Monday, December 29, 2014

Honeymoon over

Guys, it finally happened to me: I met one of those people so devoid of conversational topics and firmly entrenched in their conservative mindset that the first thing they ask a newly married person is why haven't they had kids yet. Because fuck you, that's my business, that's why.

I mean, ask me how married life has been, what it's been like using "we" instead of "I", or how many carats my ring has, even (I don't remember where my ring is, I hate jewelry, tqvm).

Of course, I'm not the only person from my generation to not have kids within 7 months of getting married (if you do, rest assured I can do the math for that, hur hur hur, but I won't judge you), so I sympathize with my friends who are in the same situation.

For those who can't imagine WHY baby-making isn't a priority for us, please consider the following:


  • We might not want kids yet. 
  • We're might not able to afford kids yet. 
  • We might want to live together alone for a while, enjoying and luxuriating in each other's company. 
  • We might want to travel together lightly, and get into trouble without worrying whether there will be someone left to raise the lil 'un. 


I just realized: once you have kids, it's you with them forever. You can only be alone with your spouse for that short time before that. So fuck you, biological-clock-is-ticking lecturers, it's for my husband and I to decide how we spend our life together. Or shall I ask YOU when your next kid is coming, or why you aren't trying for a boy after all girls you've had?

Unfortunately, I still have to see my uncle's father-in-law at family gatherings, so I just smiled and said we wanted to get as much practice as we could.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sweet discovery

Guys, as you know, honey can be used as a quick face mask. It's supposed to be anti-acne, its humectant profile pulls in moisture, and it's good for treating small wounds (at least as far as wounded rodents in those preliminary studies have demonstrated). Some say that raw unprocessed honey is the best, better still if it's organic (eh?), but as long as it's actual honey and not syrup + honey, you're okay.

You smear it on with your fingers, avoiding the eyes, and leave it on for 10-20 minutes before rinsing it off in the shower, right? At least, that's what I've been doing.

The fiddliest thing has been getting it into a smaller container I can just stick my fingers in, as I didn't want to contaminate the stock container that contains the honey meant for eating. Unlike Pooh the Bear, the jar of honey is not for me alone.

I finally realized that I can just swipe as much honey as I need for my face from the spoon I use when I'm making my coffee in the morning. After all, my hands are clean, the honey in the jar stays clean, my black coffee is sweetened, and no one else is up early enough to comment on how oddly dewy my face is. Win-win!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Two sides

"Always look out for others."

"If you can't take care of yourself, how will you do the same for other people?"

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Things learnt from mountain biking

  1. If you're going to crash, aim for a small tree or bush. Big trees will hurt you worse, or kill you.
  2. If you and a small tree are being inexorably drawn together by the charisma of your careening bike, put your head down and let your helmet take the brunt of it (learnt from experience).
  3. When riding through a sandy, twisty trail lined with thorny bushes and/or whippy plants, lean forward and keep pedalling to prevent the bike from swerving.
  4. In the kilometer 30 under the unmerciful blaze of the afternoon sun and with lunch another 15 km away, use your damn gears and keep pedalling.
  5. Visualize that cool drink and keep going.
  6. A warning shout to the stray dog(s) napping in the middle of the road is always good.
  7. When keeping clear of a larger, faster vehicle, it's better to just ride through the muddy puddle than steer along the extreme edge of the track. Dirt washes off (a very good mantra for everything); broken bones don't.
  8. Use rear brakes more than front brakes to avoid flying over the handlebars.
Aw-koon (thank you), Cambodia!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Editing: USA vs. the rest of the world


The most common would-be freelancer question is "Where/How do I find a job?"

Typically, they would be pointed to freelancer marketplaces such as Elance, Freelancer.com, and the like, where you bid for gigs, or jobs. Complaints of undercutting by South Asian nationals abound, perpetuating the stereotype of the region as an international sweatshop both on- and offline.

However, I'm not here to grouse about that, or even gigs with paltry budgets (just say no and tighten your belt). Rather, I want to comment on how the beta versions of some freelancer sites limit registration to people living in the United States or Canada.

I'm not saying they're wrong in doing so. Certainly, it's their prerogative, and it might offer potential clients a semblance of security. I do think that in doing so, they limit their talent pool, and there is no guarantee that freelancers from these regions are necessarily better.

There's also nothing stopping a person with a legitimate US/Canadian address from successfully establishing an account with the site and subsequently farming the work out on other freelancing sites (!!) to people living outside North America.

Likewise, I don't think they have safeguards against a person who obtains a fake US/Canadian address and registers anyway. After all, there are mail forwarding services that cater to shoppers when an online shop in the US/wherever doesn't ship internationally, so why not freelancer sites?

