Mage Knight fixed!

Seven months ago, I blogged about the rather severe case of defective items of our (Ban's and mine) Mage Knight boardgame. I remember losing hope that we would get proper replacement for them.

Hence, I was pleasantly surprised when I received an e-mail in January from the owner of the Meeples shop telling me that he tried calling me (I was in Australia then) to tell me the replacement parts were in. Yay!

Ban collected them and accounted for all items except for 1 missing token but I agreed with him that it didn't matter then. It is only 1 token. Later, I also found out that 1 replacement basic action card was worse than the original. Again, we can live with that. Most importantly, the back of each cards are of the same shade of colours as that of the remaining original non-defective cards and thereby preserving the randomness of the game. Yay!

Recently, we've been playing the game on a daily basis, mainly because, to our shock, we discovered (yet) another 2 (subtle) rules that we had not been following. This is the main drawback of the game: the rules are complex and, in our opinion, can be simplified.

It is still a great fun game and can really exercise your mind greatly as it involves plenty of planning, calculations, remembering and judgement. Good for your cognitive function :)

Skeptic

A healthy dose of skepticisim is good and at times essential for survival e.g. auditors need it to do a good job. People need it to avoid being cheated, betrayed or ruined .e.g if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Although I myself am skeptical at times, it is not part and parcel of my personality. There are people who embrace this wholeheartedly and seem to enjoy bursting bubbles at every opportunity. You got a raise? Burst it. A stranger helped you? Burst it. Invention of, say, medicine for cancer? Burst it.

After a while, I get tired and weary around such people. It's as though a dark gloomy cloud constantly hangs above them, looking for opportunity to rain on someone else's parade. I usually move away from them to recharge.

I prefer the weather of general sunshine with a chance of dark cloud or storm every now and then.

Dresden Files: Storm Front

This is the first e-book I read, using my sis's Google Nexus.

Harry Dresden is a wizard living in modern-day Chicago. He works as a private investigator, specialising in finding lost items. He doesn't hide the fact that he's a wizard. In fact, the local police department sometimes hires him as a consultant to assist them in 'interesting' cases. I like the premise of the story the instant my bro-in-law told me.

As for this first book, it was engaging and funny at times for the most parts. However, towards the end of the book, it was all doom and gloom for the protagonist ala Harry Porter's Deathly Hallow, which I didn't like. He was initially fully equipped but used up his 'tricks' quite early on. He was already exhausted and yet needed to push on. Left behind his wand and staff. Still went on. So on and so forth. It was a tad too much for me.

Hopefully the second book, if I can get hold of it, is better.

EasyETA.com

When I apply for visa to visit Australia, I usually apply for it at the Australia government website www.eta.immi.gov.au. However, for my recent trip, I came across EasyETA which charged 50% less.

At first, I was skeptical about its authenticity. There were a few people who believed it to be fraudulent but without offering any proof.

In the end, I applied for it based on the following reasons:

(1) There were a few people who confirmed that it worked. I also came across a couple of blog posts, such as this, affirming this.

(2) On the government website www.immi.gov.au, they did mention the availability of visa via other service providers.

(3) After I obtained the visa from EasyETA, I tried 'applying' for one via the government website which then informed me that I already had an existing visa.

The proof is in the pudding: I managed to arrive at and depart from Australia without any problem concerning my visa. In fact, I didn't have problem checking in Air Asia when flying to Australia as airlines are required to check for the existence of valid visa before accepting the passenger.

Fables

Fables 1234


When I was in Canberra, my bro-in-law borrowed from the public library the first 4 volumes of Fables and let me read them (photo of volume 2 above).

Fables is about the characters of famous fairy tales such as Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and legendary figures such as Robin Hood but also include characters from lesser known tales in places such as eastern Europe (e.g. Baba Yaga) and even nursery rhyme (e.g. Little Boy Blue). These characters ran away from their world which was conquered by an enemy known as The Adversary. They now live in our world ("mundane world"), hiding their true nature the best they can.

