Storm

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about. 

- Haruki Murakami

One stressor to stress them all

Dr N jokingly said that my mum would curse her after taking the prescribed medicine because it would make her lethargic (instead of the current energising mood). However, except for the first night, it made little difference in that aspect:

1st night: likely slept for 10 hours
2nd night: didn't sleep at all but lied to different member of the household in varying degree. Took at most a 1.5-hr nap
3rd night: at most 4.5 hours. Didn't take nap
4th night: 2 hours
5th night: at most 2.5 hours
6th night: about 4 hours
7th night: about 6 hours

Despite this lack of sleep (her "usual" sleeping hours was 8-10 hours), she was still in the hyper energetic mode, interfered in as many things as possible to "help". She felt stressful when people didn't listen to her but, clearly, she didn't realise that her "help" was stressing everyone else. It was like she was out to complicate things in a bad way. Haiz.

An initial improvement was that she was not talking as loudly as before and less commanding. She still wanted things done her way but when we took the risk by standing our ground, she just shook her head in irritation, mumbled something about not listening to her and then left it as it was. However, it was a risk we rarely took. Oh, and also she at least let me finished my sentences when I asked her to listen (to stop her interrupting me with her "I know, I know, I know").

Later, she wanted to clear some specific household chores with us. It was still the same "my way is correct; just listen to me" but one positive outcome was that she agreed to give back (thank goodness!) the responsibility of cooking dinner to my dad (at my dad's request) and not to "help" my sister with the kids in morning (she was undermining her parenting significantly). Ever since that, suddenly, there's some more improvement: she didn't interfere in the kitchen any more (hence the maid could just go on with her job in the kitchen), she acknowledged a certain mistake on her part, and she was receptive to alternative explanation to a certain incident (rather than what she conceived earlier).

The day after the 7th night, she seems...happier? This despite my dad falsely accused her of making their dog yelped loudly (dad!!). She even asked dad to go with her to have breakfast. She seemed fine after I came back from lunch too.

Not sure whether it was the medication or the fact that she let go of 2 tasks that she used to interfered with, I can say there was a marked improvement compared to a week ago. We'll go with her for her next appointment with Dr N (which is very soon) and let's hope she'll continue to get better.

Hyo Sun @The Curve

After a morning gym session (I managed to go for the morning yoga class haha), I scouted around for possible places to eat at reasonable price while waiting for Ban. Our default plan was to lunch around our area.

So after looking through its menu, we agreed to try Hyo Sun.

Hyo Sun 1

Hyo Sun 2

Hyo Sun 3

The set looked like good value for money. So I decided to try the Honey Chicken set.

Hyo Sun 4

Hyo Sun 5

The wait was longer than expected and so I suspected that the chicken was deep fried from scratch, which turned out to be true.

Although its flour was crispy, the amount of honey was insufficient unfortunately.

Evidently, the salad was paltry. They did give kimchi but I was never a fan and this one was no different.

Soup was ok. The jelly was really nice: softer than normal and not sickly sweet.

Would I go there again? Maybe but only for its value meal.

Crisis with eggshells

(1) Drastic change in behaviour
(2) Claims she's the chosen one of Buddha and yet it's ok to make everyone else miserable
(3) To help someone is to whack him/her and then weep for him/her
(4) Making accusations that are clearly not true
(5) Wants everyone to listen to her but she doesn't want to listen to others
(6) Wants everything done her way, including parenting method
(7) Bang head on floor or use hands to close her ears when others want to talk to her
(8) Talk to herself (but only for a short period of time)
(9) Get snappy ("You don't know one lah" "You never listen") when we suggest possibilities of, say, why there's blood in her phlegm. The all knowing, all seeing.
(10) Demands that she's informed on every single decisions made by everyone
(11) Refuses to engage in discussion, insisting that she's right.

That's my mum. I had to return to Butterworth two weeks earlier than planned to help my sister and dad to try to, ultimately, persuade her to see a psychiatrist. According to a friend who is a psychiatrist in a private hospital, we had to drag her if she didn't agree. Fortunately, two days after I arrived (the first talk on the day I arrived didn't work), she finally agreed after my dad suggested that they pay a visit to the public hospital psychiatrist to "complain" about her stopping Xanax prescription for my mum.

Another piece of good news is that we managed to get an appointment with my friend (was sort of prevented earlier due to "politics" at hospital) just 2 days later. I was trying hard to get appointments from a few hospitals. So in the meantime, we tried to tolerate her behaviour as much as possible lest she changed her mind.

During my few days stay here (so far), I felt uncomfortable because
  • I had to try not to "disagree" with her
  • I tried not to joke around with her because I'll never know whether she'll be angry or not
  • Tried not to stop her from doing things that are unproductive
  • On the lookout for any signs that she was doing something dangerous
It was like walking on eggshells. Imagine how my sis and her husband felt: they have kids and my mum every now and then interfered with their parenting, albeit behind their backs.

My poor, poor dad. He's a cancer patient and yet had to put up with this :(

Update:
In short, Dr N diagnosed my mum as bipolar. This is commonly misdiagnosed because patient usually seek help when they are "low" but not when they are "high". Unless the doctor spends time asking questions thoroughly, he may misdiagnose the patient as under depression. So my mum is on a modified set of medication (to slowly wean her off previous medicine and also taking into account her conditions that are coloured by past experience). Fortunately, mum likes Dr N and so she will see her again in a week's time.

Little things matter

...including your vote!

Little matters

Cycle 5

By the end of this cycle, my dad's ALT has dropped to 20+, which is his usual reading. So that's good.

Another good news is that the gap between morphine intake has widen to 7 hours now. Fantastic!

Everything else is under control, except that every now and then he has low appetite but kudos to him (after much persuasion from his family and the hospice nurse) for having small amount of food but more frequently when that happens.

The daycare oncology section in their own building (the "green" building) has finished undergoing renovation. Although we've been to that building before, it was in the clinic side. It was then our first time going to the daycare section. Luckily it wasn't too cold. However there is a change in procedure: they asked all carers to leave the section once chemo started. Don't know why the change.

When we asked the oncologist for the tumour marker result, he didn't find any lab report in my dad's file. I also observed that the nurses didn't attempt to try to find it. Quite strange. The doctor surmised that it wasn't ready. Okkkkk.

The next chemo session, Cycle 6 Day 1, was supposed to be scheduled in 2 weeks time but all staff would be attending a course. So they proposed a 4-day postponement to Tuesday. However, my dad asked for Friday i.e. postponed for 1 week, which would be 3 weeks away. This is because Friday session is reserved for patients that require only 1 type of chemo drug and so we get to leave about 1.5 - 2 hours earlier compared to other days.

Hours later, when chemo was done and we were ready to leave, we asked the nurses for the tumour marker result, saying that perhaps it was now available. They tried searching through 2 folders but to no avail. Then one of them left and went to the clinic side. Meanwhile, I suggested to my dad that if it wasn't ready, we could ask whether it would be fine for us to call the following week for the result. Fortunately that was a moot point because the nurse managed to get the results: 47, down from 49.

Although it's a small drop, it's still good news because it's going in the desired direction.

Well, next cycle is the last one for my dad. I hope it'll be good news all the way.

Looking for love @Uptown

Finding Love @Uptown_1

Finding Love @Uptown_2

I had to double-take as we (Ban, his brother and I) were walking back to the car after dinner. I laughed and laughed.

Do you think it was put up by the owner or his friend? Whoever it was, he was smart to mention "dogs". I believed most people love dogs and this is surely a plus :)

Insurance

Insurance is part of the infrastructure of our society – you don’t really notice
until it doesn’t work.

- "Mental Health and Insurance", a Green Paper by Actuaries Institute

Atlas Reactor: Brynn

Ok, so I decided to stop being lazy and blog about my current Brynn build. It's essentially a shield build for survivability.

Refer to this website for more details on Brynn's abilities and mods.

(1) Impale: Hold the Line (2 mod tokens)

Improves survivability. Aegis would already half the damage. With this mod, you can eliminate most damage from a single freelancer (other than ultimate ability, of course).

