If I Could Be A Marvel Superhero, What Would That Be?

People in the past were used to ask me this question a lot, especially during the days when I was actively running my YouTube channel playing the game Marvel Heroes.

As you may know, each superhero comes with unique abilities. There is one hero whom I really want to be. I will get there in just a bit. Let’s talk about fortune-telling for now.

Do I believe in fortune-telling? I tend to think that there are gifted people in this world who can reveal a glimpse of our future. Chinese believes that the future is a secret that has to be kept within the heavens. Those who reveal the secret would have to pay with self-sacrifices depends on how big the secret is. Hence, real and good fortune tellers are often well compensated by their clients.

Is fortune telling a self-fulfilling prophecy? Does that mean that our fate is sealed before we are born? Knowing our future, can we change the course? I will get there in just a bit. Let’s talk about quantum mechanics for now.

The first time I have encountered the topic of quantum mechanics was not from books nor classes. It was during my university days in the UK, my friend Trevor from Hong Kong was obsessed with physics. We would play arcade games, Street Fighters or Mortal Kombat (by that, I meant I watched him playing it). And he would talk about all things physics. We bonded so well that we have decided to cycle from Oxford to Edinburgh together. Side-track to this topic, going on a trip with someone is a true test of a relationship. Unfortunately, the relationship between Trevor and I didn’t survive the trip. We could barely survive day one of our trip.

Quantum physics is a heavy subject. What is relevant to this post is that quantum physics is probabilistic. We can’t predict the outcome. But we can predict the probability of finding each of the particular possible outcomes.

So in my mind, there is no one future but rather, a wide spectrum of futures. Each future has its own probability. In the concept of the multiverse, who knows, we may have to live through each of these futures.

And so, when a fortune-teller shares the secret of the heavens, he or she may refer to the most probable future. For example, one time, I was told that I have two windows of opportunity when it comes to marriage: marry young, marry old. Was there any chance that I could marry somewhere in between young and old or not at all? I guess so. But the fortune-teller must have sensed that it was highly improbable.

I tend to think that our actions today can help to charter towards a future we desired – no guarantee that we will reach there, of course (think quantum mechanics). There are versions of the future that we may not be able to choose, determined by just a toss of a coin. If there is one Marvel superhero I could become, right now, I would like to be Dr. Strange (think Avengers: End Game).

Right now, I not only wish to see my future, but also the probability of each.

realme C17 S$299 (US$225) Smartphone – An Honest Review

Smartphone prices vary a great deal. As of today, it ranges from S$2,888 (US$2,200) for a Samsung Fold2 to Xiaomi Redmi 9A that costs only S$139 (US$100).

A S$299 phone is not exactly a cheap entry level phone. But on paper, it is a pretty decent phone compared to the phones of a similar price point. The full spec is here.

My last phone was an old Samsung Note 8. It broke and the new models are due to be out soon. So I need a phone as a stop-gap measure. Or if it is any good, I could use it for a longer-term. How do I like this realme C17? Read on to find out!

A Chinese made smartphone that on paper is value for money and with good features – realme C17

What I Like

  • High-quality form factor. It doesn’t feel cheap. The box comes with a phone case as well as a screen protector as well that fits very nicely with the phone.
  • 6.5″ screen with a decent screen-to-body ratio (90%).
  • realme UI. I like it a lot, having used Google’s latest UI and Samsung’s. realme UI has a sidebar like Samsung’s, split-screen, etc., and it is easy to organize homepages. Calculator for example floats on top of the app so that you can work out the number without toggling between apps. The OS also comes with tons of features including interesting ones like setting a time to auto power on and/or off the phone.
  • Decent processing power and screen refresh rate. This phone is responsive.
  • Decent battery life with a 5,000mAh battery.
  • Good fingerprint sensor. My fingerprints are kind of faint. It works on a Google Nexus phone and an Apple phone. But it doesn’t work on a Samsung phone or, say, a ThinkPad laptop. It is so good to have a phone that can be unlocked using fingerprint (no more manual bank app log in!).
  • Face biometric. While I am not entirely sure how secured this feature is, the moment I lift up the phone, the screen wakes up and after recognizing my face, the phone is unlocked. It is fast and doesn’t have to position in a certain way. It works from different angles. It even works when I wear a cap (took me two attempts) and a headset with a mic that blocks part of my face. Almost too good to be true.

