Random Events During Chinese New Year 2021

Over time, the Chinese New Year celebration isn’t quite like when I was a small boy. The pandemic changes the way we celebrate. Or not celebrate. Not just Chinese New Year. Birthday. Wedding. Maybe the future of celebration would emphasize something very personal. Like the first time when a couple holds hands and kiss. Or the first time you see a million dollar worth of assets in your account. Two million. Five million. Life then filled with personal badges and achievements like Steam or Garmin. Why not? My Princess is the 160th song I have written. The “badge” was earned on Oct 31, 2020. I am looking forward to earning the 170th song “badge” this year.

Tiong Bahru Market 2 Days Before CNY

Tiong Bahru Market

I cannot think of just one single reason why prices of meat and vegetable go up as we approach Chinese New Year. In my mind, there is a multitude of reasons. Most stalls are closed during the festive season. Hence, we stock up. More prefer to cook at home as we invite families and friends over. Hence, we buy more. And lastly, I reckon we eat way more during this period of time than we used to. Our meals during the Chinese New Year have to be sumptuous. It is the tradition.

Sum them up explains why a1.8 kg large chicken cost $16.50 two days before Chinese New Year. To put things in perspective, a medium chicken costs around S$8 on a normal day. Vegetable price has also gone up too. Curiously, pork and fish price stayed the same.

You would wonder why.

Someone At Work Delivered a CNY Gift to My Door

Two cans of abalone and biscuits for CNY, as a gift received.

I did not expect this at all. I had in the past someone junior at work sent me a bottle of wine during my birthday and Christmas. This is the first item I have received a gift from someone junior at work during Chinese New Year.

As a matter of fact, I am having the biscuits right now with my glass of white wine. I cannot describe what the biscuits taste like. They are savory and have a spicy aftertaste. Was it dried shrimp flavor? I can’t tell. The taste is so unique that … I just love it. I am eating non-stop as we speak.

Yummy.

An Antique Audio Recording Device

My Zoom Handy Recorder H2 that still works!

In the past, I could make do with the audio recording app that came with my Samsung phone. Now that I have right-graded to a budget realme phone, it just wouldn’t do. To assemble a home studio with a proper mic, DI box or guitar effect, and a multitrack recording device, is just so tedious. The wires. So many wires.

Last night I recalled I have a semi-pro audio recording device inside the dry cabinet. It must have been more than ten years old. I was used to having it to record my band’s jamming sessions inside a studio. Or for live recording when we performed live.

Surprisingly, my antique Zoom recording device still works today, albeit with a very inconvenient user interface. The sound quality beats any phone out there. And it is easy to set up too.

I Have “Rewarded” My Recent Active Lifestyle with a Garmine Venu

Meet my second Garmin watch, Venu!

Recently, I have started to resume living an active lifestyle. I walked a great deal more. I even jogged. I said to myself, if my knees don’t give me any problem after my jogging, I would upgrade my sports watch.

I wouldn’t say my knees are 100% okay. But they are well enough for me to take on a more strenuous form of exercise. My last Garmin watch was Vivoactive HR. It is ugly, very uncomfortable to wear. I was very skeptical over Garmin Venu. I even thought of switching from Android to Apple just for the Apple watch.

I have got to say, Garmin Venu has exceeded my expectation. It looks great. Very functional. And it is comfortable to wear. I will post an honest review once I have experienced what this watch offers.

I cannot remember when was the last time I swam. I have moved to my new condo a few years ago. Today was the first time I swam in an Olympic-sized pool. I have to work on the laps though. I have to glide more so that the watch can detect the strokes per lap correctly. And of course, it goes without saying that I have to swim faster.

Chinese Couplets

To loosely translate this, the couplets say “good fortune flows in smoothly every day, good luck comes every spring as each year starts”.

Before the pandemic, I was used to have a dedicated area in the office for my team of ten or more. I would – with the help of my team – have the area decorated. It could be Christmas and it could be Lunar New Year. Because my team was located in the IT department that are mostly Indian, the minority races such as Chinese and Caucasian would find our area refreshing. Something different.

