One and not the same.

It has been a long time since I won anything, much less something like this – a collectible figure of my choice. Staring at the available prizes on display, I thought hard about the best one to get. The free ones weren’t all that good (read: big), being kinda small and unappealing. How about those bigger, detailed and sweet looking figurines instead? Kamen Rider Stronger looked really cool. Optimus Prime in black, a little ridiculous because he had a small torso with massive arms and legs, and I wasn’t about to get a Decepticon. (Although Devastator was one of the better looking bots.)

“Can I get that one if I pay extra?”

“Which one would you like instead?”

The young lady smiled prettily, and stepped a little closer to see which figure I was after. Feeling her warmth by my side, looking at us in the reflection, I was reminded of her. The same quality, the same air, they could almost be twins. Yet, not quite the same. It was as if I’d stepped off a time machine and returned to the past, to a youthful, innocent her.

“Yes, that one is no problem if you top up $140 extra.”

Really? Wasn’t a real bargain, but I didn’t mind.


The scene changed, time passed. She was now holding on to my arm, and we were going somewhere. I wasn’t sure where; not that I cared either.

I caught a glimpse of her handwriting on the notebook. The one and same handwriting, even. If this wasn’t time travel, it would be cloning. Or perhaps, an alternate timeline. Would I be happier here? I chose to ignore the lingering mental question.

One catches one’s moments of happiness wherever it happens, questioning an impossibility is but a waste of time.


我真的很想让我和你
回到过去重新再来再爱一次
我会在乎我们的故事
改写我们的历史
为你轻轻擦去眼角的泪珠

真的很想让我和你
回到过去重新再来再爱一次
我会珍惜我们的最初
不想看你为我哭
让你陪孤独说不尽心事

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Getting back in gear.

Well, well, well.

Hello again to full-time work! It certainly has been a long while. This new role certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park so far, and I am woefully out of my depth so far. Learning about the people, technology and daily routine has the brain moving in fifth gear right now, and to attempt to troubleshoot without enough information of the situation and knowledge of how things work, is just a bad formula for me. I’m the sort of guy who likes to know everything inside out, so that when problems occur, I can rule out things right away because I know. And I don’t know jackshit right now. Still, it is a pretty flimsy excuse.

Goal in the days ahead: I’m just going to focus on getting to work early, get stuff done before people start streaming in, and slowly document while understanding the entire company’s infrastructure better. I don’t mind taking less time on lunch to get work done, but I need to leave on time, especially when staying another five hours will not make me any more productive.

Short-term goal? To get this current disaster fixed one way or the other, and move on.

Today was an eye-opener though, because I have had the privilege to see one of the most insightful, energetic, tactful and humble people in my life so far. Total respect, enough said. Looking forward to working together with him!

That being said, I’m glad too to have a boss who’s cut from the same bolt of cloth as I am.

Review: XCOM on the PS3 could be better.

Just so you know, this entire post is a spoiler.

XCOM [1384]

Well, the ending got me somewhat.

I was waiting to get my Avenger aircraft and go kick some alien butt on the Cydonia base, when a huge mother effing alien flagship (otherwise known as the Temple ship) appeared. That, ladies and gents, was the final stage of the game.

A good thing I’d brought two Hover SHIVs along with four soldiers (none of whom were Heavies). It got tough when I was busting the Sectopods, but I scraped through. The final bit with the Uber Ethereal (not the best name) relied heavily on SHIVs and the Psi Storm, since I had no rockets to hammer those Ethereals with. Kill the Uber Ethereal and that’s it, game over.