(2) Aegis: Shieldbearer (3 mod tokens)

The best Brynn's ability in my opinion. What could make it better? Make it last another turn. On the turn you use it, movement and position yourself such that you're under cover on as many sides as possible, including that provided by the persisting Aegis.

(3) Soaring Shield: Wind Up (2 mod tokens)

I selected mods for other abilities and only then considered this ability. The default ability is still good: it gives greater flexibility and sometimes it can catch enemies off-guard.

(4) Flight of the Valkyrie: Battle Hardened (1 mod token)

Improves survivability. Shield lasts until end of next turn. I did consider Warden but I rather not get hit and give enemies energy.

(5) Spear of Hyperion: Indomitable (2 mod tokens)

Improves survivability. I guess Shattered Will can give similar effect but sometimes your target dies and thus it's inconsequential. Shield on the other hand absorbs damage from any enemies.

Here are some gameplays:




Crusader Kings 2: Tanistry (Part 4)

(continue from Part 3)

CK2 6Nov17_8

As usual, Catholic has the largest realm. What's interesting though is that Hindu has the second largest realm, Tengri (probably thanks to Mongol Empire) occupies the 4th position and Buddhist in 6th place. Sunni was completely wiped off. Shocking, eh?

CK2 6Nov17_9

The King of England held the largest realm among my direct vassals (just slightly less than 10% of my realm), followed closely by King of Syria (he was on a roll with his holy wars lol) and King of Poland. However, due to a marriage in the past, the King of England was also the King of Navarra although the latter's kingdom was smaller.

CK2 6Nov17_10

Yes, I had the largest army :)

CK2 6Nov17_11

The only difference among the top 5 compared to the previous list sorted by army size is that Egypt is pushed down to 4th position. I wonder how they had such a large army compared to its realm size.

In my current campaign, the Mongol Empire's realm size at one point was only 85 but with an army size of 100k+. Crazy.

CK2 6Nov17_12

These were the titles I held directly. I held all the counties within the 2 duchies. I'm happy that I managed to hold on to them till the end (needed some stewardship, including spouse's; centralisation and higher titles). I believed I held more than this at certain points but gave them away either because they exceeded my demesne limit or for political reasons.

So although I didn't beat my highest score to date, I was the most powerful here.

Crusader Kings 2: Tanistry (Part 3)

(continue from Part 2)

CK2 6Nov17_3

Due to de jure drift, Kingdom of Britanny, Navarra and Lapp had become part of Empire of Alba. Also note that I had sufficient counties to create the Wendish Empire but I didn't for fear of split in empire titles once different heirs are nominated for the empires (Tanistry).

CK2 6Nov17_4

Yellow = Empire of Alba (my realm)
White = Christian defensive pact vs Alba
Green = Muslim defensive pact vs Alba
Red = Pagan defensive pact vs Alba

Yes, late game I couldn't declare war because of these pacts. I often had 80% - 100% threat level @@. Fortunately, my vassals were actively declaring war and so I would join their wars (more like take over because their armies disappeared the moment they accepted my offer) if they were faltering.

CK2 6Nov17_2

Sunni was either gone or very tiny (evidently). Mongolia Empire this time adopted Tengri and so largely propped up Paganism.

Crusader Kings 2: Tanistry (Part 2)

(continue from Part 1)

CK2 6Nov17_1

Disjointed realm, right? Some were my own doing but my vassals were responsible for the bulk of it.

Here's how some of them became part of my realm (not in chronological order):

(PS: sometimes I created duchy/kingdom titles and granted them to vassal, along with all lower ranked vassals within that duchy/kingdom, to manage my vassal limit)

(1) Kingdom of England

Each county was conquered based on fabricated claims and de jure claims (I created and granted duchies to my vassals). I did try to usurp, with the intention of vassalising as much lords as possible and then destroy the title (I didn't want a powerful vassal) but most of the remaining counties were then held by the former English king and, understandably, he refused to be my vassal. Hence the slower way of conquest.

Later, after I had made sure that substantial part of England was held by vassals with primary titles outside of England, I created and granted the Kingdom of England to a dynastic member who held an Irish county.

(2) Kingdom of Lithuania

Won by crusade. Granted to a dynastic member who held an English duchy.

(3) Kingdom of Syria

Won by crusade. Granted to a dynastic member.

(4) Kingdom of Lotharingia

Created after my vassals managed to get sufficient number of counties from HRE. I helped in some of those wars. In fact, oftentimes I purposely chose to press my vassals claim on counties that de jure part of the kingdom.

(5) Kingdom of Bohemia

HRE was slowing taking back county by county from them after they had gained independence from the empire. My vassal, King of Poland, declared war, and won, to claim the title King of Bohemia. Later, there were civil wars that split these two, rejoined and finally split again.

(6) Kingdom of Poland

At one point, the king was my kinsman. I pressed another kinsman claim to the kingdom and thereby incorporating Poland into my empire.

(7) King of Britanny

A vassal managed to claim the main duchy, which constituted the entire kingdom! I can't remember I helped or not, neither could I remember whether I tried to vassalise the rest of the counts (if any) after creating this title.

I usually create and bestow it to a vassal only if it doesn't pose danger to my rule (i.e. small kingdom, like what happened to Kingdom of England in (1) above) or that the vassal already could create such title eventually. In the latter's case, it's better for me to create and grant to that vassal so as to gain boost in opinion with him.

I believed it didn't start with a kinsman as its king but through their own arranged marriages, somehow it ended with one.

(8) Kingdom of Wales

Created.

(9) Kingdom of Denmark

Pressed my kinman's claim.

(10) Kingdom of Lapland

Usurped, I think.

(11) Kingdom of Aragon

This is quite interesting. Due to marriage and inheritance, at one point the King of Aragon was a kinsman. I was happy to leave them be (I love expanding my dynasty) until I saw that the game warned me of titles leaving my realm. It turned out that he married my vassal, Queen of Wales, and sired a son who would inherit both kingdoms.

The danger was this: if the king died before the queen, then their son would be the new King of Aragon. Since he wasn't my vassal, Aragon would still be an independent state and that was ok. However, when his mother die, he would also inherit Wales and since he wasn't my vassal, Wales would fall out of my realm and united with Aragon. Once method to circumvent this, which I belatedly realised in my current campaign, was to simply make their son my vassal by granting land to him, if I don't mind shrinking my personal demesne.

Instead, I pressed, and succeeded, their son's claim to Aragon (yes, overthrew his father) and thereby bringing Aragon into my realm.

(12) Kingdom of Sweden

Created/usurped after getting sufficient number of counties.

(13) Kingdom of Ireland

Created and granted to a vassal once substantial part of Ireland was held by vassals with primary titles outside of Ireland. I could just leave it be but this way granted me more recurring prestige points.

(14) Kingdom of Castille

Created and granted to a vassal to get more recurring prestige points. Kingdom was small and so posed no threat to me.

(15) Kingdom of Pomerania

Created and granted to a vassal to get more recurring prestige points. Kingdom was small and so posed no threat to me.

(16) Kingdom of Rus

I don't know why this happened: there were 2 factions vying for the throne in the kingdom. The eventual winner was spouse to a kinswoman of my dynasty (matrilineal). Somehow Rus became part of my realm! I don't know why. Even if they both were my vassals, Rus should be an independent state since the claimant wasn't my vassal.

Interestingly, he was then losing to the remaining faction (and another faction demanding lower crown authority) but somehow won in the end @@.

(17) Kingdom of Finland

Created/usurped after getting sufficient number of counties.

(18) Kingdom of Leon

Successfully pressed vassal's claim.

(19) Duchy of Iceland

Fabricated claims on relevant counties by a vassal and probably by me as well. Created/usurped once available.

(20) Duchy of Galloway

It was always there but due to state intrigue (attempt to imprison due to "evidence" -> rebel -> won), I managed to revoke and grant it to a kinsman.

(21) Duchy of Lothian

It was always there but iirc, I did the whole "state intrigue" thingy so that a kinsman got it.

(22) Duchy of Burgundy

Successful pressed Duke of Iceland's claim. At one point, he held 4 duchies but later split due to Gravelkind but reunited when one side didn't have male heir and finally split again.