Monday, November 3, 2014

TMI: PMS and fitness

As most women would probably know, your level of physical activity, and by extension, fitness, directly affect the severity of your PMS.

That is, unless, you're one of those lucky bitches who doesn't experience it, in which case: you lucky bitch.

As a baseline, I get bloated, stupid, forgetful, CLUMSY, irritable. Further reading reveals that PMS also heralds flatulence and constipation (AND diarrhea wtfwtf). The point is, most female bodies go haywire during PMS, and then they bleed and manage not to die from blood loss, so... I don't know. Hurray, nature?

Based on my observations, about a month of proper running and yoga has minimized all that. As in, I was kind of bloated but didn't feel like a whale, the irritability/moodiness lasted about 2 days, and everything else was pretty much packed into the day before my period started, so you can imagine the wreckage that ensued when I went to the club that morning.

Overall, a definite improvement. Also, I have no fast foods cravings anymore, but wouldn't turn down a good serving of pasta and cheese.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Daydreaming

For me, the first 1-2 kilometers of running are a battle to warm up and settle down. Every sensible bone I have (and my lungs) demands that I stop the insanity and go back to bed, because that's what you do at 630-ish AM, especially on weekends.

I keep running of course, because it'd be embarrassing to turn back so soon and because Enfant Terrible and our brother in law have pulled ahead and I don't want to run too far behind in the dark.

I really should get one of those LED safety clip-on blinking lights.

Before I realize it, I'm not thinking about how stupidly hard it is to run anymore, but other things, like the blinky light. And oh, here's a wee dead mouse. There's a person wearing a blinky light coming from the opposite direction. Usually, it's a white guy, and we exchange smiles and nods.

It's not that I run in a cocoon. I feel the road under my shoes, and I pretend that I'm in the Cormac McCarthy story, the one where Aragorn takes a long, depressing road trip. A creature in the tree cries out; alarmed, or a warning to others?

On another route, I make it a (sad) game of avoiding the inevitable dog turds, occasional shards of glass, and suspicious clumps. I trod on a flyblown rat once.

Elsewhere, we run past a copse of rubber trees and the smell of something rotting wafts out.

Over time, I'm sure we'll remember which parts of the hedge are used as pissoirs by the guards at the golf course (srsly, where else can they go?).

Everything ends eventually, naturally. The sun comes up, we take the return route back, and our attention is drawn inwards, just putting one foot in front of the other without stopping.

Also, there will be roti canai.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Running epiphany

A while back, I wrote what I still think is a simple, direct piece about the types of footstrike used when running. If you read it, let me assure you that putting theory into practice takes some, er, practice, even for a former sprinter like me. Maybe especially for former sprinters.

You land on your forefoot when you sprint because of the momentum. Unfortunately for me, I was under the impression I was midfoot striking. Turns out I was still forefoot striking, the unnecessary impact resulting in pain in the tops of my feet, ankles, and the bit near my heels. Also knee ache. And backache. And the returning thought that maybe running wasn't for me.

In my desire to avoid heel striking, I overcompensated in the other direction and suffered as a result.

Maybe 2 months ago (?), I was forefoot striking my way through the Lake Gardens (on the cement paths no less)* and wondering when my feet would become wonderfully strong and not hurt any more.

I became more miserable with every step, and finally decided to hell with the "midfoot" strike, I'd heel strike. Sadly, heel striking is uncomfortable for me too, but was definitely quieter than my mistaken idea of midfoot striking.

Eventually, I realized that there was still the middle portion of my foot that actually hadn't been involved in the running thus far, and tried landing on that.

O SWEET RELIEF AND JOY, that was what had eluded me all this time. This was midfoot striking, and it felt right. People must've wondered why I was grinning like a loon for the rest of the evening.

Since then, I've been running as happily as Brooks says runners should, except for the bit where I'm supposed to complete 10 kilometers in under 70 minutes. Cry.

So, if your feet and everything hurt when running, and it just doesn't feel right, try something else. At the risk of oversimplifying things, the footstrike that is quietest and causes no pain is right for you.

*The impact on your knees when running on cement is up to 6 times greater than that for running on the road, which itself exerts more impact than running on grass, though it's a different story if you get sucked into a mud puddle.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New direction

Hope I'm not jinxing myself here, but it's been 2 days and I've not gone on Imgur.

Seeing it written down shows me how little time has lapsed between one Front Page and the next, but keeping it up sounds good.

