Post-2018 thoughts

2018 passed by in a flash, and it took me a couple of days to get around to the EOY post – mostly due to an obsession with Witcher 3 and gwent. Pretty mad I missed a once-off quest for gwent cards at the Vengelbuds, and can never complete my collection. DAMMIT.

Anyway. The countdown was non-existent, I was in the shower when the clocked ticked its way into the new year.

2018 had promises of travel, with the usual US Halloween trip. And then it all piled up rather quickly. Before I knew it, the year was gone with heaps of travel.

Fitness

2018’s been horrible. I went from 4x a week, to 3x or sometimes 2x a week. My food was inconsistent, sleep was inconsistent. The only thing I can say is, I survived the slump.

I also did a shit ton of rehab (read) and that’s helped get my body into better shape too. My knee fucked up real bad, so I gave it the full treatment (read).

I signed up with Strength Lab late this year, and hopefully committing to a consistent diet plan and exercise plan will pay off. It was bad timing, and having to learn/adjust a new exercise plan in hotel gyms was just not ideal.

I also went super religious on the meal plan. Basically, eating nothing but the shit in the plan. That held for two weeks, maybe three, before Christmas hit in full and I had to cheat a few days. It got really bad last week, the amount of meal prep that got left behind in the fridge was just disgraceful. My lunch today, was from meal prep the weekend before. Thankfully it’s almost all cleared, I’ll be able to get back to proper prep this weekend.

Just one step at a time, just got to keep pushing heavier with every session! Consistency and mental toughness.

Basketball

I started playing recreational league again this year. But honestly, it just became a real grind towards the end. I wasn’t happy with the way the team was playing, the offence was stagnant. Like, what the fuck is a four-out offence with unwilling shooters and a penchant for over-passing? Faced with zone defense, you get shit. No one’s going to get open, someone’s going to jack a random shot up and that’s it. Add a low post guy who almost never gets the ball in the right spot, and no off-ball movement? Whenever I moved around, the ball would almost never come. It’ll keep swinging around the perimeter, a fucking pointless exercise and a waste of time. If we had a shot clock running, we would’ve had a turnover every single possession.

There was no drive to get better either. The team lost two of their main scorers (both iso scorers) from the previous years, and the new roster simply wasn’t built for guys to stand around. There was constant bitching from some folks, I was getting home late because of all the late sessions, and I would be tired the next day. And to cap things off, my left knee started giving way – it would –for lack of a better word– wobble when I moved laterally. And it was sore, like real sore. I was feeling bad, and I wasn’t enjoying any of it. I was paying money, spending late nights, to do stuff I did not enjoy a single bit. So I eventually called it quits and stopped playing. Don’t intend to play this year either.

Played a bit of basketball in China, on the first trip. It’s good playing with James, that was the first time I’d done so, same with Jason, Chris as well. Played a bit more with YZ, Kenny and the NASS guys, but overall it’s been sporadic.

There’s also the last Shot Zone session this year, when I went alone and shot until I had a abrasions on my thumb and had to stop. Was then invited to play 1on1 with this kid, who turned out to be 14 – taller, faster, and a better shooter than me. No injured pride here, but damn I need to get better.

Personal

No major operations this year, but I made the decision to grow my beard out this year, and it hasn’t looked too bad. Year 2 of minoxidil, and I was seriously considering a facial hair transplant op this year, should the CPF money come through.

I also checked off a couple of boxes in my Singapore citizenship renunciation, and CPF withdrawal application. It feels like a big step for someone who grew up there, but to me, it’s just an inevitable process. I knew what I was getting into, when I applied for my Australian citizenship.

From a mental growth perspective, I haven’t really made much progress. Maybe it’s all about retaining what I’ve learnt, and applying it consistently. Learning to be more patient, more understanding, less judging without bias, listening more. That’s one thing about getting old, you learn to make less snap judgments, not over-assume and try and keep an open mind.

Anyway, 2019 it is.

Finances

Still haven’t flown business to the US, but our Velocity points sure are clocking the hell up.

Having a new house hasn’t necessarily helped with our finances, but we’re still chugging along and surviving, so that’s that.

Getting a tax accountant to do my personal taxes continues to be a good decision that’s paying off for itself.

Friendships

Definitely managed to catch up and maintain contact with most of the various circles, especially the ones in Singapore. You know who you are. It’s more of repeated contact with the frequent folks, more than anything else. Thanks to all the lovely people who always make time out (FG, HJ, ZM, Alvin, ahlong, Adri).