(23) Duchy of Mann

It was always there.

(24) Duchy of Albany

It was always there. Belonged to the former Scottish king.

(25) Duchy of Champagne

Created/usurped after getting sufficient number of counties.

Crusader Kings 2: Tanistry (Part 1)

I've blogged about significant reloads in this campaign. I believed (it's been sometime since I finished this campaign) that there were no more major reloads after those.

At the outset, I aimed for Tanistry succession law and to finish with it. I'm proud that I managed to do it. Yes, there are downsides to this law e.g. can't really control what foreign land your heir can inherit (unlike Primogeniture) but, oh boy, the stability it brings to the realm is amazing. Elective Monarchy can arguably be more stable but Tanistry guarantees that the realm stays within your dynasty.

CK2 6Nov17_5

CK2 6Nov17_6

CK2 6Nov17_7

The score of 139,066 didn't beat my personal record of 178,253. Realm is smaller than the latter's (1,165 vs 1,214) and, due to Tanistry, I didn't hold as many titles (for fear of splitting the realm due to different nominees).

22 rulers. Peter the Cruel ruled the longest (56 years) while Emperor Lachlan the Great has the highest score (12,386).

As with previous campaign, I started off as Duke of Moray who automatically had a strong claim on Kingdom of Scotland. Unfortunately, this time, I couldn't muster enough armies to best my liege and so I didn't. I aimed to conquer counties that was within my de jure duchy and aimed for the Irish counties that constituted the Duchy of Ulster. The idea was to have 2 duchies (each duchy above 2 would incurred -10 penalty with vassals) with a total of 8 counties.

Unexpectedly, the other Scottish lords formed a faction to install me as the King of Scotland. I went about my personal conquest objective, thinking that I could join them when they make their demand. I was wrong. Hence, I reloaded and joined their faction. If I recall correctly, that pushed the faction's armies to be well above the king's and so the faction leader very soon made his demand.

We won but there were 2 other factions also wanting to put their guys on throne. So after I became King of Scotland, I had to defeat these other two factions but by then my armies had dwindled significantly and I wasn't helped by others. I just had my own armies and the levies raised from my vassals, excluding the rebels' armies.

So, I aimed to merely obtain white peace from them. One faction was easily dealt with but the other took a while. Phew.

At the end of this campaign, I was Emperor of Alba, Duke of Moray, Duke of Ulster and held all counties (8 in total) in the 2 duchies. At some point, I had to destroy Kingdom of Scotland title because different heirs were nominated for the empire and the kingdom. As stated earlier, I could have held many more titles but didn't.

At the end of the game, I had the following as my direct vassals:

  • King of England (dynastic member)
  • King of Lithuania (dynastic member)
  • King of Syria (dynastic member)
  • King of Lotharingia (dynastic member)
  • King of Bohemia (dynastic member)
  • King of Poland (dynastic member)
  • King of Brittany (dynastic member)
  • Queen of Wales
  • King of Denmark (dynastic member)
  • King of Lapland (dynastic member)
  • King of Aragon (dynastic member)
  • King of Sweden (dynastic member)
  • Queen of Ireland (dynastic member)
  • King of Castille
  • King of Pomerania
  • King of Rus (dynastic member)
  • King of Finland
  • King of Leon
  • Duke of Iceland (dynastic member)
  • Duchess of Galloway (dynastic member)
  • Duke of Lothian (dynastic member)
  • Duke of Burgundy (dynastic member)
  • Duchess of Mann
  • Duke of Albany
  • Duke of Champagne
  • 14 vassal baronies (i.e. Barons, Mayors and Bishops)
I can remember how some of them came about. I'll blog about them in later blogposts.

End of Cycle 4

With bated breath, we look at the blood test result. Since we didn't know exactly which liver function test to look out for, I tried finding one that has its upper limit in the 40s. I found only one: ALT, with upper limit of 41. The reading was exactly 41!

Although it was significantly below 60+, it was still way above his usual 20+. However, we thought that he would be allowed to do chemo because it wasn't flagged out as "high" by the pathology lab and that there would be a 14-day gap before the start of Cycle 5 Day 1 chemo after this second session of Cycle 4.

Luckily we were right! Phew. Kidney function reading stabilised just within the normal range. Dad gained a little weight. Not a problem. In fact, there was good news (as acknowledged by the oncologist): dad added duration of his walks and also lengthened the time between morphine intakes from 4 hours to 5 and then to the current 6 hours. Yet, there was no pain in his leg. If he crosses over 6 hours, then there is slight pain. So the current limit is 6 hours. This "experiment" was done due to the oncologist advice: it's how we find out whether dad still needs the morphine or not.

Let's hope the next tumour marker reading drops further!

Butterworth Cafe

Years ago, my parents and my sister's family dined at this restaurant a few times. They loved it. Later, they also dined at Butterworth Western Food which later they found out that it's operated by someone who is former partner of the cafe's operator. My parents thought that the latter wasn't as good as the former.

So when Ban wanted a change in routine by having dinner outside, I suggested Butterworth Cafe. My dad joined us too.

I chose a set meal that included mushroom soup, root beer, grilled fish and lychee pudding.

Butterworth Cafe 1

Butterworth Cafe 2

First thing I noticed was the pitiful amount of salad. Doubling that would had been much better. At almost the same time, I noticed the brown sauce. Normally grilled fish comes with white sauce but this one came with BBQ sauce! So unusual and it was not nice for me.

The fish was grilled with a layer of flour. Seems like it was pan-fried rather than grilled.

Overall, it wasn't to my liking.

Butterworth Cafe 3

The root beer came in this cute glass :)

The mushroom soup had more mushroom and less cream. Those who are used to the creamy version (e.g. my dad) will probably not like this. I, however, like this.

Butterworth Cafe 4

The lychee pudding is arguably the best item of the set (well, the root beer was nice too but it was as expected). It was smooth, soft and not too sweet. Ironically, we suspect that it wasn't made by the cafe as it was served together with a plastic spoon.

As an extra, I ordered the tiramisu cake. Unfortunately, it was cream cheese based. It was like cheese cake with sprinkle of mocha. It wasn't as soft as expected.

Overall, it was a poor dining experience. My dad also didn't like it and concluded that the Butterworth Western Food is probably the better choice now.

Cycle 4 chemo and...what?

Despite having done so just after Cycle 2, the next oncologist (when we turn up for Cycle 4 Day 1 session) ordered another CA19.9 tumour marker test after merely one cycle i.e. Cycle 3.

Kidney function test stabilised. At least it didn't decline further.

Few sessions ago, my dad's weight was 1.1kg lighter than previous session and so the oncologist was concerned. I had witnessed a patient turned away and asked to take a week's rest because the weight loss was significant. Fortunately, in my dad's case, the weight was still above his pre-leg pain weight. Pain -> less exercise -> higher weight at start of chemotherapy. Moreover, this time, he managed to increase the amount of exercise too. These assured the oncologist, at that time, that it wasn't an issue.

Weight on Cycle 4 Day 1 was higher than previous session and yet this other oncologist raised concern that it was still lower than the pre-chemo weight. We gave the same reasons (and also that my dad managed to again increase the amount of exercise) and it wasn't an issue.

Blood test before Cycle 4 Day 8 showed that kidney function was normal. Yay! However, we didn't see a new red flag that the oncologist picked up when we turned up for the chemo session: a particular liver function test (probably either AST or GGT) was significantly elevated. His reading was always in the 20+ but this time it was 60+ (the upper limit was 40+).

Upon query by the oncologist, we confirmed that my dad hadn't taken any traditional medication. The other source of this elevation, according to the doctor, could be the chemo itself. Unfortunately, this meant that my dad had to rest for another week and redo the blood test. Meanwhile, the oncologist prescribed some supplements to strengthen his liver. Hopefully the results will be good enough for the postponed chemo session.

There is, however, a happy news: CA19.9 level dropped further from 66 to 49. Yay!

