Post-2017 thoughts

Woohoo, 2018!

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.

Fitness

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.

Basketball

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.

Personal

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.

Finances

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.

Friendships

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.

Family

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 😦

2018 objectives:

  • 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)

Entertainment

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!)

Travel

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”.

Work

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!

PnR

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.)

Notable milestones:

  • 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.

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Post-2016 thoughts.

The year’s been a rather vanilla but fulfilling one, if I might say so.

Fitness

I stuck to my goal of maintaining a consistent workout routine. We’re really close to the one-year milestone now! Pretty pleased at the commitment I’ve made, and I feel good. Obviously, seeing the results help. Have to admit, it’s been a little shitty at times, knowing I have to say no to lunch dates on workout days, and just play the part of an anti-social c*nt, but that’s what discipline boils down to. You don’t give yourself excuses, period.

Committing to gym, also meant I had to commit to nutrition. That in turn, meant a better focus on nutrition, meal prep and understanding the results eating different foods did to my body. Can’t say I’m a veteran at this, but definitely a big step forward.

2017 objective: keep this shit up.

Related: earlier gym post.

Friendships

Really glad to have reconnected with old friends, especially my RCY mate SP. Have to admit, he made an extra effort to catch up when he was down here in Melbourne, and we’ve met up a couple more times since, a rather difficult feat considering we’re a few time zones apart. Looking forward to keeping this up!

Other great moments include:

  • Attending Anita/Richard’s wedding
  • Catching up with Nash
  • Meeting my man Olgun at last! And all the chats we’ve had online, wouldn’t trade that for anything.
  • Basketball and suppers with the Ngee Ann/Changkat folks
  • Basketball with TX, after so many years. I sucked, but it’s still wonderful to be back on the court together with the man. I still remember our poly sessions fondly.
  • KTV sessions with the ladies. Yes, there’s only the ladies. That one group.

Also appreciated all the extra time all my friends have made to keep in touch, especially the ones in Singapore (Swim Team folks, my 1-Net people). Long may this tradition continue!

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.

Family

This year’s routine has actually been a bit of a shitfest, to be honest. We had to manage on our own without help, and having two kids at daycare full-time was a suicidal notion, financially speaking. We ended up working something else out, but it meant a nonstop rush every single day. It’s taken the two of us to cope; I’m glad it’s all over. Next year’ll be pretty similar, but the financial burden should be tremendously reduced at minimum, and itinerary easier.

Elly’s grown a lot this year, in confidence and articulating herself. Lenny’s development has definitely been slower, especially on the speaking front but we’ll get there. All it takes is patience and consistency. He’s not an idiot, just lazy to talk when it comes to getting what he wants. Laziness is unfortunately, a trait that seems to be passed down. I wonder who he got it from, hmm. /s

2017 objective: help Elly transition to her new school and routine, get Lenny talking like a madass mofo.

*I also had this idea of getting two paper notebooks, and filling them up with handwritten positive moments for the kiddos. BUT, I can see myself fucking it up very quickly so we’ll see.

Entertainment

Yes, this has been rather poor overall. I’ve barely touched my PS3/PS4 (played PS4 for the first time in July!), or played basketball much. It’s been TV series for the most part. Daredevil, The Flash, The Walking Dead, and holy crap, Breaking Bad at long last. So impressed with it, I’m a convert through and through. Bitch.

And anime too: Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans, Dragonball Super, and rewatches of Gundam SEED, Gundam SEED Destiny.

Also kept my reading up, thanks to the new Kindle Paperwhite (old Kindle destroyed thanks to Lenny). It has been sidetracked somewhat, thanks to anime binging.

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.

Travel

Popped over to Singapore twice, sneaked in a side trip to Thailand, a day trip to Sydney, and that’s basically it. Next year should be looking better: a trip to the States (or two even!), another possible to China, and mayyyyyybe something local/interstate. NBA playoffs, here we come.

