Monthly Archives: March 2010


Learn something and feel good about it!

I came across this site from the PW’s blog and thought it’d be worth posting a link to. – the premise is simple; “play” a word vocabulary quiz and for each answer you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated to the hungry with the help of sponsors.  I tend to be suspicious about things like this, often wondering where the money comes from, how they can support themselves, how we’re sure that what we donate ACTUALLY goes towards helping feed the hungry.  In this case though, it seems to be legitimate – and they don’t even ask for registration/donations, etc!

It’s a clever idea actually – the idea of making something into a game and letting people play for free without any obligations.  It’s actually quite challenging, and if you like words/reading, you’ll probably enjoy it.  I’m embarrassed to say that I have yet to finish all levels – from around 40-45, I keep getting stuck and get kicked back a couple of levels.  Give a try – get smarter, and feed the hungry at the same time! 🙂

Ok, now who can tell me what the heck “splenetic” means??

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Tweaks & Tech

Google Chrome

I use Chrome exclusively at on my home computer – have done so ever since it came out.  It’s blazing fast, I love the search-in-address-bar feature, and it’s quite stable.  Plus, with the newly implemented extensions capabilities, it can be just as full-featured as Firefox.  I still use the Firefox+noScript combination at work though – I don’t like the fact that Chrome doesn’t allow the option of specifying just WHERE you want to have it install to.  Found out the hard way after installing at work and wondering why suddenly it was taking forever to log on and off my system.  Of course, it was the Chrome install, which had bloated my profile by several hundred meg.

For home use though, I think Chrome can’t be beat (though I still use IE for work access).  Here’s a rather neat video showing the capabilities of Google Chrome.  A low-tech (but effective) advertisement from a highly technology-driven company.


Just because I’m proud of it :p

Here’s a better image of my “finisher’s” medal for completing the Tokyo Marathon. 😀

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I actually recovered very quickly – within 2 days I stopped feeling muscle pain aside from in my right knee.  At the moment, I’m planning on just doing small, short runs to try and get my knee back to full strength.  I think it’s working because I couldn’t even jog to the station (a 3 minute jog) a week ago without my knee starting to hurt.  However I recently jogged to a nearby supermarket and realized that my knee seemed fine.

I’ll take it slow, but I really do want to get back to running again – my waistline has DEFINITELY been increasing in size and that’s not something I’m happy about. 🙁

Food & drinks

Just a general update + food

As usual, work has kept me from performing any kind of update lately.  Due to, shall we say, “internal reasons”, one of my colleagues is on indefinite leave.  What this means in the long, I have no idea, but in the meantime it has effectively doubled the workload for the Tokyo office and that has greatly reduced my free time.  Lunches are rushed or eaten at my desk, I work longer hours, and there always seems to be something that needs to be done.

In one sense, the challenge is not all bad – I find myself doing new things, or trying to solve established problems in different ways since we are now supporting other overseas offices.   So, for the short term, it’s sustainable.  The downside to it all is that I literally feel tethered – I step away from my desk, and am already replying to emails on my blackberry one minute later in the elevator.  I leave the office, go home, and continue work from there.  The amount of emails I’m getting have at least doubled, till it feels like I’m ALWAYS replying to something –  before I’d maybe send out 30-40 messages a day, now up to a 100.

No doubt things will settle down at some point, but I do hope that folks in the management can settle on how things are going to turn out sooner rather than later…

Today’s my first full day off, with nothing planned (though I did spend an hour or so this morning going over work email).  The rest of my day has been a lazy one, just doing a bit of grocery shopping, and going through the final season of Battlestar Galactica. 🙂

I have been doing some cooking too, believe it or not.  Not today, but I’ve been doing a bit of baking recently.  Food-wise, I’ve tried my hand at a few “rough-and-ready pizza’s”, and for dessert, I’ve whipped up a couple of apple pies.  To my surprise, everything turned out great!

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 The pizza was indeed rough and ready – I grabbed the crust recipe off PW, the sauce recipe from allrecipes (with some personal customizing), and the toppings consisted of bacon, green olives, mixed cheese, and pesto.  I made a total of 4 pizzas (2 on one day, and 2 on the other).  The first time I didn’t make too much sauce, but turns out that that was actually good – the second time I made TOO much sauce and I learned that leaves the center of the crust a tad too soggy.  Gallery below!