Actually a little disappointed I didn’t manage to meet some of the 6/3 folks this year, especially the ones I hadn’t seen in a long time. But upsides: I’m really glad I met some people I haven’t seen in a really long time though – like Linda! It’s amazing how things feel the same, despite not having met for so long. Same goes for WX, so good to be able to have 1 on 1 chat, versus group catchups. It was great getting time with my poly dudes ZL and LK, and also other folks like Estee, Aloy, Andrew (both of ’em), TX.

Haven’t made enough of an effort to meet up with people I hadn’t seen in years though, hopefully I’ll do it better come 2019.

Family

Second trip to Geelong, checked.

Watching the kids grow up together is sometimes, a reminder of how Stan and I hadn’t had that constant daily squabbles/quarrels/fights growing up. Sure, we found each other annoying (me more than him), but it was more from a distance, seeing as we grew up practically half a generation apart. It’s a love/hate thing though, the kids do miss each other when they’re apart. And regardless of the age gap, I guess that’s part of having a sibling – just building those memories and knowing no one can ever understand you the way that person has, growing up together.

2018’s commute wasn’t worse than 2017’s, but different. I had to learn to navigate and optimise my driving route to and back home. And it all fell on me to be the one doing all the pickups and dropoffs. Honestly, it was exhausting a lot of the time. V had the luxury of working late whenever she felt like she needed to get a bit more work done, but I always had the clock hanging over my head, and the evening dinner routine. I was so tired, for a while I was packing snacks in the car just to keep myself awake.

Earlier in the year, we had the little (well, major) issue with the floor (read), which has dragged on for the better part of the year. Insurance shit is more or less sorted out so hopefully we’ll get things fixed this year. And be able to finally make decisions on furniture. No sense buying too much furniture if we have to take the floor apart. We bought a new bed, so that’s a big item. And the bean bag modular sofas are finally in. They’re portable, modular and comfy – nothing to dislike. Took me a long time to sell V on them though. The house is still a massive work in progress, so much more to organise, so much more shelving that can be done, so much more organisation that should be put in. One step at a time I guess.

And Lenny’s morphed into a car fan, like every other little boy out there. More than that, he’s become a Fiat fan. “DADDY LOOK, A FIAT!” would be his constant comment on the road. Elly OTOH, is mad about unicorns, like every other little girl out there. I guess we have a pretty normal family after all.

One of the nice things I got started this year, was to get Elly onto basketball. Just weekend sessions which are more games than actual basketball play. Hopefully it continues and she likes it enough to want to take it a step further.

In other news – the grandmother’s gradually falling to pieces, and hasn’t been in the best of shape. I’m glad I got to head back to Singapore plenty of times this year, every visit counts, more than ever. Not super optimistic, but hoping 2019 will see her get into better shape.

One of the good things that happened this year, is that the father stopped acting like a spoilt child and went back to being a good son to his mother. Sometimes (more like all the time), the lack of mental maturity really drives me nuts.

Entertainment

It’s been seemingly forever since I’d watched Jacky Cheung live, and I really enjoyed the concert with Stan and Beryl, despite the FG’s warnings that his performance in Singapore was a little subpar. For his age, he certainly gave a good show, and it was refreshingly honest how he’d chat and and give self-deprecating remarks made out in jest.

It doesn’t look like it, but I’d listened to his songs during my teenage years, having the cassette tapes (and later, CDs) on repeat, going to sleep listening to his deliciously sad ballads. Laboriously writing his lyrics out on exercise books. He was a major driver behind learning Cantonese in those days too.

Caught Mayday in Singapore once more, this time being the 无限放大版. I felt the acoustics weren’t quite up to scratch however, last year’s concert impressed more – possibly because we had front row seats. Kudos to the FG, Meng and HS for catching the band together once again.

Enjoyed Melbourne’s Mayday performance with Stan – it was his first time catching the band. It really, really helped that so many fans at that concert were from out of town, the “local” Melbourne Asian fans tended to be a little too placid. There was a nice buzz going on that night, made for some good memories.

Borrowed a few games from DC and Franco, and finally finished Uncharted 4. Now, that’s a good game. And have I mentioned Nioh yet? Fucking insanely frustrating game, but an awesomely challenging one once you get the hang of the combat mechanics. You have to be really good to survive it. I’m never a gaming savant, the brother’s been the one with good gaming instincts, but I’d hammered enough hours to grind that muscle memory into existence. That’s the one thing I’m really good at – grinding and learning.

One of the more unexpected rewards from all the constant travel, was that I actually got back into the reading habit once more. All those hours in transit and on transport, were put to good use. I’ve been reading Brandon Sanderson Mistborn series, and a few other new authors (Empire of Silence, Blackwood Saga) and am diving back into Anne McCaffrey’s Tower and Hive series.

