2016: a crucial year

Financially, that is. It will be the year my permanent residency in Singapore is up for renewal and I'm almost certain that they will not renew it since I have not been working in Singapore for a few years before the renewal date.

So that will affect the tax rate on my income and property in Singapore...by a lot! Currently, my income is taxed on a tiered basis and so the effective rate is about 1% or even less. Property tax is 10%. After losing my PR, the income tax rate will be a flat 15% (so that's at least 15 times of current!) and the property tax is a flat 20% (double of current).

I estimated that the expected increased tax amount can be sufficiently covered by my dividend income but I cannot be certain. Who knows whether these tax rates will change in 2 years time. Hopefully dividend income will not decrease in future. So the best way is to just go through with it and observe the cashflow for at least a year before doing anything major. In the meantime, I'm trying not to increase my expenses unnecessarily.

William & Plan B: 2nd time

I had been wanting to catch up with William for sometime (think the last was...back in Aug?) but it was a little difficult at first because he had a long trip to Canada with his partner (it was a great trip for them :) ) and then he was posted to temporarily work in Singapore once every two weeks or something like that. Then, due to popular demand (or maybe his generousity with red packet :P), he had wedding dinners to attend (when will I get to attend yours ar?).

Then suddenly a window of opportunity appeared...then very nearly closed hahaha. In short, within the last few hours from the tentative time, we (together with Ban as well) managed to have lunch together at Plan B. We wanted a place that had ample parking space and decent food. I never knew how empty Paradigm Mall's carpark bays are during weekday lunch.

Since it is an expensive place to dine at, I planned to try something different from my maiden visit. I ordered eggs benedict with ham (or was it bacon?) and muffins (RM 16).

Plan B 7

Plan B 8

Its presentation looked better than expected. The muffin was soft and the eggs were creamy. Ham was delicious. It was better than the one I had at Big Bad Wolf which had a small amount of vegetable for RM 3 more.

As anticipated, it wasn't enough for me. William kindly offered some of this fried sweet potatoes. Thanks!

I also ordered chocolate milkshake (RM 12), which I forgot to take a picture of. It was not bad but I vaguely recall that it wasn't thick enough for me.

We parted after a 2-hour lunch. Once home, I inexplicably felt so tired. It was as though I had taken sleeping pill. It was so weird. I had to immediately take a nap and felt normal after I woke up.

Strange. Was it the milkshake? The egg benedict sauce? @@

Children

Did I ever want children? I vaguely remember that I did but I'm quite sure wasn't seriously considering. I know that Ban wanted children but he now agrees that it will be unwise because he simply doesn't have the energy to look after children 24/7 while I occasionally fall sick.

Personally, I have more reasons not wanting children:

(1) I dislike the smell of baby poo and so no changing diapers for me.

(2) They are so untidy with things. Take things out but don't put them back.

(3) They are messy with food until at least 5 years old.

(4) They will be number one priority (if not, then you shouldn't have children in the first place) and so forget about putting your needs above theirs.

(5) Not only they can't/won't help but they tend to make things worse.

(6) Selfish (understandably to increase their chance of survival but still...).

(7) Babies don't sleep through the night until they are around 6-month old.

(8) End-of-the-world tantrums almost on daily basis. Nerve wrecking experience.

(9) They love to throw stuff regardless of their mood and won't pick them up.

But I love being an uncle though hehehe.

Guild Wars 2: Warrior PvP v2

Recently, I searched the internet for a better WvW build and came across a build from someone who based it on his PvP build. I was curious and so tried it in PvP and I love it!

The major traits selected are:

Defense
- II Dogged March
- IX Cleansing Ire
- VIII Last Stand

Tactics
- II Lung Capacity
- VII Shrug It Off
- XII Vigorous Shouts

Discipline
- III Warrior's Sprint

GW2 Warrior traits PvP v2

It is almost the same as my previous build except that I took Last Stand instead of Defy Pain and Warrior's Sprint instead of Inspiring Shout. This build is exactly the same as the person who posted it except that he took Spiked Armor instead of Last Stand. I find the latter much more useful in current PvP meta where fear, stun, daze, knockdown etc are present in almost every single hotjoin PvP I'm in. Also, instead of Warrior's Sprint, he chose Deep Cuts for increased bleeding duration.