Atlas Reactor: Season 3 ranked games

Ever since the last heart-thumping ranked game, I usually avoid playing ranked game. Unfortunately, the last chapter of Season 3 required, as one of the missions, players to earn certain amount of ranked points. I was tempted to forgo it but in the end I did it because I had finished all missions so far. The trick was that I needed to win to shorten the number of matches needed because much more points were awarded for wins.

Fortunately, I lost only 2 matches. Here are a couple of matches that I won:


This was such a refreshing game, even if compared to normal PVP matches. We made mistakes and yet there was no finger-pointing and/or thrash-talking. We continued to communicate and focused on the game, despite falling behind. Good job team!


This is the first time I used Brynn in a ranked game. If I'm not mistaken, team needed a tank and I picked Brynn because it was her turn in my personal rotation. Thanks team for my first win playing Brynn :)

Brynn was a freelancer that I didn't play much initially but after a certain buff to a key ability, she was so much more viable. I quite like playing her. I'll endeavour to post a build in future...if I get over my laziness haha.

Crusader Kings 2: indirect denial

If I plan to attack, I make a habit to check on the enemy liege, chiefly to see whether he's already in an existing war or not. Naturally I would prefer to not fight the entire armies of the enemy.

During such check, I discovered that HRE had declared war on Byzantine. This was huge because they were in the top 3 largest empires, in terms of size and armies (my empire, Alba, was there hehe). This itself presented a good opportunity for me to attack HRE for a claim on a county (for a vassal).

However, this became urgent when, on closer look, the war was to press a claim on the entire empire for a Byzantine princess who was married to the HRE heir. If they succeed, they would be marriage tie between the 2 empires (it would be the second time it happened during this campaign) and upon death of both rulers, the two empires could be united under a single ruler (only hope was that there would be at least 2 male children since Byzantine was on Gavelkind but then again this law could be changed to Primogeniture to be the same as HRE, after 10 years of rule).

Unfortunately, my then ruler was "incapable" and thus the empire was under regency. As such, war couldn't be declared. Even if I could, there were 3 defensive pacts (Christian, Muslim, Pagan) against Alba, of which HRE was in the Christian defensive pact, and they would help each other since my threat level was very high (at least 80%, probably over 90%). On a side note, I discovered recently that before starting a game, defensive pact feature could be switched off. I will consider doing that for the next campaign.

One way out was for my ruler to miraculously recover and so ends the regency and for HRE to temporarily leave the defensive pact, for whatever reasons, as it sometimes does happen for any AI for a very short while. The other was for my ruler to die (he was already 72 years old; mortality is close to 100% for age 60 and above) and the defensive pacts would dissolve, leaving a short window period for the next ruler to declare war before those pacts are formed again.

Death came and I quickly declared war on HRE (and also France) to press a claim on a county for a vassal. However, I noticed that HRE gained more warscore vs Byzantine. I realised that my war was not be enough to divert most of HRE armies to me (and thus away from Byzantine) because, hey, sacrificing a county was probably worth getting an empire for your grandchild, right? In any case, he did send a stack of army to defend but was quite easily crushed by me.

So how could I stop HRE winning over Byzantine? By sending 3 stacks of armies over to where the bulk of their armies were in Byzantine. Now, the fight there was a little dicey but not difficult though since he probably spent quite a bit beating Byzantine's armies (who themselves were fighting a revolt). After beating off their main armies, I took away from HRE those Byzantine holdings they had occupied and thereby reduced significantly HRE warscore over Byzantine.

Eventually, that war was called off (not sure in white peace or not). Phew!

I then embroiled myself in another 3 wars, helping my vassals who were faltering in their wars. In the end, I won all 5 of them. Yay! :)

Crusader Kings 2: significant reloads

I started a new campaign recently (maybe 2 weeks ago?) and about to finish it. As with all campaigns (except for a period of madness when I did an ironman campaign), I do reload games when something I tried didn't work out. However, I reload when I know I could have prevented the results if not because of my carelessness or my lack of knowledge.

Here are two instances:

CK2 19Oct17 prelude 1

HRE pressed a claim on France for the Kaiser's heir and won @@. They did it when an underage King of France ascended the throne.

By the time I noticed the war, the warscore was already significantly in favour of HRE. I was busy with something else (can't remember what) and was hoping to finish that before helping France, either by offering to help him defend or declaring war on HRE for a claim on a county (I can't remember which one haha). However, I was too late.

So I reloaded and kept an eye on them and was ready to pounce it if it happens again, but it didn't. Since then, I've been keeping an eye on movement in armies on neighbouring kingdoms.

CK2 19Oct17 prelude 2

At one point, a kinsman had a claim on HRE @@. I checked from the ledger and discovered that the size of my army was quite close to HRE and, if I recall correctly, they were at war with someone else. So I took the chance to successfully press the claim for this kinsman.

Unfortunately, few months alter, that very same kinsman declared war on me for his claim on Kingdom of Wales. Now, although tedious and troublesome, I was fairly confident I could mount a successful defense but I discovered something else that troubled me: that kinsman had no children. Hence, the heir (and pretenders) to HRE was from another dynasty, thereby defeating the purpose of my war in the first place if he had died without siring children.

So I reloaded. From then one, whenever I consider pressing a kinsman's claim that doesn't result in me being his liege, I would check whether he has children already and, as I discovered later, the existing succession law of the conquered land (seniority succession caused me to reload; primogeniture would had worked because the claimant had children of my dynasty).

Plugged in, not charging: Part 3

Since the last repair by Dell engineer, I've waited for Dell sales team to e-mail me quotation of the battery. And waited. And waited @@ There was simply no response from the sales team, in spite of numerous queries sent to their customer service officers via e-mail, phone and Facebook. I pointed out to them that this is making a mockery of the motto automatically inserted at the end of their e-mail: "At Dell we strive to exceed expectations and provide the highest levels of service to customers."

This nonsense went on for about 2 months before I finally receive a quotation from the sales team. No apologies whatsoever though, unlike their customer service officers. Humph.

It's been about a week now using the new battery. I have tried a few times unplugging and plugging back the adapter. Seems like the issue "plugged in, not charging" is gone. Phew, finally!

Cholesterol 2017: Part 3

It's been 4 months since the general health screening. There was about a month delay in retesting due to various reasons, especially during two 11-day periods of illness after coming back from Butterworth.

As advised by doctor, I retested cholesterol level and the other red flags. MCV (slightly high), MCH (slightly high) and WBC (low) remained more or less unchanged while total bilirubin reduced significantly, although still elevated. Doctor wasn't concerned about these and was fine that I retest these during my planned yearly general health screening.

As for the cholesterol test,

                                Jun 2017          Ref. range          Oct 2017          Ref. range     
Total cholesterol           6.4                 < 5.2                      6.2                 < 5.2
HDL ("good")               1.50               > 1.04                   1.57                > 1.04
LDL ("bad")                  4.2                < 2.6                      3.9                 < 2.6
Triglycerides                 1.6                 < 1.7                     1.5                  < 1.7
Total/HDL ratio            4.3                 < 5.0                      3.9                 < 5.0

Not much difference :(

So it's another 3-months of Fenofibrate and then a re-test.

Cholesterol steps

This was at Penang GH:

Cholesterol steps

I think this is quite clever.

Cycle 3 chemo

Things pretty much settled after the second session (i.e. Cycle 1 Day 8). With medicine, my dad could pass motion and managed the pain in his leg. In fact, he could increase the amount of exercise via stationary cycling and slow walks without an increase in painkiller dosage. His abdominal gas is pretty much gone...except when he ate spicy food on the sly. His appetite was normal. There were usually no side effects from chemo except for the occasional tiredness

The blood test done just before Cycle 3 Day 1 treatment, however, showed an unexpected decline in kidney function. The oncologist wasn't too worried but incidentally ordered tumour marker CA 19.9 test. I was a little surprised because I expected it to be done after Cycle 3.

Blood test done just before commencing Cycle Day 8 treatment showed the kidney function improved (borderline). Oncologist was a little concerned that my dad lost weight (63kg to 61.9kg) but was assuaged once I mentioned that his normal weight was 60kg before his leg pain prevented him from exercise as much as usual. My dad also mentioned that he recently increased the amount of exercise, which the oncologist was happy to hear.

