Monthly Archives: May 2014

Ingress Part Three – An Update

This is a my reflection on the updates of the game since I last talked about it. It will assume you know what Ingress is and how it works. If you’re unfamiliar with Ingress, click here to read my summary on the game. Click here instead if you want to see my thoughts in the previous post.

So Ingress has had several updates since I last wrote about it. Between then and now, I’ve reached Level Eight (the current max level at the time) and my interest in the game dwindled. Also, because of my packed schedule, I couldn’t play much. I preferred to hang out with my friends or stay at home and blog, rather than go out and play Ingress.

After reaching Level Eight, the game was about creating and maintaining Control Fields. I saw this as a passive objective so I didn’t really like it. I prefer active objectives, goals that you move toward to, not maintenance work.

Anyway, back to Ingress. I haven’t been keeping up with the story, but my dad has, and he’s been telling me about the progress. They’ve had several updates that improved the user interface and added more features. One of these features was the addition of Levels Nine to Sixteen. Don’t know what the extra levels will bring, but perhaps better weapons or resonators or mods. Maybe even new items.

So far, we’ve got nothing exclusive to the higher levels yet. The extra levels are just statuses for now, with no practical applications. But it was the addition of these extra levels that sparked my interest again. Now I have a new objective: leveling up.

There were more updates though:

Glyph Hacking
By long pressing the Hack button, a glyph game will appear. It’s basically a memory game; memorizing the glyphs that appear on your screen and then recreating them in order within a time limit. The higher the level of the portal, the more glyphs you have to remember and replicate. Glyph hacking gives you extra items.

Capsules are containers that you can use to store up to 100 inventory items in. The items in the capsule still count toward your inventory total and the capsule counts itself as one item. But there are two advantages. First, it lets you transfer items to another player pretty easily. My dad and I have been transferring items back and forth without capsules and it’s quite tedious.

Secondly, the capsule disables or “hides” your items. This means that you can store your extra keys or a particular inside the capsule, then when you hack the portal, it will see that you don’t have a key and will give you one. Previously, players had to drop keys, hack the portal and then pick up the keys again. This is okay if you have up to four keys, but it gets more and more annoying when you have to drop ten keys.

As of now, capsules can only be gotten with passcodes that are discovered in the discussion board or the in-game media. I’ve got no capsules, so now I regret recycling all my media.

As far as I understand it, these weapons are more precise variations of the standard XMP. They have higher damage but a smaller radius and they span the current eight levels, just like regular XMPs. If you stand on top of a resonator, a good Ultra-Strike can take it out in one hit. This is excellent for hitting high level farms without getting hit by other portals due to the residual radius damage inflicted by the normal XMPs. It’s also good for finishing off the last resonator or two of a portal and you don’t want to waste a Level Seven or Eight XMP on it.

I’ve got a L2 and a L6 Ultra-Strike, but I haven’t used them yet.

Looks like I’m back in the game! 😀


THE001 – Her

I was leaning against the railing, the wind messing up my hair as I waited for him. I had my book in my hand, but I wasn’t really reading it. I was thinking back to how we had gotten this far together.

I think it was fate that brought us together, even though I don’t believe in it. Everything happens for a reason and there’s a scientific explanation for everything. But it was purely by chance we were pushed together as lab partners for biology class.

Oh, biology. I love this subject. It’s so easy, so natural, it makes so much sense. It’s what makes the world turn and, quite literally, life goes on.

But him. My goodness, he was a flop. With no understanding, no finesse, he always found a way to mess up even the simplest of experiments. For our team project, I wanted to do a mini documentary on the life cycle and regenerative properties of salamanders, complete with diagrams and dissections. I wondered how we were even going to start, how I was going to even explain my idea to this buffoon. I even briefly considered doing a simple butterfly preservation display.

But I’m nothing if not determined. Biology class itself was boring because our teacher was a 70-year-old lady who barely knew the textbook. Urgh. I resolved not to let him pull down my grade and spent most of my time tutoring him and explaining to him what he did wrong and how everything works.

Yes, even the part on human reproduction. He was really awkward then, while I ruthlessly and unabashedly explained the nuances of each area. It was kinda cute, the way he squirmed.

In a way, it was nice to be teaching him. I’m quite independent; I had to be. My mum died when I was seven years old, to breast cancer. That was when I decided to be a biologist and find a cure for cancer. My dad had to work almost every day. We weren’t exactly poor, but we weren’t rich either. I spent most of my time reading everything related to biology, although I did have a soft spot for sci-fi and adventure novels.