I didn't set out to quit anything cold turkey. Somehow, framing it like that seems to be a way of setting yourself up for a fall. The No Imgur initiative started out as "hey, let's read one of those think-pieces I've been bookmarking to read 'at the right time'".

As it turns out, the right time is when you decide to do the thing, to be clich├ęd. Instead of blindly loading Imgur as I used to do every morning over coffee, I now ask myself what else there is to read.

(That Terry Pratchett book and the Ultimate Absolute Sandman that husband got me come to mind.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How to buy a house: N00b edition

Get a flyer in the mail.

Realize you might just be able to afford the houses advertised.

Decide it's too far away.

Look at the prices again; show flyer to husband.

Visit sales office, which is nearby.

Get excited by the models displayed.

Drive to location to have a look anyway.

It's actually not that far, just away from the shopping areas we're used to.

Drive back to sales office.

Make booking, pay booking fee.

Spend rest of the day screaming "OMG WHAT HAVE WE DONE?"

The next day, call loan officers we spoke to at the sales office.

Spend the rest of the week scrambling to get financial records in some semblance of order.

Fill out home loan applications, submit.

Back-and-forthing between loan officers from different banks trying to gauge how committed we would be.

Argue over whether to go for MRTA (mortgage-reducing term insurance). Or was it MLTA (mortgage-level term insurance)?

Receive calls saying offer letters have been prepared.

Maybank SS2 loan sales associate scuppers her own deal after turning nasty when informed we want to think it over.

Loan officer from Public Bank SEA Park wins the day thanks to his laid-back outlook.

Sign offer letter.

(There isn't much difference between interest rates at this point.)

Spend rest of the day screaming "OMG WHAT HAVE WE DONE?"

Scramble finances a little bit more when the memorandum of transfer, lawyer fees, etc., are due.

Collect sales and purchase agreement from developer, which includes floor plans and fixtures of the soon-to-be house.

Hunker down till 2016 when house will be completed.

Plan how each room will be done in the meantime.

Easy.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Then and now

I showed Enfant Terrible the photos we took at the high school state athlete reunion thing I attended last Saturday, and he killed himself laughing at how much weight my seniors have gained.

"They...," he gasped, "used to... represent... Selangor?!"

Well, we all did; that's why our coach invited us back there (it was also his birthday. Good timing!).

He's also writing a book, but this post is about how people change after they leave school.

I mean, how are you going to fight gravity? In the 1980s, my seniors were young men and women in their prime whose very presence struck fear in the hearts of their rivals. That might have had something to do with our coach's fearsome reputation, but yanno, we had to hurdle those hurdles ourselves.

Anyway, that was then, and nigh on 30 years have passed since their glory days. People grow emotionally and also sideways over time. Can you actually blame a person for looking increasingly comfortable as they age?

For my part, I was actually quite chunky in Form 5, and mightily unhappy with it. I lost the weight when I went to matriculation and university, then regained it, plus interest, when I started this blog. I've lost that weight since then, and am quite happy being 52-53 kg. I had ranged 49-59 kg, which I guess is within the standard deviation?

I feel privileged to have met these people (younger and older) in Saturday. We were/are all part of something, and somewhere out there are still people who shiver with fright when they hear our names.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mobile blogger apps

My WPBlogger app returned "posting failure" messages all day today, and notification emails to the developer have all bounced back with delivery failure messages of their own. Consequently, I've uninstalled the app and am on the lookout for a better one.

I say "on the lookout" as if there are better options available, but the truth is, options remain limited for the early Lumias. Y u do dis, Nokia

I do believe this means I should get a new phone. Now to frame a good proposal for it to get the husband on my side (he has the credit card). Or I could just order that beauty of a Moto X from that not-at-all dodgy online shop. OR... write my own app? How do you even start with that?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Dining solo

I don't have a problem with eating alone per se, it's just that instead of sitting upright at a table, I prefer eating while slumped on the sofa, and what restaurant offers such dining arrangements? (Don't answer that.)

Anyhoo, I was planning dinner for one last night (didn't know whether anyone in my family would be eating in), and thus decided against anything "fiddly".

That's how I wound up roasting an entire head of cauliflower, hacking it up, and mixing it into a cucumber raita* I'd made earlier.

Granted, it sounds fiddly, but you just rub oil on the (rinsed) cauliflower and sprinkle it with salt (and pepper if you like) before putting it in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for about 1 hour. Here are some of the recipes I vetted before settling on the simplest one:

Roasted cauliflower thing I tried
The oft-cited Bon Appetit recipe
Paleo-friendly version
One that features yoghurt

The fiddliest thing is checking that it doesn't brown too quickly for your liking after 40 minutes (depending on how hot your oven is). Also, if the stem doesn't yield to a knife or fork after 1 hour, then another 15 minutes won't hurt (cover it with foil if starts to look disturbingly dark to you).

