Missed the EOY post before 2017 ended, my Mac was still powered off and I didn’t feel like popping a lengthy post off my phone.
Well, at least we’re still in January ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
To be honest, 2017 started out looking pretty vanilla, with the promise of an NBA playoffs trip. Then that fizzled, but things started getting more and more complicated, but I’m glad to say we survived the year pretty well, which was seriously no mean feat.
Consistency continues over here. I started training with Tyson late last year, wrapped it up in May, and continued to train on my own. Learnt about supersets, various exercises and how my body reacts to them. It was good having someone pushing me out of my comfort zone as well, training alone can get you into a plateau at times. I also learnt to push myself harder during workouts, especially at the mental level.
I managed to keep my gym sessions up, even through my China/US/Singapore trips, which was pretty awesome. No days off! Obviously, it helped that I had access to hotel gyms, some with really shit equipment. Whatever I guess, dumbbells are dumbbells, even if they look old and rusty. And if you have a bench and dumbbells, there’s no excuse not to put the work in, period.
Much thanks to Chin Boon for training me when I was back in Singapore as well, that was intense. I died so hard on leg day, my legs were destroyed for about a week after that session. Learnt a lot in just three sessions, and hearing him share his experiences helped heaps. It was educational, to say the least.
To be honest, the only times I didn’t keep to my 4x a week routine, were in the days leading up to the move, and when I was on my NBA trip. I was just too drained to do more than three sessions pre-move, and the US trip was basically me trying to sleep enough, stay healthy and not completely wreck my diet with sugary American fast food.
I experimented more with meal prep in 2017, tweaking and adding bits and pieces, but eventually got lazy and just went to the basics: chicken breasts and sweet potatoes, with everything else depending on availability and price.
Goal for 2018: gain more muscle, cut fats, get myself looking better than before! It feels like my metabolism has slowed another gear, which means additional discipline on the food end, if I’m to get results.
Right now, I’m trying to cut down to 68kg before bulking restarts. Oddly enough, it’s harder to cut than it was before – I must be consuming more calories than I think I am. (This is why estimation never works, ya gotta count your calories.)
2017 objective: keep this shit up. – COMPLETED!
2018 objective: keep this shit up, and get more swole.
I feel like this deserves its own section, AT LAST.
Got to play ball in China on the work trip, and in Singapore, which was a really good session. Worked the pick and roll with Kenny to perfection, he was rolling hard and I got the ball to him right on point, soon as I got doubled.
I also went out to Shot Zone with Nanzhen twice during the trip, and really worked hard on my jump shot. It’s not perfect, but honestly, it’s in better shape than it ever was before. I finally managed to fix the hitch in my jump, and the shot’s more economical/efficient/smoother, with a shitload more consistency in the arc and trajectory. Played some casual ball recently, and realised I could comfortable loft three-point shots now, even shots beyond the arc. This was something I’d been unable to do with my jump shot previously, all my life. It sounds ridiculous, but those four hours of shooting in Shot Zone really turned things around.
Will definitely head back to this place again for more training.
2018 objectives: play more basketball in Melbourne, and go back to Shot Zone at least twice more.
This just popped into my head: impatience is both my greatest strength and my biggest flaw. It drives me to get things done quickly and to the best I can, but without the gift of restraint and patience, I try too hard, too quickly, sometimes with undesirable outcomes. It’s karmic/ironic that V possesses the exact opposite trait: patience/procrastination.
Big milestone: got my vasectomy done early 2017. It took a lot of thinking, and a lot of planning/research, but the actual process was surprisingly quick. I drove there, had it done, drove home myself, and took a couple of painkillers. It was mildly sore, not excruciatingly so, and results came back clear so we’re home free! It was something V and I agreed on, and honestly, me taking one for the team is much easier than her doing it. Kids are fun, but there’s that fine line of liking kids and you know, really loving kids. I think it’s when you have two kids who are of a manageable age, and you slam the brakes hard, before a third one appears and you have no choice but to dive into parenthood and just give up everything else. We’re just comfortable with where we are now.
I also went past the one year milestone for minox aka the beard growth project. It’s definitely gotten a little bit denser, but for someone who’s been going at this for a while, I expected more results. I have plenty of vellus on the sides of the face, a few that have gone terminal. The secret to success seems to be moisturiser, but I’m still on the fence about this. That’s why I’ve still got plans for a facial hair transplant, possibly at the end of the year.