What Could Be A Deal Breaker For You

Again, read the following in the context that my previous phone is an old Samsung Note 8, which back in its time was a premium product. If you can’t live with some of these observations, you may consider spending a bit more and get a mid-range smartphone instead.

  • There is no notification light. My old Samsung would have a blinking light telling me that there are unread notifications. This would not be terrible but …
  • There is no always-on display either. When the phone is on standby mode, the screen is all black. I.e. no time and date and no notification summary. I end up checking the phone often for potentially missed notifications. There are apps to help. But they are not the same.
  • There is no NFC – near field communication. This means this phone cannot be used for contactless payment. These days, I have to take out my credit card every time I make credit card payments or board public transport.
  • Screen quality is very so-so. It lacks vibrancy. The color seems off.
  • The 13MP quad-camera (4!) is very so-so. The daytime landscape photos lack sharpness and color vibrancy. Nearby subjects are okay. Nighttime photos are too grainy. Ultra macro does work and need only 4cm away from the lens.
  • The 8MP front camera is also very so-so. I tried to use it to take selfie videos. It is substantially worse than my 3-year old Samsung phone.
  • Wireless BlueTooth is not usable. I have tried two different headsets. The conclusion is that the mic keeps on breaking especially when the phone is on Wi-Fi (feedback from those who receive my calls). The music also breaks way more often than my old phone (granted, in crowded places, BlueTooth connectivity can be affected) especially when on Wi-Fi. I have to switch back to a wired headset.
  • There is no way to hide your security pattern while unlocking the phone. People around you can easily see your security pattern. I have switched back to numeric unlock.
  • UI doesn’t work well with apps like Spotify. When playing music through Spotify, the screen wakes up very often and randomly. After some research, this seems like a common issue for realme phones. I have to block Spotify notification, which is a shame. Because it is good to be able to see the widget and control the player without having to unlock the phone and find the app.
  • Audio recording is poor. I am a music creator. While I don’t expect a smartphone to be a high-end audio recording device, the audio recording quality of this phone is way below par. It has got to do with the mic volume being too high and/or a lag of clarity.

A Wine Gathering

M and I are from the same division. He belongs to a program that I am spending half of my time with. And since I am not full time with that program, I am often seen as an affiliate instead. I don’t have a lot of allies in that program. M is a good friend of mine.

One day, M visited my neighborhood and we had lunch at a bakery. He is moving onto another role in our organization and with that comes a promotion. I like the Caucasian mindset. I also like reporting to Caucasians. When it comes to ranks and promotion, the sky is the limit. Reporting to Chinese bosses, the message often would be: be contented with what you have. Indian bosses, the vast majority won’t give a beep about my career. Speaking from someone who has reported to sixteen different bosses in a span of fourteen-ish years in this organization. Though one may say, the time has changed as the world is moving towards better diversity and inclusiveness.

Back to that lunch we had, which was on a Thursday as both of us have to attend a weekly meeting together, M suggested to have a wine event on the 17th with K at his home. The date was perfect as it was the first evening of my 2-week long compliance leave.

It was a 10 mins ride to reach his place. I was late and his friend G working in the fund business was already there. What a posh home! There were paintings from – quoting from him – famous artists and there is one small elephant painting M drew when he was 12. He showed me the cases of silverware he brought from the UK dated back to the 1940s. Those are beautiful. Black handles with small colorful adornment, casually lying on top of each other. “Why not arrange them nicely?”, asked I. M replied that they got reshuffled due to transportation. Still, I would have put each fork and spoon, and utensil in the rightful place. These are antiques! I had the compulsion to do it for him. But I have resisted.

M said that he doesn’t like French people. G agreed. I didn’t say a thing. I used to have a number of French friends when I was working in Paris. Sure, French people, in general, do seem to have their pride and perhaps still wonder why the world adopts English as the international language (I was once told by a French that the world was close to choosing French instead). I can see from the French’s perspective. Especially when their culture is so refined. Fashion. Food. Wine. Art and monuments. In any case, given the history of the British and the French, I can understand the general sentiment.

Later the evening, when I sensed that the topic of the French M and G so passionately deliberated has fainted away, I casually mentioned that I like the sound quality and the design of the “transformer” speaker. A high-end French product sold in MBS mall. To that M was very pleased with his purchase. The speaker can get loud, really loud as he briefly demonstrated.