After seeing what I'd done, mum asked:

Why did you roast the cauliflower?
Why did you roast the cauliflower whole?
Why did you roast just cauliflower?
Why didn't you cut up the cauliflower?
Where did you get the idea to roast just a head of cauliflower?
May I try some?

Why does a person do anything?

*Mash and mix in a raw garlic glove and you're good to go. Don't forget the salt!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Getting on in age

There's going to be reunion of sorts being arranged by a high school junior of mine. I say "of sorts" because we're just gonna meet our athletics coach on his birthday.
Said junior asked if I'd contact others from my school, but for the life of me, I can't remember which of us represented the state :(
I could say something about the apparent exclusivity of this gathering, but criteria are criteria, and I think I'll have to pull out my yearbooks if I hope to make any headway.
If only I could remember where those are.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Christmas OTW!

Today's work face mainly involved alternately peeking through my fingers at the manuscript on screen and groaning, "Aiyo!" before correcting another redundant section of writing.

(I once showed Enfant Terrible a manuscript I'd edited heavily. It was a good 5 minutes before he said anything.)

Elsewhere, I think my car battery has gone flat again. The last time that happened, my mechanic hooked me up with what he called a see-through battery, so I could top-up battery water as needed. I take it he's kind of a lot of tired of having to make house calls of this sort. But but but... How am I going to get battery water without a ride?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Nostalgia strikes

This apartment is so close to the school(s) that I heard all the words to the songs they played for their sports' day today. Faithless have been around for at least 15 years! 

Come to think of it, my last sports' day was almost that long ago too. We concerned ourselves with things that were far too trivial back then, though they were of paramount importance at the time. 

Doubtless, with the benefit of 100% hindsight, I'll look back at this period and chide myself from concerning myself with trivialities such as a pasta sauce that was more orange than red.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Never-ending story

Am currently in week 3 of a 4-week staycation and it feels like the days have melted together. I'm not even sure when exactly my holiday began anymore.

Staying in an apartment is still a surreal experience for me. I'm in a building, but I'm also above ground level. I walk around this fifth-floor unit and the idea that everything might just fall over and I will die is the farthest thing from my mind right now.

Well, now I'm thinking about it a little. That and what dead silence will sound like when I'm back home. There's a kampung right next to the apartment block (it was here long before the apartments, obviously), and the insomniac inhabitants' main mode of transport is noisy scooters.

It's a working staycation though, so my brain hasn't turned completely to mush, though that can't be very far ahead in the future.

(I've been eating a lot of pasta.)

I don't know when the novelty of just doing what I usually do, but in a different location, will wear off. I don't think I want it to.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A whole new world

I never thought it would happen to me, but I'm now a (probationary) member of a private club. Generally, people are nice. Maybe club byelaws demand it; maybe everyone really is that nice. In any case, aggrieved parties are entitled to file a complaint against offenders; penalties include simple apologies, suspension, expulsion, and banning.

Other than the marvellous giant park nearby, the ladies' locker room is my other favorite place at the club. It's practically a lounge, only you get to walk around inside in your towel. Phone usage is barred, obviously. I forgot this on day 1 though (no one caught me)!

I could definitely get used to the tropical rain-type showers there, though I suppose I should be a bit leery of the shared shower slippers. Even rich people might carry toe jam...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Marital discord

It takes a great deal of honesty and maturity to admit that sometimes you say things to start a fight because you want some attention. Still, I suppose "Star Wars is daft" was quite sad and ill-advised.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Learning something new

As it turns out, WPBlogger accepts html, so that's the paragraph and text formatting taken care of! What I should be able to do next is memorize .jpg links so I can theoretically paste images here too. Or just, you know, log in to the site itself. Whichever is niftier.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Primer for out-of-town races

This is what I've learnt when participating in an out-of-town race:
1. Book your hotel early. Do it once you've confirmed your race participation. Don't show up the day before race day trusting your luck. The hotels in the vicinity will tell you they're full. You won't want to shell out for a 4-star room. At least most towns have a 24-h McDonald's or Starbucks now.
2. Eat 1-2 bananas per day starting at least 2 days before race day. You need to prime yourself to answer the call of nature before it even rings. Whatever distance you run, exertion-induced shit cramps are never welcome.
3. Prioritize proper eating. Out-of-town races mean reconciling travel eating habits (usually haphazard) with the necessary proper nutrition. You've trained for the race all these months; it doesn't make sense to risk your prospects with that aromatic meal from that rickety stall in that shady alley (you know the type). Save it for after.
4. Give yourself time. Arrive early enough to get a feel of the lay of the land, collect your race pack, investigate local attractions, and rest. Stay for a day or two to make the most of your mini-holiday.* Friends and family will loathe you for planning things so well.
*Hopefully, you'll have enough annual leave days and funds for the "actual" holiday season as well.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Safety in (relative) obscurity

Yesterday, I got to know a girl who used to be a lawyer, and her boyfriend, who is a pilot. Together, they've fielded more than their fair share of asinine questions only slightly related to their jobs. Did you know that there are many aspects of law? A lawyer who specializes in conveyance might not be able to give you the information you need for your divorce proceedings.