Here’s another big milestone: I got my Australian citizenship in 2017. It’s a big decision, but I’m sticking to it. My kids are Australian, there’s no reason for me not to be. And this is the place where I’m going to be living out the rest of my life (very likely). Singapore’s the place I grew up in, but it’s no longer the place for me. And if y’all think dual citizenships aren’t an option, well there you go. And there’s other reasons (like Medishield Life) but we won’t delve too deep into it here.
2018 objectives: get a better beard, learn to be more patient, get Australian passport sorted.
Also started looking a bit harder into the finances. I’m not exactly gunning for FIRE yet, but more on making sure we get our money’s worth with what we’re spending. I got an American Express card (because fuck that next-to-pointless Citibank card we’ve had for years), and started clocking points in earnest. 2018 is gonna be the year when we fly business class to the US!
I also began investing in Vanguard, and popped a little bit into some shares that’s gotten respectable growth so far. Might be getting on another company this year, depending on finances. Better than having the cash sit in a bank account, interest isn’t worth much these days.
Also adulted harder, and got an accountant to do my taxes. All of the investing shit just made my tax returns too complicated, and I just concluded, it’d be much easier to get a professional to sort it all out, rather than waiting for V to put some time together and do my taxes for me. Big first effort, but I think the years ahead will get much easier.
2018 objectives: organise finances better, continue to build investment portfolio.
Biggest highlight of the year, definitely attending the FG’s wedding. It was a crazy whirlwind trip, I was in and out of Singapore in less than 24 hours, but I was really happy to have been there for her big day.
Everything else was catching up with the mates over here (Sam, David, Bill, Andy especially), and reconnecting with everyone in Singapore. Loved that I got to play basketball with some of the Griffiths lads, and a wonderful supper at Maccas with plenty of comfortable chitchat. Next year’s session might be better, now that we have that WhatsApp group!
I did a count, and being able to catch up with 50+ people over the course of ten days is a pretty impressive number, even by my standards, considering most of the sessions were pretty small in size. Thank you all for making time out, and I’m especially glad I got to reconnect with Ramya, one of my best friends in primary school. All hail Facebook and tequila!
Congratulations to the friends who have welcomed new additions to their family this year too – new challenges ahead! I certainly don’t envy any of it, which is why I got the snip.
2017 objective: keep in touch with as many people as I can. This is going to be hard, harder than 2016 when it comes to Singapore. – COMPLETED!
2018 objective: keep trying, keep trying. I can’t help it if people don’t want to meet up, but for those that do, I have to do my best to make it work.
Had our first family trip to Geelong this year! I’m hoping to make this an annual tradition in the years ahead, something for the kids to remember as they grow up.
Introduced the kids to Transformers! Lenny especially, has become a big Transformers fan, especially Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and the Transformers Go! Shinobi/Samurai teams. Well done, me.
The kids have been really good this year. While I’d like to pat myself on the back (again) and say well done me, at least half of it is on them for listening to, and putting up with this grouchy dad of theirs, who nags about them and tries to keep them in line all the time. I won’t have the smartest kids in the world, but I’m hoping by the time I’m done with them, they will be at the very least, not-selfish bastards who can’t handle themselves and get into trouble.
Our 2017 commute/routine was pretty much a rush most days, many thanks to Chris and Veronica for helping to pick Elly up from school, it saved our bum more than once. The parent network is crucial to survival 🙂 We’ll see how 2018 rolls, hopefully it’ll be easier with the new schools.
There was a sustained period when we managed to explore plenty of new cafes and restaurants, which was really good. Much thanks to a certain Facebook group that shall remain unnamed, for their extensive legwork and recommendations/reviews.
The biggest event that’s happened as far as the family’s concerned: we got a new place! The house hunt was surprisingly quick, took us less than three months to spot and lock it in.
It meant a mad transition of changing schools, updating addresses, staying on top of the mountainous paperwork but we managed to make it work. The near heart attack was our broker telling us we were short on funds on settlement day, evidently our conveyancer assumed we knew about the exact funds that needed to be in the account. Like, srsly. ASSUMED. I’m just glad I managed to hustle down to the bank and fix it in time.
