Herbal Pork Noodle @Restoran 126

Restoran 126 's supposed signature noodle is the bittergourd meat noodle, with 4 choices of meat: pork, fish paste, fish fillet and special meat. Alternatively, there's seaweed tofu noodle with the same choice of meat. You'll also get to choose the choice of noodle and soup/dry

Normally I order the bittergourd pork wantan noodel dry as that has relatively more vegetables than the seaweed tofu. However, ever since I tried their herbal pork noodle recently, it has become my current favourite.

126_Herbal pork mee sua

126_Herbal pork mee sua 630

It has some leafy vegetables and probably a little more than what other shops usually serve. One rather huge pork ball (a little salty for me though), 1 piece of pork liver and about 3 clumps of minced pork. My choice of noodle is mee sua, which suits very well with the soup and pork.

I love the combination of the ingredients with the taste of the soup. The soup has quite a deep taste of herbs. Probably nothing complicated but I like it nevertheless.

Its size is just right for me and at RM 6.30, it's reasonably priced and definitely cheaper than the next door's  restaurant City Star (which has raised its prices by another 50 cents!) where a plate of fried hokkien mee costs RM 6.50 and fried lou shu fun costs RM 7.50.

I'm glad that this restaurant now opens on weeknights, on top of its daily lunch time hours (alternate Sunday though) but I hope it's not a sign that they are desperate for business. Let's hope they'll survive and still maintain the quality and price.

Premonition?

The night before Ban and his brother went to pick their grandfather from the airport, I had a dream that their grandfather arrived here in a grumpy mood. When I asked, Ban said that it was because his brother was late in picking their grandfather.

So the next day, I told the brothers my dream. Not much reaction lol. I shouldn't be surprised because they had planned to depart an hour before plane arrived.

However, the first sign of trouble was that Ban couldn't get hold of his brother on the phone 5 mins before their planned departure. He promptly walked over to his brother's unit.

Hours later, after Ban was back, I learned that they were late after all! However, to be fair, it was wholly due to the plane being early by 40mins! Details were sketchy (Ban is infamous for lack of details in many things lol). Grandfather was unhappy that neither of them bothered to call him to reconfirm the flight details.

Hmmm in my opinion, shouldn't the onus be on the person flying? @@

Enlighten @Canberra

On my recent trip to Australia, I made the maiden trip to the festival Enlighten with my sister and her family. It was my first time hearing about it and I thank my sister her husband for arranging a family trip there (need to get the "wriggle" out of the boys' system lol).

I enjoyed it tremendously but alas my feet had gotten sore faster than, oh let's say, 10 years ago. Old age lol. Despite that, they did last beyond the time to go home as it was way past the boys' bedtime.

What I saw and remember on this trip was
  • the colourfully illuminated buildings and how the "picture" changed,
  • the hauntingly beautiful lighted horse puppet performance, and
  • the visit inside the the old parliament house.
Here's what the Enlighten website says:
Culture and creativity illuminate the capital 
See Canberra come to life after dark when cultural institutions across the capital open their doors to host an array of exclusive events and surprising experiences between February 28 and March 8.
Enlighten’s architectural projections will transform the buildings of the Parliamentary Triangle Bringing vibrant colour, movement and celebration to the cultural institutions at the heart of our city.
We definitely didn't see all there was to see. Perhaps next time. Hopefully they'll be back again. Find out more from the website.

Enlighten 1

Enlighten 2

Enlighten 3

Enlighten 4

Water rationing

PJ is hit by water rationing for the second month in a row. Unlike previously, our neighbourhood is covered this time. Similar to previous month, the schedule goes like this: 2 days on, 2 days off, so on and so forth.

However, we have been lucky so far that our tap hasn't run dry. We surmised that the water tank in our condo is large enough to last the 2 days of no water. Nevertheless, we did store a huge tub of water just in case.

