Second baked bread

Following the success of the first attempt, I tried baking a loaf of wholemeal/white bread (ratio of 1:2). This time, I used a loaf pan given by Ban's mum.

The first mistake I made was that the amount of yeast was a tad short of the required measurement. That could have contributed to the lack of rising of the dough. Then again, it could also due to the lukewarm water I used this time (compared to the hot water previously) or the inclusion of wholemeal. *shrug*

I tried a method mentioned in a couple of websites to get the dough to rise more: put the oven to the lowest temperature setting, placed a pan of water at the lowest level of the oven and then placed the pan of dough on the upper level. It didn't rise noticeably.

So I just went ahead to bake it as per normal. Thank goodness it tasted delicious although it didn't rise as much as expected. I ate quite a bit on the spot till I'm stuffed hehe.

The folly of assuming

I'm sure all of us have been in this situation before: someone asked you a question and not only did you know the answer but also some further information relating to the response. You then made a split-second assumption about why the person asked such question (maybe because of your past experience when you had the same question as well). Hence, you tried to be helpful by giving a different response, rather than answering the question in an exact manner.

Sometimes this works marvelously for that person because he is experiencing exactly the same dilemma/conundrum/problem as you did. However, this may not always be the case (and it can be quite common) and hence in such case your response at best does nothing for him and at worst actually do more harm than good.

I know I'm guilty of this sometimes. What I try to do is to firstly give the exact answer to the question and then only offer whatever information I believed may be useful to the person, with whatever relevant assumptions I use whenever possible.

I urge all my friends and family to do likewise, especially when dealing with me hehe. Thank you!

First baked bread

Ban's mum passed to us her old bread maker that no longer can bake but can still be used to make and knead dough. She was kind enough to show us where she usually buys bakery stuff. So, armed with the appropriate ingredient and recipe, I recently attempted to bake a hugh bun.

Why a bun? Well, we don't have a loaf pan and since Ban's mum wasn't sure whether the bread maker still works well or not at making dough, we decided not to buy a pan yet. Instead, I borrowed my mum's baking tray.

The other impediment was Ban's oven. It's the conventional gas oven that has gas mark without the temperature indicator. Without the manual (which he doesn't have), it was hard to tell which gas mark was the correct one to use. Fortunately, I managed to find on website a legend that tells me the mark needed for a particular temperature range. Phew!

The first potential mistake I made was using water that was just boiled. According to a website, it's better to use warm water so that the yeast can be activated earlier and thus result in a rather spongy dough. It was later on that I realised that it should be warm, not hot water! I was worried that the hot water may have killed the little fellas.

Fortunately, it didn't! Phew! The dough rose and rose after kneaded. The bread maker did the kneading. The baking process in the oven went well. Freshly baked bread is delicious! Yum!

First bread

Ironclaw: Skills & Gifts

After the most recent session, I started thinking about how a party of players should structure their characters. Here are my current thoughts:

The essential Skills and Gifts can roughly be grouped into 4 categories:
(1) Combat - melee combat, range combat, dodge etc
(2) Knowledge - academics, supernatural, heraldry, observation etc
(3) Searching - searching, tracking, observation etc
(4) Talking - gossip, negotiation, streetwise etc

My suggestion for a player is to pick one of these as a Major (to specialise) and another as a Minor (to support). To have some sort of balance, at least 4 players should have a different Major i.e. there is should be at least 1 person specialising in one of the above categories. Furthermore, if a player pick (2), (3) or (4) as a Major, then he should pick (1) as a Minor.

At least one player in the party should get the White Magic Trappings and White Magic Apprentice Gifts as part of (1), be it a Major (e.g. full fledge cleric) or a Minor (anyone with these Gifts). Even though without White Magic, a player can still 'heal' using first aid or by picking the Doctor Gift, such action is impractical during combat. The White Magic Gifts I suggested will enable the player to use the Rally action during combat to 'heal' or at least improve the condition of the sick player quickly during combat.

Exercise regime

This is what I have started and hope to continue on a regular basis:

(1) Each morning (except on the day of morning tuition and also on the day of yoga class), go for 20 mins of walk, followed by 10 mins of core and arm strengthening exercise.

(2) Once a week yoga exercise at home for about 50mins or so, with about 5 - 10 mins of pilates within it.

(3) Go for an hour of yoga class every Sunday.

With this, I hope to not only achieve good health (both physically and mentally) but also to lower my bad cholesterol.