Much love to everyone who helped, from Andrew to Andy to Stan. It was most definitely an educational experience, being the first time I’d actually worked through most of the details needed. (The last time we bought a place, V basically handled it all.)
Anyway, moving on. Definitely a one-time thing, won’t be using that conveyancer the next time.
But the extra space has been really nice, much nicer than I’d expected. As usual, the DSL (dog shit luck) is in full gear. Definitely lucked out on this place.
2017 objective, as listed in my 2016 EOY post, was to help Elly get adjusted to her new school, and Lenny to talk. Guess she’s got to adjust to another new school this year, so that definitely didn’t quite work out. Lenny’s talking plenty of shit these days, but too much of it is on cars. We need to expand his vocabulary some. – NOT QUITE COMPLETED 😦
- Get Lenny’s speech to the next level
- Get Elly’s confidence up
- Try more food places
- Build home gym in garage (floor mats, mirrors, bench, dumbbells)
Caught Hanson this year with the brother! Thanks to V and Stan for arranging it, this was brilliant. My legs and back were so sore from standing for so long though.
Did I mention the NBA games yet?
- Caught the Celtics’ home season opener in Boston, with an emotional Gordo video being shown on the jumbotron. Shitty loss, couldn’t be helped. Enjoyed the excellent TD Garden tour before that, our guide was awesome.
- Caught the C’s against Philly on the road, on their home season opener. (We won.)
- Watched a surprisingly spunky Nets team play against the Hawks, at Barclays. (Place is legit good.)
- Caught a blowout win against the Knicks at TD Garden, with Gino time. Gino time is always a good time.
- Bonus: Springfield MA, Basketball Hall of Fame. If you’re a basketball fan, you’ve absolutely gotta check it out. Obviously, it helps that Springfield is so close to Boston.
And here’s the topper: finally caught Mayday in Singapore once again! It’s the FG’s Christmas present/wish, so to speak, and we finally caught the band together in action once more, after 12 years. Bliss. And of course, having front row seats to the concert might have helped. We most definitely had the best seats in the house. Catching Mayday is always an emotional experience, much more so than watching them in Melbourne, because the atmosphere is just so different. Still hope to catch them in Taiwan some day, at 小巨蛋.
I started playing Nioh on the PS4 this year, on Boxing Day. It was right around that point when I decided, fuck I’ve had enough of unpacking and organising shit, it’s time to take a break. So I took a break from real life, and committed myself to being endlessly massacred in Nioh. I swear, I must have died at least a hundred times on that island boss with the wrecking balls. It’s all about honing your instincts and combat rhythm, with death being the merciless teacher that tells you, you fucked up on that dodge kid. Go to death, don’t pass Go, don’t collect $200 either. Go get better, then come back and get fucked up again.
Great game though, thanks to Stan for getting it.
I’ve fallen behind on The Walking Dead and The Flash, thanks to all the trips and the move, but now that my internet’s back, watch out. Did I mention that being in a townhouse instead of an apartment, actually improved the Wi-Fi reception by a gazillion times? Jared called it, the lack of interference and congestion does make the network so much better.
2017 objective: actually play the PS3/PS4 without objection from the wife on pixelated violence being bad for the kids. Like, really. I grew up on this kind of stuff, it didn’t turn me into a homicidal maniac. And again, TRY TO PLAY MORE BASKETBALL DAMMIT. – COMPLETED x2!
2018 objectives: take time out for console gaming, watch more NBA games live (hopefully), and I’m looking forward to two more concerts at minimum: Jacky Cheung and Mayday (again!)
I had a shitload of trips this year, so let’s see.
The April playoffs trip didn’t happen because V was swamped at work, so that idea got shelved.
Flew to China for work on a pretty poor airline, survived 11 hours and limped around after that. The colleagues were fantastic though, took really good care of me and surprisingly, managed to play some basketball. I most definitely did not expect that. I also most definitely did not like the China-centric payment systems, not cool WeChat/Alipay/UnionPay. My credit cards were crippled while I was there, was surviving on room service at the end of the trip because I was rationing my cash.
Flew to the US for work, but detoured and embarked on my epic NBA trip, mostly with Hayley as company – she was the best companion I could’ve hoped for. What better than a fellow C’s fan on a basketball holiday? It was her first trip to Boston, so it was a real eye opener for her, especially with media credentials and being able to head behind the scenes. The non-stop travel between cities was a real PITA, but it really streamlined my travel routine, I had my packing routine to a T by the time the trip was done.