As for the pilot, social events have become a nightmare for him after MH370 went missing. I'm sure he wants to know what happened as much as everyone else does, but he's not an aviation forensics investigator, so asking him where he thinks the plane might be is an exercise in futility. Besides, it's probably the hundredth time he's heard it, so I wouldn't blame him if he made up an improbable story just for laughs.

As for me and Enfant Terrible, no one can fathom what a medical editor does, and there are virtually no scandals involving music teachers, so we get to smile and way as much cake as we can without anyone noticing.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Limbo

A strange inertia takes hold in the hour after it rains in the morning. I want to go for a run, because that's what I woke up this early for. Yet, the sky is grey and heavy, and thunder still rumbles somewhere over the treeline. Is the far-off susurrus a west-east wind moving the leaves, or more rain approaching? I have no idea; I've just been sitting here. But the thunder has grown louder and lightning has just flashed, so I might wait and see a bit longer before (instead of) doing anything.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Facilitated brain farting

Am mucking around with a mobile blogging app (WPBlogger). It's convenient, but the paragraph breaks don't show up, and you can't insert tags or images. Posting fails on the first go, and you have to restart the app as a consequence (no posts have been lost yet). AND if you have to email the app writer to notify them of errors that occur while posting, you get a delivery failure message anyway. I guess this is what happens when you have an earlier Windows phone, considered the stepchildren of the app world. That said, it's quite fun and serves the purpose of writing on the fly.

Hitched!

To mark our tenth year together, Enfant Terrible and I got married. At first, I thought of posting this on 06 June, which would've been our 1-month anniversary, but timing is not my strong suit.

Anyway, married. With a ring and all that (not my idea). Have put pen to paper and made honest people of each other, as they say.

What is it like to be married? I didn't expect this bliss, certainly. I didn't think that it'd be possible to be even happier to have him than I already was. I wonder how long it will be before the novelty of calling each other "wife" and "husband" wears off. (I was still referring to him as "boyfriend" a few days after we got registered.)

Anyhoo, there's still the sticky issue of the reception. Some people don't consider a couple "properly" married until they have it. To such people, I'd say, "Go mooch elsewhere."

Of course I want to celebrate the union though, but it will be on our terms, which might see a few Rammstein songs being played. Cool.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Coffee fasting: Wimp edition

I ran out of ground coffee about a month ago* and have been stealing mum's instant Nescafe. She pretends not to notice, but never fails to act surprised when a new bottle appears mysteriously on the kitchen counter. I'm not a caffeine junkie per se, but like most people, I might have a slight problem.

Anyhoo, mum went to Japan and returned safely, bearing with her an assortment of green tea-based snacky things, coffee jelly (?), and ground coffee.

I brewed some of it yesterday using the much-vaunted pour-over method (it's what the packaging instructed). Given the time spent without ground coffee, I am fully qualified to tell you why ground coffee will always win out over instant, even though John Scalzi will tell you it all tastes like ass.**

There's nothing mystical about brewing your own coffee,*** although some would make it out to be like that. It's just that as the grounds are steeping, they fill the house with a tantalising aroma that conveys energy and freshness, somehow managing to evoke the sense of purposefulness and renewal that comes with each new day.

Taste-wise, ground coffee is light, clean and, at the risk of sounding pretentious, pure. However, as I was alone at the time, I couldn't tell anyone about how it fairly sparkled on my tongue and woke me up. The aroma lingered all day to boot. 

In contrast, instant coffee seems like something you would use when you're angry with yourself. It's sour and muddy, the bitterness jolts you out of your sleep stupor most unkindly, and it doesn't smell nice. In hindsight, I daresay that work over the last month was decidedly lackluster.

That said, a coffee grinder and a reliable supply of freshly roasted coffee beans are worthwhile investments if you want the best of brewed coffee.

