14 Years Later I Have Started to Jog Again

Thank goodness I have a website, my personal online diary.

The last time I jogged was 14 years ago when I was training for my Mount Kinabalu hike. I had always enjoyed jogging. After the hike, I injured my knees. I left my injury unattended and since then, I was not able to jog or walk the stairs for too long. The situation is manageable. In the past two years or so, I don’t recall having knee pain. Today, I remember what my college tutor Dr. Wood in the UK shared during one of the Christmas parties at his home – and he was into mechanical engineering by the way – if you can walk, don’t run and if you can sit, don’t stand. That is pretty much the only lesson I can remember from my university days. This is pretty much the lesson that only makes sense after I get older.

Today I have this sudden urge to jog. I dug up my 4-year old Garmin watch from the storeroom, charged it up, though the strip was somewhat broken, and it still works. I jogged from my neighborhood to the one next to mine. I could jog around my area in loops. But I reckon I may give up halfway. What I didn’t enjoy was the traffic lights, construction sites, and smoking area next to the police station. Next time, I may drive to Gardens by the Bay or the Botanic Gardens. I reckon it is more pleasant to jog.

My jog today.

I have covered 5.28 km in 38 minutes crossing no less than 12 traffic lights. My average heartrate was 149 bpm with a max recorded as 179 bpm. As for my heartrate, 30% of time spent in zone 5 (>158 bpm) and 43% in zone 4 (141 to 157 bpm). My average run cadence compared to other runners is pretty bad at 160 steps per minute (5 to 29%). 180 steps per minute is a common target.

Then again, it has been 14 years since I jog. I shouldn’t push myself too hard on this. What I can say is that jogging outdoor is so much more satisfying than exercising in the gym.

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I Made Dumplings The First Time And It Was Ridiculously

Imagine this. I have spent four hours making dumplings the first time. And I ate them in 5 minutes.

Fried vegetarian dumplings. I finished these in 5 minutes.

I had this sudden urge to make my own vegetarian dumplings. It is not that hard to make. Just that, the preparation time, plus the cooling time, and the folding time, took so long.

So long.

So very long.

In this batch, I have created 40 dumplings. I froze half of them. And in my enthusiasm, I bought way too many ingredients. Like, way, way, way too many. This means I have to create another batch of vegetarian dumplings this week!

Another batch!

OMG. Think of the ROI. I would gladly order dumplings online.

The ingredients that took me a long, long time to prepare.

In all seriousness, I am glad that I have experienced the dumpling-making process. And it tasted pretty good. If I could change my approach, I may wish to go easy on the white pepper and change the black vinegar don’t use the sweet one. Perhaps instead of frying the dumplings, I would boil them and use garlic chili oil instead.

That may work. But still. I would rather buy dumplings. Thanks to Sonos though. The music accompanied through the cooking process.

Consider the fact that it was my first time folding dumplings, I think these dumplings look rather legit. Thank you Internet.

Would I do it again? Perhaps I would want to try the meat version.

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My Nieces Are Growing Up Fast

It is hard to imagine. Bethany has turned eleven this month and it felt like yesterday when I saw her as a baby.

Eleven years.

On the left, Bethany. On the right, Lydia who is 3 years younger. Both are my nieces.

She has grown up to be a well-behaved girl, which is very much expected of her as I have been observing her since young. All these years, I have been waiting to be able to talk with her. Like having a proper conversation. Today, we did that.

She is now at primary five. She shared with me the subjects at school and the four topics that will be examined – English, Chinese, Science, and Mathematics. I asked what her favorite subjects are and she replied, “It depends on the teacher.”

Initially, I wanted to convince her otherwise. But looking back, in my schooling days, the best teachers are the ones who can inspire and make the most boring subject to be a passionate one – it was religion studies for me, no offense.

Both my nieces Bethany and Lydia are into video gaming these days, which right up my alley. They took out a Nintendo Switch (and unlike some of my bosses who are younger than me, I know what that is) and took turns to show me their games. Pokémon for Lydia, the younger one, and Minecraft for Bethany. By the time Diablo IV comes out, I should be able to recruit Bethany to join me. I am expecting that game to be suitable for people aged 15 and above.

Bethany and I talked about music subject and she told me that she would need to play Ukulele. That again is right up at my ally thanks to my recent Ukulele shopping with Y, I got to learn how to play one. I have volunteered to be Bethany’s music tutor.

Lydia must have sensed that I was having more commonalities with Bethany than with her. So she held my hand as we shop for Bethany’s birthday present, Lydia started to query the food that I like. As it turns out, both of us prefer vegetables to meat (and Lydia reminded me that Bethany’s preference is the other way round). Both of us are not a fan of celery.

Back to the birthday present, Y was right, Bethany wants a new iPhone. She wants a new Apple ID too (she is using her mother’s now). Deep inside, I don’t think she wants anything in particular as a birthday present. We did a bit of shopping and I sensed that she was stressed by having to pick one. Since Bethany is a bookworm – just like when I was young, I have decided to get her an eBook reader instead.

It was a lovely day. One that I have waited quite a bit to happen.