Also enjoyed my time at the headquarters with the guys, it was great hanging out with them, especially with Jared, Crystal, Paul and Ravi. Much thanks to Jared for putting me up at his place over the weekend, and for taking me around and trying some real good food. I’m feeling hungry just thinking about them. Thoroughly enjoyed the team outing to the escape room too, always such an insightful experience seeing how everyone operates at a basic level, when we’re away from all the processes and rules at work. Everyone’s personality and instincts are out on full display. I hereby suggest that job interviews be done via escape rooms – now that’d be interesting. Much thanks to Andy for getting us over, and for organising the escape room. I’ve often said he’s the best boss I’ve had to to date, and it still stands true.
(It’s at this part that I should give props to V for manning the fort singlehandedly while I was overseas. She was working, picking the kids up and dropping them off at school, for the better part of a month, through my China and US trips. Most wives would give their husbands shit for waltzing off to NBA games, but she’s a champ like that. No one is perfect, and she certainly isn’t, but she’s a fantastic partner who’s never failed to support me in most of my impulsive, single-minded ideas. And that, is why life is good with her.)
And did I say, having a travel agent is crazy good? It’s the convenience you never knew you needed. I was totally over the crazy logistics of my US trip, S/O to Emma Whiting Travel for flawlessly putting my flights together. Considering the insane amount of flights I did this time, I was really happy to outsource the details and price hunting to someone else, and just go “here’s all the dates, here’s my preference for the flights, and I need to be here by this date, and so on.” Definitely using them again this year.
And then, we come to the Singapore trips. I flew in to Singapore during November for less than 24 hours, to attend the FG’s wedding. Flew out the same day (night), it was probably the shortest long-haul trip I’ve ever done. Even the check-in agent had her eyebrow raised at my itinerary – she had to check with the back office to make sure it was fine to issue my boarding pass.
In December, I was in Singapore for about two weeks. The trip was fantastic, with one minor snag. I’d planned the holiday without knowing we were going to buy a new place the same year. So, V had to pack the rest of our apartment while I was in Singapore, and then when I returned from Singapore, it was up to me to co-ordinate the remainder of our move, make sure settlement day went fine, get all our shit to the new place (with movers obviously, I’m not insane), and reorganise the new place. It could’ve been an absolute shitfest, but it somehow worked, almost flawlessly.
In the days leading up to the move, I was focused on only one thing: making the move work. I had to make sure everything was packed and ready to go, and we would settle the move in a day. Everything else in my life was secondary. Kudos to the brother and the daughter for pitching in to help, especially Elly – she was a champ about it, and didn’t give me any trouble. Anyway, all’s well that ends well.
2018 objectives: Watch a Boston Celtics playoffs game in April, first round is fine (this time). Make it to Colorado and Yellowstone Park. Watch more Broadway shows. Have more good food.
My bucket list continues to include an item known as “become a Celtics season ticket holder, and just spend my life watching games”.
It was a “get through the year” kind of thing at work year. Nothing spectacular really happened, outside of the two work trips. No promotions, no added responsibilities, just another twelve months of getting people through their issues, making sure new folks have what they need, etc.
The interesting thing here, is that I’m not really bored by mundane tasks like these. It’s actually rewarding in its own way, to be able to help people out and get their issues fixed. I enjoy having the time to chat to everyone at the office, learning a bit about how their job is like. It helps that the folks at work are a bunch of really great people that I get along well with.
I also like having a deeper, proactive approach to issues, especially if there’s a root cause involved. If something broke, why did it break? Was there something else that triggered the problem to begin with?
Or if we run out of licenses on a certain software, I take a look into active accounts, and perform a license audit. Is there something that’s using up our licenses quicker, for some reason or other? Did our processes not clean up inactive accounts properly? I did a few of this in 2017, which likely helped our budget a bit. When it comes to IT, it all comes down to cost savings and budget.
If there’s a change to process or the actual technical environment we can do something about, to make sure the same problem doesn’t come back again, I try and push for change. There are always different speed bumps to navigate along the course of getting something done, but I do what I can.
I like to examine little things like these, because I know they make a difference, and it makes people’s lives easier.
