Random Post – Bizarre Hello Kitty & Aggretsuko Beer, Hamilton & F1 2020, Henna & Coffee and D3 Season 21

Hello my friends. I have a few random things to share.

Hamilton is Really A Class of His Own

One may say that Formula One is boring because Mercedes wins all the recent championships. I don’t see it that way. To me, it is how the team wins that makes the viewing – or these days, reading (as it is getting expensive to watch a full race) – experience memorable and magical.

Hamilton is a true racer. He enjoys wheel-to-wheel fight on track; he enjoys catching up from behind in a championship. Being a six-time F1 World Champion at the age of 34, many would expect him to equal Schumacher’s record this year.

The stars seemed to have aligned. It is still the old rule and Mercedes dominates in this era. Bottas is still his teammate and unlike Rosberg, Bottas has integrity (i.e. nothing dirty on track). Mercedes even comes up with a brand new technology called Dual-Axis Steering (DAS) this season. This allows the driver to slide the steering wheel forward and backward and alter the toe of the car during racing. This technology was heavily challenged by rival teams.

DAS deems legit this year. But with Covid-19, at one point, it was not obvious if we would have a 2020 championship.

Fortunately, we do. Not unexpectedly, Hamilton lost the first race in Austria on July 5th earning only 12 points finishing at forth compared to his teammate who won and earned 25 points. Since then, Hamilton took three poles and three wins. It was raining on the Styrian circuit and Hamilton took pole with 1.216 seconds ahead of the best of the rest. It was in Britain and Hamilton took the win after a dramatic tyre failure at his final lap.

Some may say Hamilton is a lucky driver. I would say, you can’t be a Word Champion with bad luck all the time. But you can’t win a championship without some serious skill and talent.

To Quote Pyper in My Diablo 3 Clan: “And You Listened to StraightDope?”

For those who are not familiar with Diablo 3 (“D3”), it is an action role-playing game. In a nutshell, you hack-and-slash monsters day in and day out to be more skillful, more powerful.

For those who are not familiar with D3 seasons, it is very much like F1 championship. You start the season from scratch with zero progress. What you are given could be some redesigned items and/or mechanics, complete the season journey (a list of checkboxes), and try to push your character to as far as you can (you could compete with yourself, your clan, or the whole wide world).

D3 has a number of classes players can roll. The two weakest classes prior to season 21 in my opinion were Demon Hunter and Necromancer. This season 21 Trails of Tempests offers two new class sets for the two weakest classes in-game. The expectation was high. Most of the new class sets are great (if not, why bother?). Monk, Crusader, and Witch Doctor’s new sets are still powerful. Barbarian and Wizard new sets while so-so, they are playable and not terrible.

Demon Hunter’s new set Gears of Dreadlands (“GoD”) truly deserves the “Godly” status. When it first unveiled in Public Test Realm (“PTR”), which I participated in, it was terrible. Fans and testers provided feedback and in phase 2 of PTR, GoD has been redesigned and become godly.

Necromancer’s new set Masquerade of the Burning Carnival (“MotBC”) was also terrible when first appeared in PTR. Fans and testers including myself have also provided feedback. But there was very little to be done in PTR phase 2. And I have my theory on why: the failed season theme.

The theme of season 21 was terrible, and still is. The design is that every 90 seconds, a random elemental power would be unleashed. The visual effect is a distraction. The power vast majority of the time does nothing (and when it does – as I assume that it has to be at some point – I don’t notice any impact). There is a buff counter as mobs are killed. I doubt anyone would pay attention to it. This season mechanic is rumored to cause severe server lag and I have certainly experienced that. All in all, season 21 Trials of Tempest is a failure, a total and complete failure. The worst is that – now going back to my theory – it has taken away valuable development time as Blizzard team was trying their best to fix the season theme during PTR, valuable time that could have used to improve Necromancer’s MotBC. In Blizzard’s own words after throwing in the towel right before the start of season 21: With the adjustments coming in for a few past Necromancer sets and abilities, we will continue to evaluate the performance of the new set this season and may make additional adjustments in future seasons if we believe they are necessary.

Why investing time to fix the Demon Hunter and season theme but not Necromancer? It is simple. Everyone who plays D3 has access to Demon Hunter class and can experience the season theme. Only those who own the necromancer DLC has access to the new class set (read: not everyone). That is why.

I have a few words for Blizzard: You have failed the necromancer fans and you disappoint me.