* Got lazy about cleaning up after brewing, yanno?
** Obviously I don't know him personally, but I feel like I know a person personally when I read their blog or whatever (haha) often enough.
*** Everything I use is from Daiso or Tesco.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The real awkward moment

When you're out with your boyfriend and his parents, and his mum makes small talk with another woman, and the woman asks her, "Are these your grandchildren?"

I've been told I look Thai, but this...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Meter/Anti-meter*

At dawn
The lone satellite soaring
over a dark road
Only your breath and
the sudden muscular staccato
of swifts in flight
against the face of the waning moon
I am no Jaeger pilot
But no one knows different anyway

* It probably doesn't do to read a poem like a piece of prose, but.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Things to do when you're waiting for a package

  1. Clean your nails.
  2. Sort out the laundry.
  3. Work in the front of your house (if you're me).
  4. Watch TV.
  5. Write a blog.
  6. Trawl the social media networks.
  7. Go out for tea, and miss the delivery anyway.
It was nice of the delivery guy to call me 3 times, though I wasn't close enough that tearing home would've made a difference.

When you miss a Poslaju delivery, you have to collect your package from whichever Poslaju Center is stated on the card they leave.

It's all well and good, but if the information on the card hasn't been updated, then it's down to the sad-eyed policeman standing guard at the Kota Damansara Poslaju Center to tell you that the place isn't open from 8 AM to 6 PM on Saturdays, but that it is open from 10 AM to 3 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. He'd clearly done it so many times that he asked, "The card says it's open today, doesn't it? They didn't change it, I guess."

The least they could do is put that information on the gate outside the compound instead of decaling it on the office doors inside the gate.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kinder Soaps Double Duty Balm

*TMI alert*

PMS can be unkind. Bloating, weight gain, blotchiness, breakouts, and dry skin beset a female whose endometrial layers are about to be shed, to say nothing of the cramps, insomnia, and gastrointestinal havoc that may or may not occur depending on whether any dairy has been ingested.

*end TMI*

On the bright side, I don't have premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a form of PMS so severe that it has been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V and for which anti-psychotics may be prescribed.

Moodiness aside, it's the dry itchy skin that bothers me most. Accompanied by PMS-cracked lips, it tends to be at its worst when I have to talk to people, leaving them wondering about my weird-ass beard fetish.

Remembering that the first principle of living a happy life is to be good to myself, I got the Double Duty Balm from Kinder Soaps.

(Left) Summer Fizz soap filling the room with effervescence; (right) Double Duty Balm about to be put to use.

Consumers accustomed to glossier packaging might not give the tube a second glance. The balm itself matches the wholly unassuming exterior. The balm is ultra-solid* and dark beige, by the way, and not even scented (it smells a bit like wood and paper and ointment), which may be a turnoff for some people.

If you ask me though, this is a plus, as it shows you that Michelle the Soap-making Maven doesn't have time to faff around with inconsequential fripperies like fragrance in her pursuit to create things that are just kind to you.

Without any exaggeration, this is the best skin balm I've ever used for the dry skin on my hands, which has become incredibly soft(er) and smooth(er) after 2-3 daily applications. It's a bit heavy for face use, so apply only when absolutely necessary.

As a lip balm, it lasts all through bedtime, which is when I use it. That said, it would probably last all day if you don't blot it away.

I fancy that the beeswax and cocoa butter confer longevity to the balm; the oils (apricot kernel, camellia, jojoba, macadamia nut) and rosemary oleoresin** likely work together to give you skin and lips as soft and smooth as Thranduil's hair. I love Lee Pace this stuff so much.

I am patient; I can wait. (Unggghrghh.) Image from Flickr

* It stays solid after a warm day, and I keep in my wardrobe.
** All listed on the tube.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Falling in love again: Addendum

Following up on this post, it would be remiss of me not to mention the mid-foot strike. As you would imagine, this is when the first part of the foot that hits the ground when running is the middle.

It's ironic to think that I have to learn how to run all over again, but the school of life is always in session, no?

In any case, mid-foot striking inflicts less impact on the knee compared to heel striking, and less on your toe joints compared to forefoot striking. This is of course based on my own experience, and shouldn't be considered the textbook form for running under any circumstances. In fact, just run using the form(s) with which you feel most comfortable. If it feels like too much strain, slow down, shorten your stride, or walk real fast.

As for me, I start out with heel striking before going on to mid-foot striking. The effect is that the pesky ankle twinges that made running such a pain in the ass have disappeared, as has the infuriating heavy calves feeling.*

I feel like I can clock up some serious mileage now that I've tweaked my running form. To think that I'd been putting this all down to advancing age.