Travel

It’s been an amazing year, as far as travel goes.

The playoffs trip fizzled yet again (this is becoming a tradition) because V had to work.

Made my way to Singapore multiple times, for various reasons (citizenship renunciation, CPF withdrawal, Mayday concert).

A trip to China popped out unexpectedly, which was fine. I dealt with it. And then another trip to China appeared, with only a week’s heads up. Things were a mess, as I’d literally just landed that Sunday morning, and was told I had to fly the following weekend. I had to fly mum in to help with the kids, and fly out that same night. It was pretty awful, because I had to head over to shut one of our offices down. And having to keep the details to myself all the time, not being able to tell folks what was in the making, it ate me up and I felt really guilty about it. But it was what it was, I’m glad I wasn’t at Shanghai – watching the folks leave, those people I’ve worked with for so long, it would’ve been too much.

The actual shutdown was a grind. Woke up early for gym, packed up, and had to rush to check out, then got put on hold. The morning was a mess. After the meetings, I had about six hours to clean everything up and pack it all away, talk to the landlord, the phone vendor, recode the fingerprint reader etc. Good thing it was all done before I flew at night. And then, there was the little episode with a flight delay, then a long-ass taxi queue (lucked out and took a bus), and got to the hotel, only to find out my room was cancelled. It took a bit more finagling, but I finally got a room for the night and crashed. Needless to say, that Tuesday was a bloody long one.

The China trips were great however, from a travelling perspective. I finally got the chance to experience business class flights, and I really sank my teeth into airport business lounges this year. Literally went from “wtf is a lounge?” to “ok let’s kill some time and chill in the lounge again – hope the food and seats are decent”. My Velocity miles and membership status rocketed, and V had a funny conversation where she had to explain to her workmate, that her husband worked in IT support, but jetted about like a CEO (or headless chook, whichever produces better imagery.) Going to China also allowed for some stopovers in Singapore, which got me some extra time with the fam and friends – always good.

Went to the US for our annual team Halloween trip, had a good time hanging out with Ravi, Jared and Crystal. Obviously, I had to embark on my NBA pilgrimage whenever the opportunity presented itself. There’s something about travelling alone, that enriches oneself. You’re forced to work outside your comfort zone by yourself. Walk unfamiliar territory, figure shit out, talk to people, have great conversations that would’ve otherwise not happened.

The California Zephyr train ride was an experience in itself. 48 hours of not being able to shower, brought back memories of field camp and powder baths. I was very religiously making sure I was hydrated, adequately washed (face/neck) and powdered/dry everywhere else, especially the pits/crotch/feet. Fantastic scenery, roomy seats, but sleep could’ve been better. Not complaining though – for $170 I had a heck of a ride.

Here’s one of the most amazing memories of the trip. The Celtics were playing the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, and I was being the tightarse and waiting for ticket prices to drop on Stubhub. Rozza, who at the time didn’t realise how critical he would be in this event, told me to get some good old NYC pizza and ignore that slop in the stadium – even went as far as to finger a good pizza place right outside the MSG.

Still with me so far? Good, don’t fall asleep. Here’s where it gets interesting.

So I made my way to the pizza place, managed to grab a booth to myself, and invested all my attention to two things: good food, and hitting refresh on ticket prices.

It was then, that a couple made their way to my booth, and asked if they could share the seats. Like hell, three empty seats, knock yourself out folks. Another guy came along and asked if he could sit, and I was like, sure mate go ahead. I hadn’t realised he knew the other two people in the booth. So here we were, just four people in a booth, eating pizza, when one of the guys noticed I was on Stubhub.

“So, going for the game tonight?”

“Nah. I mean I am, but I’m still trying to get a ticket.”

“Well…. we actually have a spare ticket. Did you want to go with us?”

I thought I was hearing things. Did he say he was short a ticket, or did he say he had one to spare? I asked again, just to be sure. And yep, no shit they did have a spare. I was honestly happy to buy it off them, but the guy just smiled and said the ticket was going to waste, so they were happy to let me have it. Hell, I’m not going to ask again.

So we polished our pizzas off, made our way into the MSG, and damn the seats were decent. They were ground level, behind the baskets so it wasn’t the finest view, but it sure would’ve cost more than the $150 nosebleeds I had my eye on. After the game, we chatted a bit on our way out, and it turned out they were part of the Minnesota Vikings’ media/photography team (the two guys were photogs, which explained their penchant for carrying cameras into the game to begin with). Which also explained why they didn’t mind giving the ticket away, other than the goodness of their hearts – it probably didn’t cost them anything. Which also explained why they didn’t seem to be Knicks fans, or Celtics fans. Or even basketball fans. That bit puzzled me for a fair bit of time.

