I dub my sisters and I "Planners". People may mistaken us as control freaks but they are misguided. Our actions are a result of us being Planners.

Who are Planners? We plan for the future. Not only for the next 1 or 2 steps but several steps ahead, at the very least. Sometimes we plan for decades ahead. We not only plan to achieve goals that are beneficial for our loved ones and us but also plan for actions to be taken should adverse incidents happen to thwart those goals. I'm not alluding to incidents with small probability ala earthquake in Malaysia but incidents with significant probabilities and mostly those with at least 50% chance of happening.

Mind you, when presented with evidence that our goal is no longer desirable, we do not hesitate to change it or dump it. We are not that stubborn.

A simple example: if I know I'll be out for at least 1.5 hours, I will bring a small backpack containing the following (with their reasons written in brackets): a lightweight jacket (in case it's cold; I get sick easily when it's cold), a bottle of water (I get thirsty easily and water is the best quencher), umbrella (in case it rains, which is quite common in Malaysia/Singapore) and a "pharmacy kit" containing various medication for illness I have from time to time.

More often than not, people laugh at the content of my backpack ("Are there gold bars in your bag?"). I've learned long ago to ignore such ridicule because I know it's just logical to bring those items. It is a result of years of experiement and experience. You know what's ironic? When these people are sick, guess who provide them with medication? Oh, how about when it's raining? Who lend them umbrella? Half of the time, they automatically ask me.

Loved ones
A more complicated example would be one that involved other people. As we have loved ones, we have shared goals with them but not necessarily both parties take the same (number of) steps to achieve the goals. Planners could envisage probable pitfalls and take steps to avoid them but then are dismayed by their loved ones nonchalant attitude. Sometimes we give in but when those pitfalls occur (I assure it they occur about 50% of the time), we generally do not shout in triumph and say, "Told you so!". Instead, we despair and sometimes feel guilty because we have already forseen them and yet couldn't persuade our loved ones to follow our recommended steps. This is even worse for life and death situation where the "death" part can reasonably occur years ahead if small little steps are not taken now and yet our loved ones ignore such "little steps".

Thus the alternating emotion of frustraion and despair/guilt. It's exhausting.

We come to a point where we acknowledge that people around us are simply not ready to be Planners too or to even consider cooperating with Planners. On a side note, usually these steps are explained and even agreed by others to be logical but for various reasons they simply do not take those steps. Mind-boggling.

So we have to compromise by lowering down our standard and expectation although that makes us feel uneasy. Yet, it turns out that that is still not enough! It is simply not low enough. We get frustrated because if we lower it any further, we might as well throw it out of the window and be damned with the adverse consequences - even if it's early death (I'm not exaggerating here; early death is a real possibility with a loved one of mine).

Status update
I don't know about my sisters but for me, I accept the fact that people around me are simply not ready. I'll still be a Planner for things that are well within my control. For other things, I'll do my best, explain the logic and pray that my loved ones understand and do their best. Pray fervently.

Perspective from loss

His death taught me that if I had an residual feelings of discomfort that he was gay, they didn't matter two hoots compared with losing him. I'd like people to think about that. Death sure puts things into context for you.

- Anne Gregory, writing about her gay son who died about 8 years after he came out to her.

GM-ing & playing

After having hosted a few sessions of DnD and played many sessions of games hosted by other GMs, I conclude that it is very useful for every player to try hosting a game, even for a short while. This would enable them to see from a GM's point of view and hopefully helps the games go smoother too.

A GM prepares the following
(1) The main and minor storylines that then provide 'quests'
(2) The various encounters, both combat and off-combat
(3) Setting scenes e.g. the environment, village, NPCs, sound, smell
(4) Enemies of the PCs
(5) Appropriate maps
(6) Alternate/backup plans (this probably causes the most grief)

A GM also has to manage players to ensure the game goes as smoothly as possible. The most ostentatious behaviour is the disruptive one e.g. player arguing over rules, questioning his team mates actions all the time, making his character doing very disruptive actions in-game.

The player may meant well (likely trying to get his party to have highest chance of success) but may not realise how disruptive his behaviour his. Perhaps he would be enlightened after hosting a game himself.

Not only that, players who have hosted games may appreciate better the effort the GM puts in into prepraring the game and could also provide feedback and suggestions to the GM on how to improve his game.

In any case, the best thing to do is to have both parties provide feedback to each other and constructively. Obviously that requires both parties to be open to feedback. I personally would ask the following feedback after every session of my game:
  • What should I continue doing?
  • What should I stop doing? 
  • What should I start doing?

LGBT in Russia needs help

Recently, I received an e-mail from

Russian leader Vladimir Putin is on a rampage against human rights.