In case you wonder, Pyper is our clan-mate from the US. StraightDope is my real life friend in Singapore, also in our clan. All four of us including my wife were supposed to roll a Demon Hunter and play GoD. But Dope wants diversity and convinced me to play the underwhelming Necromancer MotBC even though I have started my season with a Demon Hunter. When I told Pyper the story behind my choice, his first reaction was, “And you listened to StraightDope?”.

Oh yes, I embrace diversity, I welcome the challenge, and I am having fun … not!

Okay. It isn’t that bad. The struggle is real but that constant push to squeeze extra bits of performance is also real. I feel like I am piloting a Williams in F1.

I Love Hello Kitty & Aggretsuko But Vanilla & Chili Don’t Mix Well with Beer

At Cold Storage, I have stumbled upon cans of beer wrapped up with Hello Kitty and Aggretsuko artwork. The cans while somewhat looked cheap, they drew attention.

So attractive, how not to try?

I am not really a fan of Hello Kitty. But I love Aggretsuko. The former comes in apple and vanilla flavors (described as creamy). The latter comes in chili flavor (described as spicy).

I am an adventurer and I love to try new things. So I bought six cans. Three each. The price tag in the supermarket said – or so I thought it said – S$7 for any two (usual price is S$7 for one). The final bill was somewhat confusing. I ended up having 20% discount over 4 cans of beer and 1-for-1 discount for 2 cans of beer.

Huh?

Whatever.

Let’s start with the Aggretsuko beer. It does have a clean lager taste. The spice makes it tastes weird. Not the bad kind of weird. Just weird, weird. The problem I have with this Hong Kong crafted beer is that, there is a lack of gas in the beer. The beer tastes flat.

As for the Hello Kitty beer, it is a no, no. In my mind, I was thinking of cider beer. After all, we are mixing apple with beer here. But this is no cider beer. In my mind, when I think of ‘creamy’ beer, I think of stout. This is no stout either. It is vanilla mixed with apple flavor delivered in a flat lager base.

Just, no.

My Favorite Topic: My Hairdresser and I

Regular visitors of my site would know the long history of my hairdresser and I that has span decades. So I won’t go there.

These days, our favorite topic is henna. She is intrigued by the fact that I apply henna to my wife’s hair every month and the leftover, my wife applies to my hair every two weeks. She has commented that the color on my hair doesn’t seem natural. Dark red would have been good but mine is orange.

I am actually fine with partially orange colored hair. It makes me look like someone coming out from an anime. In my most recent visit, she has recommended me to try mixing henna with coffee instead of tea.

We did that. And it was strange.

The smell was weird. Tea smells good on hair. Coffee smells funny on hair. And the result? Just as orange.

Yes, it is orange!

I Smashed My Face Hard Onto the Floor (And It Could’ve Been Worse)

This is a story of David versus Goliath. It was kind of embarrassing. And no, I wasn’t under the influence of alcohol or any medication. It was just instinct, reflex. The same reflex that caused me to lose balance and at the same time, saved me from a concussion. It could have been worse.

Our home is clean. My wife and I have spent a lot of effort to keep our place hygienic. When one late evening while we were watching Mystic Pop-up Bar on Netflix with our balcony doors wide opened, a gigantic cockroach flew into our home!

Unlike other flying insects that occasionally drawn to the interior lighting and visit our home at night, I have no idea what draws a cockroach’s attention. For other insects, all we have to do is to turn off all the light inside and leave the balcony light on. They would leave shortly, chasing the next light source.

Cockroaches don’t seem to do that. As one that flew from one side of the living room to another side refused to leave, I have attempted to brush it out of our home using a duster with a very long handle (I clean ceiling beams with that). Instead of flying out, it flew towards me!

I have zero intention to kill a cockroach inside our home for good reasons. First, we didn’t have an insecticide (as we haven’t sighted a cockroach for a very long time, but now we have bought one). Second, it is messy to kill one. Third, I don’t feel like killing anything so long as it peacefully exits our home.

But no, it flew towards me! That contradicts everything I thought I knew about cockroaches – that the primal DNA has dictated them to move to the opposite direction of the imminent threat.

Looking back, I could have stayed still. Let it smashed onto my body, crawled around me perhaps. But no, I retreated. One step backward at a time, till I …

… tripped over the sofa. And at that very instance, I lost my balance, head down to the floor. The very instinct that caused me to lose balance now kicked in to save me. As I fell, I was thinking, if I was to fall on my back, it would be a pretty heavy hit on my head. Perhaps, concussion.

So, at the split second, I managed to turn my body and attempted to land on my hands and avoid the head injury.

But alas. I have grown weight due to the Covid-19 lock-down. I have become heavier. Gravity is a bitch. And I fell faster than I had anticipated thanks to my heavier body. What this means is that I have landed hard on my right shoulder. My head smashed onto the ground. My wrist was twisted.