The main challenge I’ve really faced this year, is finding the time (and energy) to self-study, especially for professional certification. There’s just so many other things that buzz at the edge of my consciousness, a list of tasks and “waiting for response” items, along with everything else that’s going on in daily life, I’ve found it extremely hard to just plough through the amount of learning required, to actually sit and pass an exam.
Granted, it all comes down to time management, but I guess my motor’s just not revving at a high enough level to say “I’ll make it work no matter what.” I’ll have to try harder this year!
The biggest disappointment this year, has definitely got to be Warren dropping out. I can handle guys leaving. But it always comes back to the same old dance: life gets in the way, I’ll try, the ghosting starts, I push, and it ends with sorry mate I’m out. Regardless, everyone’s got their own priorities and I’m happy his life is getting back on track. It’s just me being disappointed as usual, at not being able to get an honest, quick conversation around what the real decision actually was.
To be fair, I could’ve been part of the problem, in not being able to help more on a lot of his ideas. Be it creating a better user experience for his features, or helping to get better access to subjects, or making possible some of the bigger ideas, like an AITNBA-themed Game of Zones-style video. It likely got frustrating some times, when you’re trying to achieve something and you’ve got your hands tied because the site you write for, just doesn’t have the resources/infrastructure necessary to deliver. I can only honestly say, I did what I could, within my limits, which included investing towards a podcast series he was planning to launch. It’s a shame his meticulous planning and preparation in the months before that, will never result in a fully formed podcast show, with the interviews he had in mind.
Regardless, Warren has been a real asset throughout his time with the team, and his persistence and passion for finding stories and putting in the necessary networking/legwork to flesh them out, was invaluable. And for that, I’m thankful. People like Warren saw fit to invest their energy and time in creating stories on this little platform of ours, and I can only hope they learned and grew from the experiences and doors that the site helped open.
That aside, I honestly have done a lot less this year. My trips have basically killed almost all of my time and energy, plus the new place? Moving house? I knew I wasn’t going to have time to do squat. Big props to Damo for holding it together, owe him a slab of beer and so much more. My highest production period was during the NBA offseason, when I managed to write three articles (at minimum) every day, around free agency, the NBA draft, Summer League games for about a period of two weeks. That was an exhilarating phase, but I guess it got balanced out with my absence after that.
Thanks to Ben for continuing to be the engine that drives the NBA show, with his insightful, punchy pieces. Love that he’s so committed to making basketball journalism work, and is absolutely driven to succeed. He’s been on a massive trip in 2017, attended All-Star Weekend, plus Summer League, and will be doing it again this year (season games plus ASW).
The NBL guys have done well too, props to them, especially Matthew L.
Commercially, the decision to move our advertising to an agency didn’t quite work. There were constant communication problems, mostly around our ad performances, and payment. They eventually decided we weren’t worth the trouble, so I rejigged our ad placements on the website, running only AdSense. And believe it or not, our monthly revenue is far outperforming whatever the agency was getting us, so that was pretty good. Plus we didn’t have to pay anyone any commission, which was a 50% take. (In-article ads FTW.)
- Pushed past 72,000 fans on Facebook.
- Nearly at 3,000 followers on Instagram, which is almost 300% growth!
- Maintained consistent ad revenue on website, even with lower traffic.
- Off the top of my head, I was pretty damn sure we didn’t outperform 2016, and Google Analytics confirmed it. It was about 22% lower in terms of page views but heck, we didn’t have that crazy Olympic wave to ride, we were on a content rut, so it made sense.
- Held our first event at TGIF South Yarra, featuring a couple of NBA games
- Excellent partnership formed with Brotherhood Studios, with their excellent video work around the Aussies in NBA. Been a pleasure, and they’ve been really professional throughout.
- Thanks again to Nahum for helping us with the social media graphics, can’t imagine life without his helping hand! The branding would be a mess, at the very least.
- (Will add to it when I think of more, trying to remember what happened in 2017, at half past midnight isn’t the best way to do it.)
Much thanks to Mica from One Green Bean for working together on Nike Battleforce, it was an awesome event and I’m glad we helped out. Being at the event was definitely a great experience.
Am I ready to crush 2018 yet? Not quite. But I’m hoping for another quiet, productive year where everything steadily gets better once again.