Friday morning we learned that Putin's courts formally banned Pride marches for 100 years in Moscow. Then the news broke that anti-gay activists are using the government's gay gag laws to sue Madonna for $10,000,000 in "moral damages" because she spoke up for gay Russians in a concert this week. If that wasn't enough, punk band Pussy Riot was sentenced just this morning to two years in prison for speaking out against the government. The judge cited "homosexual propaganda" as one reason to bring the hammer down on the three young women - two of them moms.
Enough is enough. In days Putin is going to be face to face with all the leaders of the world at a high profile, media packed United Nations Meeting in New York.  If we move fast, we can ignite a global media firestorm that embarrasses Putin's government and gets his allies and corporate backers to push him to change course - freeing Pussy Riot and ending the crackdown against LGBT Russians. 

Will you take just one minute to stand up with our friends in Russia? Every voice counts and it will take a tidal wave of support to force leaders around the world to act:

It's like Putin's government is trying to make enemies. When the first bill to shut up lesbian, gay, bi and trans activists was passed in St. Petersburg, many thought it would never be enforced. To date, there's been over 75 arrests under the gay gag rule - and now the members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot are among its most famous accused.

Putin's Russia is a silenced dome - the one remaining pressure point is to publicly shame him and the actions of his government in front of the leaders of every country around the world.  With Pride officially banned, gays formally silenced in St. Petersburg and Pussy Riot shipped off to prison, Putin is counting on his critic's voices to fade away.  He is counting on us to shut up.  Our first petition against St. Petersburg's gay gag rule reached over 272,000 people - but we think we can double that.

This goes way beyond Russia. Once the first gay gag rule passed in St. Petersburg, more were passed in regions around Russia with another proposed at the national level. Then it spread. In partnership with Ukrainian activists, we've already shelved a similar law in Ukraine, for now. And there are even more proposed in Hungary, Moldova and Lithuania.

President Putin doesn't want to be on the "world's most hated" list while he's attending cocktail parties at the UN - let's make sure he can't avoid the riot. With your voice, we can build the largest petition ever delivered to a world leader at the UN - will you sign now?

Thanks for going All Out.
Andre, Hayley, Pablo, Sara, Tile and the rest of the team at All Out.
Russian band given 2-year term for stunt deriding Putin
Madonna sued for gay rights stance by Russian campaigners

Gay parades banned in Moscow for 100 years


All Out is bringing people together in every corner of the planet and of every identity - lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender and all that’s between and beyond - to build a world in which everyone can live freely and be embraced for who they are.
Our mailing address is:
Purpose Foundation
224 Centre St
New York, NY 10013
Copyright © 2012, All rights reserved.

I've read the sources and they appear to be genuine. Please support them by signing the petition.

Unsolved sudoku #3

Unsolved sudoku 3

This is the 3rd sudoku puzzle I couldn't solve and, understandably, they are all from the Diabolical category. I gave up after 1hr 15 mins, especially it was already lunch time.

I'm not satisfied with how I solved most of the Diabolical puzzles because it usually involved guessing, rather than strategy. Humph!

Calvin & Hobbes ... and Sheldon

Calvin: I'm sick of hearing about personal responsibility! I've already done my part to make the world a better place to live.

Hobbes: Really?

Calvin: Sure! I was born!

Hobbes: Oh yes, I forgot to thank you. *rolls his eyes upward*

Calvin: Join the club!

Hahaha. Calvin here just reminds me of Sheldon Cooper in Big Bang Theory.


A principle that scientists term parsimony is relevant here. The principle of parsimony dictates that when two theories have the same explanatory power, the simpler theory (the one involving fewer concepts and conceptual relationships) is preferred. The reason is that the theory with fewer conceptual relationships will likely be the more falsifiable of the two in future tests.

- 'How To Think Straight About Psychology' by Keith E. Stanovich

Interesting. I've always thought that the reason to choose the simpler theory is because it's simpler to explain. Also, in the specific case of regression, the explanatory contribution made by the extra factors could be spurious and that fewer factors mean fewer data to deal with.

GM-ing: 2nd & 3rd

Following my first GM-ing session, I had 2 more sessions to date.

The 2nd session was the first time Ban's brother joined the game. Also, I didn't play my cleric then, as planned after the last GM, to see the difference.

It went quite well, imho. Ban's brother tried to do a few 'clever' things but the situation didn't give him much opening to do so (and I suspect he might have toned it down too) and so it didn't get really far. The important thing was that I didn't try to stop him from wanting to do so. I particularly liked the druid part (I made up his dialogue sort of on the spot) and the the beginning of the skeleton part. The combat part, however, was a little easy because I rolled badly for the monsters for their first 2 rounds or so.

Fortunately, the players had no negative feedback and Ban's brother enjoyed the session, especially the druid part. I'm glad I managed to inject some zany moments :) Also, I also learned a few new stuff.

