This Year’s Easter Weekend

When people ask me what my plan is for the Easter long weekend, I can’t help but think that they are expecting some sort of exotic answers. Like getting out of town, hiking, movies, parties and more parties. While my wife and I have indeed watched a movie – The Fast and the Furious 8 – as Catholics, we spend time going to Church over the weekend.

Good Friday, it rained heavily. Our car barely made it out of estate when my wife Cynthia cringing in pain. So we made a U-turn and headed back to our condo. I dropped her off at our lobby and drove to Church after knowing that it was not a matter of emergency.

By the time I have reached the Church – pretty early in normal circumstances but Good Friday is by no means normal – it was packed. I managed to find a seat in the front row. This Mass participation was for me and for my wife. I can always pray for my wife too.

Station of the Cross

Easter Sunday, we have made it to the evening Mass. Father Mike was not the celebrant. Another Indian Priest instead. This Priest is good. He speaks with conviction and clarity. During the homily, he spoke of the presence of the Rising Christ. Since almost none of us have met Jesus in real life, it is really all down to faith. Having said that, where can we sense the presence of Jesus?

First is the Bible, which is a no-brainer. Second, is the Communion – one of the reasons why we have to go to Church at least every Sunday. Third, is the community because when two or more gather in His name, He is with us.

In the theme of Easter, the Priest talked about the three P’s too. First is Peace, the single most important tool to counter life’s ongoing challenges. Second, is not punishment – ha! – but power. The power of mercy so as to forgive. Third, is to proclaim Christ.

So there you have it. This is how my wife and I have spent the long weekend. At least the more significant bits.

 

Different Types Of Friends As You Leave Your Workplace To Another

When you are young in your career, it is easy to make work becomes you. As though consciously or subconsciously, work is the single most important thing in life. Over time, you may find your balance. And recognize that workplace is just an entity. Your boss doesn’t own you a living. Neither do you own him or her your life.

With the amount of time we spend at work, inevitably we make friends. Or at least be friendly to others. We talk about our weekends, our overseas families that visit us, the joy – wedding, childbirth, or promotion – and the sadness – aging parents, a sick child, or health issues. We talk about our “friends” at work. We talk about our “enemies” at work. Enemies become friends (less likely). Friends become enemies (more likely). A workplace can be fun (less likely). Or it can be toxic (more likely). Most of us could probably write a book about work than writing about what happens after work, though I sincerely hope not.

Eventually, one leaves from one workplace to another. This is where I have come to the realization that besides those whom I don’t care about and those who likewise don’t care about me in my day-to-day work and beyond, there are different types of friends as I leave one workplace to another.

Type I. Friends who no longer talk and are turning into strangers.

People can be nice to each other thanks to the work environment. We find topics to talk about that are largely work related. We need each other at work. We have common goals. Outside of this environment, there really isn’t anything worth catching up on. So when separated, there is hardly any reason to be friends.

I suppose most of my colleagues at work would fall under this category.

Type II. Friends who continue talking with me most likely they still need something from me in near future.

While no one is indispensable at work, when one leaves, someone else would need to take over. It is hard to say whether or not that someone would continue befriending me when I am of no value to him or her in near future.

Pessimistically or realistically, type II can become type I. Or it can become type III.

Type III. Friends who become friends for real.

I have worked for more than two decades. I can say with conviction that I do come across people whom I have got to know at a workplace and we keep in touch after we parted. In fact, many of my best friends in life were once upon a time my colleagues.

When you come across type III friends, count your blessing. Hold onto them and stay in touch. Time works both ways. It can grow friendship; it can also kill friendship.

Photographs from Our Holiday in Taipei (2017)

So I did it! I have managed to processed all the photographs taken during our trip to Taipei within three days of return. That is a feat of discipline. I still have years old albums unprocessed, waiting to see the day of light. With more and more different shapes and forms of distraction we have in our daily life, it is getting harder to focus on to something and get it done. This change of mine is so positive that I am feeling the energy. Next, I would like to memorize some quotes from Romeo & Juliet so that I can pen down something artistically intelligent in public without referring to the Internet. It is a long story for another day.