Despite that, I followed Ban's lead in conserving water. Personally, I had already practised that everyday but what we do now is to clean house less often (coincidentally, Ironclaw campaign has just ended and so no more weekly guests at our place) than once a week. I even used only half a bucket of the usual amount of water when mopping. We are delaying cleaning the bathroom for as long as we can and meanwhile I've been wiping dirt here and there so as to prolong this delay.

So for those in Selangor, how have you been conserving water?

Sushi Bay @Belconnen Mall

Usually on my trip to Canberra, I would request to have a meal at Iori, a Japanese restaurant at Civic. However, this time, I decided to try something new: Sushi Bay at Belconnen Mall.

The restaurant is possibly one of the first, if not the first, couple of restaurants to have a conveyor belt serving plates of sushi. Definitely a novelty in Canberra. It was good to see that they had quite a crowd when I had lunch there with my sister.

Sushi Bay A4.5

The size of the salmon sushi looked impressive! Definitely larger than that served by most of the restaurants in KL. Thick slices of salmon. It tasted just fine but just not as juicy as some of the good ones I had. Its price was AUD 4.50 per plate.

Sushi Bay

Yes, even the handroll was larger than that served in KL. I supposed it should be expected because the serving size for all other food (noodle, rice etc) in Canberra (and probably in Australia) is larger than that served in Malaysia.

It had thick slices of salmon, and generous amount of avocado and vegetable. Unlike the typical handroll, it had sesame seed in its rice. Unusual but tasty. Its price was also AUD 4.50 per plate.

I hope they'll do well and that more such restaurants open in Canberra so as to provide competition and improve quality.

Corruption

A few years back, due to certain circumstances, Ban had 6 parking summons, each with RM50 fine, issued by the town council. Often than not, people do not pay this fine because there is no dire consequence, unlike those summons issued by the Land Transport Authority whereby failure to pay means you are blacklisted and therefore you will be unable to renew your road tax and drive your car.

Ban decided to do the "right" thing by paying for the summons. He was told over the phone that there was no alternative way of paying (e.g. internet, post office etc) other than to personally go to the town council office.

Once there, he was ushered to a room while I sat in the waiting area. While waiting, someone came in and went straight to the payment counter to pay for his summons. However, he was asked to approach the appeal counter, despite him stating clearly that he wasn't interested in appealing for lower fine. This would make much sense to me later.

Ban came out of the room and then paid for the summons at the payment counter. Later, he told me that the officer in the room was "bargaining" with Ban over what lower fine they could agree with. The outcome was this: the fine was officially lowered from RM50 to RM20 each and RM10 per summon was "contributed" to the officer. So total payment was RM120 to the counter and RM60 to the officer.

So, it now makes sense that the only way to pay for the summon is to go to the town council. It also makes sense that you can't opt to just pay the fine and that you are forced to "appeal" for lower fine. @@

Ridiculous online pharmacy

It has become a routine that each time I go to Australia, I'll buy glucosamine for myself and sometimes for my father too. Supplement there is much cheaper than here in Malaysia especially at the discount pharmacy stores.

This time, however, my sister ordered one via an online pharmacy. She had been using that portal for sometime now and had been quite pleased with it.

The bottle had 180 tablets where each tablet was 1500mg of glucosamine. The recommended dosage was the standard 1500mg for each day, which meant that the bottle was supposed to supply for 180 days (about 6 months).

However, we were shocked to discover that its expiry date, when it arrived, was in June 2014, which was about 3 months away!

So my sister e-mailed the online pharmacy. She first received a call from a rather irritated customer service officer (CSO) who nevertheless told my sister to send back the supplement using a reply paid envelope and they would refund the money to her.  Upon my sister's query, the CSO also advised her to put in remarks such as "requires long-dated expiry" for future purchases.

Surprisingly, later she received an e-mail from a different CSO telling her that the reason the supplement had such short use-by date was because it was bought on a special deal day. Outrageous! There was never an indication that this was the case when we were browsing the catalogue. If we were aware for such conditions, we would never have bought it. My brother-in-law was quite sure that they were breaking some consumer law.

