Hokkien Char @Butterworth

Hokkien Char RM4

Apparently, this is a unique dish in Butterworth. In fact, I have not seen it sold anywhere else.

I was looking at all the food available at a particular hawker centre when I came across this. I was curious and decided to try it.

It cost RM4, which I understand is a normal price for zhi cha over there. That's really considered cheap compared to KL (usually at least RM6).

It has a mixture of the yellow noodle and mee hoon. The gravy was good enough i.e. didn't wow me but tasty.

What made this dish interesting was the variety of ingredient it had: liver, prawn, fishcake, pork and leafy vegetables.

Definitely worth the money spent. Now, if only I remember which hawker centre it was lol.

Crisis management

There was once my sister realised and summarised the difference between how she and husband handle crisis: she prefers pre-crisis while he prefers post-crisis. Basically, pre-crisis management means trying to minimise the chance of that crisis happening while post-crisis means managing the effects of the crisis after it happens.

I thought that was a neat summary and initially thought that it also approximately describes a difference between Ban and me too.

As an example, when I have appointment with friends at an unknown place, I will look or ask for the exact address, look up on Google maps for the route and then if needed, take a look at my GPS device to determine whether it recognises that address or do I need to fudge the address entry around to get it to work. All these done hours before I depart.

As for Ban, if the address is somewhat familiar, he'll do nothing until he sets off. While driving, if he feels that he needs help, then only will he look at the GPS device and deal with whatever problem there and then. If the address is not familiar, then he'll look up Google Maps beforehand for the route.

Ban's way is not my way because in my opinion it just causes unnecessary stress that can easily be prevented or significantly minimised with some planning (i.e. pre-crisis management). However, note the difference: it stresses me but not him.

In our discussion about this, I realised one thing: he is already doing his best and in fact given his proclivity towards disorganisation, it is already pretty good.

You know what's a funny outcome out of that discussion? I feel more at ease and at peace with his planning decisions henceforth, knowing that he's doing at a level that is essentially quite extraordinary for him. If I want stuff to be done in a certain what that's beyond him, then I should do it and not him. If I don't, then so be it and I'm fine with it.

Love you much, Ban, for doing your best :)

Crusader Kings 2: House of Zee Mau Part 2

(continuing from Part 1)

Based on the same reasons outlined in Part 1, my first ruler was an Irish ruler and this time, I chose Dublin county so that I had access to galleys at the start. I customised the ruler so that he was of the House of Zee Mau :) Alas, I forgot to customise the house's emblem and therefore it is now the same as an Irish noble house *grumble grumble*.

I learned a couple of things:

  • Swedish and Norwegian counties can be good places to start. It is still harder than Irish because I believed there are already the Kingdom of Sweden and Kingdom of Norway at the start but should be easier than, say, France or Spain because of lack of huge threat...until possibly when the Golden Horde appears centuries later.
  • It's not really a good idea to design your ruler as young as possible because he may outlive your sons and that causes quite a number of problems, notably your sons wanting to assassinate your ruler! This may ease the pressure of piling negative traits on your designed ruler just to decrease his age.

CK2 Zee Mau 4

Gosh, I didn't realise how small all the screenshots are. Sorry about that. Basically, this picture shows the current year (1203) and the number of rulers (3 male rulers followed by 3 female rulers).

CK2 Zee Mau 1

I started off with Dublin but slowly fabricated my way to Kildare, Leinster and Ossory in Ireland and 3 Welsh counties in Wales. Through a marriage, I inherited the county of Lincon in England. Predictably, the population of the Irish counties are Irish, that of the Welsh counties are Welsh and Lincoln is English. They are all Catholic. No surprises there.

CK2 Zee Mau 3

This is where I made my mark: towards the end of my first ruler, he had enough piety points to hire the only Holy Order available at that time (Knights of Hospitaler, I think) to participate in the crusade for the Kingdom of Jerusalem. I didn't expect to win because there was a rival ruler who contributed a lot to the war. Moreover, the first ruler died before this crusade concluded. Fortunately, the hire Holy Order remains hired and I pushed hard and managed to beat the rival's contribution by less than 1% margin. I became King of Jerusalem even before getting the crown for Ireland :)

One thing I learned shortly later when Jihads were called by the Muslim rulers to take back Jerusalem was that my ruler enjoyed +75 in opinion among his vassals while defending against infidels. This was useful during the period where short-reign penalty applied during the initial years of a new ruler. In fact, at times I declined to accept peace entreaties from the Muslim ruler until that penalty was gone or gave me time to recover from penalty due to levies raised against other countries. The danger of prolonging the Jihad was that the enemy could simply declared it a success despite not succeeding in their objective but thereby depriving me of reward of prestige and piety, and moral authority of the Catholic (and conversely, penalties for the Muslim rulers).