She delivered the good news that the level of CA 19.9 was 66, significantly down from 133. Although still elevated (the limit was 34), it is going in the right direction and it's an early indication that the chemo treatment may be working.

Hopefully there'll be more good news later!

Pot of Japanese rose

Some distance away from the mass of Japanese rose plants at sister's house, there sit a pot of them with a variety of colours:

Japanese rose plant 3

Noticed that there are two colours here that are not present in the larger location: yellow and orange-red. So pretty. I do wish, however, there is also the simpler version of this flower i.e. the one with a single layer of petals.

Also, noticed the difference in quality of photo? This one was taken with my new Samsung Galaxy J1 Ace (J111F). It does look significantly better.

Loved Ones

Loved Ones

Atlas Reactor: Orion dual builds

I have tried several builds since I last posted on a build I used then. Currently, I settled on 2 builds:
(for detailed description of abilities and mods, please refer to this webapge)

(A) "Hold ulti" build

(1) Empyreal Ruin - Amplified Eruption
(2) Fate Transfer - Energy Leech
(3) Quantum Core - Benevolent
(4) Astral Fusion - Intervention
(5) Cosmic Flare - Energy Accummulation

I still believe that in most circumstances, the (3) + (4) combination gives the most healing overall. Sure, Enhanced Reconstruction technically gives most healing (5 more at max shards) but you usually don't always have max shards when you need to heal. This combination gives the best clutch healing, imo.

Normally Orion gets energy equal to half of damage he takes but with Energy Leech, he gets effectively 62.5% of damage taken via Fate Transfer and this hasten his accumulation of shards.

Energy Accumulation gives the most self-heal and excellent for a "hold ulti" build.

The leftover mod tokens are enough to sink into Amplified Eruption, which is a nice bonus to help with team's damage.

(B) "Frequent ulti" build

(1) Empyreal Ruin - Devour Energy
(2) Fate Transfer - Energy Leech
(3) Quantum Core - Benevolent
(4) Astral Fusion - Innate Potency
(5) Cosmic Flare - Refresh the Source

It's important to get ultimate as soon as possible so that you can use it frequently. Hence the choice of the mods Energy Leech and, to a lessser extent, Devour Energy.

Innate Potency is a good choice since this build is less dependent on shard.

Doesn't matter much which mod to use for Quantum Core. I usually choose Benevolent for the shields.

Refresh the Source lets you use Fate Transfer again to regain energy fast and/or Astral Fusion to heal your allies sooner.

Network error

Recently, every now and then, I was disconnected from Atlas Reactor server mid-game and couldn't reconnect due to "network error". Resetting modem and router, as well as restarting laptop, couldn't solve the issue. Finally, I found a temporary workaround (obtained from here):

Running Command prompt as administrator,

  • Type "netsh winsock reset" and press "Enter".
  • Type "netsh int ip reset" and press "Enter".
  • Type "ipconfig /release" and press "Enter".
  • Type "ipconfig /renew" and press "Enter".
  • Type "ipconfig /flushdns" and press "Enter".

It fixed it for many hours but the problem came back again. I don't know what else to do but just to hope it'll go away on its own.

Atlas Reactor: Orion of the past

Oh, I thought that I had blogged about subsequent Orion builds that I used but apparently not because there is still only one post on Orion build. I have since used 3 different builds and have yet to decide which I prefer.

I did come across these gems, though, which must be during the time I used the old build:

Orion 593 Asana 882 Nix 407

Noticed that my Orion took 737 damage. In fact, at one point, when the damage taken was almost 600, my Orion was still alive.

Orion alive took 600+ dmg

Enemy team clearly out-damaged us but clearly we out-healed them and won the game. Phew!

8th anniversary

Down with sorethroat, cough and phlegm. Not serious but haven't gone away since Friday :(

But that's not going to stop us from celebrating our 8th anniversary tonight :) We'll have nice dinner at a Japanese restaurant.

I love you very much, Ban. Muacccckkkkkk!

Debut of smartphone: Part 2

From this list, I narrowed it down to Samsung Galaxy J1 Ace or J2. Although Vivo Y25 is slightly smaller than J1 Ace, it's not availabel on Lazada or Lelong. Also, My sister and Ban had no problem with Samsung after-sales service at their service centres.

Along the way, I did get sidetrack by even smaller phones such as Samsung mini series but the specs were too low for my liking.

Initially, I was gunning for J2 because it was the lightest and had the largest screen-to-body ratio. What made me hesitate was the price difference: more than 70%. To make matter worse, it is no longer in production and so it was so difficult to find anyone selling it. Its Prime version was significantly bulkier and and about 22% heavier!

Later I realised, and confirmed, that Ban's phone is the older version of J1 Ace. He has no problem playing games on it and its battery is ok for his usage. His only problem is memory space but that too it's only a small problem because he rarely takes photos or videos.

I discovered that there are several models of J1 Ace. Based on 4G, RAM and memory specs, I aimed for either model J110M or J111F. Problem is that not many sellers quoted the model number and so I needed to do some cross-checking. In the end, I ordered "Samsung Galaxy J1 Ace VE 8GB (Black)" with near certainty that its model number is J111F ... and thank goodness I was correct! Not only that, the Android version was the upgraded version of what I had expected. Yay!

Next up: sim card & plan.

Barred outgoing calls: Part 3

So, yes, I called them once again when they didn't call me like they said they would. I once again explained the problem to the officer: it existed since May; gotten new sim card; gotten 4G smartphone.

She suggested that I try the alternate way of making calls while roaming i.e. *161*, instead of using +. I pointed out that that didn't work back in May but then quickly added that maybe because my phone wasn't at least 3G enabled. So she encouraged me to try this.

Lo behold! It worked! Called one Malaysia mobile phone, one Singapore landline and one Singapore mobile phone. Although it's more troublesome than using + way, I'm contented to just leave it as it is. Finally, I get to use my rarely-used credit once more. Yay!

Debut of smartphone: Part 1

I believed I was the only one in my family and among my friends still using a normal phone. There was simply no reasons for me to switch because I don't use internet on my phone. Ban would have continued using his normal phone if it wasn't spoiled. His current phone was a gift from a bank obtained by his mum.

Over the last year or so, there were some problems with my normal phone. The manual locking didn't work. Hence, I needed to swipe to unlock and select "lock" from the menu to lock it. Then sometimes the swiping didn't work either. I had to get Ban to call me and then it would work again.

Then there was that issue with my Singapore sim card, which means I definitely need at least a 3G phone.

In the meantime, I discovered how useful Google Maps and Waze are on smartphones.

Hence, with all these considerations, I decided to hunt for a suitable smartphone: one that allows me to call and text and occasionally use the navigation software.

After some research, I later added these criteria:

  • dual sim cards, so that I don't need 2 phones any more
  • small
  • light
  • 4G LTE (don't want my phone to be obsolete soon)
  • cheap
  • accessible service centres
Inevitably, I looked at entry level smartphones. Gleaning from the internet and friends, I've come up with this list:

  • Samsung J range
    • Samsung Galaxy J1 Ace (130.1 x 67.6 x 9.5)
    • Samsung Galaxy J1 2016 (132.6 x 69.3 x 8.9)
    • Samsung Galaxy J2 (136.5 x 69 x 8.4)
    • Samsung Galaxy J3 (142.3 x 71 x 7.9)
  • Huawei Y5 2017 (143.8 x 72 x 8.4)
  • Vivo Y25 (130.70 x 66.40 x 9.20)
  • Oppo Neo 5 (as ex as Samsung)

Barred outgoing calls: Part 2

Oh yes, the saga continues. My friend and his partner helped me to get replacement sim card from a Starhub centre in Singapore. According to a Starhub officer there, my line was active and I just needed to change my phone (as suspected). They kindly waived the replacement fee because my friend came all the way from Malaysia. Yay!

In the meantime, I researched and got myself a 4G smartphone (more on this in another post) and it can accommodate 2 sim cards (yay!). I called using the new Starhub sim card and ... it was the same issue! "Your outgoing calls have been barred" or "Your outgoing calls have been temporarily deactivated". I can still receive calls though.