We ended up spending a lot of time together after school, to work on our project. Sometimes we just sat together doing our homework, other times we worked on other projects together. I didn’t have any close friends, not since primary school; they had all headed off to different schools or migrated overseas. But somehow he and I got very close. We were study buddies.

I still can’t understand how that happened. I mean, he was one of the most popular guys in school. He was on the student council and always organizing some school activity or other. Perhaps that was why he was so bad at biology. He seemed to know everyone in school and they all seemed to know him as well. During the school holidays, he didn’t stop organizing events. I went for every single one because my schedule was pretty open anyway.

One day he organized a class outing to the Science Center. That was one of my favourite places and I always loved to see the new exhibits. I was in my element and I guess he must have noticed, because after that day, we hung out a lot more often at the Science Center.

I glanced at my watch and wondered where he was. He’d told me to be here so we could have a small celebration for finishing our exams. Beside the watch was the friendship bracelet he made for me for my birthday a while back. It was a really sweet gesture and he even made a DNA theme using four different coloured strings.

I was so thrilled and touched. I hadn’t had a birthday celebration in years that wasn’t just Daddy and I, let alone a present. I don’t advertise my birthday or organize my own parties. It just doesn’t seem practical. Besides, all the people I had wanted to invite were overseas or busy. I’d rather just read in peace and quiet.

As I admired his handiwork, I felt a stirring in my chest. I’ve had that feeling for a while now, ever since we actually did complete and submit the salamander project for that year. He wasn’t exactly helpful, but really enthusiastic. We’d both gotten an A for that. For the project, not his enthusiasm, I mean.

I was aware of what I felt about him. Very aware. Which girl in their right mind wouldn’t be attracted to him? Popular, a natural leader, passionate in what he does, charming and not at all lacking in the looks department. Apart from biology, he was passing every subject, which, I’ll admit, was pretty amazing seeing how active he was in other activities.

The corners of my mouth lifted a little as his face appeared in my mind and as I looked up, I saw his face for real as he walked towards me, which made my smile grow wider. My heart sped up a little and my stomach did a flip. Impulsively, I shut my book and leaned forward to hug him. I closed my eyes as I congratulated him on completing his exams and was acutely aware of how his body fit against mine so naturally. And oh wow did he smell good; a fresh, mildly woody smell that reminded me of new books when I just bought them from a bookstore. We were hugging a little too long, so I pulled away, slightly embarrassed but also noting that he hadn’t said anything. He just held me there. Perhaps he was enjoying it as much as I was.

We walked to the Helix Bridge. It’s called the Helix Bridge because the whole bridge is shaped in a double helix structure and has pairs of lights either side of the bridge, completing the whole DNA theme. The bridge was crowded with people, so he suggested that we hold hands to keep together. Of course, I was more than happy to oblige and he took my hand in his.

He tugged me across the bridge. Not in jerky movements, just slow and gentle, constantly keeping me close to him while he cut a path through the throng of people. I was able to relax my mind and enjoy his strong hand around mine, guiding and protecting me at the same time. The slowness enhanced the dreamlike sensation I felt and I willed the crowd to push us closer together.

As we reached the other side of the bridge, he turned to me and smiled. I watched as he swallowed, obviously intending to say something, but deciding not to. I felt his hand fall away from mine and I didn’t like that one bit. Nope, I know what I want and I’m getting it. I caught his hand again and this time entwined my fingers around his, so that it would be harder for him to let go.

I think he was just as surprised as I was at my bold move. But I couldn’t back out now, even if I wanted to. So instead I decided to see where this road would lead me. I’d shown him my hand, so to speak, so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.

I pulled him towards the railing and we put our elbows on it, waiting for the light show to start. I linked my arm though his and settled my head on his shoulder, just enjoying the night air, the river, the light show and his presence.

Ever since then, our bond has grown as strong as the ones that join DNA together.


THE001 – Him

I saw her leaning against the railing, the wind tossing her hair back as she waited for me with her ever present book in hand. I didn’t want to keep her waiting any longer, so I sped up as a silly grin formed on my face.

As I shortened the distance between us, I thought about how close we had grown over the years. There wasn’t much I couldn’t tell her or talk to her about and vice versa. She was and still is my best friend.