Work

It’s been an educational year, thanks to Jared’s constant stream of suggestions and answers, with half of them being self-discovery. Again, thanks to Jared for leaving me room to find answers out myself, rather than spoonfeed. The deluge of projects that got dumped on us this year was a little draining, to say the least. I’m just glad we’re done with it all, project management is most definitely not our forte, especially when our priority is to help the user out.

Have to admit, I was a little sad at losing Crystal on the team, she’s been a solid dependable rock. And also, not forgetting my mate Ravi for all the chats, support all the time, and to the boss Andy for always being the perfect manager. Lastly, for a great bunch of guys at the Melbourne office. Couldn’t ask for more, really.

PnR

I knew this year was going to be me stepping away and doing less, because I would’ve burnt out if I kept at the punishing pace I’d been working at the past couple of years. So far, it’s worked out decently. The bulk of my contribution have been either on quickie pieces, or video highlights. I still think we could’ve done a lot better, but it’s still been a decent body of work overall.

Notable milestones:

  1. We made a really solid push during the Olympics, and got our brand out there to the local audience. Responses from fans have been very, very positive.
  2. Re-partnered with Goalrilla Australia for a long term promotional deal. Looking to move our advertising to a digital agency, and improve ad revenue.
  3. Pushed past 66,000 fans on the Facebook page.
  4. Crossed 1,000 on both Instagram and YouTube.
  5. Grew our traffic by nearly 50%. The trick next year will be to maintain and exceed this number.
  6. Migrated to a new web host late last year, been smooth sailing ever since. Also switched to a new site theme.
  7. Less number-centric but equally important: team building. The quality of contributors coming on board have significantly improved, and that’s lifted our content quality.
  8. Content:
    1. I think we’ve picked up the pace on the NBL side thanks to an influx of energetic folks. But, I think we can be doing much better. For example, I’d prefer to see different storylines being explored, instead of a weekly column thing. Personally, not a fan of power rankings and roundtables; they’re an easy way to generate content but do not (again, IMO) generate the kind of interest columns would. For example, stat analysis, X’s and O’s breakdowns, interviews, features and so on. More effort needed, sure. But again, it’s the kind of thing a reader would want to read, and we should be putting our best foot forward.
    2. NBA dropped off due to various reasons: new contributors (some of whom were inconsistent), Jayme/Hayley’s new jobs, Luke’s work with other organisations, Winston’s workload, plus my order not to push unnecessary coverage on subpar games. But I’m confident we’ll pick the pace up next year as it gets into ASW and the playoffs after.
    3. I took the time to compare 2015’s analytics versus this year’s, and here’s my two takeaways: lists and list-style headlines work, and the Olympics were really good for us.
    4. This is a continual question hanging in my head: how do we get more people reading our work? I’m sure every other internet content marketer out there loses sleep over the same topic.

Something that finally happened this year, was the motion to incorporate and turn PnR into a company. We’re still working our way through some of the agreements, but it’s a big, big step. Somehow, it made me feel like this just transitioned from a hobby into something more serious, like how dating became marriage. I hate the extra pile of paperwork (hello ASIC, ATO, shareholder/director meeting notes, etc) that’s going to surface by the way. Hate, hate paperwork. It just feels like some unnecessary shit that’s taking me away from what I can be doing on the site itself, and I need to make sure the burden is shared equally, not me just being Atlas.

2017 objectives: Too many. Let’s just leave it at continued growth.


Less than an hour to 2017. Full steam ahead, y’all. The best is yet to be.

A quest to keep the words alive.

The urge to write reared its head yesterday, and I was pretty surprised to realise that my blog had died a quiet death in the months of inactivity.

Observation #1: neither the front end, nor the backend were accessible. Shit.

Observation #2: FTP wasn’t working – for some reason, the connection was looping itself and refusing to list directory.

Observation #3: cPanel was up. In the worst case, I’d still be able to haul the data off.