Spoke with 3 different Starhub customer service officers and tried
(1) Switching on and off the phone
(2) Taking out the sim card for a few minutes and reinserting it back
(3) Cancelling call barring
(4) <I forgot what this is hahaha>

The last officer jotted down details and said she would liaise with the technical team. She was supposed to get back to me ... yesterday :(

Looks like I need to hassle them once again. I hope they don't again ask me to go to Singapore.

To heal or not to heal

While playing as a Life Cleric in a 5e D&D session:

Rogue: Ummm I think I need healing.
Sorceror: I need healing!
Me: Hmmmm how much missing hp from half your max hp?
(calculate)
Me: Oh, only 8hp. Ok, guys, lose 2 more hp and I'll heal.
Rogue: What?! I stab myself!
Sorceror: @#$$%%^ I'll remember this!
Me: Oh, relax guys. You won't die. I'll bring you back up.
Rogue & Sorceror: @!#$#@$%
Bard: Hahahaha.
Paladin: *facepalm*

Lol, I think they don't know that they just fall unconscious (to 0hp), rather than die straightaway. I can sort of "resurrect" them at the same time later.

In the end, I did it anyway. Next time I should probably should explain better my strategy hahaha.

Great Eastern Life

One day, my dad requested me to ask GE Life the current sum assured of his life insurance policy and the claim process in the event of his death for my mum to claim (she was the beneficiary). I tried calling but to no avail and so I e-mailed them instead. In it, to incentivise them to reply soonest, I mentioned that my dad had stage 4 cancer and so was anxious to get the answers to these questions.

More than a month later, they responded with an apology for the late reply. As expected, they declined to disclose the sum assured via e-mail. They gave me links to claim processes of various claims. To our surprise, the next day, my dad received a call from HQ alerting him that his policy had a rider to claim for critical illness and although it had expired, he could still claim because the diagnosis of cancer was made before the expiry date.

We were pleasantly surprised. We totally forgot about the rider (I later confirmed its existence by checking the policy document) and the insurance company could just keep quiet about it. 

For further assurance, before we started getting forms and documents to claim the critical illness benefits, I called the customer service hotline. As it was close to closing time, the officer couldn't get hold of the claims department in time and so promised to get back to me the next day. It turned out that the claims department misunderstood her question and later, after some clarification (with information I provided), the department also confirmed that we could file for claim.

I read the policy document and discovered that there was yet another way the insurance company could decline payment: we were supposed to file for claim "as soon as reasonable" (something like that). I didn't think 6 months was reasonable.

So after filling multiple forms, getting them filled (including one by the oncologist), photocopied supporting documents, we went to GE Life office on Penang island. The officer there did point out that the rider had expired but we informed her what we were told by the officers on phone and so she accepted the documents and said, if successful, payment would be made in 3 weeks. It took just about 2 weeks.

My family and I are impressed by GE Life's conduct in this matter. Thank you!

Restless sleep

Well, the latest SPC episode is still ongoing, although I believe it's coming to an end. I consulted the doctor 4 times @@. Just when I thought I should recover 100% any time soon, another problem cropped up: trouble sleeping.

I would have "normal" sleep for a few hours and then just shallow sleep for the rest of the night or none at all. Been going on for few nights already. I thought maybe it was one of the two medicine that was new to me: Carinox (loratadine + pseudoepherine) but apparently it isn't one of its side effects (common or rare), according to several internet sources.

Then I thought maybe it was lack of exercise, thereby cortisol level remained elevated. If this was true, I faced a dilemma: start exercising while still not 100% well and risk falling sick again, or continue with this restless sleep?

The other medicine presribed was dexamethasone. I didn't suspect this as the culprit at first because I had it before and I didn't have restless sleep previously. Out of curiousity, I checked: yes, it turns out it is one of the possible side effects. Hmmm I think it's safe for me to stop taking it for a day or two. Let's hope it works.

Bathroom sink

Ban: The bathroom sink became cleaner after we used it for sometime.
Me: I cleaned it.
Ban: Ohhhhhh.

:)

SPC strikes again!

Yes, the dreaded SPC (sorethroat, phlegm, cough) strikes again. Funny thing is that preceding this was a huge ulcer at the back of my mouth the day before I traveled from Butterworth to KL. Don't think it's related but thank goodness I developed sorethroat only on the night I arrived.

Since my father is undergoing chemotherapy, his immune system is weaker. So when my niece developed high fever, we asked him to wear a mask. However, when any other adults fell sick, he wanted everyone else to wear mask but him @@.

By chance, my usual doctor was in his clinic on Sunday (lucky!). He told me that I had "bubbles" of inflammation around my throat that potentially could fuse together if left unchecked. He prescribed antibiotic (he usually tries not to prescribe this), anti-inflammation, something for the phlegm, ponstan and something for phlegm + cough (the last one was prescribed on the day after when I went back again saying that I developed cough).

So, the symptoms developed as follows:
(1) Bad sorethroat with mild fever
(2) Bad sorethroat, phlegm, cough  (prevented reasonable sleep)
(3) Sorethroat, phlegm, cough, runny nose
(4) Sorethroat, much less phelgm but sometimes yellow, cough, runny nose with yellow mucus

I managed to sleep better the second night, punctuated with cough and expulsion of phelgm every 1-2 hours. Third night I managed to sleep throughout, thank goodness.

Hope I get well soon as I'm itching to exercise again (especially swimming).

After 1st chemo

About 3 days after the 1st chemo, itchy rash appeared on dad's left leg and his back, and there was swelling on left leg above knee. Coincidentally, the next day, he had follow-up appointment with doctor at the Klinik Kesihatan Penaga re hypertension. Doctor gave calomine lotion for rash and prolase for swelling.

The following day, the hospice nurse came along with a doctor. Although she believed the rash and the swelling were chemo's side effects, she said it was unusual they appeared 3 days later (usually almost immediately). She prescribed ceterizine for the itchy rash, nystatin for the whitish and sometimes swollen tongue (pharmacist substituted it with decozol because it wasn't available) and added senna for constipation since it was still a problem despite doubling the frequency of lactul and adding enema, obtained from Penang GH.

Two days later was the second chemo session (Cycle 1, Day 8). As usual, oncologist attended to every patient at the start. She prescribed nystatin (replacing decozol), stronger enema (so strong that although it was supposed to be taken as and when needed, pharmacist said once time is usually enough), dexamethasone (to counter chemo side effects, medicine that the hospice nurse and doctor had been expecting) and antacid...for goodness knows what lol. My dad and I didn't mention anything that merit this prescription. Maybe to counter possible side effects of dexamethasone.

This chemo session was easier for dad as he didn't feel any immediate side effects. The only problem was a technical one: the drip machine kept beeping when my dad moved his hand by 1cm. So sensitive lol.

Dad had some of the hospital food and drinks, and ate the given orange during the session. After it was over, he had fish meehoon soup for lunch. Guess his appetite was good!

Another good news: finally he could pass motion after he used the stronger enema (we nicknamed it "the bomb"). Yay!

Poor first-timer

I blogged previously about Ban's unlucky first-use of MyEG service. Bad luck struck again for this first-timer.

One day, I purchased an ETS train ticket via KTMB official website. Unlike previous time, when I clicked print, it was a blank page. So I jotted down its ticket and ref ids. I logged back in and using one of these ids, I managed to print the ticket.

Later, Ban wanted to purchase a ticket too but he tried easybook.com, which was the website he used the first time he purchased ETS ticket. However, this time, he noticed that the total ticket price is more expensive than that purchased via KTMB website. So he switched to the latter.

He encountered the same problem as I did and so replicated what I did. However, the system told him there was no such ticket! Upon my suggestion, he called KTMB and gave as much details as possible. They still said no such ticket. Haiz. Afaik, the KTMB customer service officer said that if it was an error, he would be refunded within 2 weeks. If not, he can call them again.

Check with the bank indicated that payment had been made to his credit card. Humph!