What I liked:

  • Intricate dialogue, especially between the various senior XCOM staff. I liked the philosophical doubts raised by the staff too, brings a deeper meaning and potential implication to the alien technology.
  • High quality cutscenes. No explanation needed.
  • Aliens redesigned. Better costumes, less menacing though.
  • Combat mechanics made simpler: removal of TUs, soldier stats, taking away squat, addition of specialist classes which made combat more interesting and yet restricted at the same time. I feel a lot of the game depends on flanking and fire movement though.
  • Snipers: Long range, high crit, double tap, these guys are the shits.
  • Overwatch: Without overwatch, I would’ve been dead several times over. It got kinda slow when I was fighting bigger UFOs like the supply ship though, too much space and too little troop movement.
  • Game mechanics simplified: only one base to take care of.
  • Skill tree for soldiers: Fun abilities for all! I liked Lightning Reflexes the most.
  • Psionics: No need to build Psi devices to use mind control, nice.
  • Gray market: Nice to have another source of income. Sold almost everything I didn’t need on research and manufacturing.

What I did not like:

  • Removal of aircraft designs: where the hell was the Lightning and Avenger?!
  • Gameplay still too short: took me a little over two days to finish the thing, because I had to eat/sleep/the usual.
  • Ending storyline: a chosen psionically talented soldier sacrifices himself/herself to take the alien ship into the stratosphere, where it explodes instead of blackholing the entire Earth into obliteration. What? I much preferred simply blasting the aliens into smithereens on their home base.
  • Random class assignment: rookies were given a random chance to have a class assigned. Can you believe I played an entire game to completion with only one heavy arms guy? Dammit, need my rockets.
  • Removal of combat inventory: I used to disarm aliens the moment I mind controlled them. Now? No longer possible dammit.
  • XCOM base cannot be invaded: So much for defense. Then again, you only have one base. Imagine if you lost the base defense – WOOPS.
  • Lack of replayability. Just like too many other games these days, linear gameplay is a bad thing. Do X, do Y, do Z, game completed.
  • Combat arms reload: Adding reload for every armament took away the benefit laser arms had last time – infinite ammo. While making things simpler, this made the plasma arms a nobrainer. I used to keep laser rifles because I was a scrooge on ammo. It added realism into the game, and made you think harder about shooting. With infinite reloads? Fire first, think later.
  • Alien activity not enough: I liked it in the original, when we would see a frenzy of activity and I’d be able to launch multiple interceptor aircraft to splash them. UFOs heading to their bases, with species going on individual missions, it felt like they had a purpose with a real plan at hand.

With all this being said, I’m still looking forward to a sequel. Hopefully it’s not a TFTD remake, and it’ll make the game system more interesting than this first episode.

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Birthdays: keinday 2013

The fun of hindsight! There was this bit at the end of last year’s birthday post that read:

Next year (14 Jul 2013 is a SUNDAY), I am so gonna plan a getaway. Me time, period.

I’m typing this post at home, so you can tell how this idea worked out.


This was how keinday 2013 went:

  • Drove out at 0130hrs because Stan’s car broke down, and he needed a lift home.
  • Balled in the morning, thanks for the birthday wishes guys.
  • Had lunch with Stan and Clifton.
  • Drove Stan out to grab Lester’s car, which didn’t go so well because his car battery was flat.
  • Dinner at home.
  • Entertained my dear daughter: roughhousing
  • Put her to bed.
  • Work, work and work while composing this post.

Just another Sunday, in short. Not the best, could be tons better. Oh well. Here comes next year’s proclamation: next year is a Monday, I vow to take leave and get the eff away from work! (If I have a job.)

Got a birthday cake the next day thanks to Stan and V, yum.

2013 birthday cake

Not forgetting the birthday dinner on the 16th for Stan and me at T.G.I Fridays with V, Jasmine, Bill and Doris. Thanks for taking the time out, appreciate it!


As it is, another year has passed and it’s time for the annual birthday post. Every year brings new experiences, and this year has been no exception. Change, growth and learning, always a part of life these days.

What the hell has been going on this year?

Work
Since stopping full-time employment, work has been subdivided into three categories, SAHD work, the IT work kind of work, and the everything-else-that-I-do-for-fun-work.