And with that, it was time to figure out what the problem was. The excellent folks at Sucuri fixed #1 up overnight. My web host OTOH was largely apathetic, and not very helpful. Self-testing revealed my VPN as the cause of #2, so that was fixed quickly.

It’s a question that has merited debate, and I’ve thought about it last year. (And yes, why wasn’t this done last year? Indolence and pure stupidity, that’s why.)

Why am I maintaining a self-hosted blog that requires constant maintenance and updates on a paid Singapore-based shared host (paying in SGD is a constant PITA), with minimal content generation, at zero advertising revenue?

The obvious answer, was to move the blog to WordPress’ own infrastructure. Zero worries on backend, solid infrastructure, fuss-free maintenance.

And that was completed speedily this evening, along with a full download of all the sub-sites under the keinism.com domain. I have to map the domain name back to this site, but it’s an low-priority task at best, no pressure.

Most importantly? All of my thoughts and musings from 2003 – 2016, are intact. I’d be plenty annoyed at myself if everything was lost, and thankfully, all is well.

Onwards!

Post-2014 thoughts.

Ahh, good old 2014. It’s certainly been another year of new milestones and new surprises. Life being what it is though, has “trained” me to be at peace and roll with the punches. React, adapt, and survive.

Here we go with the recap once more.

  • Family:
    • The birth of our little boy Keilen obviously tops the list. It’s been fun (and tiring) having him on board. You don’t realise how much better a toddler is until a newborn comes along and you go ohfucknotthisagain. I’m still struggling to see the family resemblance (physically). He does however bear a few of my personality quirks. He’s quiet and pretty introspective. Has a seeming interest in books (holding ’em and staring at ’em, I don’t call this reading yet), stubborn, but likely has a wilder streak in him than I ever had in me.
    • Elly has been a real handful this year. For more than half the year, it was a real trial with tons of frustration and patience needed every single day, but I’m glad it’s all worked out. She eats her meals with minimal fuss. She goes to bed on time and sleeps without kicking up a fuss. We’ve weaned her off the need for bottled milk. To top it off, she’s toilet-trained in less than a month. I’ve definitely built a better bond with her this year, and I think we’ve done pretty well, all in all. She’s extroverted and an absolute dynamo. Articulates her thoughts well, and is a devious little bugger. Adorable as hell when she’s not crying up a storm. Can’t ask for much else!
    •  Thankful to mum for being around and helping us with the kids and house. We would have never been able to cope otherwise.
    • Not forgetting Stan, who’s gone on a journey to a new role and a new wardrobe, new fitness routine this year. Always good to have him around, and glad to see him growing. Much thanks to his help on PnR as well, when it comes to editing and prepping the newsletter on emergency duty. Unlike many other siblings out there, I know I can count on my brother when the going gets tough.
    • Lastly, the wife of course. Like every other couple out there, there are things I wish that could’ve been done better (and vice versa) but let’s talk about the positives. She’s been a pillar of endurance through the quirky sleep hours while juggling everything else, and gamely keeps up with whatever needs to be done without much complaint. It’s been a tough year without much rest, but we survived! She still doesn’t like to say it out, but love is still a part of the equation.
  • The Pick and Roll (PnR):
    • A year feels like ten years, when it comes to this topic. In its second season now, and slowly gaining traction. The main challenge as always, is getting and keeping committed people on board. Different priorities for different people, and we all have our own limits on time. I can understand how difficult it is for people to buy into a long-term vision, when there is no immediate benefit. Nevertheless, it’s all about moving on with what we have, and growing. Growing our content, growing our reach, and growing our relationships. Nothing is built in a day, it’s only with steady progress that we can get anywhere at all.
    • That being said, manning the site on all fronts (newsletter, Aussies in the NBA, article promos/general NBA content on Facebook page, editing, advertising, strategy, commercial, backend) has definitely taken a toll. I don’t see myself being able to take on any more without collapsing. The next phase of growth will have to be getting existing guys to commit and expand their roles, so to speak.