I made special effort in using my Court Chaplain to convert counties in Jerusalem to Catholics. I had succeeded in doing so for all counties except for one by the year 1203. Also, there were a few counties that had Irish population majority too.

More about Jerusalem later.

CK2 Zee Mau 2

My second ruler took the opportunity to also joined the crusade for Andalusia and succeeded in getting it awarded to him due to having contributed the most. Thanks to the Holy Order :)

To date, there are only 2 counties that are Irish populated. Majority of the counties are still Andalusian, Iberian and Castillian. However, I managed to convert many counties to Catholic.

So my second ruler was a King of Andalusia and King of Jerusalem, duke of 2 Irish duchies and liege of 3 Welsh earls. Great start to the game!

Unfortunately, my third ruler had to give up Jerusalem due to multiple rebellions at the start of his reign. I chose to give up Jerusalem and fought for my Andalusian kingdom because of the latter and the Irish/Welsh counties are quite close to each other but far from Jerusalem. Not only does this affect logistic (moving troops around) but also that rebellion is more likely in counties that are further away from the capital (I've made Seville the capital county).

Yes, it's sad to give up some land but sometimes you have to do that as otherwise you can lose even more.

The 4th ruler is the 1st female ruler. There were double penalties here: -10 for being a female ruler and -10 for having a female ruler. Her reign was very short: 2 months!

Next was a young female ruler with, yet again, female heir. This was even worse because since she wasn't an adult yet, her statistics were pathetic. Surprisingly she survived 8 years before being murdered by her Master Huntsman in a hunting outing (arrow to her throat!).

The third female ruler became the 6th overall ruler. Something then interesting happened: some Jerusalem counts and countesses proclaimed loyalty to this ruler and informed her of their effort to dispose the then female ruler of Jerusalem and to install my ruler as the new ruler. Funny thing was that the only response she could give was "This could not be good" or something like that lol.

Her loyalists were succeeding quite well but I thought I should help along by offering to join their war. That was how I regained Jerusalem.

The 6th ruler has reigned for 32 years and counting. Finally there is some sort of stability after the short reign of the 3 previous rulers.


Crusader Kings 2: House of Zee Mau Part 1

Since my last post on my successful game (albeit on easy difficulty), I did create a ruler using the Ruler Designer DLC on normal difficulty but didn't get far with it as I was into other games at that time.

I picked it up again a few months ago. By then, there were some changes via patches - notably the technological advancement and creation of duchies.

Instead of merely emphasising which technology you wish to pursue the most, you now accumulate points (need to be at least a duke/duchess to generate these plus gains from your spy's study of technology in other counties) and then you periodically direct the points to whichever technology you want to advance.

Previously, you need at least 50% of the counties to create the duchy title. Now you need 51%. This is a good improvement because previously, if you hold 1 out of 2 counties in a duchy, there will be regular usurping of title between you and the ruler of the other county. Now, for a 2-county duchy, you have to control both counties to create the duchy and therefore avoiding the annoying (costly) regular usurping of the duchy title.

For my customised ruler, I decided on being a Irish ruler again. It's by process of elimination:

  • Since I don't have any other DLCs, I'm largely confined to being a Catholic ruler
  • I don't want to be an earl in a large kingdom as this makes it more difficult to be a king and so Holy Roman Empire ("HRE"), England and France are out
  • Spanish ruler is out because the land is next to the Muslim land who will certainly declare Jihad on southern Spain. Northern Spain is potentially subject to dispute with the powerful neighbouring France.
Due to a marriage, my ruler's descendant was the ruler of 2 duchies and about 9 counties in France. That's like a quarter to a third of the Kingdom of France! This is on top of a few Irish counties. Later, he even gained England!

Later, however, he has to give up England because of rebellion and HRE's war for it (sheesh, from then on, I am very careful in not having marriage alliance with powerful kingdom such as HRE). By a twist of event, I retained a duchy and a few counties within England. What an eyesore for the King of England lol.

The last saved game shows that my ruler is King of Ireland and controls all counties in Ireland, 5 counties in England and 16 counties in France. Not bad, huh?

I, however, abandoned that game later due to something that I didn't know and that caused me headache. Whenever my ruler has more demense than he should hold, I usually grant the extra demense to my heir.

There was this particular ruler who ruled very long and so at one point, his eldest son, his heir, was granted a number of demense. I was concerned that he was getting too powerful and therefore may plot successfully to kill my ruler. So extra demense thereafter was given to his son's heir, who is a female. I believed the ruler's son and granddaughter collectively owned about 9 counties and 4 duchies between them.

Then disaster struck: my eldest son died. I expected the son's daughter to be my ruler's heir but instead it was his second eldest son! His granddaughter inherited titles and land from her father and therefore held 2 duchies and 9 counties! Eventually my ruler passed away and his second eldest son took over the reign but henceforth he and his descendants had to deal with a powerful kinsman. That was just too much trouble to handle because periodically they would be powerful enough to rebel, together with other vassals.

