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 :)

Want an infant?

Add Infant

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.

Family vacation in Ipoh

A quick update as a background: since the last update, my dad underwent radiotherapy and successfully reduced the tumour significantly. Dr D said no further treatment needed. Pain's gone and my dad can walk again and exercise although not as good as previously.

My sister from Australia then came here for a 3-week visit. My youngest sister then planned a family vacation (only for 5 of us). After some discussion with parents, they settled on Ipoh.

Sister arrived in KL, where Ban and I got her at KLIA2. The next day, she and I took ETS to Ipoh. I was pleasantly surprised that they gave use a brown bag containing 2 packets of different biscuits and a small packet of Milo. I thought I bought Gold class, instead of Platinum.

Here's a summary of what we did in Ipoh:

(1) We stayed at a suite at Kinta Riverfront.

(2) Share a variety of food (char kuay teow, satay, hor fun soup, steamed chicken) at the shophouse next to Thean Chun for lunch upon arrival.

(3) Swam (almost?) everyday.

(4) Bought salted baked chicken, bread and lettuce for dinner on first day.

(5) Had dim sum at Foh San (twice!). The best dim sum I ever had in Malaysia. So worth it. But should arrive before 8am to get seats.

(6) Had yong taufu at Big Three Yong Tau Foo Was not bad but nothing to shout about honestly. Maybe because I didn't take their fried items? I had sorethroat.

(7) Had the smoothest and softest taufufa at Lost World of Tambun. Experienced hot springs for the first time. Nearly fainted haha.

(8) The most fun we had was at the Funtasy/Trick Art Museum.

(9) Had steamed chicken with rice/hor fun at Onn Kee. First time had normal chicken. Second time had "wu shou" chicken, which is what the shop is famous for. Still prefer the normal one.

Atlas Reactor: Tol-Ren

I tried a few combination of mods initially (starting from playing in PTS) and I settled on these ones on my road to first 5:
(please refer to this Wikia for description of abilities and mods)

(1) Twin Slashes - Honed Blade (3 loadout points)

Unconditional extra damage. Flexibility e.g. broad slash at the front and top-down slash at the back.

(2) Ren's Fury - Way of the Monkey (1 loadout point)

Good survival mod. Since it's free action, you can use this (and nothing else) and then use full movement to get to safety. Combo well with Second Wind.

(3) Spirit Rend - Spirit Master (3 loadout points)

2 cd range ability? Great! Sacrificed slow but I prefer consistency.

(4) Rushing Steel - From Very Angle (2 loadout points)

Due to how this dash ability works, this mod increases your chance of not getting hit by your target.

(5) Showdown - Spirit Wrack (1 loadout point)

Sometimes you might ulti next to the target and he is still alive next turn. This helps you survive better against his attack. I actually prefer Veangence Seaker but not enough points.

Some gameplay:





Atlas Reactor: first 5 a third time

Whenever there's a new freelancer, I'll try to be the first 5 players to level it to level 20 if I like it and can play it competently. Back in April, that freelancer was Tol-Ren.

I wasn't sure whether I could be make it because there was a day of interstate traveling and for a couple of weeks I was helping family members doing various tasks. Nevertheless I gave it a try and managed to be the 5th player to do so.

Tol-Ren lvl 20_1

Tol-Ren lvl 20_2

Tol-Ren lvl 20_3

Unfortunately, I forgot to screenshot the broadcast :(

So now I have 3 freelancers with such achievement (Grey and Khita as 4th player). That's pretty good, eh? :)

Barred outgoing calls

I still have my Singapore Starhub mobile prepaid sim card, on a cheap simple Nokia phone. Every 4 months I will top up its credit so that it doesn't expire. The only reason I keep this is my Singapore Citibank credit card which earns me miles points, which can be used to indirectly redeem air tickets. As for the credits, whenever I call Singapore, I'll use that phone.

Due to some problems purchasing movie tickets online, I tried calling Singapore Citibank with that phone but I couldn't because "all outgoing calls are barred". Why??!

Called Starhub a few times and we did the following but none is working so far:
  • Take out battery and put it back
  • Use another phone with that sim card
  • Tried *116* (instead of +) to call
  • Cancel "Call divert"
  • Cancel "all barrings" but "request not completed"
  • Reset roaming
Starhub checked and confirmed that my account is still active. There's credit. So I'm stumped...and so does Starhub @@

Update: after the last failed attempt (reset roaming), I called Starhub again. This time, the officer informed me that their technical team advised me to get a sim replacement card because (apparently) 2G service is no longer available. Question: why didn't they call me to tell me this??