    • Once again, thankful for #TeamPnR’s existence, and especially the growth of our core. From Steve (and also Dean) manning the NBL, to Damian’s consistent work on NCAA and Europe, to Terry’s creative input and eye on the Twitter front, we also welcomed Olgun, who’s been an invaluable asset on various ends. Shout out to Darrel as well, who’s taken more on board and committed to attending the games despite having a newborn boy in the equation. Same to Alistar, who’s finally joined us and is making a difference to the video side of things. Same to the NBL team, new (e.g. Sam, Shay, Tom) and old. Of special note, S/O to Grant for consistent excellence. On the NBA team, having committed new guys like Daina, Winston alongside vets like Michael, Luke, Darrel has been great. It’s unfortunate that we lost guys like Craig and Josh H but nevertheless, thankful for their contributions.
    • Partners: We’ve really done well on this end, this year. Multiple new advertisers, some great partnerships especially with the NBA Store AU, the Melbourne Boomers and Melbourne United. More than revenue, it’s just about getting to know people in the industry and learning where we can help and help alike. As always, it’s all about who you know!
    • Backend: It’s been a race to jiggle with moving parts to see what works. Took Cloudflare out and used only CloudProxy. Reducing image sizes to improve loading time. Reducing the number of plugins has been a tough juggle between functionality and speed. Finding the right plugins and making them work right, each a quest in itself. Working with OpenGraph to make the metadata right has been a learning curve. Site/social analytics? Educational.
  • Work: Started work at ChannelAdvisor. Working in an international environment and learning to cope with time zones is a new experience, and so is the learning curve on Windows Server/Active Directory. This place is also the first real (culturally) Aussie workplace that I’m working at, and it’s been a really fun ride so far. Great people at the office, I have entertaining lunches with the guys (oi yer) and to top it off I have a fantastic manager who doesn’t micro-manage. Nothing much to complain about, really.
  • Travel:
    • New milestone, travelled to Shanghai on work. It was a real eye opener, seeing the stark contrasts between glitzy skyscrapers and aged housing. Reminds me of the effects rapid industrialisation has on society.
    • Outside of that, it’s been seemingly endless flights to Singapore. Once for Honda, and once for Yunlong. Wouldn’t have missed their big moments for anything else, and I’m glad I was there.
    • V and I also had a quick Christmas getaway at Olinda this year, which was great. We haven’t been spending a lot of time together due to everything else (read: own ventures and kids), so bonding time was definitely needed.
  • Basketball: Pretty bad. Been too tired to ball, so it’s only been the occasional Caulfield session on weekday nights. I’ve played a couple of games at MSAC as a sub for league night, but that’s been it. Will attribute main causes to 1. new kid and 2. PnR.
  • Gaming: I’ve played a grand total of one game on the PS4 after getting it as a present, which was Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. Went back to the PS3 and got hooked on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Stopped after I ran out of time at night. The thing about gaming: you really need a sizable stretch of time to game hard, and I seldom get that luxury anymore with PnR sucking up the bulk of my free time. Another regretful sacrifice for the greater good, it seems.
  • Health: To be honest, this year has been shit. I’ve been ill more times than I’ve cared to count. I remember a ear infection, eye infection, and countless little niggly stuff that’s come and gone. Not to mention good old hay fever. Best of all, a long overdue tooth extraction on New Year’s Eve to top it off. Just looking forward to 2015 and a better run ahead.
  • Friends: A definite drop off this year.
    • We’ve been eating at home most of the time, it’s been a lot harder to get out to dinner with two kids in tow. Thanks to the usual guys for taking the effort to catch up though: Bill, Jasmine, Benny especially. Lester’s left and gone back, which is a shame.
    • It’s also been great catching up with friends in Singapore – well, whoever I managed to meet up with anyway. The trips were all really short, and I didn’t have much time to meet all the people I would’ve liked to meet.
    • Nanzhen and Meishan actually made it over to Melbourne this year! They certainly surprised me at the office, and it’s been great having them over here for a few days, and just enjoying their company over here for a change. Thanks too to Huijia for catching up in Melbourne – always great to see an old friend! And to Vale too for taking the time to KTV in Melbourne!
  • Tech: Learning new stuff like MDT on Windows Server, something I would’ve never bothered to learn if not for work. reddit is such an amazing resource. Continual learning on WordPress once more, it’s amazing how much motivation there is to get better on WP for PnR’s sake – I’ve never experimented so hard on WP on this site before. Not forgetting the field of study that is Facebook marketing. I’m pretty sure I can function as a semi-decent social media admin for a full-time job, if one exists.