She was wearing a pretty blue dress and the DNA friendship band I made for her on her birthday three years ago. She loved biology and was pretty much a nerd about it. We were in the same class and she had breezed through everything, easily scoring top marks in every biology exam. The subject just came naturally to her and it used to annoy me a lot. I was constantly in the bottom half of the class until she decided to tutor me herself.

We were lab partners and I kept messing up the experiments and dissections. She always came to my rescue and fixed as much as she could, chastising me and showing me the right way to do it. I think she saw teaching me as a challenge where the actual subject of biology was not.

She was really bossy but she was my angel. Without her tutelage, I wouldn’t have ascended to the top quarter of our class and I probably would have flunked my finals that year.

I guess that would have been my own fault. I was swamped with other school activities like organizing camps and community service events. I was doing alright in my other subjects, but I just didn’t have the aptitude for biology until she came along.

Because of all the activities I was involved in, I knew almost everyone in my school, at least by face, but I didn’t have a lot of close friends. In fact, I think it was just her. Apart from all the school activities, I didn’t really spend time with anyone except her. Even before I met her, I spent most of my time at home studying, which was how I had gotten by with my fully packed schedule. Once she decided to take me under her wing, we studied together.

We did hang out occasionally during our holidays. One of our favourite places was the Science Center, for obvious reasons. In school, she mostly kept to herself, her nose almost always buried in a storybook. The Science Center was the only place I’ve seen her so carefree and bubbly. Her face would always light up as she animatedly gushed about new exhibits.

I loved it when she did that. I loved the way her eyes brightened with wonder, then with understanding as she watched each exhibit and read the corresponding write ups.

During our school holidays, whenever I wasn’t helping to conduct holiday camps, I’d organize short day outings for our classmates, like cycling and swimming events.

She’d never missed a single outing.

Today was the end of our final exams. In a few months’ time, I’ll be enlisting into the army. We had decided to have a little celebration, just the two of us, and this was where I asked her to meet me.

The closer I got to her, the faster my heart beat. After all the time I spent with her, I know the effects adrenaline pumping through my veins by heart; faster heartbeat, pupils dilated, increased breathing, senses heightened, sensitivity to pain lowered. I mentally checked them off as I noted how I felt.

As I reached out to her to say hi, she sensed my presence and looked up, a big grin forming on her face. Closing her book, she pulled me into a quick embrace that sent jolts of electricity racing throughout my body. I noticed her cheeks took on a pretty pink tinge as she pulled back to keep her book and we set off.

I led her to the bridge. They call it the Helix Bridge because there’s a twisted double helix structure along the length of the bridge. Keeping in theme, there are pairs of lights at fixed intervals on the floor on both sides of the bridge. Each pair of lights has one of two combinations of colours, representing the four amino acid pairs that make up DNA.

I thought it would be pretty apt to walk her across this bridge before I confessed my love for her.

As we approached the bridge, we saw that it was packed with people. In order not to get separated, I suggested that we hold hands and she agreed. I wiped my palms, which were wet with nervous sweat, on my pants as much as I could, then reached out to her and she slipped her hand into mine. The moment we touched, I felt the same jolt of electricity shoot through my arm, although now it was just a pleasant tingle of elation. With our hands clasped together, we turned and headed into the crowd.

As I pulled her along, carving a route through the crowd for her to follow, I was extremely aware of the weight of her hand in mine. It felt so perfect, so right, and I couldn’t help a silly, triumphant grin form on my face.

I was partially thankful for the density of the crowd; it allowed me to go really slow and prolong this wonderful moment as long as possible. I moved with a dreamlike sensation, capturing as much detail as I could and committing everything to memory.

I wanted to be able to relive this moment again and again.

All too soon, we reached the end of the bridge. I turned back to smile at her and reluctantly loosened my grip on her hand. This was my chance. I had to say something now, to tell her exactly how she made me feel, the joy that rushes through me every time we meet.

As I glanced at her, my mind went blank, I froze and the moment passed. I couldn’t say anything. The words just stuck in my throat, so instead I turned away, dropping her hand.

And then the most wonderful thing happened: her hand found mine and she intertwined her fingers around mine.

I looked back at her in surprise and saw a shy smile on her face. She nodded slightly, as if acknowledging the words I had failed to say. She knew that words didn’t come to me as easily as they came to her.

I let her pull me to the railing on the bank of the river where the light show was about to begin. When it did, she linked her arm around mine, rested her head on my shoulder and we both watched the show in total, comfortable silence.