* Some say it's due to lactic acid buildup, which is supposed to stem from anaerobic exertion and which you can train to overcome; others insist that it's compartment syndrome, which involves pain, is scary, and doesn't bear thinking about.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Coffee fast: Day 2

Morning

Up at 6 AM as usual and feeling drowsy. A throbbing headache develops soon after I get up. Is this a sign of caffeine withdrawal?

Let it stand for the record that advocates of warm lemon water ALL fail to mention the chalky feeling it leaves on your teeth, even after you mix the juice of half a lemon with a teaspoon of honey and a cup of warm water.

Mid-morning

Headache becomes teeth-grittingly intense. Fie on your Panadol, you drug-touting artificialists.

Work is fast and furious. I'm grateful for the remote nature of my job, which allows me to swear loud and long each time I come across a writing error. Is this a sign of caffeine withdrawal?

Swear jar, what fucking swear jar?

Afternoon

My period starts.

I have lunch at the mall with Enfant Terrible and his parents. The lights are too bright. There are too many children and they're all running around like free-range animals. It's clear that I'm turning into Anthony Bourdain. All I need to do next is marry a Brazilian jujitsu exponent.

Enfant Terrible orders an iced latte and an iced cappuccino for his parents. They do not fancy the sugarless nature of the coffee drinks. Enfant Terrible looks at me pleadingly.

"Don't waste food," he says.

My period has started; all my data are inapplicable due to the presence of confounding factors, i.e., PMS and hormones and all those other period things.

I will try again some day.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Coffee fast: Day 1

Morning

I reach for my French press before remembering that coffee and I are taking a break from one another this week. Have 2 mugs of warm water instead.

Mid-morning

Snoozy. Time for a cuppa---oh.

Afternoon

How do people even stay awake this long? Over lunch at my regular banana leaf haunt with Enfant Terrible, I find my gaze frequently wandering to other tables where mugs of frothy milky teh tarik abound. We manage to leave before embarrassing situations ensue.

Evening

I hear that warm lemon water is a nice pick-me-up in the mornings, so I head out to the grocery to get some. Narrowly avoid precarious traffic situations that are entirely unrelated to me.

Night

Still sleepy, but it's time to sleep now so it's ok.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Falling in love all over again

Previously, I was certain that the "no pain, no gain" premise of exercise was not for me. (Cow milk is another thing that is not for me, but...)

Back then, I would rather watch a Rebecca Black video 5 times back to back than admit that maybe, possibly, my certainty that running as a fitness activity was not for me was because I was doing it wrong.

How is it possible for a former high school sprinter to get running wrong?

For one, sprinters and middle- to long-distance runners are taught to run differently. A sprinter tends to use a forefoot strike, landing on the ball of the foot before pushing off with the toes. The speed at which a sprinter has to run lends itself to this movement.

On the contrary, longer-distance runners tend to have a heel-to-toe foot motion (heel strike). You can't sprint 3 km (though the African runners ghosting past you very well look as if they are), so you don't need the sprinter-type footstrike.

(That said, some people forefoot strike naturally, though heel strikers outnumber them.)

The other thing is that I overstrode, which doesn't work out when you want to run farther than 400 m or longer than 5 minutes. I imagine that this occurred because I still had the idea of running like a sprinter even though I was moving much more slowly. 

Unfortunately, the effect of overstriding and forefoot striking is that you wind up with knee pain and back pain and the firm idea that running is not for you.

Following a heated discussion with Enfant Terrible ("You're running wrong!" "How can that be, I was a school runner!"), I went back to heel striking with a medium stride. Now I would say that running is for everyone as long as you do it right.

P.S. Mincing your steps can also lead to pain, as will shoes that don't fit correctly. Buy shoes that feel comfortable, not those that the salesperson promises will stretch with use.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A challenge

I would never profess to being addicted to anything *coughsocialmediacough* but the idea of going on any fast intrigues me. The easy correlation to make is that if you deprive yourself of something and feel the effects of that deprivation, it must mean that you're addicted to that something.

I don't think that's necessarily true, though some habits are certainly hard to break (I wish I could quit you, Cumberbatch). In any case, let's see what the ensuing 7-day caffeine fast does.

Starting tomorrow that is.

*commences furious caffeine-loading*  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blowing hot and cold

Bro1 has been on a bit of a coffee kick lately. By "coffee kick", I mean sampling long blacks (hur hur hur) at non-conglomerate coffee houses* and declaring that they're "meh". I'm not sure what he's looking for, but it's safe to say that when/if he finds the rapture-inducing brew, it will be expensive and hard to get, leaving him bitter (HAHA) to the end of his days.