The 3rd session went quite well too, with some crazy "huh?" moments. This time, I introduced my revamped cleric midgame as I think with this adjustment as well as loosening the strategy I had for my cleric helped me to be able to play my cleric effectively during combat

I was particularly pleased that the players solved an encounter the non-combat way and that I prepared for that option beforehand. We ran over time a little bit and so only had time for one combat. Again, I rolled badly for the monsters for about 2 or 3 rounds. What was going on with that??

Sometime at the beginning of the combat, I had to rein in a little bit on Ban's brother discussing about rules on various combat actions (he read up a lot on rules since the last session!) so that the combat could go on smoother. I suggested to him that perhaps we could discuss about those later after the game, which I'm always sincerely willing to do so as I'm keen on learning. I believed it did go smoother later.

Feedback was generally good and no negative ones. Only one small complain was that the combat was a little easy. I couldn't help that simply because that was due mainly to bad rolls. In fact, the encounter was designed to be a little harder than the 'standard' encounter for the party. Only improvement was maybe the layout of the dungeon could be a little more accomodating to the monsters (imagine players pleading to help the monsters hehehe).

Once again, I learned a few new stuff, which is great.

I'll be concluding my part as GM in 2 more sessions (i.e. the 5th session) before handing over the position to a friend so that I have a chance to fully be a player.

Sudoku update July 2012

The last update was about 3 months back. I honestly thought it was longer than that hehe.

Here's the updated result on completion of puzzles M (Moderate):

Sudoku Grade M III

Since the last update, my performance has been a little erratic. At first, I was a little alarmed at the creeping increase in time but subsequently I managed to lower it back down. That was short-lived though: later it spiked up dramatically. So similar to stock market haha.

I vaguely remember that the latter spike coincided with a new computer game. I think it was Tetris Battle on Facebook.

Anyway, the bright spot in this update is the new personal record of just over 9 mins :) I still wonder how on earth I did it. The stars must have had aligned perfectly then.
I now have enough data with respect to completion of puzzles T (Tough):

Sudoku Grade T

As expected, time taken to complete is generally longer than for puzzles M. Quite similar to puzzles M data, there was a downtrend in time that spiked up towards the end. Shortest time recorded was on the 12th puzzle: an amazing 15.5 mins! Amazing for me lah :)

Throughout this exercise, I have learned, on my own, a few more techniques - great exercise for the brain! I will continue doing these sudoku puzzles. Diabolical puzzles are still tough to crack consistently.

Ban's birthday 2012

Today is Ban's birthday. I sang him a simple birthday song in the morning, which included usage of a couple of nicknames :) Later, my sis and her hubby treated him to lunch at Hokkaido Sushi (menu's exactly the same as Sushi Zanmai!).

As I'm lousy at thinking of what gift to give him, I was tempted to give him a red packet. Actually, I did think of getting a computer game for him (likely would have shared with a few friends), which I did last year, but I changed my mind when I recalled that last year he played the game(s) until crazy! Played late into the night. Not a very good present imho.

So this year, I offered to buy him a pair of shorts since the pair that he usually wore outside was half gone already. I wanted to shop with him but instead, he shopped for one while I was at yoga class. Oh well.

Happy birthday honey! Wish you good health and much happiness! *muaccccckkkkk!*

DnD 4e: Human Warlock Part 3

(continue from Part 2)

These were what I chose as I leveled up my warlock to level 4:

Level 2
I chose the feat Improved Initiative (+4 initiative bonus). I was puzzled as to why this feat was highly recommended by the guide. Ban reasoned that perhaps it's good for a striker to move and cause damage as early as possible.

Although there are a myriad of feats to choose from but very few of them stood out at that time. Hence, I'll just keep this feat until I find better ones.

Level 3
Initially I chose the Encounter power Fiery Bolt for its damage (primary damage of 3d6 + Con modifier fire damage and splash damage of 1d6 + Con modifier fire damage). That's the primary role of a striker: dishing out high damage.

Later I changed my mind, after I conducted a mock battle. To utilise the splash damage, I would need at least 2 enemies (preferably more of course) adjacent to each other but when would they do that? Likely only when they try to surround one of my allies but then I wouldn't want to use that power because of the damage to my ally.

I finally chose Fortune Binding, which subsequently proved to be a boon for me. Besides dishing out damage, it also lets me end an effect on me that a save can end, and the target gains that effect until end of my next turn. Very nifty.

Level 4
I chose to increase my Constitution and Dexterity ability score. The former is self-evident while the latter would enable me to choose the Dual Implement Spellcaster once its score is 13.

I also chose the feat Improved Defenses which gives +1 bonus defense to Fortitude, Reflex and Will. I would have chosen this earlier at level 2 if I had come across it earlier.

Final statistics
So at level 4, my human warlock has the following stats:

AC 17 (with leather armor), Fortitude 19, Reflex 18, Will 15
Str 10, Con 21, Dex 12, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 10
Max HP 48
Surge value 12, Surges/Day 11