Allie Beckstrom Novels

I’ve recently started reading this series of books called the Allie Beckstrom novels, by Devon Monk. Currently there are nine books and I’m not sure if a tenth is coming out or not. I’ve finished the first three books and since I’ll be going overseas for three weeks, I can’t take the remaining books with me. I don’t want to lose them.


01 Magic to the Bone

02 Magic in the Blood

03 Magic in the Shadows

The whole series is based on magic being an energy resource for anyone to use, as opposed to an ability only some people possess. Magic is shaped by glyphs drawn in the air by the castor and that determines how the magic will manifest itself. However, there is a price to pay: pain. The more magic you use, the more pain you have to take. Setting a Disbursement spell allows the castor to control when and how the pain will manifest; a headache, muscle ache, etc. The more magic you use, the longer the pain will last.

Allison “Allie” Beckstrom is the protagonist here. She’s a Hound, a sort of detective that uses magic. She’s able to trace spells back to their castors by reading the spell’s signature. How these signatures look like isn’t explained much, but I imagine that it looks like handwriting. Two people can draw the same glyph but it would appear differently, just like different people have different styles of handwriting. The term “Hound” literally references dog or wolf-like abilities. Even without magic enhancing her senses, Allie has acute hearing and a very good sense of smell. Smells are part of the castors signature as well and each person has a different smell.

In book four, I learnt that different types of magic have different smells as well. Also, perhaps not defining what glyphs look like keeps the design space open for Monk to explore. Good move.

For Allie, sometimes the price of the magic she uses takes away parts of her memory, when she forgets to set Disbursements. This is kinda annoying because she has to recount what happened and I feel it’s pretty repetitive.

After reading three books, I get the impression that the series is completely continuous, making each book seem like chapters in a big story, rather than individual stories themselves. Usually when a novel series is named after a character, I tend to take it as many different stories that don’t reference each other but just happen to have the same character. Like Hercule Poirot in the Agatha Chistie mystery novels. But this series makes a lot of references to the past novels. I feel the story is a little too detailed and slow paced. But then since it’s all part of one big story, it’s understandable. The books are also just the right physical size to carry around.

Monk does a really good job of setting up many unanswered questions to be answered in future books. I would think it would be a little confusing if someone started reading from one of the middle books though. There’s also no official list or indication of the book order within any of the books, so it’s a little confusing to sort out.

I like the story and the concept of magic being a resource you have to pay to use, but I don’t really like Allie. I have a thing for women who save the world and she does it several times, but she’s really too stubborn for a own good. That stubbornness sometimes aggravates a situation even further.

These are young adult novels and there are erotic scenes and some vulgarities. I’d have appreciated little to no vulgarities because I think it’s crass, but that’s just me. At least Monk doesn’t overuse it. Her style of writing is slightly informal and I think that’s great for a YA series.

At the time of writing this post, I was almost done with book four, but I had to return books four to seven to the library before I could finish reading them. Ah well, I’ll borrow them again when I return to Singapore and maybe do another review once I read the last book.


The Hug

This post was first published on my Tumblr on Oct 22, 2012, and is now updated with my experiences since then.

Another idea conceived on one of my long walks was something I call The Hug.

Like the video, when Chien Po calms Yao with chanting, my idea aims to achieve a similar result.

The idea is to have two people who are angry at each other get from the “heated and irrational” stage to the “calm and rational” stage.

What happens is that one person hugs to other until both calm down and talk it out. The hugger needs to continue hugging the person until he/she calms down enough to talk it out. Even if the recipient – no, wait – especially if the recipient refuses to hug back. For maximum impact, the hugger should apologize even if he/she is right.

Apologizing is only as difficult as insulting or cursing. Also, apologizing doesn’t mean you’re wrong. It just means you care more about the relationship than you do about being right.

My theory is that no one can stay angry at someone who’s hugging them, especially a loved one. Same thing goes for the hugger. You can’t stay mad at someone you’re hugging.

-This is not 100% foolproof, use at your own risk.
-Recommended for use on family and best friends only. Hugging strangers is just weird.
-It is not intended to solve the problem, only move to the involved parties to the stage of rational problem solving.
-Whoever does this, let me know what the results were! I’m fascinated to find out if The Hug works, but I hope I won’t ever have to use it.


The Liebster Award

(If you’re one of the people I’ve nominated, welcome! My 11 questions for you are near the bottom of this post.) So I was just nominated by Holland for this award. Thanks so much! I guess; I don’t really know what it is or how it works. Time to consult my best friend: Google.

