Most 'expensive' hobby

Expensive not only in terms of money but also effort and time.

Which hobby is it? Travelling.

Of course it may not be as expensive as some gadgets like iPhone or iPad but I observed that people who love travelling do so more often than the frequency of which people who love gadgets upgrade their gadgets. Even a trip to a nearby country can make a sizeable dent in one's pocket. It is most painful for those who doesn't have much money and even worse for these people if that's the only hobby they have.

It also takes a great amount of effort to organise a trip. One needs to research which place to go, where to stay, which airline to take, which local tours to opt for, what sort of clothings/equipment needed and of course the time spent on the actual trip itself which usually last for at least a couple of days (as otherwise, it's not worth it). I would be exhausted even before the trip starts!

From the above, it's no surprise that it takes up lots of time too. In fact, the preparation can start as early as a year before the trip, usually with the purchase of cheap air ticket to start the ball rolling. Of course one can always outsource the planning to a tour operator but the downside is that it'll cost much more and also such tour tends to be hectic (more exhaustion!).

Another aspect of time is inconvenience. For salaried employees, they need to determine when it would be suitable to take annual leaves and how long they can get away. Sometimes this may mean spending more money either because the suitable time also coincides with peak period for travelling (read: expensive air ticket) or because of no-pay leave to go on long trip. Also, regardless of salaried or self-employes, there's also consideration of family obligations and other personal obligations e.g. taking care of grandchildren, grandparents and even parents.

Some people seem to believe that I'm missing out on lots of things for not having the passion (and money hehe) to travel. I beg to differ. I count myself lucky for not having such hobby.

Salmon on diet?

Usually people love salmon sushi/sashimi because of its smooth texture, which is actually due to the fat in the fish (healthy fatty acids, mind you) - the ubiquitous white stripes. The best part is its belly. So smooth.

However, for some, like Ban, they may prefer as least fat as possible. Hence, the salmon sushi/sashimi I dislike most is also the one he likes better. I present you Sushi King's special lean salmon!

Sushi King salmon

Look, there's just no fat! I suspect they rear their own salmons and make them swim up river lots of time. Maybe use riverbed stones as dumbells. Perhaps use their fins to do push ups.

By the way, all Sushi King's outlets I've been to served such salsmon sushi/sashimi. It's the only restaurant chain I know that served such salmon. Even those sold at Jaya Jusco and Jaya Grocer has the normal looking fat.

In truth, if I'm not mistaken, there are parts of salmon that has virtually no fat and is normally used as top-up to salmon don and sometimes used in maki. They are cheaper than the fatty parts.

Cheapskate Sushi King? *shrug*

Discharged

Good news! Ban was discharged from hospital on Sunday but surprisingly with a low platlet count of only 74! I remember that even at 95, the doctor still advised me to stay on and I was finally discharged with a count of just over 140 (the cut off is 150).

The discrepancy is likely due to the difference in the rate of decline in platlet. The decrease rate was shallow for Ban i.e. from 75 to 74, whereas mine continued on its steep decline with the final step from 60 to 30.

The other reason of which Ban thought of was that the doctor wanted to discharge him just before Chinese New Year hehe.

He's now seriously considering getting netting down at his place. Who should we approach for such job?

Dengue strikes again!

Remember I had dengue last month? It's quite likely that I was infected at Ban's place (regular fogging here) and poor Ban now is infected :( He was hospitalised a few days ago. Hopefully he would be discharged soon.

I feel a little guilty because I'm the one who wants the window (the huge one at the balcony) open during the day. I usually open it once I'm awake in the morning and close it by 5.30pm. As per Ban's suggestion, I've found out on the internet that mozzies are most active around dawn and dusk. Perhaps I should close the window even earlier e.g. 4.30pm and also when it rains as I noticed that there are more of them then.

We've been using mosquito repellents and now thinking of using the electric version. Any recommendation?

Daily sudoku

One of the activities I do regularly is completing sudoku puzzle, usually on a daily basis. After trying out various online sudoku puzzles, I'm now settled on completing the puzzles on www.sudoku.org.uk. In fact, I did read more than half of the techniques desribed there.

The interface looks like this:

Sudoku

The puzzles, as expected, have different grades of difficulty: M, G, T, D. I've yet to find out which is the easiest and which is the hardest. Each day has a new puzzle which may be of any grade, though I noticed that grade M is the most common.

I took note of the time of completion as a challenge for me. If I use the "check now" function (so far, if I did use it, I used it only once per game) to check where I've gone wrong, then there's a penalty of 1 minute.

Here's my performance so far for grade M puzzles:

Sudoku Grade M


As you can see, there's a wide range of outcome. The longest time is about 3 times of the shortes time taken. I sometimes think that the latter is a fluke :)

Supreme being

Do I follow a certain religious faith? Well, none of the established ones. Instead of focussing on religion, I focus on the omnipresent and omnipotent "supreme being".