Since I have no plans yet to visit Singapore in the near term, I asked help from a friend who visit Singapore quite regularly. He agrees to help me (thank you!!). The Starhub officer said I could get a friend to do it if I I provide him a letter of authorisation and my original NRIC.

More update: hold on! I found this. Specifically,

" 7. I am currently using a 2G device. What are my options to prepare for the 2G network closure in 2017?

2G services will be available until March 2017, so you can use your 2G device till then.

If you are a postpaid customer and eligible to re-contract, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of our latest mobile offers. Please visit any StarHub Shop for assistance.

For business mobile customers, please approach your StarHub Account Manager for assistance if you wish to find out the latest mobile device offers available for you.

For pre-paid customers who wish to buy a 3G or 4G phone, please visit any of our over 40 authorised dealers across the island for the latest offers."

That means I need to upgrade my phone??? Grrr.

Cholesterol 2017: Part 2

Since the last result, I tried to exercised more consistently to bring down the cholesterol level. Emphasis on "tried".

Earlier this month, I went for general health screening, which included lipid profile test. Here's that test result compared to previous one:

                               Feb 2017          Ref. range          Jun 2017          Ref. range      
Total cholesterol           6.0                 < 5.2                      6.4                 < 5.2
HDL ("good")               1.62               > 1.04                   1.50                > 1.04
LDL ("bad")                  3.7                < 2.6                      4.2                 < 2.6
Triglycerides                 1.4                 < 1.7                     1.6                  < 1.7
Total/HDL ratio            3.7                 < 5.0                      4.3                 < 5.0

Not good! Bad cholesterol went up whereas good cholesterol went down. Omg @@

I showed the health screening test result to my GP. Other "red flags" are to be monitored (as this is my first time doing this, they become sort of a baseline) and retested in 3 months time, but naturally for the high cholesterol, he recommended medicine after ascertaining that my diet and exercise regime were appropriate. This time, he prescribed Fenofibrate 160mg, once a day. Apparently it has less side effects? *shrug*. This GP has been good and spot on in his diagnosis so far for both Ban and I, and so I trust him on this.

Update: Some information on fibrate vs statins. Sounds like a mixed bag...

Headlamp wiper?

Headlamp wiper

So cute! I wonder whether it's easy to get replacement or not.

NSK Seremban

The first hypermart in Seremban was Makro, before such concept became popular. It started off by charging membership fee but later removed this requirement. It couldn't survive though.

Later came Giant, Tesco and Rapid. The last one also closed down. Giant have 2 branches but in my opinion, Tesco was more popular...until NSK came along this year. This new kid offers fresh food at lower prices. I'm so curious at how they can do it.

Anyway, this post isn't really about its main source of business. Instead, it's about the restaurant attached to it: Citarasa Seafood Market Steamboat.

NSK 1

NSK 2

Among its menu are sets of food that are suitable for different number of people, priced as low as RM9.90 that's suitable for 1 pax. Soup is charged at RM1 per person. You can also choose from its shelves various add-on such as eggs, noodle, tofu, lettuce etc.

Now, the rather unique thing about this restaurant is that you can purchase raw food (there are live prawns and fishes too) in NSK hypermart and bring them over to the restaurant for them to prepare suitably for your steamboat. They charge a service fee of 10% of purchase price. My father said that it's much cheaper to do that than to buy their sets of food.

I've compared some food (hypermart with 10% surcharge vs restaurant): tofu RM1.65 vs RM2.00, a packet of lettuce RM3.30 vs RM6.00.


NSK 3

We had fish, prawns, bamboo shellfish (pictured above; am I using the correct term?), lettuce, noodle, enoki mushroom, tofu and cut rock melon (which I think it's expensive!). Including the surcharge and cost of soup, it came to about RM17 per person, which is pretty good for steamboat with fresh ingredients. The only "normal" feature of the steamboat is its soup i.e. nothing to shout about.

For steamboat lovers, I highly recommend you try this at least once and get the food from the hypermart itself to maximise value for money. Maybe I try the set of food next time for comparison.

Atlas Reactor: Su Ren

Honestly, I'm more comfortable playing, say, Aurora and Orion, than Su Ren because the latter is a short-range character. That means she is (well at least one would think so!) harmed more often than a long-range character.