So I purchased the ticket for him instead. Hopefully he'll get a refund. Poor Ban :(

Fuel Shack at eCurve


Fuel Shack

Ummmmm I don't think this is a good marketing strategy lol.

Ban and I tried this for lunch after gym one day. It was so-so only and for its price, you're better off with Subway even at full price.

Last minute

I am fine (or at least try to be "fine") with people requesting change in plan due to emergency i.e. unscheduled interruption in electricity, sudden flooding, accident etc. I can also consider requests for change for any other reasons.

What gets my goat (except in emergency cases, of course) is the last minute man-made decision to change plans without discussing with me even though I'm a major participant in that plan and sometimes I'm the one who's needed to ensure the plan succeed.

I'm especially miffed when it happens to big plans i.e. plans that take days to materialise. To make last minute changes simply because the requester thinks is "convenient" is definitely not so. Big plans require some coordination in logistics and time management.

First chemo

Following our suggestion, my dad tried morphine again, preceded with oat and took Dequadin after. No vomit. The next one, he took oat and pork floss respectively. No vomit! Thereafter, he was ok.

He did, however, vomit a few times due to gas in his abdomen. Upon the hospice's nurse advice, we got him Gaviscon for it.

The hospice nurse's first day here was spent mostly on information gathering but she did answer all our queries and provided relevant advice regarding, say, constipation, vomiting, abdominal gas as well as services that hospice can provide. She is friendly and seems experienced. The following week she would probably bring along a doctor.

On the first day of chemo, we arrived at Penang GH about 8.15am. After registration, nurse weighed dad, took his blood pressure and took some blood to test for Hep B and C (only on first visit). Then waited to be called by the oncologist, who asked about his condition and whether he needed top-up for existing medicine. As a result, she prescribed medicine to manage the vomiting, the abdominal gas and the constipation. She also advised him to double the morphine dosage just before bedtime. Similar to the hospice's nurse advice, she also asked dad to take note the frequency of "breakthrough" morphine i.e. ad hoc morphine taken in between scheduled times.

Then he, along with other patients, were given fluid drips for hydration. According to the patient next door, the chemo drug (oh, only gemcitabine prescribed for my dad), is given to all patients at the same time once all patients are present. It was eventually given shortly before noon and done about an hour later. Rapid hydration for next 20mins and then it was done.

Only side effects dad felt were "hotness" and, shortly later, weakness. Still, he could walk by himself. Hopefully future chemo sessions would not be too bad.

Pre-chemo

Once home, dad tried the prescribed morphine. Vomitted less than a minute later. I googled and according to UK's NHS, some patients vomit after ingesting morphine. They advised these patients to eat some food before taking morphine and that this effect should be gone in a few days.

So, on his second try, dad had some oat before morphine and then a Dequadin pastille after. It worked! 4 hours later, he also took oat but not the pastille. Unfortunately, about 50 mins later, he vomited during dinner.

Henceforth, he was afraid to take morphine and went back to Tramadol. Instead of taking it only when he felt pain is coming, he took it every 4 hours. He still took Gabapentin before sleep. Seems to work well at first but later the gap had shortened to 3 hours. So upon my sister's and my suggestion, he would try morphine again similar to his second try i.e. oat before morpone and Dequadin thereafter.

Meanwhile, we got our dad registered with Penang Hospice Society. They would send a nurse soon to advice us and, presumably, also gives us opportunity to ask questions, especially in regard to the care and need of my dad during the chemo treatment. We may need to borrow a wheelchair during the second-half o the chemo treatment period.

Discount to free

I laughed when I read this:

Discount to free

Plugged in, not charging: Part 2

(11) Thought of system restore but had error "System Restore error 0x80070091". Searched online and tried this solution but the last step was unsuccessful because the file already existed.

(12) Meanwhile, rolled back audio driver and the headphone jack always works now!

(13) Re (11) above, just renamed slightly different (added "2" just after "old"). System restore worked but didn't solve the low muffled audio problem.

(14) New problem: when I played Faeria, Overwatch and Atlas Reactor, at least one of these happened:
(a) flickering
(b) discolouration
(c) patches of monocolours
(d) entire screen filled with coloured lines of varying width

Strangely, these didn't happen to Paladins, Small World 2, Guild Wars 2 and Crusader Kings 2.
Was advised by Dell to choose "on" for vertical sync setting in NVIDIA control panel (although I would think the default "use the 3D application setting" is better) and to use the given installer to install some drivers. Didn't work.

(15) After trying out some solution online, finally this works in fixing (14) above: use the compatibility troubleshooter. I was not satisfied though because they were working perfectly fine with Windows 10 before the change of motherboard. Would get Dell engineer to fix this using original setting i.e. not running compatibility feature.

(16) Dell engineer: changed motherboard for the 3rd time. Unsuccessful because it couldn't be charged @@. New problem: CAPS Lock is indicator is permanently lighted up regardless of whether the function was actually switched on or not.

(17) Flickering was back, despite (15) above, although not as bad as before.

(18) Dell engineer: changed speaker. Wanted to change motherboard but noticed cable connecting to motherboard is damaged. Laptop cannot be used :( I'm puzzled: why it could be used before the supposed attempt to replace the motherboard? He spoke with Dell at length. Dell would order parts and engineer would come within a week with parts to fix it. List of problems grew once again!

(19) Dell engineer: replaced the damaged cable (refer to point (18) above), although Dell ordered 6 other parts! @@ I wanted to check audio by playing a video file and/or youtube video but computer hung (not a good sign!). Did ePSA Pre-Boot System Assessment: it was ok. Did a quick sound check. Nope, couldn't hear the 8 different sound that the ePSA supposedly played. Booted to Windows. Played video file, Youtube video and Faeria. Yay! Sound was back to normal.

(20) All problems, except the original issue, were solved. Engineer advised me to get new battery but I told him that the previous engineer had twice asked Dell to send me quotation for new battery but I received none. He said he would ask them too. Well, we'll see.

Next phase

Recently, I accompanied my dad at his follow-up appointment with Penang GH's oncologist. Surprisingly, we waited only 1 hour before being called into the room, crammed with 3 doctors @@

(1) Renal function test results seem ok, just below borderline.

(2) Tumour marker (pancreas) level has increased again, from 80+ to 133.

(3) When asked by oncologist, dad said yes to chemotherapy. When asked by dad, the oncologist also recommended that treatment since dad is (relatively) healthy. If the response rate is good, the pain in his leg will likely be gone. I have strong suspicion that that's just a guess on her part.

(4) Will start chemo 2 weeks later. 6 cycles. 1 cycle: chemo on day 1 and 8, and then rest until day 21.

(5) Dad will need to go for blood test on the day before chemo and to bring the results to hospital when going for chemo.

(6) If during chemo treatment dad falls sick e.g. fever, he is to go to emergency ward (of any hospital) and inform doctor he's under chemo treatment.

I forgot to ask which chemo drugs they're prescribing (will it be 1 or 2 drugs?).

Waited for another hour before the palliative care unit specialist met us.

(5) Asked quite a number of questions about leg and history.

(6) Interestingly, there were quite long pause in between (at least 30seconds) where he was seemingly deep in though.

(7) Prescribed morphine, to be taken once every 4 hours and on adhoc basis if pain appears in between; constipation medicine, taken before bed, in anticipation of side effect from morphine; and Gabapentin (painkiller), to be taken at night before sleep.

Waited another 20mins before collecting medicine. Overall, it was quite a fast process especially for a public hospital. The most time consuming bit was traveling in the morning and so our errand took a total 6 hours.

Kopitan Classic

Kopitan Classic 1

I had this chendol (RM4.90) at Kopital Classic while waiting for my sisters, b-i-l, nephew and niece to finish cycling at Occupy Beach Street.

Noticed something odd? It was ice-blended instead of shaved ice. So strange. No large chunky ice for sure. Unfortunately, many other chendol are better than this especially given its price.

Plugged in, not charging: Part 1

(1) From 100% to 40+%, then slowly increased to 53% before plummeted to 3%! Now back to 6%.

(2) Bios: battery operating normally. Dell Support Assist: passed batter test.