Being a full-time dad has its own days in heaven and hell, and I have learnt a lot from being one. This has however, come to an end for now with mum being a full-time carer for her overactive grandchild. That being said, the entire family’s happiness level literally rides with little Elly. When she’s upset/crying/unwell, everyone gets thrown into Shitville.

The IT sort of work offers its own challenges. Working under my own freelance business, I had to learn to meet clients by myself, figure out requirements, do invoices, chase payment, a lot of which I hadn’t had to do previously. I’m very thankful for the exposure that I got during the Netbay years though, as it definitely helped prepare me better for this stage. Great eye-opener, meeting new people, very fun at times.

Everything else, which has mainly been writing. I worked with several places, most notably US Sports Down Under, which was instrumental in helping me with the experience of a lifetime: getting a media pass to a Boston Celtics game.

Writing at US Sports Down Under somehow led to my creation of Celtics Down Under, and I’m really pleased with the way everyone has come together and supported our growing brand, from writing articles to posting updates on the Facebook page, to having our own Celtics PS artwork done and shared for everyone’s enjoyment. Love the way this has taken off; it’s not a raving success, but rather a quiet little movement that’s slowly gaining traction.

One thing that’s not really work, but fun nonetheless: I was using a Nokia N9 last year, and my writings about the Nokia N9’s unofficial WhatsApp app (known as Wazapp) exploded like wildfire and drove pageviews way up, simply because no one else on the internet had properly documented fixes and patch downloads the way I did. Ahh, the power of the intarwebs.

Thanks to Chris, I also had the opportunity to work on content sourcing as a freelance assignment. It’s good experience, and I’m always happy to have a shot at trying new roles that are usually inaccessible.

And how about the latest venture I’ve been working on? Stay tuned, more details to be released. It’s secret for now 😉

The last bit: jobhunting has proved to be way harder than I thought it would be, and I’m getting a big fat zero for job applications so far. Zero, as in zero interviews. How exciting is that? Economy’s bad, guess there is a shitload of better qualified blokes out there working the lines for the same jobs. No shame, just gotta endure. Plus, it’s a learning experience too.

Life
One big event that sticks in my head – the time when V had vertigo. It was hell for her, it was hell for me too, especially when I had to juggle Elly and her while driving to a GP, then to the hospital, whilst looking for parking in between. Such a long, awful day. I’m just glad it’s all behind me.

My body wasn’t holding up so well in the second half of 2012 too, I suspect it came from accumulated fatigue and strain from having to carry Elly all the time. It got so bad, I was resorting to a standing desk experiment at one time. It took a few months of acupuncture and remedial massages before my back recovered. I thought I had problems with my rotator cuff and ulnar nerve at different times, things that healed by themselves – thankful.

Got to watch Mayday live in Melbourne once more, it was a great night. Not forgetting Kings of Convenience for the second time, love their carefree style of music. And my first ever concert watching Hanson, after rediscovering their music. Too many fangirls. The wait was bad, but the performance was well worth it.

Being so busy with random work stuff has sadly killed a couple of other pursuits I used to enjoy, namely PS3 gaming and photography. I still am keen on them, but the energy and time required is simply not there. As things stand now, happy to get time to maintain my reading habit.

Once more, very thankful to the friends who have stayed in touch. Also very thankful to have my family around. A mother who helps out without complaint plus a supportive brother, a wife who has always been a pillar of strength, and an amazingly smart daughter who’ll probably outfox me very soon. The older I get, the deeper the feeling of appreciation.

Holidays
Two (or three) trips, depending on how you look at it.

Flew back to Singapore in November and attended the weddings of two great friends, caught up with as many friends as I could during the rest of the free days I had.

While I was in Singapore, I also took the opportunity to go on a short getaway with the FG to Bangkok. Easy destination, and it was good to see Marc again. Likely the last holiday the two of us’ll ever take together. It was tough enough to get this trip done, and I’m happy that I had the chance to travel with my best friend once again before circumstances made it impossible.