Nevertheless, after much discussion between my sister and her husband, an e-mail reply was sent stating that the supplement was not purchased on a special deal day (easily verified by the purchase date) and that my sister would follow the instruction of the first CSO who called.

Fortunately, they did refund the money without fuss later, after my sister had sent back the defective good. Unfortunately this tarnished my sister's experience with this pharmacy but she is willing to give it another chance. Hopefully they'll be much better next time!

Update: The online pharmacy's name is Pharmacy Direct.

Canberra - Adelaide - KL

My way back to KL from Canberra was also via Adelaide, same as to how I got to Canberra.

The first hiccup was the delay of about an hour of the Qantas flight from Canberra to Adelaide. The reason was a first for me: the pilots were waiting for the flight attendants from the plane arriving from Sydney as they would be the cabin crew for this flight to Adelaide. While waiting for that plane to arrive, some other flight attendants temporarily helped by doing the preliminary procedure in the plane after ushering passengers in.

The flight itself was uneventful. The snack was quite dry. Other than eating, I just slept. Didn't have the energy to read either.

At Adelaide airport, I tried finding the Air Asia X counter to check-in my luggage. It was a little confusing. Normally I would just head to the departure hall as the check-in counters are situated in that hall for all the airports I've been too. It is still true for Adelaide airport with one exception: Air Asia X counters are in the arrival hall @@ I found only one signage in that hall pointing this out. Hmmm.

The process of getting to the departure gate was uneventful. I wasn't even checked for explosive residual this time lol. I honestly think that 3 out of 4 times I get pulled over to for such check.

The Air Asia X plane departed Adelaide and arrived at KL on time. Remarkable. However, I had one complaint: it was too cold for my feet and legs eventhough I was using the Air Asia blanket. My upper body was fine with a jacket on. I suspect that it was only my section that was extra cold because the temperature of the section behind mine felt alright.

Incidentally, on both Air Asia X flights to and from Adelaide, I sat at the "Quiet Zone". The fee for choosing a seat there was no different than any other standard seat and so I decided to try it. There were no kids, the common lights were a little dimmer and it was closer to the entrance/exit. I liked it. I suspect that Air Asia X may increase its fee in future for a seat in this zone.

The Zeigarnik Effect

In psychology, the Zeigarnik Effect describes the tendency people have to remember tasks that are partially done better than tasks they have completed, and the desire people have to complete a task once it has initiated.  Discovered by Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnk, the Zeigarnik Effect, as well as subsequent studies by other researchers, has led psychologists to the conclusion that the best way to overcome procrastination is to start doing something, anything, no matter how small, which will force your brain to want to keep going with whatever it is you are trying to do.  This also explains why Sudoku puzzles are so damn addictive.

- Genevieve Hayes in the Actuaries magazine

I can certain attest the part about overcoming procrastination.

Crusader Kings 2: House of Zee Mau Part 3

Here's the latest and final update after the interlude:

CK2 Hispania 1

CK2 Hispania 2

CK2 Hispania 3

Altogether there were 16 rulers: 13 male and 3 female, a product of Agnatic-Cognatic Promegeniture rule.

The ruler with the highest score was King Mernix V the Great with a score of 15,264 and ruled for 35 years. The ruler with the lowest score was Queen Scathach with a score of 72 and ruled for only 2 months. She was sickly lady, if I recall correctly.

The last ruler, Emperor Pal the Bold, was my one and only emperor. I'm quite proud at being able to create the Hispania Empire, although I didn't get to enjoy much of it. Still, to start of playing a count and ended up as an emperor is pretty good, eh? :)

With a score of 124,683, it exceeds the best House i.e. the House of Capet by far (>100k).