Ah. Okay. There are a lot of hits, but nothing actually explains what it is, just lots of posts by people who’ve received the award. Wait. Wikipedia. Okay so this is an award for bloggers by bloggers, globally recognized but not officially sanctioned by any one entity.

When I do something for fun, like blogging, I really don’t want to be competitive. It takes the fun out of it and adds pressure to do well. But this Liebster Award isn’t really a competition. It’s a more like a globally accepted chain letter. Okay, I guess it’s fun and harmless.

I found a nice post on the history and official rules, so now I understand it better. The one thing I couldn’t find was how I actually got the award. They keep using the word “nomination”, which technically doesn’t mean I’ve won the award, just that I’m shortlisted for it. I thought, okay, hey that’s cool too, when do I know if I’ve won? Who decides which blog is the best?

And then I realized that to accept the nomination is accepting the award itself. As long as I follow the rules and mark my blog somewhere with the picture, I’m set. Okay so:

01 Liebster Award

Yay! What’s next? Let’s check the rules in Holland’s post. What is Liebster Award? The Liebster Award is awarded to bloggers with under 200 followers to try to promote their blog a little and also bring together a community of bloggers.

The rules of the competition are as follows: The nominated user must provide a link back to the person who nominated them. Provide 11 facts about yourself. Answer 11 questions set by the person who nominated you. Choose 11 more people and ask them 11 questions.

Oh okay, there seems to be a theme of eleven here. Just like what Holland did, I’m going to start with the questions first, so that it doesn’t clash with the facts. Makes sense.

1. Who is your favorite musician?
Wow okay. I’ve got a lot of favourite musicians. Right now my current favourites are Lindsey Stirling (I’M A HUGE STIRLINGITE) and Pentatonix. I love their original music and I listen to them as much as I can, just for the feels.

Fun fact: The feeling of goosebumps you get when you hear or see something so awesome or touching is called a frisson. My best friend and I used to call it eargasms.

2. What is your greatest aspiration?
I suppose this means “life goal”. I’m actually building a three part post about this, to be released later this week, one part a day starting Wednesday. Once it’s up, you can start reading part one here.

3. Who is your greatest inspiration?
“Who”? I guess the politically correct answer would be some strong figure in my life, or a real person I look up to.

But no. My idol is Jace Beleren. He’s a fictional character in Magic: the Gathering (MTG). He’s actually my namesake.

4. What is your favorite number?
Two. I love pairs. Pretty much everything that’s an even number works with me.

5. Are you an Apple or Android type of person?
ANDROID. All the way!

6. Do you like to cook? If so, what?
I guess I like to cook. Haven’t been doing it much lately. Wait. Correction – I haven’t been cooking at all recently. I spend five days a week in army. Not much time, opportunity or motivation to cook anything there. I usually cook because I’m hungry, not for any artistic purposes. I can make fried eggs, rice, roast chicken and egg mayo sandwiches. Simple stuff so that I won’t go hungry. I actually had to use my cooking skills to survive in Japan when I went to Osaka for three months for my internship project.

7. Where do you consider home?
Anywhere my mum can cook. Basically the kitchen. I’m allergic to fish, so mum makes the most awesome chicken meals; roast chicken, honey chicken, steamed chicken, fried chicken, soy sauce chicken.

Mum calls it cupboard love. Heh.

8. What is your favorite post that you have created?
Oh man. How do I pick a favourite??? They’re all my favourite. I’m currently working on a personal project I call the Through His/Her Eyes (THE) series. When it comes out, that will be my favourite post. It’s going to be a series of fictional short romantic stories, inspired my real life relationships. I plan to release each story in a pair; one tells the story from the guy’s point of view and the other, the girl’s. I’ve been procrastinating this for a while now, but I’m 50% done. The guy’s POV post is done, but it was a lot harder than I thought to do the girl’s POV. Ah well, I’m motivated to finish it now, aren’t I? Hopefully I’ll be able to release the posts next week.

9. Why did you join WordPress, in particular?
Ahhh I’ve been looking forward to answering this question. I actually partly answered it in one of my old posts, but I’m saving this topic for the last weekday of May (May 30th) as my 100th post.

10. Do you think you could go a week without your phone?
If I’d been asked this question before December last year, I’d have said a strong yes. I was still using what I call a brick phone; a Nokia phone that’s virtually indestructible but is not a smartphone.