Although I'm quite sure I could salvage the situation, I chose to start afresh there would forever be an asterisk attached to that game if I had continued to the end, knowing that I unknowingly made a mistake.

Fancy customer

Fancy customer

How does one be a fancy customer to use this carpark bay? Lots of bling bling?

Johnny Rockets @The Curve

Johnny Rockets is an American restaurant that serves chiefly burgers. Back in October 2013, they opened the first branch in Malaysia at The Curve.

While Ban and I looked at the menu, we were a little disturbed by the sudden increase in the volume of music. I was thinking that we may need to order and eat quickly until we realised the reason (for the loud music) was for this:



Oh yes, they were performing a dance to the customers outside. Catchy song :) I was amused though I don't think Ban was. He would probably prefer it to be a little quieter...right?

We ordered the following:

Johnny Rockets 1

The hot dog meat was good but unfortunately there was too much sauce. Thank goodness the fries were unsalted.

Johnny Rockets 2

Ban had this...whatever this was lol. Sorry, it was a while back and evidently I was busy eating instead of taking notes :) He wasn't impressed with it. It was normal and certainly was not worth the price.

Johnny Rockets 3

Similarly for this chocolate milkshake. It was normal and so way too expensive (RM16.90). Oh but I have to mention one thing that is unique here: you know how when you order shakes or ice-blended drinks, they will throw away excess liquid once they filled your glass? Not here. They gave me a metal container, presumably the same one they used to make the milkshake, that contained the excess. That was a pleasant surprise.

Johnny Rockets 4

Cute, right? The serving waiter did this for us. I would have stopped him if I had known what he was about to do. Ban and I don't take tomato sauce.

Midway through our lunch, they performed again but this time inside the restaurant:



Overall, the ambience was good. I like their decorations, tables and chairs and the colour combination. The service was quite commendable but don't expect fast-food kind of fast service. This is definitely not a fast-food joint. Unfortunately, although the food and drinks are pretty good, it is pricey for what you get.

Petrol cost Feb 14

Petrol cost 7Feb14

It's been nearly a year since I posted about the my car petrol usage. How timely.

The "Before" and "After, similar to previous post, is cost before and after the oxygen sensor was fixed respectively. Subsequently, there was an increase in petrol price by RM0.20 per litre, solely due to cut in government subsidy.

Doesn't seem to be much difference among the three, is there? The average cost for "Before", "After" and "Petrol increase" is RM14.5/km, RM15.2/km and RM15.4/km respectively. It's quite strange that the average cost is higher after the repair compared to before lol but then again I don't know what's the margin of error and so not sure how significant the difference is. The increase cost after increase in petrol price is expect.

Interestingly, the cost of "After" and "Petrol increase" are more stable than "Before". I suspect this is because my driving routine is more predictable now i.e. drive to-and-fro Seremban and for tuition. Previously, when my sister and her family were living in KL, there were adhoc drives to-and-fro her place especially when my parents were also down at her place.

Democracy

This was taken from the article "Much ado about swine" on The Star Online, 27 January 2014.

To recap, you are entitled to take offence. Your neighbours are entitled to eat whatever they want. You have no right to demand not to be offended. 
This episode is symptomatic of a larger problem of a misguided sense of entitlement that the majority is entitled to deny the rights of the minority on the basis of "sensitivities" and to "protect" the minorities.
This is not how democracy works. Democracy is not practice of majority rights taking precedence over minority rights. In a democracy and even more so in a nation with a constitution, minority rights are guaranteed and must be upheld. Not to be trampled on at the pleasure of the majority. 
Let us continue to sow the seeds of tolerance for the future. If we do not arrest this misguided sense of entitlement that a significant portion of us labour under, we will surely see more and more of similar "ban pork" protests hogging the limelight in the future.

- Syahredzan Johan

Simply Chicken @One Utama

After targeting this place for sometime, Ban and I finally managed to try this as part of our try-new-food-once-a-week endeavour.

Simply Chic (a)

Simply Chic (b)

The steamed kampung chicken (RM13.90) was not bad especially since we ordered chicken breast meat. Its sauce was good. The chicken soup tasted like it should (rather the run-of-the-mill kind of salty soup); it possibly could be genuine i.e. without artificial flavouring. The complimentary spicy and sour mixed vegetable soup was sufficiently rich. It was less sour than kiam chai (salted vegetable) soup and it spiciness was a little potent for my liking (which, admittedly, doesn't say much since I can't take too spicy food hehehe).

Simply Chic (c)

The kailan (Chinese broccoli) was fresh, a little crunchy and had the right amount of sauce. It was excellent. The stewed marinated tofu and egg (RM4.80) was light in taste. I preferred a little heavier, especially with respect to the egg.

Simply Chic 9

The pandan chendol had a peculiar sweetness. It was more sweet than bitter. It was good in a different sort of way. I still prefer Nyonya chendol.