Oh Look, Krill!

Oh don't worry. Whales don't eat clownfish, they eat krill.

Thanks Techgoondu!

I don’t usually have very good luck with lucky draws but that didn’t stop me from joining them. So when Techgoondu were have a Chinese New Year Gadget Giveaway, I couldn’t resist so I entered the contest.

Guess what? I won some interesting gadgets!


So I got myself a Microsoft Arc Keyboard and an iTwin.

I’m really looking forward to playing and using with these things.

so thank you, Techgoondu for having the giveaways.

Whinging, Because I Need It

These past couple of weeks have been hectic. Work basically drained so much of my energy that I barely have energy, or time, to do anything else.

The flash fiction that is due tomorrow isn’t going to get written because well, it’s due tomorrow and I haven’t even started writing yet.

Most importantly, my school stuff has been in the back burner for a while. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I’m supposed to read on. I should at least do a rough draft of my protocol but the perfectionist in me wants the complete, perfect protocol. It feels like an albatross hanging around my neck.

On top of that, work wise, so many things that need to be done and I’ve only got 2 hands.

I really don’t feel like doing anything productive.

GAH! Seriously. I need more time and motivation to get things moving.

To make up for this whinge, here’s a clip from my favourite Buffy episode.

Who Says you Can’t Learn How To Swim From Watching YouTube

Extreme swimming
via alancleaver

When I told Dude that I learnt how to swim from watching youTube videos, he was horrified and yet amazed that I’d not drowned during all those times I went swimming. He was convinced that I was doing everything wrong and that he must rectify this situation immediately, so over the weekend, we went swimming.

I must say that he was pleasantly surprised that I could in fact swim and relatively well, though not as efficient as I could be. It helped that I already knew how to swim a little when I started watching the videos. I just needed to get over my fear of the deep end of the pool and increase my stamina, which I did when I went swimming regularly the year before last. I’ve since lost all that stamina and most of the muscle I put on as I’ve not been swimming as regularly as I’d like.

Anyway, the lesson was about an hour or so but in that hour, he taught me how to tread water properly, how to increase your lung capacity and the proper way to kick while doing the breast stroke. Basically, he didn’t have to start from the very basics and I was already comfortable in the water. It was one of the most fun dates that we’ve ever had actually and I’m actually looking forward to the next lesson.

Just in case you’re wondering which video I was watching for ‘lessons’, it’s this one:

He’s got a couple of videos on swimming too, if anyone is interested.

So yes, you can learn how to swim from YouTube, provided you already knew some of the basics before hand. Unlike Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory, I do practice in a pool and not just pretend to swim on dry land.

Friday Foods: Gnocchi alla Sorentina

Gnocchi con sugo di salsiccia
via francescomucio

I like trying out new recipes but sometimes, I’ve never had the food that I’m attempting to make. For example, gnocchi is something that I’ve never had before so it involves a lot of trial and error, though I think it turned out OK.

500g potatoes
1 cup flour (you may not need to use all)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium onion, sliced finely
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 table spoon tomato paste
1 can pasta sauce
Parmesan, grated

Boil the potatoes. Once they’re nice and soft, drain and wash them in cold water. Removed the skin and mash them. Add in the flour bit by bit and knead until you get a nice dough consistency. Normally, you should roll out the dough into a 1.5cm diameter strand and cut it, but I just pinched off little pieces of it, about 1-1.5cm sized balls and roll it in dough to prevent it from sticking. Store it in the fridge for 20 minutes to set.

To make the sauce, fry the garlic and onion in one or two table spoons of olive oil. When it’s nice and fragrant, add in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add in half a cup of water to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add in the fresh tomatoes and the can of pasta sauce. Stir well and simmer the sauce.

In another pot, boil some water and some salt. When the water is boiling add in the gnocchi, a few at a time. When they start floating to the top, scoop the out and add it into the simmering sauce. When all the gnocchi are in the sauce, stir it carefully so as not to break the dumplings up. If the sauce is too dry, add some of the water that was used to boil the gnocchi.

Serve in a oven proof dish. Grate some Parmesan cheese and break some mozzarella cheese on top and stick it in the oven to melt the cheese. Or, you can just serve it on a plate like I did and tuck in.

Now, all I need is to sample gnocchi that is made by people who know what they’re doing just so that I can compare.

The 4-Hour Work Week

The 4 hour work week

A couple of weeks ago, Dude bought me The 4-hour Work Week, after he’d been insisting, for weeks, that I must read it. He insists that it’s a really good book, with great ideas that he thinks we should try out and it would be great to be able to discuss it with someone else.

I’m almost done with the book and so far, I found that the concepts of the book to be interesting and a little mind-boggling. The author, Tim Ferriss, claims that instead of slogging for most of your life before enjoying retirement, you can have mini-retirements now and still make money because your income is totally automated and you rarely have anything to worry about.

As I read more of the book, I realised that people have done it and it worked out very well but as with everything that is life changing, taking the first step is always the hardest.

The book teaches you how to handle all the emails, phone calls and tasks in batches. I’ve been using the technique to write concise but informative (without being an info dump) emails and so far, my boss has been appreciative of it and it’s cut down the number of emails going back and forth. Currently, I’m trying to see how I can implement this batching of tasks, especially for the order requests.

The most interesting for me so far is how one can negotiate for a remote work arrangement, working effectively and more productively but not in the office. Unfortunately, the nature of my job doesn’t allow me for a remote work arrangement to work as most of what I do are very hands-on. I would very much would love to work away from the office and the lab but it’s hard to do when you’re in scientific research. Unless you’re doing field work, I guess.

The book also helps you understand or come up with a concept to help one start a business online and help you not only increase profits but also productivity without taking up too much of your time which can be used to do more interesting and fun things, like travelling. Interesting, yes?

I think that it’s a really good book for anyone who’s interested in making money and yet have more than enough time to enjoy it without waiting too late and then regretting.

What I Miss About My Grandmother

It’s been a little more than two years since my grandmother suffered a stroke that left bed-bound with half her body paralysed and unable to speak or swallow. In those two years, the atmosphere of my home hasn’t been as cheery as it used to be. The house has been quite and it’s the things that I used to take for granted are the things that I miss most about her.

I miss grandma’s cooking. Sure, grandma’s maid/caretaker can recreate the dishes that grandma taught her but it’s still not the same. It doesn’t have the same depth of taste that only comes from someone who cooks with love for the ones she love.

Strangely, I miss her nagging. It used to have me rolling my eyes when she starts nagging at us but now that she can’t do it anymore, you miss it because you realise that she only nags at you because she wants the best for you and that she loves you very much.

The thing that miss most about my grandma is her laughter. It’s not that she can’t laugh now, she can. It’s just that it’s so rare that when she laughs it’s like the whole house lights up again. She spends most of her day asleep or watching TV silently. I never knew how much difference her laughter can make until you don’t hear it anymore.

Even though she’s not as healthy as she used to be, she is as healthy as she can be in her condition. She’s not losing weight nor does she have bedsores since we make every effort to prevent that from occurring. We talk to her everyday, to tell her how our day went. We miss the vivacious, stubborn old woman that she was before she got sick but we know that underneath the silence and the frail body, she’s still there, in the glints of her eyes.