Right now, I’ve got a Sony Xperia Z1 which I paid for myself. I’ve started to grow more and more reliant on my phone because it has all the apps I need to stay connected. The army allows smartphones but not laptops, so the only way I can blog is using the WordPress App on my phone. I definitely could go a week without my phone, but I’d suffer withdrawal symptoms, and I’ll probably be on my phone twice as much when I get it back.

11. If you were on your deathbed, right now, what would your last words be?
“The money is hidden in the….” *dies*

(Wow I’m only halfway through and I’ve already hit nearly 1000 words)

Okay next, provide 11 facts about myself.
1. I love puns. My friends both love and hate me for this. If you ever get a chance to hang out with me, you can safely assume that all my jokes are punintentional.

2. I love Froyo, or frozen yogurt. My friend told me to man up and get a milkshake, and I told him to suck it. (See I’m so punny)

3. I have a background in gymnastics. I quit when I was about 9 years old I think, because I didn’t like the physical exercise. Mum said I’d regret it and she was right. I do parkour and freerunning now, and with my background, it’s much easier for me to learn, compared to most other people. The only things I retained from my gymnastics days are my handstand and handspring. After a while of doing parkour, I got back my backflip and front tuck.

4. I’m a cat person. It’s not that I hate dogs; it’s just that a quiet furry feline is much better instead of a rowdy dog when I takeover the world by hacking into every computer and controlling the Internet when I need my home to be my sanctuary of peace.

5. I’ve never had a girlfriend. It’s not for lack of trying though. I nearly got into a relationship last year, but she ended it after three weeks of dating.

6. I recover unusually quickly. Physically, mentally and emotionally. I guess this is what helps me pick myself up and move on. It’s how I’ve endured so many rejections; current score standing at 12 rejections, I think.

It’s not about how hard you can hit. It’s how hard you can get hit and still keep fighting.

7. I have a collection of $1 coins. The old ones, not the new ones that sound so fake when you drop them. Hey, everyone needs a hobby.

8. I don’t like shorts. My friends will attest to that. Most of the time I wear long pants (not jeans). Even when I go to the beach or go for a run or do parkour. I wear track pants.

9. I can rap. Not well, but good enough for me.

10. Erotic stories turn me on much more than porn does. (TMI? I don’t care.)

11. I have a thing for women who save the wold.

Next, I have to find 11 bloggers and share the love.
1. A Parkour Blog
2. Corner of My Mind
3. Aminellie
4. Musings from a Ragged Soul
5. The World’s a Broken Bone
6. @heart
7. Word Whiskey
8. Sunshine and Denim
9. The Xavion Factor
10. BeautifulMonstar
11. the writing process
Okay done! *pant pant* Last bit, 11 questions. Heh heh heh I’m going to have some fun *rubs hands together in glee*
To the 11 people I’ve nominated: BE BOLD, HAVE FUN. You ain’t gonna live forever.

11 questions for my nominees:
1. What turns you on sexually? (yep I’m going straight for it here)
2. Are you in a relationship or too awesome for anyone to handle?
3. Dark, White or Milk chocolate? (and why)
4. What unusual skills or hidden talents (or talons XD) do you have?
5. Tell me your best pun joke.
6. Coffee or Tea? (Or me? Heheh)
7. Are you Sadistic or Masochistic?
8. How many followers do you have at the time you publish your own Liebester post?
9. At your funeral, what kind of person would you want people say you were? (Then go be that person)
10. Have you told your parents you love them? (If not, do so now) (Pics or it didn’t happen)
11. What is the most embarrassing dream you’ve had or event that happened to you?

So let’s see:
Link back to my nominator. Done.
Posted the picture of the Liebester award. Yes.
11 Facts about me. Yep.
Answered 11 questions. Uh huh.
Nominated 11 more blogs. Affirmative. Asked 11 questions. Finished.

I guess I’ve checked the rules and checked the rules. Heh.

Told you I love puns.


Pain and Pleasure

This post was first published on my Tumblr on Nov 3, 2012, and is now updated with my experiences since then.

Okay yes I know the title sounds weird but I swear this post has nothing to do with bondage. Although…

As an organizer of several activities for my friends, I’ve learnt a lot of things through successes and, more often, failures. Motivation is one of these things I’ve really learnt a lot about and I’ve come to the conclusion that pain is a much better motivator than pleasure.

Motivation is about moving away from pain, or moving towards pleasure.

When you have to do something to prevent losing something else, you work that much harder at it, than if that activity gave you a benefit.