This is me in Shifen, Taipei - a photo taken by my wife Cynthia.

My wife and I have spent six nights in Taipei. We stayed in Mandarin Oriental for three nights. Then we stayed in Our Home 187 in Jiufen for two nights. Finally, stayed in Mandarin Oriental for another night. I brought along my Nikon D700 as well as my two lenses – Nikkor 24-70mm f2.4 and Nikkor 70-200mm f2.4. Pretty heavy stuff but it was worth it. Especially the long lens for photographing the animals in Taipei Zoo. I always love the results from my Nikkor 70-200mm anyway, even for the portrait. Photo albums as follows.

In addition, I have also taken some pictures using my Nexus 5x. The quality is not as good. But at times, the phone camera serves its purpose to add context to short journals. Links to the entries as follows.

A Sense Of Surrealism When Life Seems To Have Bottomed Out

The past one month or so was terrible. Early last month, it was on the 10th when I had planned to spend the Friday shopping for a Valentine’s Day gift for my wife. Something suddenly struck my life’s trajectory like a meteor hits a planet. Instead, I ended up eating one of the saddest lunches ever in a food court at VivoCity and did not have the mood to do anything else. The Vietnam beef noodle was horrible. No spice nor fragrance . Just salt and water with some tasteless slices of overcooked or reheated beef. As for dinner, I thought nothing could go wrong with my comfort food at Asia Square. That burrito was one of the saddest burritos I have ever tasted. The guacamole that was supposed to be inside was unceremoniously squeezed out from the wrap in the process of being wrapped up with the aluminum foil. I really wanted to ask the girl to make another one. Why didn’t I?

Taken from 9th floor of MBFC

Looking back, it has been a really tough year. In fact, this rather challenging time has lasted for a good few years. Issues with my neighbors. Massive lack of sleep. Some really personal matters that are family related. On top of all these, there is work.

Good news is that last Friday something has struck my life like the first cells first created in a barren planet.

Like all things in my life, everything is so last minute but yet the timing is so good. Great stuff. Time to evolve, once again.

When People Around You Keep On Killing Your Passion And Dream

Peter is twelve years old. He enjoys playing basketball. In fact, he is pretty good at it. A star no less. Peter loves the sport partly due to his passion, partly due to a wonderful coach he has that recognizes his talent, knows his weaknesses, and has a good gauge of his potential. Peter likes his teammates too. When all the positive ingredients come together, Peter has a dream. To play leagues and who knows, one day Peter may represent his country in an international arena doing what he loves to do the most, with people whom he enjoys hanging out with, and with people who believe in him.

All these set to change when a new coach comes on board together with new teammates. The chemistry is not quite there. Instead of being guided to where he excels, Peter’s weaknesses get amplified. It is suffocating. Everywhere he goes, Peter meets with obstacles. Every challenge unconquered dims his passion a little bit. Soon, Peter has become a liability to his basketball team. There is only that much Peter can do to keep himself motivated, to practice day after day. But basketball is a team sport. Ultimately, the entire ordeal kills his dream. It is time to move on.

Does this sound familiar to you? In life, be blessed when you are surrounded by people who are willing to groom you to be better. People who are supportive of your passion and dream. People who believe in you. We can’t change the world. And when we fail to influence the people around us to work with our passion and dream – no fault of either party – moving on could be a good option. In fact, in life, it could well be the only option.

Logan – Well Exceeded My Expectation

I am a fan of all things Marvel. For some strange reasons, I have not watched the previous installments of the Wolverine standalone movie series. But when I saw the poster, with Wolverine carrying a young girl against a sunset backdrop – how poetic by the way – I have got to watch this. My wife asked, “Who’s that girl?”. “She could be Laura,” I answered and then added, “X-23?”

Logan

Those who have read the Marvel’s X-Men series must have heard of X-23. She is Wolverine’s clone, with some subtle differences. An awesome character on her own. She is also the All-New-Wolverine. So yes. Being able to see her early years on screen is a big deal.