But why the necessity of Warrior's Sprint now? That's because there is a key change in weapon set: sword+sword replace rifle and that is further supported by the use of the following PvP rune and PvP amulet:

GW2 Warrior PvP rune v2

GW2 Warrior PvP amulet v2

So do you see where this is going? It's still the same healing shout build but with much more durability due to increase Vitality and Toughness, and potent condition damage from both sword+sword and longbow. It also has 3 more condi removals due to choice of rune. Suddenly, just because of selection of weapon, rune and amulet, my warrior now is bunkier and more lethal at the same time :)

Since I'm not using Rune of the Traveler any more, I need Warrior's Sprint to move faster. Once you experience faster movement, you're addicted to it :P

Oh, also, the healing skill is now the Healing Signet instead of Healing Surge, which provides about 500-900+ healing per second (together with the minor trait that gives regeneration based on adrenaline level).

My initial concern was that I'm bad at melee and so I practised against the NPCs in Heart of the Mist and then in a few matches, paying special attention to the combat log. I had to modify my combat strategy so as to increase the chance of my melee hit :P It helps that I could do use the sword+sword set to leap (sword skill number 2 i.e. Savage Leap) and then immobilise opponent while applying devastating bleeding damage.

I am also practising how to disengage from a fight. Basically, the idea is to activate the Healing Signet, use Savage Leap to leap away and then activate Signet of Rage to gain Swift. Run away/around until a shout (hopefully a few!) is available for healing and the Healing Signet is active again. It helps that Savage Leap has quite a low cooldown (8s) and so I could use it again soon to leap even further away.

I probably will use this build for WvW as well although I believe my mesmer has better chance at surviving. Unfortunately, Settler armour is not something that one can craft from scratch and it's also missing from the list of Glorious armour. Bah! So I'm saving gold now to get all the pieces. I've gotten the runes already.

Evidence based profession?

I'm going to talk about something that may seem strange or even funny to some but it's a serious matter, especially for children with special needs.

Sensory Integration Therapy is an intervention that's used to hopefully improve a child's neurological processing of sensory information via a series of sensory stimulation and hopefully such improvement leads to other gains. Take note the the word "hopefully" appearing twice.

This therapy is essentially the mainstay of occupational therapist in the field of intervention for children with special needs. However, the weakness is this: there is ongoing controversy surrounding its efficacy. The consensus of researchers outside the field of occupational therapy is that it simply doesn't work.

With more and more research debunking its usefulness, how did occupational therapist react? Do they look at the evidence, agree and move on? And maybe even work together with researchers to find a better method? I sure hope the majority of them do that.

Unfortunately, there are a few of them who reacted defensively. This is understandable because their profession's prestige is at risk if people stop consulting them to implement intervention for children with special needs. However, I would argue that it is a greater risk for them to ignore evidence and to move on to better and effective method.

The longer they deny evidence, the greater risk it is to the poor children, their parents and teachers for wasting time - time that could have been better spent on evidence based practice - and raising false hope.

So please, leave your pride aside and work together for the betterment of the children.

Watami: 2nd vist

After our first visit, we went there again after gym mainly because I wanted to get vacuum dust bags from Harvey Norman (just nearby Watami). As an aside, anyone know where I can get such bags for Pensonic model PVC-25A? Or any brand that have replacement bags of similar size.

Once again, I intended to order ramen but was sidetracked into ordering Salmon & Avocado Roll Sushi (RM 21.90) :P

Watami 4

Watami 5

When it first arrived at our table, I was dismayed to see it was glazed but luckily there didn't seem to be any taste from it.