I’m not saying it applies to everyone. Those who actually fully understand motivation are able to “re-wire” themselves to make pleasure just as effective, thus not needing a pain motivator. It’s just that the majority of people (by default) don’t understand it, which is where problems start to happen.

For example, if I organized an activity that needed money, I should collect the money of those interested parties first, to prevent them from backing out. I almost had a situation like that last year, when I organized a paintball event for my friends. I swore I’d never let that happen again.

I think the way to persuade someone to do something is to show them what they could lose, not what they could gain. Showing then what they can gain should be portrayed as a bonus.

Everyone has a price. If they don’t agree to your request, it means you’re not offering enough. If you offer the most you can and they still don’t agree, find their vice and squeeze it. Everyone has a price or a vice.

I really learnt this lesson the hard way. If I wanted to organize something, I’d better make sure everything went according to plan, have backup plans, and have backup plans for those backup plans.

I’ve had several occasions when my plans really did go wrong and the whole event had to be scrapped. I never want to experience that pain of embarrassment ever again, so this has motivated me enough to stop and think before I actually start to plan anything.

Pain > Pleasure


GEMS of Life

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been hit with all sorts of inspiration, ideas and epiphanies. Not just topics to blog about, but also tips and tricks that I can apply to my life as problem solving tools or design mechanics for games. I decided to start a (yet another) personal project I call Project GEMS:

Guides, Epiphanies, Mechanics and Shortcuts

The idea would be to keep a record of anything and everything I learnt and classify each lesson into one or more of the four categories. I was thinking of writing them down into a notebook so that in future, when the notebook is filled up, I’d have a book of tools I can consult when I have a problem I can’t solve. It would be good to just go through the book again and see what solutions or combination of solutions I might be able to apply. Perhaps this would also be a source of inspiration when I need it too.

I would put in here any step-by-step procedures I think I might need later in life. It will be filled with things that I don’t regularly use, but will come in useful in future. For example, I tend to forget how to do origami, but some objects are pretty useful to make as gifts (paper flowers) or practical things (temporary paper box). There’s a little overlap between Guides and Shortcuts, but I’ll cover that later.

These would mostly be thoughts that occur to me or that I read about. Stuff that blow my mind, just because I never thought of it before, or never saw that particular angle before. The aim is to help me initiate changes my perspective when I need it, usually when I cross subjects. That is, to bring an idea from one field and apply it to another. This category is related to the Mechanics category as it serves as the main source of ideas for game.

This category mainly concerns game mechanics that I make or discover, but will also include blueprints for stuff and how and why things work. It’s going to be pretty technical and practical, but will also hold a lot of possible design ideas, although design theories will be under the Epiphanies section.

Essentially, this is just life hacks. Not necessarily the “proper” way of doing things, this category will comprise of ways to do things as efficiently and as quickly as possible.

I wanted to use one of the giant A4 sized notebooks that I got as part of the package I received for joining SCS, but I felt it was too big to lug around everywhere. That made me procrastinate starting the book, but now I can’t anymore. See, when I went to Rachel’s Safari themed dinner, I received an A5 sized white notebook as a door gift. It was the perfect size; not too big to carry around and not too small that I couldn’t write in it.

I’m going to be recording everything I learn in the order I learn them. The book is going to be filled with notes, mistakes and bad illustrations, much like how I imagine a mad scientist’s notebook would look like. Once I reach the last page, I’ll reorganize everything into a new notebook (still written and drawn by hand) by category and create an appendix for reference. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I just realized that each category fits quite nicely with the four elements of Air, Earth, Water and Fire. I’m quite a sucker for flavour (when things fit together thematically and aesthetically) and thus a typical Vorthos. Guides, Epiphanies, Mechanics and Shortcuts are Water, Fire, Earth and Air respectively. They all fit so flavourfully.

Water guides me to where I want to go, like a river or stream.
Fire provides flairs of insight and inspiration for epiphanies.
Earth is how I will understand the mechanics of things from the ground up.
Air finds the most direct route to success.

Hmm… I seem to have a thing for the four elements recently. And it all started with Avatar: The Last Airbender.

I can’t wait to start collecting my GEMS of Life.


Punintentional – A Makery

I’m on a pun roll right now and I recently had some inspiration: I should open a pun bakery. I even have a good name for it: “Punintentional”. I think the name works and if I can expand past my own country, I can always change the name to “Puninternational”.

I call it a Makery too; I make stuff in a bakery, but it’s a mockery of other things.