Domestic coffee-making things
Personally, I'm all for egalitarianism when it comes to caffeinated beverages. I may brew my own coffee in a French press** each morning, or dust off my Vietnamese drip brewer if the grounds happen to be coarser, but it doesn't mean that I would turn down a cup of instant if I were offered one, much less heap scorn on offering/offerer. This is because: 

1. It's rude.
2. It doesn't matter how it happens as long as you get buzzed.

For those reasons, I find the coffee vs. tea thing inexplicable as well. I don't know how much of it is marketing and to what extent avowed coffee and tea drinkers actually believe that their beverage of choice should be the only beverage ever.

I like tea. It's mellow and mind-clearing and invigorating in a way that coffee can never be. Apparently though, you have to get the perfect tea leaves or else you might as well just fill your cup with ditch water. And you mustn't ever wash your teapot because you will destroy the flavours so painstakingly developed over 5 days.

Fortunately, I have had the privilege of brewing tea in clay teapots, copper pots, and my trusty French press***, and can safely tell you that it's usually down to brewing time and leaf quantity. That is, if you want stronger tea, use more leaves. If you want a mellower flavour, use cool water and steep it overnight, or steep the leaves in hot water over a shorter time. 

There's nothing wrong with bagged tea either, because what's the point of having a chill-out moment if you can't do it your way?

* It seems like one opens every week here, which is both exciting and a little worrying.
** For some reason, people here consider this an esoteric method and get wide-eyed over it. What's so mysterious about leaving coffee grounds in hot water for 4 minutes?
*** I buy into the idea that using an infuser is counterproductive to the steeping process.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Taking stock

Enfant Terrible and I both gained weight last year; he more than I, but the point is we both would have to pay more if we were to check ourselves in as luggage on a flight.

First world problems are embarrassing. Lifestyle diseases are all a direct result of your own indulgence in the advantages your cushy life affords you. In the grand scheme of things, they does nothing to advance world peace; the demands of an affluent society increase/highlight the disparity between that of a poorer one.*

Enfant Terrible has since started to eat less and move more. I initially had a head-start over him in terms of the let's get healthy initiative, but he is clearly the more disciplined half.**

Our approaches to fitness are wildly disparate, to put it mildly. He favors the whole endurance training thing, whereas I believe that it isn't worth that much pain to work up a sweat. 

Still, we've managed to convince one another to try out each other's approach: I do a circuit training thing each day*** and he does jumping jacks; he drags me out for a run every evening, during which I trot along dutifully until I'm winded, then walk briskly, breaking into a trot again whenever he turns around to check on me. 

It's working out quite well I think.

* Guilt of privilege is another first world problem that first world residents try to alleviate by throwing as much money and goods as they can afford at less privileged countries.

** He is able to say no to a second green tea mochi U_U

*** Original article by the American College of Sports Medicine. The more sets you do, the more you burn.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mee kolok

The most ubiquitous thing in Kuching, Sarawak, is the mee kolok. I don't know what dialect the name comes from, but for those who have not had the opportunity, it is one-bowl meal of noodles (traditionally) tossed in lard and topped with slices of char siew, ground pork, and slivered spring onions.

There are pork-free versions, of course, though I wouldn't vouch for their halal status. The lard is replaced by some other rendered fat, maybe chicken. "Special" versions feature seafood, pig offal, or sometimes both. Die-hard enthuasists like my dad would try all versions, but inevitably conclude that the original pig version has a je ne sais quoi that is impossible to replace.

The breakfast of champions. And many Sarawakians.
Personally, I prefer Sarawak laksa. All basic versions don't contain pork, though the stock might. In any case, I like the al dente springiness and recalcitrant curliness of a mee kolok noodle. Without it, it's just another plate of ho-hum Kuala Lumpur wantan noodle.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Housekeeping

Ironically, given I'm always online, I decided last year that I would use social media less often.

So, I will check in to Twitter, Facebook (obviously), and (sad) Imgur* less frequently.

The reason(s) for the diet are obvious (to me, at least): none of these sites actually contributes to my work, and trawling them for the occasional respite from yet another interesting depressing manuscript about how W gene affects X phenotype via Y protein in Z cancer** has yielded increasingly decreased gratification.

That is, it's become less interesting. I could have just said that, but that's no fun.

Coincidentally, Neil Gaiman announced last year that he would be on a social media sabbatical. The difference is that he is married to Amanda Palmer and I am not he is an internationally best-selling author who has a lot of things to do and very little time in which to do it.

Of course, you've never seen either of us in the same room together...

* Sad that I have become ensnared in the mind-numbing compulsion to load one image after another for hours on end.

** It's all about gene expression lately. Get on it.