Then I was disappointed again when I discovered there was pickled vegetable in the centre of each piece. Now, admittedly I do not know whether it's the traditional way of making such roll but I have eaten others before whether there wasn't pickle in them. I dislike pickle and so I didn't like this roll. Salmon and avocado were not bad but no amount of it, wasabi or soy sauce could mask the sour taste of the pickle that was exarcerbated by the rice which was more sour than usual. Bleh.

Feeling unsatisfied, I wanted to order their Chocolate Parfait. I was told that they ran out of one of its ingredient i.e. coffee jelly. Knowing that they would most likely not lower its price due to absence of an ingredient, I asked for any substitute but they said there wasn't any and offered to make it as it is but without the jelly. I declined. Yet another disappointment.

Will I go there again? Likely not. Twice I went, twice dissatisfied. Enough.

Watami @Paradigm Mall

After one particular gym session at Fitness First at that mall, I had a hunkering for ramen. Ban and I headed for Sushi Zanmai but there was already a queue there. I was hungry (forgot to eat apple before the workout) and so we went to Watami, which is just a few doors away.

I nearly ordered their recommended ramen (think it was Tonkotsu Char Siu Ramen) when I came across their Chicken Katsu Curry at the last minute. I hadn't had that for a while and so I ordered that instead.

Watami 1

Watami 2

Presentation was quite nice but just look at the portion of ingredient. Four pieces of chicken and smattering few slices of onion in the gravy. That's it. No carrot, no potato. Stingy for a RM 24.90 dish. So disappointing.

Normally Japanese curry's spiciness is mild but not this one. Its curry is spicy without even considering the chilli powder that they had already sprinkled on it. The saving grace of this dish is the quality of its rice (seems to be authentic Japanese rice) and the chicken pieces (unexpectedly thin flour coating and yet the meat was still moist).

Watami 3

"Much care for good taste"? Not too sure about that. Certainly not for quantity.

Guild Wars 2: Warrior

There's so much of my warrior build that I want to talk about but I'll try to summarise as well as possible.

It's inspired by someone's idea of a healing shout build i.e. each time I use a shout skill, I'll heal.

The major traits selected for PVE and WvW are:

Defense
- II Dogged March
- IX Cleansing Ire
- XI Defy Pain

Tactics
- II Lung Capacity
- VII Shrug It Off
- XII Vigorous Shouts

Discipline
- III Warrior's Sprint

This is a snapshot of the major and minor traits:

GW2 Warrior traits

There's a lot of synergy among the traits. For example, normally a warrior gains adrenaline only if he hits but in this build, I also gain it each time I'm hit and when I swap weapon. Each time I gain adrenaline, I gain regeneration. I also regenerate health based on adrenaline level and each time I'm affected by movement-impending conditions. All of these is on top of the key major trait that allows me to heal each time I use a shout skill, of which its recharge time is reduced by a major trait.

Weapon set 1: Greatsword
Weapon set 2: Longbow

Greatsword is great for high damage especially the Hundred Blades skill. I usually start of with Greatsword Swing to inflict 4-5 stacks of vulnerability and then use Hundred Blades. I'll switch to rifle (before battle) if I think it's too hazardous to melee.

Longbow is used chiefly to create a combo to give area might. The combo is created by first using Combustive Shot and then followed by Arcing Arrow. So I usually start off with greatsword but then when adrenaline is near maximum, I swap to longbow (and thus gain max adrenaline) and perform this combo. Longbow is also used if there are, say, more than 3 mobs clustering together since it's long range and most of its skills have multiple targets.

Utility skills:
Healing Surge - great amount of heal based on adrenaline and synergises with increased adrenaline gains.
For Great Justice - give might stacks to myself and allies too.
Fear Me - a good "get out of jail" skill hehehe
Shake It Off - conditions clearance for myself and allies, and also a stun breaker
Signet of Rage - gain more adrenaline!

I often Fear Me and Shake It Off just for heals especially if I know there's no need for their primary functions. It helps that a major trait reduces their recharge time and so I get to use them again sooner.

Armour rune: Superior Rune of Divinity. Too poor to buy anything else. In any case, this rune is great on its own.