(3) Used Ban's laptop adapter. No change.

(4) Dell engineer: changed motherboard and the power input jack.

(5) Dell engineer: changed motherboard and power adapter. Advised to get new battery but he would ask Dell to refund me if that doesn't solve it.

(6) Meanwhile, discovered sound is too low and muffled, similar to previous incident. Informed CSO of this and (5) above.

(7) Then discovered my laptop was performing like a tortoise, similar to what I experienced before. Checked IRST: disk wasn't accelerated. Accelerated it. Still started slow and programme started slow initially but subsequent usage was normal. Saw the RAID cache volume's cache mode is off. Don't know that's normal. Tried to find out but no success. In the end, updated driver of the SATA RAID Controller and it worked. Note that Windows kept saying the driver is updated but the software Driver Easy found the latest version (happened many times before).

(8) IRST app then didn't work. So downloaded directly from Intel. In there, it said that by default the cache mode is off. That's good to know!

(9) Headphone jack now rarely works :(

(10) Dell said they have no battery in stock for my laptop. What?! Also, "Dispatch has got Delayed due to part at backlog" Omg @@.

Japanese rose

One day, many moons ago, after a seafood meal at a rather rural area in Penang, we saw this plant at that restaurant. We are already familiar with it and so my sister (thank you!) decided to...errmm...take some sample to cultivate them at home. Do not need the entire plant; steam will do but make sure there is at least 1 node so that it can branch out.

They have flourished well, taken care by a few people in the household:

Japanese rose plant 1

Japanese rose plant 2

Seeing them always make me feel a little bit more cheery :)

Udon Kobo Min Min

Arata has already closed down years ago and currently Udon Kobo Min Min is operating at that shop lot.

Udon Kobo 1

This is ChaShu Udon (RM19.90). There were 3 slices of chashu which tasted ok. When it arrived, I couldn't smell the soup but I guess it's normal for udon soup? The soup was clear and just right in taste i.e. lightly salted. Unfortunately, the udon was not soft enough for me.

There was yuzu peel inside this dish! First time ever for me. I'm not sure whether it actually enhanced the dish or not but it wasn't bad at all. Certainly different.

Udon Kobo 2

I decided to be adventurous that night and ordered, for the first time, yuzu sherbert (imported). It was aromatic and had yuzu peel in it too. I highly recommend this dessert.

I may dine here again in future and perhaps try a different udon dish. For sure, I will have their yuzu sherbert again :)

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Unexpected advice

About a week after meeting Dr D, my dad had a appointment with the oncologist at Penang GH. Surprising, he did not recommend chemotherapy and instead would continue treating symptoms. The only pain right now is on his left leg. The specialist recommended upping the Tramadol dosage from 3 to 4 times a day. If that becomes ineffective, then small dosage of morphine will be prescribed.

With regard to the tumour at the lymph node, he acknowledged that it has grown bigger but it's still small. Also, there was no further spread of cancer.

When the time comes for chemotherapy, he would recommend 6 cycles but with only 1 type of drug (rather than the 2 types that have been consistently recommended by the other 3 oncologists) so that it's less harsh on the weaker organs.

He asked dad to go for tumour marker tests and to meet him again in a few weeks time to look at the results as well as to get an update on my dad's left leg.

Currently I have reservation about this because we've been following Dr D's advice and knowing how much she prioritises quality of life, I put lots of weight on her recommendation of chemotherapy. I hope my dad understands that the risk of delaying this treatment is that his health may deteriorate even further when he finally goes for it and so he may even feel worse.

Family vacation on Penang island

My youngest sister surprised us by saying that there was another family vacation planned for the next weekend after the trip to Ipoh. This time it was a two-night stay on Penang island (we spent 3 nights in Ipoh).

Here's a summary of what we did on Penang island:

(1) Had curry mee made by the Two Sisters, and the famous asam laksa next to the market, both at Air Itam. Both are good. The former was unlike any curry mee I know (not that I had many though). The latter was not as spicy as I expected.

(2) Had oh chien (oyster omellete) Joo Hooi Cafe (I had some egg and no oyster haha), and the famous Teochew chendol just beside the shop. Love the egg part of the former (not an oyster fan) and, as usual, love the chendol.

(3) Had kway chap with duck meat and pork innards at Kimberley Street. Delicious! Later, had soupy dessert and bought some Nyonya rice dumpling. Both were good although the latter lacked some spices.

(4) Took funicular train up to Penang Hill. Fun fact: cheap entrance fee at night. Didn't spend too long there as it was getting cold for parents and we didn't wear shoes for walking.

View from Penang Hill

(5) Shared a bowl rough mee hoon soup with prawns, a bowl with pork and its innard, a separate bowl with pork and bittergourd and 2 bowls of yam rice at Hon Kei. Quite delicious although I wouldn't request a trip there for myself.

(6) Went to 1st Avenue and Prangin Mall for a variety of reasons. Fun fact: there is no supermarket in either of these malls @@.

(7) Went to D'seafood Paadise (first time trying, first-choice shop closed) and had ikan bakar (bbq-ed fish), soft-shell crab deep-fried with flour, stir-fried belitung (obtuse horn shell), bbq-ed cockle and stir-fried mixed vegetables. They were all delicious. The best was the soft-shell crab which was hardly greasy. The stir-fried belitung was too spicy: burnt lips, burnt tongue. This despite us choosing black-pepper over chilli (we were given only these two choices when ordering). Looked too red for black-pepper. It was much later we were told by a waitress and the cashier that there were other non-spicy options. The least satisfactory was the vegetables: too expensive for its portion. Still, it's the best dining experience of this trip for me.

(8) Went to Occupy Beach Street. Had delicious coconut ice-cream while some family members rented bicycles and cycled the kids around.

(9) Had Chinese dishes with rice at Tek Sen Restaurant. Pretty good, especially the claypot tofu with mixed vegetables.

Leg, kidney, CT scan

Two months after the radiotherapy, the pain in my dad's left leg came back. This time, the pain was a little different (I forgot what's the difference). It started very mild but become increasingly more painful such that he needed to take painkillers 4 to 5 times a week. The pain also started to spread.

Naturally we suspect it could be due to the growth of residual tumour there. We consulted her. After asking some questions and checking my dad, she discussed a couple of options and ended by recommending a CT scan. Since dad was going to have an initial appointment with Penang GH's oncologist in about a week (his aim was to have chemotherapy there when the time comes), she recommended an almost whole-body CT scan so that the results could be used by Penang GH's oncologist immediately (rather than ordering one for an update).

Firstly, she ordered blood test to check his kidney function as he has only one kidney now. Unfortunately, the indicator has fallen from 64 and 53. Hence, she ordered hydration for 2 hours before the CT scan and another hydration for 4 hours after it. The hospital would charge us a full day stay at its ward regardless of whether he wished to stay overnight or not. Since it would be late at the end of it, he stayed overnight and Dr D would see him in late morning the day after with the CT scan results.

This was unexpected and so we didn't make any preparation for the overnight stay. It takes about 55mins to travel from Butterworth to the hospital and so it's not practical to go back and forth. Poor dad.

The next morning, my sister and I arrived and waited with my dad for the discharge process to be completed. Then later, we waited to see Dr D to discuss the results of the CT scans, once she received them.

Good news: there's no discernible growth in his leg and so it's the pain is unlikely caused by tumour. He's advised to tone down his walks substantially e.g. start with half and hour gentle walk before increase its intensity and/or duration gradually. Meanwhile, use Tramadol to manage the pain.

Bad news: the tumour at the lymph node has grown. Dr D said this might be a good time to have chemotherapy given that dad is still healthy and before he experience more pain (probably referring to his leg). So the next step is to see the Penang GH's oncologist, with the expectation that he would recommend chemotherapy. 

3 meals

Simonlover: It's actually better to eat 5 meals a day but in smaller portion. People usually have normal meals 3 times a day.

Ban: Huh? 3 meals? *started counting on his fingers* Lunch, dinner and ... ?

Derek: Breakfast lah! You wake up late, that's why you don't have it.

Everyone laughed hahaha.