Crusader Kings 2: indirect denial

If I plan to attack, I make a habit to check on the enemy liege, chiefly to see whether he's already in an existing war or not. Naturally I would prefer to not fight the entire armies of the enemy.

During such check, I discovered that HRE had declared war on Byzantine. This was huge because they were in the top 3 largest empires, in terms of size and armies (my empire, Alba, was there hehe). This itself presented a good opportunity for me to attack HRE for a claim on a county (for a vassal).

However, this became urgent when, on closer look, the war was to press a claim on the entire empire for a Byzantine princess who was married to the HRE heir. If they succeed, they would be marriage tie between the 2 empires (it would be the second time it happened during this campaign) and upon death of both rulers, the two empires could be united under a single ruler (only hope was that there would be at least 2 male children since Byzantine was on Gavelkind but then again this law could be changed to Primogeniture to be the same as HRE, after 10 years of rule).

Unfortunately, my then ruler was "incapable" and thus the empire was under regency. As such, war couldn't be declared. Even if I could, there were 3 defensive pacts (Christian, Muslim, Pagan) against Alba, of which HRE was in the Christian defensive pact, and they would help each other since my threat level was very high (at least 80%, probably over 90%). On a side note, I discovered recently that before starting a game, defensive pact feature could be switched off. I will consider doing that for the next campaign.

One way out was for my ruler to miraculously recover and so ends the regency and for HRE to temporarily leave the defensive pact, for whatever reasons, as it sometimes does happen for any AI for a very short while. The other was for my ruler to die (he was already 72 years old; mortality is close to 100% for age 60 and above) and the defensive pacts would dissolve, leaving a short window period for the next ruler to declare war before those pacts are formed again.

Death came and I quickly declared war on HRE (and also France) to press a claim on a county for a vassal. However, I noticed that HRE gained more warscore vs Byzantine. I realised that my war was not be enough to divert most of HRE armies to me (and thus away from Byzantine) because, hey, sacrificing a county was probably worth getting an empire for your grandchild, right? In any case, he did send a stack of army to defend but was quite easily crushed by me.

So how could I stop HRE winning over Byzantine? By sending 3 stacks of armies over to where the bulk of their armies were in Byzantine. Now, the fight there was a little dicey but not difficult though since he probably spent quite a bit beating Byzantine's armies (who themselves were fighting a revolt). After beating off their main armies, I took away from HRE those Byzantine holdings they had occupied and thereby reduced significantly HRE warscore over Byzantine.

Eventually, that war was called off (not sure in white peace or not). Phew!

I then embroiled myself in another 3 wars, helping my vassals who were faltering in their wars. In the end, I won all 5 of them. Yay! :)

Crusader Kings 2: significant reloads

I started a new campaign recently (maybe 2 weeks ago?) and about to finish it. As with all campaigns (except for a period of madness when I did an ironman campaign), I do reload games when something I tried didn't work out. However, I reload when I know I could have prevented the results if not because of my carelessness or my lack of knowledge.

Here are two instances:

CK2 19Oct17 prelude 1

HRE pressed a claim on France for the Kaiser's heir and won @@. They did it when an underage King of France ascended the throne.

By the time I noticed the war, the warscore was already significantly in favour of HRE. I was busy with something else (can't remember what) and was hoping to finish that before helping France, either by offering to help him defend or declaring war on HRE for a claim on a county (I can't remember which one haha). However, I was too late.

So I reloaded and kept an eye on them and was ready to pounce it if it happens again, but it didn't. Since then, I've been keeping an eye on movement in armies on neighbouring kingdoms.

CK2 19Oct17 prelude 2

At one point, a kinsman had a claim on HRE @@. I checked from the ledger and discovered that the size of my army was quite close to HRE and, if I recall correctly, they were at war with someone else. So I took the chance to successfully press the claim for this kinsman.

Unfortunately, few months alter, that very same kinsman declared war on me for his claim on Kingdom of Wales. Now, although tedious and troublesome, I was fairly confident I could mount a successful defense but I discovered something else that troubled me: that kinsman had no children. Hence, the heir (and pretenders) to HRE was from another dynasty, thereby defeating the purpose of my war in the first place if he had died without siring children.