The best trip? It’ll have to be my trip to the States with V. An awesome long haul flight courtesy of Air New Zealand (the best legroom ever), the best destinations ever (love New York and Boston, especially the burgers!), the NBA games (!!!), the opportunity to catch up with a couple of friends, especially HQ whom I hadn’t seen in years! Much thanks to her and Robert for their hospitality in putting us up during our stay in California. Glad to have had some couple time with V too, we had been taking turns to go on holidays ever since Cookie came into the picture. Also, this was a good long break away from the family, something the two of us needed badly – time, space, and sleep. I dubbed this trip the belated honeymoon, simply because we hadn’t had one after our wedding.

Basketball
Biggest bummer of the year: spraining my ankle in Singapore while blocking some guy’s layup. It’s healed, but it’s never going to be as strong as it was without extensive rehab. The answer? Taping my ankle before every session has become a necessary evil.

Recently, somehow found a way to shoot (and make the shot) consistently, much thanks to that morning session with Clifton at NMRC. The trick is in setting my feet, and releasing the shot in the most natural form (to me). Setting feet = half the battle won.

Also started playing without contact lenses as a way to save money, then realised I didn’t need them anyway. How do you spell win-win?

Stopped playing league on Sundays, largely due to monetary issues. A lack of income does bring you down somewhat. I was beginning to find stagnation in my role within the team though, it’s been largely reduced to “on offense: dribble the ball upcourt slow, pass it off to the wing and get ready to play transition D while committing minimal TOs”. Man, but do I feel like Dooling without a jumpshot.

Two new initiatives that I started this year, and am really happy with: a long-term booking at Caulfield, and another at Carlton. The Caulfield one has always been popular, and I’ve always had no problem finding guys to play. The Carlton session though, is another bag of tricks altogether. It was meant to be a training session, but the lack of numbers has made it relatively difficult to sustain. It’s degenerated into casual pickup ball at this point which improved the numbers somewhat, but the pricing is still something that needs to be worked out, or else.

Aim is to improve on my right hand’s finishing, and to develop a more aggressive mindset on offense.

Personal
I do feel older this year, and likely it’s because I’m effing 32 years old! It was funny when I went for an interview the other day and got mistaken for 22. It might have been possible a few years back, but I reckon I have aged a fair bit since.

One suggestion that I will do my best to work on this year, is to be more expressive of appreciation for work done.

Another thing that comes to mind, is to improve my focus on getting things done, and not get sidetracked from multitasking.


Presents
Number 1: As always, the brother is the first to kick this off. This year’s kickass Celtics present:
2013_present_stan

A book about the Celtics’ 2007/08 NBA championship run, and a DVD on Kevin Garnett – sweet. If he’d asked me about the book though, I would’ve told him that I’d bought the Kindle edition off Amazon last year and saved him some dough. Still, it’s a great book to keep. E-books are handy and all that, but a hardcopy has a different feel to it altogether. Thanks for the presents!

Number 2: In transit. Got a Star Wars Jedi bathrobe WOOOOOOOOOT! Mucho thanks to the FG for getting me this love it.

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Number 3: A $50 Amazon gift card from Nanzhen. Easy to use, easy to give. Like. Thanks so much brother!

Number 4: A Kevin Garnett swingman jersey in white/green, thanks so much to Bill and Doris!

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Number 5: A Stay Real T-shirt, also from the FG! Two words: love it. Already cost a bomb by itself, plus the expedited shipping, hell of a bomb. Love the gesture, the effort and of course the dough spent on me.

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Number 6: A book on the history and famous athletes in basketball, bound in basketball leather. Thank you Benny and Wing!