It's been more than a month since I joined the weekly Ironclaw session. Overall, I enjoyed it very much. Here are my thoughts:

(1) There is a variety of social skills, which opens up a whole new possibility of gaming style. Thank goodness Ban chose to have a balance between combat and social encounters, which means that the players get to explore Ironclaw in a holistic manner.

(2) The lack of hit points and, to a lesser extent, mana points is totally new to me since all the PC games I've played so far (except for Baldur's Gate) have these features. The former is dealt with by having 'status' (e.g. hurt, afraid, injured etc) and 'soak' dice. The latter is dealt with by having 'gifts' (aka combat spells/skills) that can be refreshed (and thus be used again) during battle, after at least 8 hours of rest, after the end of the 'chapter' or based on other special conditions.

(3) Also, there's no concept of 'level' here. Hence, there is nothing e.g. equipments, spells etc that are dependent on level. Anyone can use any equipment although some are better at it than others. Some spells have prerequisites e.g. must have certain kind of gifts before getting them.

(3) Dice values are not stackable. Each die is a potential 'success'. Hence, increase in the dice size as well as number of dice both help.

(4) Uses lots of creativity and imagination, especially when investigating.

(5) The characters are animal-based! Hence, that can potentially create some intriguing/quirky species-career combinations.

The fact that I'm learning a new game is good for my cognitive function. What also helps is the need for creativity/imagination, managing my character's development (e.g. should I take Fast Talk to help my negotiation skill or take Sunburts to help my combat) and of course social interaction, especially with new people. As with any social setting, there's inevitably conflict but luckily it's been manageable. Overall, we get along quite well so far *cross fingers*.

The last 2 sessions have been quite disappointing to me. I thought about it at length and has decided on certain steps to take (e.g. playing true to my character's personality and motto) to hopefully minimise acrimonious exchanges.

Here's to more fun!

PS: My first purchase of multi-sided dice.

Multi-sided dice

Investing in stock market

Investing in the stock market need not be a high risk activity. It is only a high risk activity because individuals allow it to be so. Individuals sometimes put their lives at risk with dreamy ideas of what the stock market is and what they could achieve. Dreams could then become nightmares. Take it from me. I have been there before.

- Blogger AK71 in his blog "A Singaporean Stockmarkete Investor (ASSI)"

Internal consistency

Sometimes it's difficult to explain to others this concept in the context of statistics and insurance. So, it's a good opportunity for me to blog about this using price of food as an example.

One day, Ban and I were at 6 - 10 Grill & Nasi Lemak restaurant at Aman Suria. I saw the price of the nasi lemak and I pointed to him that the prices were a little strange:

Nasi lemak with
(a) 1 dish - RM8.50
(b) 2 dishes - RM11.50
(c) 3 dishes - RM15.00

To better explain what I meant, I used an example: let's say I wanted to order nasi lemak with 1 dish whereas he wanted the one with 3 dishes. If we were to order (a) and (c), then the total cost is RM23.50. However, if we were to order two servings of (b) and I pass 1 dish to him (so that he has 3 dishes altogether and I have 1 dish), then the total cost is RM23.00.

How did this happen? Note that the cost of increasing by 1 dish is RM3 from (a) to (b) but it's RM3.50 from (b) to (c) and thus causing internal inconsistency.


I went to try one of their drinks recently, just to see what's the fuss about (but make no mistake: I won't do the same with respect to mobile phones ala Rick). Since I usually regard Pearl Milk Tea as a standard drink to consider when comparing with other shops, I orderd that. It just so happen it is also one of Chatime's recommended drinks.

The quantity (both tea and pearls) appeared to be more than that usually sold elsewhere. So, if you plan to have it after a meal and you're a small eater (like my family), it's best that you do not have a heavy meal. Alternatively, have it in between meals.

The milk tea was quite delicious. There was a balance among tea, milk and sugar. May not be suitable for people who prefer stronger taste of tea. The pearl was just right: not too chewy and of the right size.

The only negative thing I could say is the price. Even after taking into account its size, I estimate that it's more expensive than the usual pearl milk tea by about RM1.50 to RM2.50. Significant.

I like the name of the shop. Where by design or accident, it can be viewed as a play on words "chat time" or "cha time" (where 'cha' is Mandarin/Cantonese for tea).

N.B: Ban had Lemon Wintermelon and Aiyu jelly. In a similar fashion, the taste is not overpowering

Chatime drinks

Gay gag rule

Please, please, please take just over 2 mins to watch this and help them.

This issue was report in The New York Times in US and The Guardian in UK.