Now with pandemic, we work from home. Since I have paid for these Chinese decorations in the past, I have decided to bring them home and decorate my place to be more festive.

Back to the Chicken Dishes

A 1.8 kg large chicken can easily be made into three dishes, if not more.

Back to the overpriced large chicken, I had to call my mom in Hong Kong and seek her advice on how long I needed to steam the large chicken. I actually knew the answer. I just wanted a reason to call mom and to confirm what I have already known.

We brainstormed on the phone what other dishes I could make from this 1.8 kg bird. My original plan was to invite my sister and her family over for a reunion dinner. But she could not make it. In the end, one dish on New Year Eve was the freshly steamed chicken (bottom left) serviced with soy sauce, oil, and spring onion dip on the side. Another dish was salt “baked” chicken, which was basically chicken thigh and wing marinated with salt overnight inside a frig. I had it on the Chinese New Year evening. It was delicious.

The third dish is going to be chicken porridge. I intend to shred the salt marinated chicken breast and add dry scallops. That will be my lunch on CNY day 2.

That Jog, It Hurts

Last evening, I fell asleep with my facial mask on at around midnight. On my bed, sat by the headboard. Spotify release radar was playing in the background through my Sonos speaker in the bedroom. Feng Timo‘s 世間美好與你環環相扣 woke me up, in a nice way. I took off my facial mask and ready to go to bed. I was expecting a good sleep. I was also expecting body ache.

I woke up at 3.30 am. The ache was rather uncomfortable. From my hips to my legs. My lung hurt. Even my throat hurt. I must have breathed too hard during my exercise.

So I realized that despite all the walks and the gym workouts, I am actually very unfit. My body hurts. But it is good to realize sooner rather than later. I much enjoy outdoor exercise, sweating it out.

I couldn’t go back to sleep because, after an intense exercise, my mind becomes very alert. That’s just how my body operates. I went to the sofa in the living room and continued my sleep. I had some dreams, which I can’t remember.

6.30 am. The birds chirped. I could try to go back to sleep. Or I could take the opportunity to witness the sunrise.

The sunrise was beautiful. I intend to start the day with some readings. That Obama new book borrowed from the library is very thick. And I am behind schedule. Some catch-ups to do!

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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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Take You To The Moon / Wild Passion – Two Doodles

Towards the end of 2020, I have explored a different art direction. My interpretation of cubism, which requires precision. Hence, I have switched to papers for marker pens.

Somehow, I still miss the fine-grain heavyweight paper that I used to draw with. Sure, that consumes more ink and the paper is harsh to the marker pens. It costs more in the long run. It is harder to draw because of the ink feathers. But I prefer fine grain heavyweight paper.

Titled as “Take You To The Moon”

In a way, it is like when people tell me that I should use an acoustic guitar to play music instead of strumming using a classical guitar. It is probably ‘wrong’. But I have made it my own, going against the norm.

In another word, I create art for my own consumption. It doesn’t make sense, I know (Jason my guitarist used to remind me that songs have to be written for general consumption, just stick with the general expectation and we would be fine).

I think I am a rebel.

Take You To The Moon is my latest work that inspired me to write a song that I have recently published on YouTube. The objects I use are very recognizable when you examine my previous work. That is a deliberate effort as I intend to form my signatures on my drawings. That is to say, by looking at the drawings, one would relate to the style of an artist. The cat, the couple, the half-moon, and the thorns. The difference for this drawing is that instead of roses, I drew stars to better suit the theme.

Titled “Wild Passion”, which is the predecessor of “Take You To The Moon”

On New Year Day, I stayed up late having this urge to return to the previous paper type (as mentioned above). I wanted to draw something abstract, free form, and to inject a sense of freedom and urgency. Personally, I enjoyed drawing Wild Passion a lot. The end result may not be as refined as other drawings of mine. It was liberating. I suspect those who are into interpreting art may find Wild Passion more interesting.

And yes, Wild Passion is also the predecessor of Take You To The Moon. I may do more abstract art. Perhaps in a more controlled manner.