Unlike other Marvel movies I have watched, Logan doesn’t have those big budget explosion and city-wide / worldwide / galaxy-wide destruction. It isn’t drowned with special effects (sure, those claws ain’t real but you get what I mean). In fact, Logan doesn’t even wear his costume. I don’t recall anyone does. I get to see the characters’ expression all the time.

There is plenty of raw emotion. One could even shed a tear or two towards the end. It is good to be reminded that while special effects don’t usually leave a lasting impression, emotion and good acting often does. I am glad that my wife and I got a chance to watch this in a theater.

Fifty Shades Darker – Here We Go Again

Two years have passed since I have written my thoughts on Fifty Shades of Grey. How time flies. It is funny that whenever I talk about Fifty Shades in public, people either not that comfortable talking about it or some give me that weird look.

Fifty Shades Darker

Truth be told, as comfortable as Dakota Johnson going naked in the show, I have no problem talking about it in public.

I think First Shades Darker is artistically done. Think on this. This show could have gone wrong in so many different ways. It could have been so awkward to watch. Even if it was as “good” as the previous installation – whereby good or bad is totally subjective of course – it would have been acceptable for me.

Fortunately, this one is better.

  • The character Christian Grey played by Jamie Dornan is more relatable this time around. More human. Less weird. Indeed, Anna Steele played by Dakota Johnson is changing him for the better. Thank goodness.
  • Jamie is more buffed up this time. Wow, his muscle. I am inspired to work out. With the beard and all, he looks like a real man! I always thought that he was kind of vampire-ish in the last movie.
  • I don’t think Dakota is the prettiest actress in Hollywood. But her being so comfortable with her body … there is something very empowering about it. As though she has developed this aura of command.
  • The chemistry between the two has become much better than before, which is understandably so from a storytelling perspective.

In short, I love Fifty Shades Darker, though I still have no clue as in what gets darker in this installment. I am looking forward to Fifty Shades Free.

Marvel Heroes Video Guides 2.0

Hello Marvel Heroes fans,

I have been playing this free-to-play ARPG game since closed beta, March 2013, and have clocked in thousands of played hours. I enjoy creating YouTube video guides for this game. Click here for a list of videos I have made prior to patch 2.0.

I am starting a new era with this “biggest update ever”. And hence this new post. This list may look short now. But I promise, with your support and encouragement and your help in spreading the words, it will grow.

Ask me anything. Drop me a comment on my YouTube channel. I will try to answer. May Odin bless you!

Yours,
Wilfrid (in-game ID is “Lace”) – a fellow Marvel Heroes fan.

Dimension Collide - the best terminal design ever.
Dimension Collide – the best terminal design ever.

Hero Guides

Post patch 2.0 videos.

Game Guides

Some of these videos are pre-patch 2.0 but by and large, still relevant.

Q&A – “Let’s Play” Videos

I play the game, also talk about the game, answering some of your questions.

Test Center Edition

Videos recorded from the test center, all subjected to change.

Marvel Heroes Hero Archetype Quick Reference Guide

Update: Jan 21, 2017. Adjustment after biggest update ever patch 2.0 is live.

What can I say? For Marvel Heroes fans (yes, you). By Marvel Heroes fan (that’s me). I hope you will find this quick reference guide useful. Feel free to print it out, hang it on to your wall, impress your girlfriends / boyfriends / parents / children that you are indeed playing a very complicated game. This game means business.

In this card, you can quickly find:

  • Hero archetype ordered by hero names.
  • Hero archetype ordered by archetype.
  • Attribute and Infinity Gem color mapper (yes, this game is getting complex).
  • Attribute popularity index (for you to price your priced artifacts perhaps).

You may pass to your friends but please do so in entirety (I need to ‘advertise’ my YouTube channel and feed my plants). This guide is free, on me. But I may sell you different skins of the same guide in future.

Marvel Heroes Hero Archetype Quick Reference Guide

Kidding. Click the image below for your free download!

Day 03/04 Stay Home Holiday – My Good Heart

On the day Trump shocked the world, I was watching the US election on TV while waiting for yet another treadmill test to be conducted in yet another health clinic. My first test a month ago has shown some abnormal ECG pattern. The pattern tells a story. A borderline possibility that insufficient oxygen level is delivered to my heart. Now, that was not a very good news and as you can imagine, it has affected me, emotionally speaking. I will get to that in just a bit.