Not sure since when, but surely it has been more than a decade, I have independently formed an opinion about the supreme being. The concept is very simple: I believe there's a supreme being who looks after everyone here, whom I can either pray directly to Him anywhere, anytime (without accessories) or via the various gods/deities existing today (which means I have no qualms going to a place of worship and pray).

Everyday I pray for good health and happiness for my family, friends and me. Hope it's working.

Pen & paper RPG

I've always encouraged Ban to go out and socialise more especially since he much prefers to be at home and can stay at home for weeks without seeing anyone. So I'm so glad that he is now in two pen & paper RPG groups, though one of them may be already dead due to a horrendous episode recently.

I, on the other hand, have also been trying to arrest the decline of my mental agility. So I asked whether I could join in a group. The potential benefits for me are as follows:
  • Socialise with new people and thus exchange ideas etc
  • Learning new game, which requires imagination/creativity, It also widens my interests (hopefully)
  • Yet another game Ban and I can play together
Ban recently bought the game manual for Ironclaw, an anthropomorphic fantasy role-play, and is now forming a group. So far, there are 3 players (including me), with Ban as the game host.

Last night, Ban went through with me the character creation process, of which I learned other things relating to the process. The thing the strikes me most is that the game does away with the concept of hit points, which is truly unheard of.

I'm feeling excited and at the same time anxious about playing this game. Hope it'll be fun!

PS: I should read the book tonight!

Ironclaw

Health + Wealth = Happiness



Health Wealth Happiness

I knew about this cliche/saying since I was young but I didn't think much about it. After having lived more than merely 3 decades, I came to realise that it's true.

I don't think anyone would dispute good health but I suspect most people associate it specifically with good physical health and neglect mental health. The latter is equally important and perhaps is harder to handle than physical health. It's not merely absence of, say, depression that indicates good mental health but also good mental agility and cognitive function where each one requires lots of effort in different areas.

Achieving and maintaining good health takes lots of effort. There is simply no short-cut to it. The best way to go about it is to incorporate it into your regular schedule so that it's part of your routine - pretty much the same way you'll treat eating and drinking as something necessary.

It doesn't feel good when you're sick, does it? It takes effort to get well. It takes even more effort to look after others who are sick, especially babies and parents. I believed that looking after parents is more difficult than children because you usually can get the latter to do what you know is good for their health but it's more difficult to do so with the former.

As for wealth, while there are some who pursue this exclusively, others just neglect it by thinking that they can live on love and such. Yes, money isn't everything but it sure helps in lots of things, I would say. It sure will help in maintaining good health e.g. getting the best doctors (often found in private sector) and have wider option of treatment, be it for physical or mental health. There is no need to anguish over its cost.

Money is also very useful in not only helping yourself but also your loved ones especially when they're in financial hardship. Naturally, like all things, it can be misused/abused. For example, sheltering your children, with money, from the harsh reality of the world does nothing good for their development. Being arrogant simply because you're rich is another example.

So let's all strive for good health, accumulation and wise use of wealth and ultimately achieve great happiness!

Sick baby

My poor nephew. The 5-month old baby is having symptoms of food poisoning. First, it was vomitting. Now it's diarrhea and fever. The good news is that the vomitting has stopped and so he's able to drink some milk and electrolyte, as otherwise would need to bring him to hospital.

I'm sure that any child who's sick would cause his parents some heartache but it's worse when he is just a baby, who cannot use words to communicate to his parents about where his discomfort is coming from. So all we can do is to just carry him and say soothing things to comfort him as much as possible.

Hopefully he'll get well soon.

One end to another

The disinterest I felt when I had dengue fever continued for more than a week until Ban introduced me to this game:

Atlantica Online Quest

Atlantica Online.

Since we finished playing (one run) Magicka and Borderlands, we've been searching for another game whereby we can play multiplayer, on top of whatever single player games we've been playing respectively.

Atlantica Online is an MMORPG and it's free. We're balked at paying subscription fee hehe. The one and only time I subscribed to play an MMORPG was Everquest. I had lots of fun but it just took lots of my leisure time.

I'm grateful that Ban introduced me to Atlantica Online because finally I could shake off the disinterest feeling. In fact, I am also now back to reading my Actuary magazines, the investment book The Intelligent Investor and the book on psychology How To Think Straight About Psychology.

However, after playing it for a couple of days I was beginning to have some dejavu: it felt like the early days of Everquest where I didn't have restful sleep and my mind was occupied with the game almost all the time!

I told Ban about it and I now going to cease playing the game each day after dinner onward so that I have hours to do other things and properly wind down for sleep. I'll still at least read e-mails, FB and do a sudoku puzzle in the morning. We don't even talk about the game at night any more :) Coincidentally, on New Year's Eve, we went for a dinner potluck gathering at a friend's place and that night I slept well.

It's all about balance, ya? :)