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The apple pie was something I was especially proud of.  The first pie I made turned out pretty decent – I ate most of it, but shared perhaps half with a couple of friends that visited.  With the second pie though, I brushed egg white on the bottom of the crust and used foil around the crust to prevent excessive browning.  This turned out (visually at least) picture perfect!  I say “visually” because I didn’t taste this second pie.  You read that right – I actually passed on eating that delicious looking pie.  What came over me?? 😮

Actually, I brought in the second pie to work.  I left on on the counter of the common area and left a note telling folks to help themselves.  It was gone in 30 minutes, so I guess it must have tasted alright. 🙂

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For those interested, I grabbed the recipes for both the crust and the apple pie off allrecipes, tweaking to add a tad of cinnamon, and also pouring in the sugar/butter paste over the apples before creating the lattice crust.  The crust by the way, is dead easy (makes 4 individual crust or 2 double-crusts) and can be made and frozen ahead of time.  For those of you without a rolling pin, a bottle of organic Sangria left over from Christmas works just fine. 😉

Oh, and there was a small amount of crust left over – I flattened it out, filled it with some spam and cheese for a “hot-pocket” type of meal – delish, but definitely not for the weight conscious!


Looking forward to having more to read!

Most will know that I love reading, and I just had to mention it when I read Patrick Rothfuss’ blog update on his second book.

The Name of the Wind is one of my favorite fantasy books, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting news of when the second part of the trilogy will come out.  Though there’s no publishing date yet, it sounds like it’s finally nearing completion!  That was exciting enough, but he also mentions that:

The Wise Man’s Fear is going to be bigger than The Name of the Wind by at least 100,000 words or so.

That is just incredible.  The Name of the Wind took me a long time to go through, mostly because I enjoyed it so much that I deliberately tried to hold back and savor it rather than my customary speed-reading. That book was over 600 pages long, and if 50,000 words equals roughly 150-200 pages, then that’s another 300-400 more pages in the second book!

The second book has been a long time in the making, but if the quality of the book is on par with The Name of the Wind, and is LONGER to boot, then I can be patient. 🙂


I made it! (and OW it hurts…)

I can now scratch off one of my resolutions for the year – that of completing a full marathon. 🙂

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It’s the first time I’ve EVER done this, and I’m feel pretty proud of myself (feeling pretty sore too).  My time wasn’t that great – I came in around 6hrs 41mins – and the cutoff time was 7hrs.  To be honest, I barely made it.

The primary reason it took me so long was because my bum knee kicked in at around the 12km mark.  I started off slowly, but it just started hurting again at a quarter of the way in and from that point I was forced to run/walk/run/walk the remainng 30km.  It was incredibly frustrating.

Another reason I took so long was because it took my “block” 20 minutes to even get past the start line!  With so many runners (30,000+) I guess it couldn’t be helped, but next time I hope to be placed somewhere closer to the start line so those 20 minutes aren’t lost.

The final reason I was so slow was… call of nature.  At around the 12km mark, I figured I’d stop and line up for a bathroom break, and give my knee a few minutes to rest up at the same time.  Bad idea.  I ended waiting at least 20min to use the bathroom, and that was the reason I barely crossed the 15km line before cutoff.

There were multiple cutoff points along the route – 15km had to be completed in 2hrs 38mins, and as you can see in the table below, I made it with NO time to spare.  In fact, I was the last one across that line as I dashed through just as the officials were roping off the 15km point – if I’d been 30 seconds slower, it would have been the end of race for me.

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That actually put more pressure on me, since I didn’t have any more of a “buffer” between the cutoff points, so I just kept going on – no more bathroom breaks for me!

I think the hardest period was the 25km to 30km period.  By then I was tired, legs were burning so much that I couldn’t feel the knee pain anymore (since EVERYTHING hurt), and I also started getting lighted-headed as energy levels were dropping.  I recall staring intently at every single eating spot I ran by (some of which were emitting some wonderful smells…).  Luckily I had some energy gels that my coworker had given to me, and those helped carry over that rough patch.

From 30km onwards, I knew it was in the bag.  12km is about the equivalent of 2 laps around the Imperial palace so it was just a matter of taking each kilometer as it came.   At that point, it was really a matter of willpower.  I think I even managed to speed up (from a walk to a hobble) because my legs were so dead I couldn’t feel much.  That, and the end was in sight. 🙂

Though it was bad for the runners (it was raining and very cold), the spectators probably had it just as bad as we did.  At least the runners warmed up from the physical exercise.  The spectators though, had to stand there, huddled under umbrellas, and cheer us on.  I’m really grateful to all the people who held out snacks of chocolate and crackers – particularly towards the end, those snacks gave me the last bit of energy I needed to keep going.  It was incredibly cheering to see people (including families and children) shouting “Gambare!” “Fight, fight!”.  I even pet a dog that one man was holding up. 🙂

All in all, it was an incredibly challenging experience.  Would I do it again?  Probably!  I do plan on training a little better this year though – AFTER my legs recover.  Despite the pain, it’s just something I can feel proud of doing, of pushing myself hard, and making it to the end.

For those interested, you can click on the link below and enter 6hrs 41min (as shown in the image) to see a video clip of me as I cross the finish line. 🙂

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