Anyway, here’s a list of the kinds of treats I’d sell in my pun bakery.

Pun Buns and Puncakes – These would be buns and pancakes, each with a different pun written on them in icing, melted cheese, chocolate or toasted. I could just have a set of puns that I reuse over and over and change the set only once a month. I could also serve butter for the puncakes in the shape of bums. Get it? Butter.

Cut and Pastries – A play on the phrase “cut and paste”, this would be a section in my shop where customers could make their own pastries by picking the ingredients and “pasting” them together.

Sweet Cakes – Cakes drenched in syrups and have compliments written on them, like “You look fabulous!”, “Smokin’ Hot!”, “Atta boy!” etc etc. Hence, Sweet Cakes

Cheesecakes – Similar to Sweet Cakes, these are actual cheesecakes with cliche romantic phrases written on them in icing, so we have cheesecakes.

Love Muffins – Heart shaped muffins! Perfect couple snacks.

Pies – Of course we have the obligatory nerd joke; Pies in the shape of Pi, sold for $3.14 apiece. Or maybe I can hide the pies among the different foods and call them “sPies”.

Tarts – These would be fruit tarts in the shape of lingerie or prostitutes. Get it? Tarts are Fruity? Hmm… might have a PG or M18 rating on them though… Never mind, I’ll just have an empty shelf with the label and never fill it up. Because they’re always tardy, get it?

Hot Cross Buns – Spicy bread in an X shape.

Cookie Dough – Cookies in the shape of coins! Cookies are already in the shape of coins, you say? *gasp* What coin-spiracy is this???

Donutella – Turtle-shaped bread or cake with Nutella spread on top.

Fruit Punch – This is actual fruit punch… or is it fruit punch?

I’ll also have a shelf of fake donuts with a sign saying: “DONUT TOUCH!”

To encourage people to come in, I’ll give free cotton candy to those who understand the puns.
Because Caught-On Candy!


The Bedok Maze

This post was first published on The London Traceur’s blog on May 02, 2014. I’m putting it here as a backup copy. Click here to see the original post.

01 The Bedok Maze
The Bedok Maze

One of my favourite places to train in Singapore is the Bedok Maze. Just look at this place! The walls are all about knee or waist high, so it’s wonderful to train precision jumps, vaults and overall flow. It also helps that this is just a five minute walk from my home, so I can just drop (and roll) by anytime I want. The bricks also give it a sort of rustic feel to it, as if this place was built explicitly for parkour and freerunning a very long time ago. The surrounding buildings are residential and sometimes we have elderly people scold us because they think parkour is dangerous and that we should be studying instead.

Sometimes jams are held here on the weekends and it’s great to see experienced traceurs teaching the beginners. It’s also not uncommon to see groups of teens training here even on weekday afternoons after school. Personally, I like to avoid the crowd so I usually come here on weekday mornings to train. Or at least, I used to before I was conscripted enlisted to serve my National Service. It’s not that I don’t like training with others, it’s just that I prefer being alone or with just a few friends. For me, training time is also partly reflection time and it’s easier to focus and work through my personal problems and obstacles alone, rather than having a bunch of rowdy strangers around.

02 Me Myself and I
Just Me, Myself and I

One of my personal favourite things to do here is navigating the maze on my hands. So far I haven’t been able to hold the handstand until I reached the end, but I’ve progressed a lot ever since I first started. It’s difficult to train because handstands are so intensive for me and I can barely do two to three walks before I tire out. I usually move on to precision jumps. There are varying distances between any two ledges in the maze, so it’s pretty easy to find a spot that caters to your current jump limit. Once you’re ready to increase that distance, another pair of wider ledges are conveniently waiting to be discovered nearby.

Just beside the maze is a small exercise spot with monkey bars, rings, pull up bar, sit up bench, etc. It’s a great spot for switching to conditioning training when you’re done with vaults and jumps, or for some floor work on the rubber surface.

03 Hanging out at the bars
Hanging out at the bars

If you need to work on vertical wall runs, there are pipes on the surrounding buildings about three to four meters above the ground. The pipes are at a pretty decent height which I used to be able to grab with ease, but the lack of training recently has left me only just able to touch the pipe. The run up is quite short, so this really makes me rely more on muscles and technique rather than on momentum.

04 Reach

I usually put in only an hour or two of training in any one sitting, but the various activities make me use all my muscles so I always wake up with my whole body aching the next day. It’s a good ache and makes me feel like I actually did work out, more so than going for a run or skate.