However, she has at least 2 things (that I can think off at the moment) which help her survivability:

(a) She has 2 dashes but the second dash has to be used the turn after the first one; otherwise it's wasted and the cooldown starts.

(b) The dashes and buff/debuff ability give her lots of energy while her healing can also give lots if hit multiple allies. This then hastens the time to get her ultimate, which is a good protective ability.

The build (and only one) I'm using is as follows:
(please refer to this Wikia for more details on his abilities and mods)

(1) Martial Master - Zen State (3 loadout points)

Doesn't seem to be a popular mod. I see players usually take Bo Staff Skills (get ultimate faster) or Forceful Strike (default). 3 health may look small but it does help her survivability e.g. just need to survive that turn and ultimate is up next turn, and occasionally saves her life (as evidenced by the video below).

(2) Serenity - Close to Greatness (2 loadout points)

I prefer Gaia's Blessing but there are not enough loadout points and so I stick to this default mod. This means that I can't go for clutch healing and instead should top up allies hp as often as possible, which makes this mod equally as good as Gaia's Blessing when played this way.

(3) Shifting Winds - Swift as the Wind (2 loadout points)

I know many players prefer Protector for clutch healing but I prioritise my survivability a little more. Dead support is bad for team, don't you think so? However, having said that, the reason why I switched from Protector was because the number of times my second dash was wasted was just significant enough to warrant this change.

(4) Spirit Bend - Chi Overflow (1 loadout point)

Give ally energy? Great! Spiritual Journey is better but too expensive as it would mean giving up some other mod choices. In any case, often time this ability is used only if there is nothing else better to do.

(5) Karmic Justice - Gaia's Chosen (2 loadout points)

As a friend said, this default mod gives the team a win-win situation (provided the target's not dead): if target takes damage, it gets to deal damage next turn. If target does not take damage, it gets the full healing.


And now, behold the power of healing mod on the primary ability :)

Missing petrol

On a recent trip back from Seremban, I stopped at a Shell petrol station at the Seremban rest stop. I was at kiosk 11 and wanted to go inside the shop to "order" RM50 worth of petrol. However, I was instead attended by an attendant who just finished helping a customer at the kiosk just in front of me. As usual, I gave him RM50 and Bonuslink card and then he swiped the card and his access card to start the terminal. He then told me the petrol pump was ready for use. He then sauntered towards the shop.

However, when I inserted the pump into my car petrol tank and pressed its handle, no petrol came out! I looked at the screen on the kiosk: the petrol volume and cost figures were not moving (coincidentally, it was showing RM50, presumably from previous customer). The smaller screen initially stated that the terminal was "processing" and then a few seconds later it was "closed".

In the meantime, I was looking around for help from any attendant. Two of them told me I had to go into the shop for help. Coincidentally, the attendant who helped me earlier walked towards me. After I explained the situation, he asked me to move my car backward to kiosk 5. He managed to obtain a receipt, presumably from kiosk 11, showing the time 12.13pm and that it indicated that RM50 worth of petrol was offloaded. My watch at the time showed 12.24pm and so I thought the receipt was legitimate.

I then showed him my car petrol meter. It had only 2 bars and so it was impossible that I had RM50 worth of petrol because it would had shown all bars! Even if I started the tank near zero, it would had shown so many more bars than just 2. That was when he brought me into the shop so that he could alert his supervisor.

His supervisor said nothing like this happened before and highlighted that some customers had faulty petrol meter. Nevertheless, to further ascertain the facts, he asked his colleagues to get ready to test the kiosk petrol pump while he checked the CCTV. While we were waiting for him, upon request, I showed the petrol meter again. Yup, still 2 bars.

The supervisor emerged and told me that it was confirmed I was at the kiosk holding the petrol pump but I pointed out that I was frantically looking around for help instead. Then another person (his manager?) asked him to cross-check my Bonuslink card number with that on the receipt. In addition, he asked the attendant to end shift so that they could reconcile the cash amount he had with the figure registered in the system. He asked me to drive my car back to kiosk 11 (because there were other customers wanting to use kiosk 5), gave me a bottle of chilled mineral water and invited me to sit in the shop while he checked.

Lo behold, the card number was different! Also, the attendant had RM50 more than that registered by the system. Further check on the time of the CCTV showed that I was there at 12.16pm, not 12.13pm. Hence, it was clear that the receipt was not for me. He apologised profusely and instructed his colleague to fill my car with RM50 worth of petrol. He said that since this had never happened before, they were quite at a loss of what to do. He would ask Shell to look into this. I suggested that they close this kiosk in the meantime.