So I reloaded. From then one, whenever I consider pressing a kinsman's claim that doesn't result in me being his liege, I would check whether he has children already and, as I discovered later, the existing succession law of the conquered land (seniority succession caused me to reload; primogeniture would had worked because the claimant had children of my dynasty).

Plugged in, not charging: Part 3

Since the last repair by Dell engineer, I've waited for Dell sales team to e-mail me quotation of the battery. And waited. And waited @@ There was simply no response from the sales team, in spite of numerous queries sent to their customer service officers via e-mail, phone and Facebook. I pointed out to them that this is making a mockery of the motto automatically inserted at the end of their e-mail: "At Dell we strive to exceed expectations and provide the highest levels of service to customers."

This nonsense went on for about 2 months before I finally receive a quotation from the sales team. No apologies whatsoever though, unlike their customer service officers. Humph.

It's been about a week now using the new battery. I have tried a few times unplugging and plugging back the adapter. Seems like the issue "plugged in, not charging" is gone. Phew, finally!

Cholesterol 2017: Part 3

It's been 4 months since the general health screening. There was about a month delay in retesting due to various reasons, especially during two 11-day periods of illness after coming back from Butterworth.

As advised by doctor, I retested cholesterol level and the other red flags. MCV (slightly high), MCH (slightly high) and WBC (low) remained more or less unchanged while total bilirubin reduced significantly, although still elevated. Doctor wasn't concerned about these and was fine that I retest these during my planned yearly general health screening.

As for the cholesterol test,

                                Jun 2017          Ref. range          Oct 2017          Ref. range     
Total cholesterol           6.4                 < 5.2                      6.2                 < 5.2
HDL ("good")               1.50               > 1.04                   1.57                > 1.04
LDL ("bad")                  4.2                < 2.6                      3.9                 < 2.6
Triglycerides                 1.6                 < 1.7                     1.5                  < 1.7
Total/HDL ratio            4.3                 < 5.0                      3.9                 < 5.0

Not much difference :(

So it's another 3-months of Fenofibrate and then a re-test.

Cholesterol steps

This was at Penang GH:

Cholesterol steps

I think this is quite clever.

Cycle 3 chemo

Things pretty much settled after the second session (i.e. Cycle 1 Day 8). With medicine, my dad could pass motion and managed the pain in his leg. In fact, he could increase the amount of exercise via stationary cycling and slow walks without an increase in painkiller dosage. His abdominal gas is pretty much gone...except when he ate spicy food on the sly. His appetite was normal. There were usually no side effects from chemo except for the occasional tiredness

The blood test done just before Cycle 3 Day 1 treatment, however, showed an unexpected decline in kidney function. The oncologist wasn't too worried but incidentally ordered tumour marker CA 19.9 test. I was a little surprised because I expected it to be done after Cycle 3.

Blood test done just before commencing Cycle Day 8 treatment showed the kidney function improved (borderline). Oncologist was a little concerned that my dad lost weight (63kg to 61.9kg) but was assuaged once I mentioned that his normal weight was 60kg before his leg pain prevented him from exercise as much as usual. My dad also mentioned that he recently increased the amount of exercise, which the oncologist was happy to hear.

She delivered the good news that the level of CA 19.9 was 66, significantly down from 133. Although still elevated (the limit was 34), it is going in the right direction and it's an early indication that the chemo treatment may be working.

Hopefully there'll be more good news later!

Pot of Japanese rose

Some distance away from the mass of Japanese rose plants at sister's house, there sit a pot of them with a variety of colours:

Japanese rose plant 3

Noticed that there are two colours here that are not present in the larger location: yellow and orange-red. So pretty. I do wish, however, there is also the simpler version of this flower i.e. the one with a single layer of petals.

Also, noticed the difference in quality of photo? This one was taken with my new Samsung Galaxy J1 Ace (J111F). It does look significantly better.