When you think about the amount of things that had to fall in place, for me to end up sitting in that seat watching the C’s in action, it’s mindblowing. Rozza had to pick the right pizza place. I had to have been eating my pizza in the booth, at that moment. I had the only empty booth. They had to have arrived right after I did. I had to be enough of a skinflint not to have bought my ticket yet.

Anyway, that aside. The rest of the games were pretty decent, much more decent that I’d expected. The C’s opened a giant can of ass whoop against the Sixers. I got a little emotional watching Gordo take the court, remembering his injury and Jumbotron post-op video from last season. I had fun hanging out with Kaino and his mates before the game. The Nets v Knicks game, had it down to the wire, with Caris LeVert confidently taking an iso, without a screener, and confidently driving to the basket, and making it. I was bloody impressed. The Warriors (actually Curry) went insane against the Wizards, good fun watching it with Rozza at Oracle.

Work

This year, work’s been a bit of a grind. Trying to get more things done in China time meant I was working with their time zone. As you can imagine, it’s not the best thing to do, to have to work through lunch time and get a break at 2pm, or 3pm – depending on the time difference. I was really struggling to get my ass down to the gym.

The satisfaction level has gone down some. At times, it felt really frustrating to work on stuff that got bogged down on email. It felt like everyone didn’t care about making things better, which might sound like an exaggeration, but not too much I guess. It’s easy to be idealistic and say we all need to be on the same page, band together and work things out so that everyone wins, but it doesn’t happen too often.

I’m still trying to do what I can, and to always probe deeper, and try to solve issues at the core. That hasn’t changed.

Time management this year’s been a bit better I feel, but I’m still not ready for self-study.

One question that I asked this year again – what was needed for me to get a promotion to a senior role? The answer – there was no answer. Disappointing, I guess. I’d expected something.

PnR

Something really interesting came up this year – acquisition. I’m free to talk about it since it’s all history at this point. We went into early discussions with the NBL, and also SEN on them acquiring us. It didn’t get really, really far, and we weren’t totally sold on both proposals, but it did take us to another group of people who were keen to invest in PnR and make it bigger, without us losing control. That was the key really, we didn’t want to become a minority shareholder and not have a say in where the site went.

It’s still a work in progress, but I’m really tired, and excited to see where we go this year. Plenty of exciting things on the radar! The only real pain point here, has been getting progress. An all-around agonisingly slow journey, and I’ll leave it at that.

My energy’s been at an all-time low for writing however, it’s possibly the least amount of writing I’ve done in quite a while. Ben and Kane have been excellent, and I’d managed to get all the necessary paperwork together to get them a work visa in the US. It’s one more step along their respective dreams, now we just have to make the dollar and cents thing work.

Social-wise, we’re still stagnating. Nothing much to say on this end.

2018 objectives:

  • Take more time out for console gaming – largely non-existent till early December. Hopefully I can bash through Witcher 3 this time!
  • Watch more NBA games live – watched four games this time, pretty decent!
  • More concerts – Jacky Cheung in Melbourne, and Mayday (once in Singapore, once in Melbourne).
  • Get Lenny’s speech to the next level – yup, he’s a beast now. Just doesn’t shut up.
  • Get Elly’s confidence up – she’s gotten more confident, interestingly through her yoga lessons, but there’s more room to grow.
  • Try more food places – poor. We had a good run in the earlier part of the year, then it all fell to bits when I started travelling, and then dove into crazy meal prep.
  • Build home gym in garage (floor mats, mirrors, bench, dumbbells) – didn’t happen. Too tricky, too many bits to consider.
  • Keep trying to catch up with people – Moderate success. I didn’t meet as many people, but I met more of the same people.
  • Organise finances better, continue to build investment portfolio – this slowed down, or a standstill even.
  • Get a better beard – still a work in progress.
  • Learn to be more patient – nope, I’m still an impatient prick.
  • Get Australian passport sorted – done.
  • Play more basketball in Melbourne, go back to Shot Zone at least twice more – done, done.

2019 objectives:

  • Mass gain (not get fat) to 75kg, look swole.
  • Take more time out for PS4.
  • Keep reading.
  • Get Elly to learn Mandarin Chinese, speak at a proficient level.
  • Continue to play ball, get time in for skills training.
  • Facial hair transplant.
  • Watch more NBA games live
  • Fly to the US on business class
  • Try new stuff. New experiences. Need to grow the self.

And now, back to gwent. I mean, Witcher 3.

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