As I got up, instinctively covered my face, I smelled iron. I smelled of blood. There was blood on my face, blood on my hands, blood on my shirt, and blood on the floor. My pair of glasses laid flat onto the floor, twisted, not wearable.

There was a sharp pain, especially on my face. I managed to open my eyes. At least, my eyes are okay. I then went to the mirror in the living room. There were two cuts on my right brow. One cut more severe than another. Blood streaming from my wound. From my past experience, I needed to lie down and press against the wound in order to slow down the bleeding.

I did not know if I required to be stitched up. But I must say, my first reaction was: man, I looked mean. I looked like a gangster, a bad boy. That’s nice. That was one cool look. I am a tough guy!

My wife dressed the wound. I have got a swollen cheek, a sore shoulder, and wrist. And I didn’t sleep well (nor did my wife as she was worried). Other than that, I am fine. It could have been worse. Much worse.

An artistic view of my two cuts at my brow and a swollen cheek

The Thin Line Between Colleagues and Friends

Looking back at my two-plus decades of working life, I can recount three periods of my career when I am truly happy. All involve me having a phenomenon rapport with my team. All involve me being able to operate at the peak of my performance. There must be a correlation between the two. Or three, if counting opportunity or luck as well. At one point in my career, I have stopped socializing with people from work. Because corporate life can be brutal. It is not unlike a playbook written by Shakespeare. Full of tragedies and treacheries. At one point, I have decided that the best way not to get affected by the transient work entity is to detach myself from the people within. In retrospect, life is about taking risks and accepting the consequences of the decisions made. To the least, I have lived. And not just zombied my way through life.

I Was The Architect

Rising up the ranks from a new recruit a.k.a. fresh graduate to a lead architect of enterprise-level trade finance software was quite a feat. Started off my career with Accenture as a support consultant on a job that no one wanted (read: maintenance), I managed to learn everything I needed to know about trade finance. From accounting to interest and commission calculation, from letters of credit to banker guarantee, from front end user interface to batch programs, reporting (back then, it was line printer) and invoicing, from visual C++ to C to PLSQL to Oracle Report Writer and many more. I was so good with version 4 of this proprietary Accenture / Deutsche Bank joint venture that I was enlisted to implement version 5, which was an object-oriented design by the same partnership.

Technology evolved. Accenture has decided to create her own trade finance product using the latest technology from Microsoft. Since I had been persistent enough to survive through version 4 and version 5, I had landed the job to be the lead architect in designing and building version 6 with a large team of people working with me. Looking back, while I seriously do not recall implementing the final product, I had fun building it. My team from diverse gender, social, and academic background was fantastic. I really connected with my team. Many have become my friends and some, I still keep in touch with. Many crazy, crazy things we have done. There were happy times; there were sad times. Memorable nonetheless.

I Was The Trainer, Facilitator

Good things don’t last. That’s a universal rule. After Accenture went public, it wasn’t the same organization I have grown up with. There was an office move. And I left.

For a long time, I was detached from the people in the workplace. Because eventually, the organization will disappoint (that could go both ways too, I suppose).

Then I met a group of the younger crowd at Ernst & Young Associate whom I enjoyed coaching them (perhaps that’s my calling?). We got close, almost like a family. There were peers too, whom I still keep in touch with today. The peers, we formed a band. I remember the days when I shared my recorded music in the car with my juniors. Oh yes, we were that close. I was the trainer and the facilitator as I moved to the defense industry. Absolute freedom. We could be in one military camp in the morning, had lunch at Sentosa (as I drove), and headed to another military camp in the afternoon. We were seldom in the office. The clients loved us. But the people at the office didn’t.

Politics.

Project Management Was Born During Egyptian Era When Pyramids Were Built

Good things don’t last. That’s a universal rule. Office politics doesn’t exist when it is working for you. Office politics becomes prominent when it is working against you. There was an office move. And I left.

After EY, I joined Standard Chartered Bank. For a long time in my career, I have stopped caring for the people at work. There is a line clearly drawn between colleagues and friends. There were nine to five. And I detested socializing with my colleagues after working hours. When you live through the countless disappointments at work, the natural defensive thing you could do is to have a clear mindset on what is work versus what is life.

And then something magical happens. I am gifted and blessed with a team of good people with a team size surpassing anything I have had in the past.

I guess, looking back, putting your heart out there can be risky. It doesn’t always pay off. But when it does, it is memorable; it is magical.

My beloved team sent me a bunch of gifts and written messages for my birthday, in the time of Covid-19.