I think I spent about 30-40mins there @@ I am glad it was resolved in my favour. Phew! FYI, this was all done in a professional manner and in fact, the supervisor was quite friendly.

Farmer's Street

One Sunday evening, Ban, his brother and I were on the way to Uptown to have chap fan for dinner when it started raining quite heavily. Hence, upon my suggestion, we went to Tropicana City Mall instead.

We considered both Simple Kitchen and Farmer's Street but chose the latter because its menu was more suitable for Ban.

I ordered Nyonya Curry Chicken (RM13):

Farmer's Street 1

It had 2 large pieces of chicken, including a drumstick, and 2 small pieces. It was delicious, with sufficient amount of spices to differentiate it from normal curry chicken, although a little spicier too. A little aromatic. It would be better if it came with, say, at least half of a hard boiled egg or more cucumber.

Later, upon my feedback, the manager/boss said that next time I could ask for more cucumber. The reason why they gave only 2 slices because some customers don't even finish them!

Farmer's Street 2

Their Specially Brewed Milk Tea (RM 5) was quite normal and so that's good enough.

I would definitely bring my parents here for the curry chicken.

Ikan Ayam

Ikan Ayam 1

Ikan Ayam 2

Ikan atau ayam? (Fish or chicken).

When asked, my dad said this fish tastes like chicken. What??? @@

Photo album

Recently I cleared my room back at my parents' place (since they'll be relocating soon) and came across long forgotten photo albums. Photos before the advent of digital camera and camera phone.

My initial thought was to throw them away because I hadn't looked through them for years (about 7 years) and so why make space for something you don't even make use of? William suggested digitising them. At first I thought this was a good idea but now less so because I don't even look at the digital photos I have on my laptop.

A few more people, mostly my family, asked me to keep it for memory...for them, I supposed, since, like I've said, I don't look at the photos.

Honestly, I'm a little surprised at myself since the fact that I kept them in the first place (and some of them I brought all the way from Singapore) meant that I valued them in the past. I guess I'm for living in the present and plan for the future. I supposed that things I remember matter much more than things I don't remember and so is there a point trying to remember them by looking at photos?

Anyway, in the end, I did bring all of them back to Ban's place since we recently bought a cupboard and thus there's some space. We'll see when and who will look at these photos next.

Paladins: some stats

Here are interesting stats, with some commentary, of a few games:

Seris 1

Normally, team without at least a tank loses but the enemy team made up for it by playing so much better than our team, overall. Miraculously, we were on the verge of wining: we just needed to push the payload for like maybe 3 more seconds.

I remember I had to use my escape ability (as Seris) because was under fire. I went behind the enemies and noticed that they were focusing on keeping my team mates from advancing. Soon our tank, Torvald, died. However, there were no enemies at the payload. So I took advantage of my 5 seconds of stealth and invulnerability to push the payload to victory :)

Torvald 1

This time my team did so well that I didn't die at all hehehe. In fact, I dealt the most damage, as Torvald, and had the joint most eliminations.

Inara 1

As you can see, enemies put out stupendous amount of damage and high number of eliminations. At first, I tried to stay reasonably close to Makoa and Seris. Later, I tried to protect Seris. Didn't work so well.

Then midway through 3rd round, I decided to help our Viktor and Maeve because I noticed that enemies tend to kill them first before going after our tanks and support. I played much better from then onward. In the 3rd round, I told team that I would continue to do that.

Previously, I noticed one particular path that at least 1 enemy took to flank our Viktor and so I went on that path to deal with him. Yup, there were 2 of them. They retreated and thus our Viktor could focus on protecting our Makoa and Seris at point. I guess they too were desperate to play more often at point this time because whichever team that captured it would win.

We won though :) I was quite surprised that I had the highest eliminations and by far the highest damage too. Woot! The best Inara game so far.

Kimi-Ya & Inside Scoop

I almost forgot I had these photos and so by no I remember very little details about the food @@.

William and Derek arranged to meet Ban, Simonlover and I for dinner at Kimi-Ya chiefly because they couldn't make it for my birthday dinner.

Kimi-Ya

It was quite an expensive Japanese restaurant but the food was good. Sorry, forgot what I had haha.

Then we went next door to have ice-cream. Apparently it's established by an actuary!