I am often not a fan of red wine. Last evening changed my mind. We started with a 1.5 liter of Sao Joao’s Quinta do Poco do Lobo Cabernet Sauvignon 1996. It is 24 years old Portugal wine. The age doesn’t make a good wine of course. It depends on the year of the grape. But to have a wine that is still drinkable after such a long period of storage is pretty remarkable. The cock was waxed and the bottle was huge.

Next, we had Artadi’s Pasos de San Martin Garnacha 2015. It was a Spanish wine and I really love that. Then we had Faiveley’s Mercurey Rouge 2017. It was even better! By the time we got to the fourth one, I was about to fall asleep. I didn’t have much, though I remember it as sweet and nice.

Yes, I am terrible in describing wine.

I am not a fan of a large group gathering. My ideal group size is two. Three is okay. By the time K arrived, I got slightly quieter. F then arrived – a great storyteller by the way and also a good friend of mine from that program. The party lit up. I was mainly the observer and spoke when we broke into a smaller group chat. Finally, when G’s friend who is a young teen student (possibly rich Indonesian Chinese) arrived, everyone was animated and liven. By then, I was the audience enjoying the entertainment and the wine.

Throughout the evening, many stories were shared. Stories that I can imagine some may balk at because it is not right. I don’t judge for I am a pragmatic person. The moral compass is a thing that people use to judge others or fear being judged. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” is one of my favorite quotes. Throughout the night, I listened with bewilderment. These people have experienced lives in a unique way and they have stories to tell.

“You are quiet”, K asked. I wanted to chip in. But my stories are much darker, more emotional, and personal, which did not suit the theme of physical conquest. Like my friend N once said to me, while I have an alpha male mentality deep inside, I am gentle from the outside.

I smiled to K in return and said nothing.

I love polaroid photo. So retro.

Let the Cat out of the Box and Be Free – A Doodle

Recently, I have come across an article from Scientific American. Falling in love does make people more creative. Because it makes us think differently. That triggers global processing, hence promotes creative thinking and interferes with analytic thinking. Sex though does the opposite. It triggers local processing, promotes analytic thinking, and interferes with creative thinking.

From now on, I shall not look at love and sex the same way.

Titled Let the Cat out of the Box and Be Free

This latest drawing of mine doesn’t have tons of hidden meaning. It is what it is – let the cat out of the box and be free.

In relationships, people often say something like, if you love someone, let him or her go. I think that is a bit not too pragmatic. The way I see it is that when you love (the roses) someone, let him or her have the freedom (a cat in an open box) within the boundaries (the frame) of what that relationship is or to be. And he or she will be happy looking for the things he or she likes (plenty of fish for the happy cat).

At the top left is a view of the port or the sea (I thought of the fish and hence, the ocean). The bottom right is a door. Why filament light bulb? I just happen to like its vintage feel.

Under the Merlion’s Watchful Eyes One Man’s Attempt to Steal a Heart – A Doodle

Saturday morning, I woke up and asked my wife, “Which are your favorite Korean drama kissing scenes?”

You see, we watch a lot of K-drama. But before you think we always watch TV together, she is into Western drama while I am onto Chinese drama. So no, we don’t always watch TV together.

Crash Landing Onto You,” said she.

OK. I mean, that is a vastly popular K-drama series. I like both actor and actress.

It’s Okay Not To Be Okay,” added she.

The on-screen chemistry between Seo Ye-ji and Kim Soo-Hyum is a phenomenon. Especially so, I love how Seo Ye-ji acted out Ko Moon-Young’s unique character. I agreed with my wife. Those kisses were good. Besides, Seo Ye-ji is so very sexy.

My Shy Boss!” concluded she.

Ah. I have almost forgotten that one. That kissing scene, in the shower room, was epic. And the acting of the lead actor is top-notch.

For me though, that would be Goblin (OK, it gets better) and Bride of Habaek. I am a hopeless romantic.

Back to this doodle, which I am not into deeper explanation because the composition is not complex, it is one of the more detailed work I have done. My dual-head Copic (Japan) pen was too large for the Queen of Card. So I have borrowed my wife’s 0.5 Faber-Castell (Germany) instead. My plan for the next set of drawing may perhaps have more detailed composition. We shall see.

Meanwhile, this is the playlist I listened to while creating this doodle.

Titled ‘Under the Merlion’s Watchful Eyes One Man’s Attempt to Steal a Heart‘. The couple is modeled after the K-drama series My Shy Boss.