For PvP build, since I can have Rune of the Traveler (which grants 25% faster movement), I replace the Discipline's major trait Warrior' Sprint with Inspiring Shout to gain even more adrenaline. Also, I use rifle instead of greatsword because I'm so bad at chasing and hitting people with melee weapon.

This is how my warrior looks like with a mixture of Draconic and Glorious exotic armour:

GW2 Warrior ori outfit

This is how he looks like with an overlay outfit (of which I dye it so it's unique) that I obtained during the recent Halloween festival (my first outfit!):

GW2 Warrior overlay outfit

So cute, right? :)

Guild Wars 2: At the beginning

I can't remember exactly when I started playing this game but for sure it's been less than a year because my old laptop's specification didn't meet its minimum requirements.

I love mages and so after reading the description of various classes, called professions here in the game, I decided to start of as an elementalist. It was only after a few levels my friends told me that that was the hardest profession to play and boy they are right.

Elementalist has maximum 29 buttons to handle (maybe more now since they patched the game to enable some commands for summoned creatures). Compare that to warrior (16) and mesmer (19). Yes, it's not necessary to use all the buttons (some you rarely use and some you never use) but it's tedious to be flipping around. A warrior and mesmer have 2 sets of weapons to use (and you inevitably will use both sets) and each set of weapon comes with 5 skills. Elementalist can only use 1 set of weapons but the 5 weapon skills change depending on which element (Fire, Air, Water, Earth) you select at any one time @@. This is on top of 5 utility skills to consider to use.

I find it too hard to play elementalist (dies to easily and takes too long to kill creatures) and had to abandon him at level 40 (max level is 80), which is a pity because I love the visual effects of the various weapon skills across different elements. As Ban would say, I like "boom boom" lol.

So that was when I started a warrior. I can't remember why I chose him. I probably researched "easiest class to play" or something like that lol. It is easily believable because from my experience, a warrior-like class is usually the easiest to play...at least up to mid-level. In some games, it gets harder for warrior at higher levels.

Nevertheless, the idea of playing an Asura warrior (Asura is the smallest race) is appealing because it reminds me of Yoda using light saber in duels.

(to be continued)

Bari-Uma

This restaurant was among the 7 (or was it 8?) ramen restaurants mentioned in The Malaysianinsider and since it's located in PJ (at the new Jaya Shopping Centre), I decided (and drag Ban :P) to try it on a Sunday for late lunch.

Bari-Uma 1

Bari-Uma 2

Bari-Uma 3

Bari-Uma 4

Surprisingly there was lunch set on a weekend. The lunch set (RM 29) consists of a bowl of ramen (choose from 3), a drink and a choice between 2 sticks of yakitori or an ice-cream. Ban and I chose the lunch set where he chose yakitori while I chose ice-cream.

Bari-Uma 5

Bari-Uma 6

It was only after my ramen was served did I notice that there was a difference between the ramen in the lunch set and the ala carte ramen, despite having the same name (gah!). The ala carte Bari-Uma Ramen had egg and possibly 2 pieces of char siu whereas the lunch set version had no egg and only 1 piece of char siu. If I had known earlier, I would have ordered the ala carte version (RM 28) and water.

The soup looked oily but fortunately it didn't taste that way. It was more of pork broth than shoyu, to Ban's dismay. It tasted quite good to me. The ramen texture was good, not rubbery and not hard. There were only 5 miserly pieces of bamboo shoot. The addition of wolfberry was a surprise: it's a first for me when it comes to ramen.

Bari-Uma 7

The yakitori was shockingly short and small but Ban was pleasantly surprised with the use of breast meat. Yet another unusual item. Another plus for him was that it was not oily.

Bari-Uma 8

Bari-Uma 9

The green tea ice-cream was possibly the highlight of the lunch. It was not too sweet or too creamy, with moderate green tea flavour.

Will I go back there again? Likely not because of its price and also for what it offers. I could have ramen elsewhere of similar or better quality at cheaper price and probably with more ingredients.