Inside Scoop_1

Inside Scoop_2

Inside Scoop_3

Inside Scoop_4

Unfortunately they didn't have any sort of coffee ice-cream. I ended choosing 2 scoops of 2 different flavour, recommended by a staff there. I like them but would have preferred coffee ice-cream hehehe.

Atlas Reactor: Garrison 2

It's been nearly a year since I blogged about this freelancer. Since then, I have experimented a few combination of mods and my current favourite loadout is as follows:
(please refer to this Wikia for more details on his abilities and mods)

(1) Piston Punch - Force Capacitor (3 loadout points)

Haste on an ability with no cd! Great for FL to chase down enemies since most FLs *cough* except Brynn *cough* have very short range on their primary abilities.

(2) Hand Cannon - unequipped

Unfortunately, there are no more loadout points left for this ability. Even Tracker Rounds would have been good. Also, with haste on primary, it's less of a problem to hit at least an enemy and so even though Big Shot is still a good mod, it's less important here.

(3) Missile Barrage - Double Trouble (3 loadout points)

Increased chance of hitting a few enemies. Often, I think, get more energy too.

(4) Heavy Metal - Frontline (2 loadout points)

25 shields until end of next turn is just too good to pass up. I know some players like to use Quake Slam for its root but I prefer shields for more survivability.

(5) Shockpod - Juiced up (2 loadout points)

More survivability for myself, my allies or both. I use it primarily for that purpose, rather than damage unless it can confirm kill(s). Of course as far as possible, I try to do both i.e. heal allies and damage enemies.


Here's a video of a recent gameplay. This was after I was away from the game for more than a week (was playing Paladin and trying to maximise the benefit of a booster).

Some breathing space

It's been about 9 months since the last false alarm. Yes, that's 9 months of missing rent! As briefly mentioned here, I finally have a tenant who not only signed a 2-year tenancy agreement but also at a rental rate that's slightly above the minimum rent that my agent and I agreed upon.

However, there are a few caveats:

(1) 6-month diplomatic clause
(2) Bidet spray in each of the 2 bathrooms
(3) New TV (which I've always wanted to replace anyway)
(4) One stand fan
(5) Replacement of an old single-bed mattress
(6) Tenant is required to service aircon once every 4 months, instead of once every 3 months, because they claim they won't be using much of it (there's just no easy way to check this, is there?)

Well, at least for the next 6 months, I will have rental income. I've asked my agent to continue to look for buyer though. Earning rental income is not worth it given the non-resident tax rate. In any case, all along I aim to start looking to sell it off starting from 2020 due to its age. It's a leasehold property and so I'm trying to sell before the inevitable relentless fall in price phase.

Paladins: Grohk 2

I rarely get Top Play and yet each time it happened, I almost always forgot to record it. The first time I remember was when I was playing Grohk. The next time I remember was exactly a week later when I was playing...Grohk too hahaha:



This time, however, I used a different build:
(for details on the abilities and cards, please refer to Paladins Wiki)

Build name: Gale
- main aim is to reduce cd of Healing Totem

Wraith legendary card
- for survivability because, frankly, the default Ghost Walk is not enough

Gale IV
Healing Rain IV
Outreach II
Totemic Rescue I
Haunting 1

To make up for the lack of healing (because not using Totemic Ward legendary card), I used Healing Rain IV.

Outreach II is to cover a larger area.

Haunting I is to reduce cd on Ghost Walk so that it's available again to be used to save myself as well as reduce cd of Healing Totem.

Totemic Rescue I is survivability.

Notably, I dropped Crackle because usually the increased duration does not give out as much benefit as I like to since Healing Totem's duration is naturally already 6s.

Paladins: Grohk

Grohk was either the first or second champion (mixed up with Seris hehehe) that I unlocked using in-game gold currency. He is now currently level 7.

The reason why I'm blogging about him instead of Seris (which I believed is a slightly better healer) is because I have only one video clip recorded and that's of him.

For details on his abilities, please refer to this information from Paladins Wiki.