This comic is definitely for the adult and not children, especially since it has violent and sex scenes but fortunately that's not the emphasis. The mystery and thrill its stories provide together with what we know of them from the fairy tales makes this an engaging comic to read. It's difficult to put it down once you start reading it.

Authentic curry laksa instant noodle...really!


Curry laksa instant noodle

When I visited my sister in Canberra, she showed me this particular instant noodle that she liked to have. The first thing I noticed was the unusual black background. I can't recall having seen such colour used for instant noodle packaging before. Next, I noticed how autentic looking the bowl of curry laksa in the picture but as with many pictures of food, I believed it with a pinch of salt.

What shocked me was its price tag: AUD2.80! That too was the cheapest as there were other stores selling it for AUD3.20. However, knowing my sister's care in her spending, I was curious to find out what was so good about this instant noodle that warranted such high price. Sure, its weight was 178g - double the weight of a typical instant noodle - but still even then, it was expensive.

After she cooked a packet and let me try, I was wowed! The taste reminded me of nyonya laksa and its smell was just as authentic as that from a bowl of curry laksa back in Malaysia or Singapore. It was incredible!

Curry laksa instant noodle 1

Curry laksa instant noodle 2

(As you can tell, I remembered to take photo of it only after I was almost done with it :P. The portion was bigger than this bowl because I shared with my sister.)

Its authenticity seems to be due to "premium prima taste paste", rather than the typical seasoning powder. The paste ingredients were:
  • vegetable oil (palm olein)
  • shallot
  • water
  • curry powder (coriander, chilli, salt, fennel seed, dhal, tumeric, cumin, black pepper, cinnomon, star anise, clove, cardamom)
  • garlic
  • lemon grass
  • galangal
  • salt candlenut
  • dried chilli
  • sugar
  • spices
  • chilli
  • flavour
  • turmeric
  • ginger
  • shrimp paste (shrimp, salt)
  • modified waxy maize starch (acetylated distarch adipate)
Wow! Except for the last ingredient, that sure looks like authentic ingredients for the curry laksa paste. Also, there's no MSG.

Another plus was the "steamed air-dried premium noodle" i.e. not fried.

It was made in Singapore. Hmmm I wonder it's available in Singapore or not.

The Inheritance Cycle

When I first started reading Eragon, I thought that it was the first in a trilogy. Turned out that there are 4 books in the cycle. I now understand that the author intended to write a trilogy but found that there was too much he wanted to put in the third book and so he decided to have a fourth.

While in Canberra, I managed to read both the third and fourth book:

Brisinger

Inheritance

At the end of the cycle, I felt that there are a few obvious loose ends:
(spoiler ahead.)

Queensland flood Jan 2013


Don't feel pity when you see these TV pictures of Australian towns yet again flooded and the locals crying for what they've lost.

Feel embarrassment. Shame.

How stupid is this country that we not only built towns and suburbs in flood-prone areas, but left them defenceless against the inevitable floods?

Some properties in Queensland are now under water for the second or even third time in four years.

Bundaberg, the worst hit town with 2000 homes damaged, still has no real levee despite being built along the Burnett River in an area subject to tropical cyclones.

Are we mad? The inevitable happens, we spend billions on repairs and donate hundreds of millions of dollar to victims, many of whom didn't even bother to take out insurance. But we don't spend the fraction of the money needed to save those towns in the first place.

- "Nation must learn from disasters" in Daily Telegraph (31 January 2013, p.13) by Andrew Bolt

Left jaw final update

Yay! After about 27 days of self-care treatment, the pain is gone! Managed to eat a whole apple normally :) Previously, I had to cut it into smaller pieces. No need to take as much time eating in general and no need to spend 1.5 hours to do the heat compression and jaw exercise, though I still do the latter from time to time.

However, as a precaution, I'm still trying not to bite through in one go huge chunks of food and also not to yawn too wide.