After a week’s waiting, I saw the doctor who has conducted part of the initial health screening so that he could read out the report to me (with some added flavors). He then referred me to a cardiologist who sent me to another health clinic so as to do another treadmill test. This time with the ultrasound heart scan before and after the test. The health clinic then generated another report on the spot. I hand-delivered that report to my cardiologist on the same day right after my scan so that he could read it to me (with some added flavors). I cannot imagine the amount of money involved with so many parties, so much time.

Before my treadmill test, I swam in the morning. Even as I tried to adjust my swimming style, Garmin swimming app is just not working out at all for me.
Before my treadmill test, I swam in the morning. Even as I tried to adjust my swimming style, Garmin swimming app is just not working out at all for me.
A giant Cinderella has dropped her shoe at Orchard Gateway.
A giant Cinderella has dropped her shoe at Orchard Gateway. I took this photo on the way to the health clinic.

The last time I did the treadmill test I had been fasting for 12 hours. Also, I was pretty unfit. This time round, I came prepared. I was able to complete 5 stages with my heart rate exceeding 100% of my maximum based on my age. My body wanted to give up 2 minutes before the end of stage 5. I think the last 30 seconds was the hardest part of the run. It was mind over body.

In the end, it did not matter. The ECG was still borderline abnormal. But the heart scan before and after the run was fine. Hence, it is case closed: false positive.

To celebrate the false positive, I have decided to have some tea in my favorite cafe called Paul. I love the coffee there. But the service was really terrible. I was mocked by the waiter just because I really couldn't understand his accent.
To celebrate the false positive, I have decided to have some tea in my favorite cafe called Paul. I love the coffee there. But the service was really terrible. I was mocked by the waiter just because I really couldn’t understand his accent.
Knowing my heart is OK, that did not stop me from continue being active. I walked from Orchard back to down town area. This time round, I took a shorter route and the trip lasted 45 minutes instead. 5 minutes quicker than yesterday.
Knowing my heart is OK, that did not stop me from continue being active. I walked from Orchard back to Down Town area. This time round, I took a shorter route and the trip lasted 45 minutes instead. 5 minutes quicker than yesterday.

This experience has taught me a few things.

  • Health is indeed wealth.
  • I can’t imagine what it is like for those who are living with heart diseases. The constant worry that at any time, the heart may fail.
  • While it is impossible to live a stress-free life, try not to stress up people around you. This applies to work and life and anything in between as well.
  • I have become more active. I actually feel good. In fact, I feel much better.
  • Whatever measured get managed. I should have invested on a wearable that comes with a heart rate monitor a long time ago.

The next day, I felt like a new man. All of a sudden, I felt like making some new shirts. So I paid my tailors at CYC Raffle Hotel a visit after dropping my wife at work.

I always get lost when I am inside Raffle Hotel.
I always get lost when I am inside Raffle Hotel.

I could go for the cheaper fabrics like I often do. Or I could go for the latest collection, which could be as much as 40% more expensive. I could also opt for some of the add-ons like solid color collar inlays and brackets to make the shirts looking even more fantastic. At work, some people often add stress to me reminding that I am a director so that I need to do more, much more. Since I am a director, I really ought to buy some better quality shirts so as to at least look like one.

Due to all these irrational rationalizations, I have spent more than S$1,000 for 6 shirts. To continue my spending spree, I met up with my old friend Robert for lunch at Asia Square and have spent more than S$18 on a Mexican fast food meal.

Every time I had that burrito and that Mexican guava drink, I would say to myself: no way I will eat this again, so expensive. But I keep going back for more. That burriot and that Mexican guava drink has become my comfort food.

The Pacific Tourist by Maki Hayashida from Japan displayed outside national library. I am not entirely sure why these pictures have to be hung by a container.
The Pacific Tourist by Maki Hayashida from Japan displayed outside national library. I am not entirely sure why these pictures have to be hung by a container.