The Pain & Frustration of Almost

You know that pain and frustration of almost. You almost passed your driving test. At the last turn back to the driving center, you forgot to signal. Hence, you failed. You almost got married or at least have a longer relationship with that someone. But a third person came along and your loved one left you. Your favorite Formula One driver almost won the race. But a mechanical failure at the final lap robbed him of that podium, which in that case, not only the fans suffered from the pain and frustration of almost, the car team too.

And etc.

A couple of days ago, after a 2 hours casual catch-up with my friends online and since I have failed to find a driver to deliver dinner ordered online, my wife suggested that we shall cook instead.

I enjoy cooking – love is a strong word – and the process is therapeutic to me. It is seldom about the destination. Because I often take 5 to 10 minutes to consume my meal. Cooking takes longer. It is the journey, not just the destination.

I chopped red onion, peeled the garlic, sliced the ginger, deseed the chili, and diced the tomato. I dried and marinated the fish fillets and fried them to golden brown. The smell was so good.

After the fish was cooked, I removed the fillets from the fire, washed the wok and stir fried the onion, garlic, chili, and tomato. I added water, covered the wok to soften the tomato, poured in the rest of the seasoning, and just when the dish was almost done – all I needed was to put the golden brown fish filet onto the tomato sauce when …

… a bottle of chili flakes fell from the kitchen cabinet as I accidentally knocked that off the shelf. That bottle of chili flakes fell onto the plate that held the beautifully and perfectly fried fish fillets, shattered the plate into pieces.

I attempted to clean up the fillet under a running water and continued to cook – much like how an F1 driver continued to pilot his car after a mechanical failure. But as I looked at the tabletop, there was really a lot of shattered colored pieces. I even bleed my hand as I clean it up. Can you imagine what if some of these pieces got stuck onto the fish fillets and then we ate them for dinner?

I sulked. Genuinely sulked. I nearly cried. Not sure why. Perhaps the food waste. Perhaps the effort made. Or perhaps I felt sad about that home-cooked dinner on a late Friday evening that we almost had.

After making a joint decision with my wife, I threw the dish into the bin, took out the trash, and went to a food center nearby to buy dinner.

Looking back and as of now, I don’t feel that sense of pain and frustration no more. That’s what time does to you. That almost driving test, didn’t matter no more. That almost relationship, didn’t matter no more. That almost F1 victory, didn’t matter no more. But at the moment, when the reality dealt its hands, that really hurt.

French Wine Box 05 from Eiffel Markets

I am not really a refined wine drinker. I can hardly tell one from another. Having said that, once in a while, I do come across some really good wine that I wish I have recorded it somewhere, have a repeated experience. These days, I have French wine ordered online.

Well, that’s why I have my own website, yes? I will update this post as I go.

Wine Box 05

Chateau la Marjoliere, Cahors Tradition Red 2014

South West, 80% Malbec, 20% Merlot, lots of black fruits and plummy notes.

OK. Both Cynthia and I love this one. I can really taste the plummy notes. I love the fruity aftertaste. Though my wife was like … how does plum taste like? I am happy that she doesn’t have … erm … that problem. Once in a while, I do take in plum juice for its natural laxative effects.

Domaine Martin, Mediterranee “Le Petit Martin” Rose 2019

Rhone Valley, 60% Grenache, 40% Cinsaut, light, citrusy and refreshing.

I am not that into rose wine, but my wife does. This one is pretty light and refreshing. Very easy to drink. I did experience a headache the day after. Probably nothing to do with this wine, but rose wine in genera.

Chateau Palene, Bordeaux White 2018

Bordeaux, 50% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Muscadelle, a dry and fruity white wine.

This one is interesting. I have no idea how French wine works or if the wine is blended. I like Sauvignon Blanc. That is my go to white wine. But this one though, is lighter than the usual Blanc from say Australia or New Zealand. It is very accessible. Perhaps a bit too light for me.

Domaine de Noire, Chinon Soif de Tendresse 2017

Loire Valley, 100% Cabernet Franc, light-bodied, fruity and mineral.

My experience with red wine is very limited. Because my wife prefer white to red. But thanks to this box set concept, my wife is keen to try. Again, very light and accessible. Fruity indeed, kind of playful (maybe the label). Great for some casual catch-up, which I did open this one during my chat with my friends online.

Domaine Buisson, Meursault “Les Climats de Marguerite”

Burgundy, 100% Chardonnay, rich and complex with a long finish.

Yet to try!

Domaine Burle, Vacqueyras “La Muse” 2015

Rhone Valley, 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah, round and powerful.

Yet to try!