My default build is as follows:

(1) Build name: Totemic Ward
- main aim of this build is to heal

Totemic Ward legendary card
- mainly for the increased amount of healing
- the 2s cc is a bonus

Outreach IV
- totem is always placed at your feet i.e. you can't just lob it to heal an ally in a distance
- this card is useful to increase the chance of  healing as many allies as possible
- also useful when you want to move back a little away from any intense exchange at the front and shoot from a safer distance

Crackle II
- more healing via increased duration

Shamanic Might II
- since he has to move close to ally in order to heal, increased hp helps him survive better

Totemic Rescue III
- with the increased hp above, his total hp is now 2900
- at, say, 20% max hp, he'll have a total life of 20%*2900 + 600 = 1180 for 4s
- should be able to withstand at least a single shot from a primary attack (Evie's primary shot damage is 900+)

Gale I
- you use Ghost Walk because you're in trouble and so this card enables you to get back Healing Totem asap to hopefully use it on yourself and allies soon


However, if I notice there are enemies whose ultimate abilities can pretty much kill me, then I use another build:

(2) Build name: Wraith
- main aim is to use the legendary card Wraith to survive such one-shot kill ultimate ability and yet have cards that help to buff up healing in the absence of the bonus 50% heal from legendary card Totemic Ward

Wraith legendary card

Outreach IV
Crackle II
Shamanic Might II
Gale I
- same reasons as in the Totemic Ward build

Healing Rain III
- for increased healing amount per second, to compensate for the loss of bonus healing from not using Totemic Ward

Paladins, Champions of the Realm

Recently, my online friend from Atlas Reactor, TheJoker, asked me to try playing Paladins. It's a game similar to Overwatch but with cards to customise the champion's playstyle (similar to Atlas Reactor's mod feature).

It has a free-to-play version where 8 champions are unlocked at the start. They are:

Fernando (front line)
Cassie (damage)
Drogoz (damage)
Kinessa (damage)
Tyra (damage)
Viktor (damage)
Pip (support)
Skye (flank)

You can then use in-game currency (gold), earned in game, to unlock other champions. You can also buy the game and unlock all current and future champions.

Here are the official website of Paladins, a wiki website I often refer to, and a deckbuilding website.

I like the game as much as Overwatch i.e. as much as a non-fps player would like :) It then comes to no surprise that, like Overwatch, I gravitate towards champions who do not require good aiming. One such champion, which I often play, is Grohk (support).

Here's my first short recording (because I kept forgetting!) of top play highlight featuring my Grohk, where I killed a few enemies while healing our front line, Inara, and myself in a circular area:

NVIDIA GPU not detected!

One day, my laptop inexplicably had BSOD (blue screen of death). Unfortunately, by now I have forgotten what the error code was @@.

Later, when I wanted to record a gameplay with GeForce Experience, I was told that a NVIDIA graphics card was needed. I was confused, of course, because my laptop has it! So I brought up Device Manager and there was no NVIDIA card among the display adapters! What's going on @@

So I performed a stress test using Dell's Support Assist and, as expected, everything was ok. Using their website, I was told all drivers were up to date.

I tried this and this set of steps that worked for others but not for me. In fact, the BIOS could not detect any discrete graphics card.

I thought maybe the graphics card had loosen and so just needed to be pushed back in. Unfortunately, I learned that for Alienware 14, it is soldered onto the motherboard @@.

I had no choice but to ask Dell for help via e-mail.

However, I can't remember how or why, I decided to try a system restore and voila! It worked! Phew.

Share investment Apr 17 Part 2

Here are the dividend yields on cost for shares that have paid out dividends:

Share investment Apr 17 Part 1

For ease of calculation, I've changed the method of calculating its denominator and it's erring on the conservative side i.e. likely underestimated.

There are 6 share counters with dividend yield less than 5%. ST Engineering is still yielding than 4% since the last update and it was just above 4% 2 years ago. Hmmm I'll observe for one more year given the change mentioned above. Kingsmen Creative and Silverlake Axis are also put in on my red list haha. Saizen Reit will be delisted soon.

Keppel Corp is experiencing hardship due to downturn in the O&G sector. Hopefully things will pick up soon.

The overall dividend yield on cost weighted by invested amount is now 5.6% but partly affected by the change in calculation method.

Here's the breakdown of my portfolio according to percentage of amount of investment in each share counter:

Share investment Apr 17 Part 2

Compared to a year ago, I've severely reduced holdings in Sembcorp Industries due to a glitch.

Here is the average cost of each share counter compared to its then prevailing price as at 21 April 2017:

Share investment Apr 17 Part 3

The most significant change is probably the huge increase in price of Venture. Oh wow. Unfortunately, I do not know why haha. Yes, yes, that's bad of me.

Here's the breakdown of my portfolio according to market value as at 21 April 2017:

Share investment Apr 17 Part 4

This is useful as a starting point for me to look at when deciding what to sell next.