CK2 Hispania 4

The Hispania Empire is the land coloured in dark yellow (there are a few light-yellow coloured land belonging to the Kingdom of Galicia) . It spans the land in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, modern-day Spain, Normandy, Bavaria, Hungary, France, HRE, Italy and Sweden.

Besides being the emperor of Hispania, my last ruler was also the king of the following kingdoms:
  • Andalusia
  • Ireland
  • Wales
  • Portugal
  • Bavaria
  • Hungary
  • Leon
  • Castille
Only Galicia and Navarra kingdoms were missing from the list of dejure part of Hispania Empire. Navarra, however, was no longer considered part of the dejure list in my game, presumably because it had been held by the Kingdom of Aquitaine for at least 100 years.

Since my last ruler's wife was the ruling monarch of Aragon, his heir would inherit the Kingdom of Aragon upon her death. Then, upon my last ruler's death, his heir would have almost the entire Hispania dejure land saved for that single Galicia county (as mentioned earlier, Navarra was already out).

Some interesting observation:
  • France was gradually broken up by Aquitaine and being pushed out of the Frankish land. The rulers of France had been ruling over land in modern-day Russia for centuries since then.
  • Scotland was replaced by Alba
  • For quite sometime already, my ruler ruled over the largest Catholic land. In fact, I believed that Byzantine Empire (orthodox Christian) is the only one that is larger.
  • At one point, the eastern part of my land bordered HRE, Byzantine Empire and the Golden Horde. Scary. Fortunately, the latter two had never attacked me. HRE attacked me at every opportunity. Sheesh.
From Part 2, Queen Sisuile the Just got back the Kingdom of Jerusalem after some vassals there revolted against the then current Jerusalem ruler and installed Sisuile as the ruler. However, it was only later I realised that somehow the succession rule was changed to Gravelkind during my absence. To change that back Promegeniture, I needed to have High Crown Authority and that was 2 steps higher than the Low Crown Authority prevailing at the time. In short, no time to prevent the kingdom from going to my second son upon Sisuile's death.

So unfortunately, I had to lose Kingdom of Jerusalem once again. In future, I would join the crusade (once? twice? can't remember) to help the Pope to regain the kingdom but for the existing claimant. By then (decades later), my ruler had lost claim over the kingdom, unfortunately, but it was still good to join because
  • Severe penalties for other Catholic rulers to declare war on me during the crusade
  • My rulers got bucketload of prestige and piety for contributing the most to the reclamation
These were the same reasons I decided to join the crusade for the Kingdom of Hungary.

Hungary, however, didn't have an existing Catholic ruler claimant and so I was awarded that kingdom after contributing the most to the successful crusade.

So, as a result of the Jerusalem debacle, I was more careful at usurping the titles of King of Ireland and King of Leon. It turned out that they were both on Gravelkind succession law. I usurped once Ireland was on Medium Crown Authority (then promptly change to High Crown Authority and Promegeniture succession law) and Leon was on Promegeniture succession law.

Thank goodness for saved games because I couldn't find out the succession law and crown authority of the kingdoms before usurping.

(Update: searched online and there is one neat way: check the highest ranking vassal's opinion of the liege of the kingdom of interest)

CK2 Hispania 5

This screenshot shows the various Houses. Zee Mau was definitely a great House :)

CK2 Hispania 6

This shows the various culture. My rulers changed from Irish to Norwegian due to a particular incident: my last Irish ruler outlived his son, who was married to a Norwegian foreign female ruler. So the next heir was his grandson, being brought up overseas by his mother's chosen guardian (presumably a Norwegian) and he then became Norwegian.

This caused much trouble because most of my vassals then were Irish and Andalusian and thus had like -15 approval of my Norwegian ruler. Later, I made the effort to appoint Norwegian as ruler of newly conquered land and prioritising the marriage of Norwegian males to propagate the Norwegian culture.

I managed to convert every county to Catholic except for one county that largely Christian heretic in the last few years before the end of the game.