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Back to Work and The Random Events That Unfold

The first week of the year at work is often quieter than usual. End December was a quiet month and work slowed down as people were on leave. The year-end celebration was pretty much muted due to travel restrictions. 2020 was an unusual year. In my decades of working, I have witnessed the Asian financial tsunami, 9/11 and the Iraqi war, SARS, subprime crisis, and now Covid-19 – events that have a direct macro impact on the economy and ultimately risk to my livelihood. It reminds me that there is a much bigger picture out there, while I am swimming in my daily events.

Wet Market

Speaking of daily events, I have resumed visiting the wet market in the morning to buy fresh produce for cooking. With our country’s phase three reopening, I notice that the rest of the entrances to the wet market are now reopened. No longer do I required to enter through the main entrance as the crowd control measure is now lifted. While the wet market is not that large, it is more convenient for me to enter from the back where the stalls that I frequently visit are located. In the past, many times, I was tempted to jump across the taped barrier. I thought of the CCTV and the frequent news on people arrested and charged for violating safety measures. I resisted the temptation.

New Year Resolution

When people ask what my new year resolution is, my immediate reaction would be, if I wish to have a resolution, it could happen any time of the year. I could have a new beginning at any time of the year.

So no, I don’t have one on Jan 1st.

What I have done on new year’s day though was to go through my mailbox and unsubscribe from all the promotional emails that keep popping up like mushrooms as more and more purchases are done online.

I felt much better after that.

The Direction of the Morning Sun Ray

My apartment faces the north and the east. So I do get the morning sun into my bedroom and my balcony. The units in the opposite tower face the south and the east. You would think the balcony of mine and the balconies of the opposite tower would receive direct morning sun every day.

But no.

Depending on the months and days, at times my balcony would get the direct morning sun. Other times, my balcony would get none. All the morning sun like today landed onto the balconies of the opposite tower and not mine.

It is good to have a morning tea by the balcony. It is not good to dry the shoes and sun my guitar case today.

Re-stringing My 12-String Guitar

When I bought my Yamaha 12-string acoustic folk guitar 16 years ago, I thought it was a really good idea.

As it turns out, the 12-string guitar is a pain to play. Tuning the guitar is a pain. And the sound is too bright for my liking.

So I am considering to sell it off and free up some space in my home and in my mind (as I keep on thinking that one day I will play it). But before I can do that, I need to restore the guitar first.

After years of no maintenance, the condition was atrocious. There were molds all over the guitar body and the guitar case. The strings were rusted. What a sad state it is.

I did my best to clean up the guitar and the case. I have ordered strings online as a replacement. I have even watched a YouTube video on how to change the strings for I have not done it before.

A couple of observations for sharing. First, it is hard to replicate what I see on YouTube. I just couldn’t.

Second, the mobile app Yousician while pretty good at tuning a 6-string guitar and a Ukulele, the app cannot be used to tune a 12-string guitar. For those of you who may not know how a 12-string guitar works, basically, instead of 6, the guitar has 12 strings. The lower 4 of the strings have a corresponding octave string that goes one octave higher.

Because the app is unable to tune the octave strings, the very first string I have installed broke because I have tuned it too high. It was the tension that broke the string.

At that point, I have contemplated to continue or to stop because I have to buy another set of strings any way. I have decided to still continue and go for the experience. Using a proper tuner, which I really should have done in the first place, I was able to install the rest of the 11 strings, played my favorite song You Are My Princess before going to sleep. The 11-string guitar does give the song a different feel.

It went so well before I broke the very first string I have installed.
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A Reflection

If someone was to tell me on Jan 1st, 2020, what my 2020 would be like, I would have thought that he or she was crazy.

But I have had a crazy 2020.

Now that on Jan 1st, 2021, I would not be surprised if this year will be as crazy, if not more. In a good way of course.

The pandemic has changed the way we live and the way we work. With the new virus variant and the time required to reach herd immunity through vaccination, I reckon 2021 would be similar to 2020 in that aspect.

I hate wearing mask among other things such as reduced dining capacity and the disappeared night life.

What am I grateful for 2020?

I am happy to be healthy and still having a job. I miss the live music. And I miss my friend A who has returned to Australia earlier on this year. We have had so much fun. The drinking and the Karaoke and more.

The lockdown has some pros and some cons.

I enjoy not having to spend time traveling to work every weekday. I enjoy the flexibility of visiting the wet market in the morning, buy fresh produce, and cook. I enjoy the view from my study room. It is way better than in the office.

But I do crave human interaction. I was pretty active in connecting with people at work. That by itself was part of work. Now, it is so much more difficult having to make time after work to meet people.

This year I have rediscovered myself. The passion within me has been ignited. I have resumed drawing, updating my website, and writing songs.

It is said that the best artwork originates from sadness. I do not disagree though it can be very consuming at times.

What a dramatic year. At my age, I have been pushed to attain a level that I did not think I could at both professional and personal level. I have the people around me to thank for.

Passion and love.

I have a very lucky 2020. I wish that my 2021 will be as blessed.

Soar like an eagle, I shall (thanks Becky!).

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