since I last played the game). Oops, the exact two months was unintentional.

Notice the drastic changes? Yeah, my city has been evolving.

And here is an overview of my city today, screenshot taken at around 1800hrs.

Compare it with the screenshot I took slightly more than a month ago.

Notice the insane road implementations everywhere? Haha. It was part of my idea of optimizing traffic by forcing one directional traffic with the highway road-type. You will also see additional mixed residential-commercial-office areas. And now I got a cargo rail network that span across my city, delivering raw material and processed goods to the various commercial and industrial zones.

One thing to note. My system (Core i7 6700, 16GB DDR4 Ram, GTX 1080) is lagging from time to time having to render my current city. I did check the ram usage. The game itself used about 4GB. I was actually expecting the game to use more. Maybe I will try and add more in-game objects to see what happens.

Oh, there is a new upcoming DLC/expansion pack call Green Cities for the game. I can’t wait for it to come out. I have seen the gameplay demo on YouTube, and I’m excited by the new assets and gameplay changes.

Check the video out below.

Here I conclude my journal for today.