Number 7: An Iron Man Mark 42 Hero’s Edition figure. Cute! Thanks to breadpapa Neo for the belated present.

http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?t=writininkeini-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B00E4HW5EO&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr


Cards
Number 1: I got an e-card from the FG that reads:

Dearest Kein, Sorry for the cardless birthday this year! So here’s an ecard on behalf to wish you a joyful, eventful 32nd birthday… All the way from Singapore!!! Haha. As usual, glad to have you as my friend. The one that understands me the most! And stands by me no matter wat. Cheers to our friendship!!! Big hugs! P.S. your present is otw!! Only standard shipping choice so you gotta wait awhile!

ecard_ls

Number 2: The ACTUAL birthday card from the FG! One of the things I so look forward to every year, one of the things that I think of as a part of an unchanging tradition, always and always. One can always hope!

Dearest BFF, Sorry for the super duper late gift (2nd one) & birthday card. But like they say… Better Late Than Never!!! HaHa

Heee…
Sorry for the late birthday present… Well at least you received sth you wanted already! Kept you waiting for THIS; and I meant the card.
Although we don’t talk much these days, you would still be the person I would turn to & I know you will be there. Thank you for standing by me no matter where you are! So impt to me!
Alwayz so emotional when I write to you. Haha. Miss the good old days… Ohh speaking of which TQ for the keychain. Hope you like the 2nd gift too!
See you around soon I hope. Miss You!

2013-09-10 00.27.33


WhatsApp

  • Sharon: (assorted emoji: beer, party favour, smiley, camera, cake – I’m thinking that’s a birthday wish!)
  • Peiru: Happy birthday, Kein!
  • Lishi: Haha Happy birthday!!! Card coming with another surprise!
  • Nanzhen: Happy Birthday Kein
  • Nick: (a huge ASCII emoticon that I think is a birthday cake)
  • Erwin: Happy Bdae Kein!
  • Meishan: Nn n stuffy says happy birthday Uncle Kein!
  • Meng: No happy birthday Kein (I know he’s saying the opposite deep inside!)
  • Lester: Eh forgot to wish u happy birthday!
  • Zhiming: How can I forget … Happy Birthday my worst friend ever! Without you my life would never be complete! Hahaha Have a wonderful “new” year ahead & get a great job real soon 😉

Email
Shijie: Hi di, here’s wishing u a very happy birthday! All the best!


Skype
Fulin: happy bday man (^)


Twitter (new!)

  • Tommy: Birthday shoutout to @kein! Happy birthday bro!
  • Justin: Happy Birthday to @CelticsDownUnd creator and all around great guy @kein !! #MasterK
  • Matt: RT-ed Justin with “2nd”
  • Andrew: RT-ed Justin with “I second that. Happy b’day champ.”
  • Dave: RT-ed Justin with “All hail Master K!”

Facebook

(a lot of my Celtics Down Under folks with the birthday wishes, love them! Same to the other fantastic folks who dropped a line)

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That’s all for this year, time to look forward to the days ahead, stay positive and keep on grinding. You’ll notice I used the word thankful a lot, because that’s the one word that always sticks in my head every day. One can never have enough humility to overshadow our pride, and enough gratitude for the lives we lead every day. Stay healthy and happy everyone.

Thoughts on July and lessons relearnt.

A collection of random thoughts that I can’t be stuffed to separate into smaller posts. Here goes.

  1. Making relationships work, require communication. Friends, colleagues, family, everything. That being said, talking too much can be a bad thing at times. Prudent silence, is golden.
  2. Be thankful for the little things in life. Unemployment is a concern, but I’m happy to have the family around, and to have bits and pieces of work to keep things moving.
  3. Learn to forget about matters that make me unhappy. Take a deep breath, let it go, and sleep it off. The end.
  4. Logistics has never been a fun affair, and it takes real effort/commitment for success to happen.
  5. If I have my feet set, chances are high on nailing a jumper.
  6. Basketball at times, consists of me not making mistakes more than me making a positive impact. I sound like a shitty role player.

Stay positive, stay focused and get things done.