Above all of these?

I’ve learnt to be more patient, and that sometimes, the fastest way forward is to take a deep breath, and take a step back. Learning to work beyond trivial issues, and focus on the desired outcome. The big picture matters more than the solution, at times.

I’ve also learnt that I can’t function on five hours of sleep indefinitely, and that I actually need more sleep as I get older. Which sucks. Why can’t I be like Tianxiang and function like the superman he is! Insanely jealous, damn you genes.

I’m also learning to love myself a little more when it comes to relationships, and spend my time wisely. From now on, it will only on an equal basis. I will only invest the time and effort that I get in return, nothing more. Like Vale said, need effort on both parts to maintain friendships – too true!

Resolutions for new year?

  • I want to spend more time with the kids, and
  • Secondly, get back into playing basketball.
  • I want to get out on another trip to the US.
  • I need to stop backing Kickstarter campaigns so much because they are hit-and-miss, and horribly slow.
  • Most importantly, I want to stay effing healthy. Health is wealth, period.

And lastly, always appreciative of every single day I spend in good old Melbourne. It’s been a fantastic journey ever since I got here, and I can only imagine how much more ordinary the road would have been, had I stayed on. Love the air, crazy weather, the people, the friends, everything here.

Hello 2015. I’m looking forward to the year ahead.

Moment of idiocy.

So I opened the car door today, ducked into the car, and ended up slamming my head into it.

Pure brilliance.

Approximately eight hours later, my left temple still throbs. Moral of the story: do not be a smart arse. Open the door fully and get in, instead of trying to sprint into the car like a a thief trying to make a quick getaway.

Post-2013 thoughts.

2013, unlike 2012 has been more of a slower year. Still changes, just a little slower-paced. Here’s the good old recap:

  • Venture: Started The Pick and Roll. What began as a spitballing idea on Facebook between Steve, Jim and I, and an email conversation between Terry and myself, eventually coalesced into a full-blown effort into developing an Australian-oriented basketball site, which is currently steamrolling its way into Aussie coverage for European leagues, college and high school basketball, as well as the good old NBA staple. Thank you all for being there and chipping in, and deepest thanks to all the writers for your ceaseless contributions, especially stalwarts like Terry, Damian, Steve, Tommy, Dean, Michael T, the two Josh’s, Darrel and more, who have been gunning and keeping the site active. Very blessed to have you guys on board.
  • Celtics Down Under: Moving ahead to a tough season, glad to see everyone positive. Been great to have all of you guys around: Tommy, Justin, Dave, Michael, Hayley, Kaine, May etc. Go #AussieCeltics! Looking forward to our first ever gathering next month too.
  • Concert: Caught the Kings of Convenience in Melbourne, wonderful night.
  • Travel:
    • Went to the US again, this time with V. Great to be back in New York and Boston. First time travelling around California!
    • Also went back to SG for three weeks, caught up with a ton of friends, something I’m really grateful for.
  • Entered the TD Garden under a media pass and stepped into the Celtics locker room, up close with players like Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass et al, and to have been at the next table from people like Tommy Heinsohn, Mike Gorman and Danny Ainge who were talking about college prospects? Fantastic night. (Also entered the MSG under a media pass, which was amazing in its own way, but not as fantastic as being on my home team ground!)
  • Basketball: Picking balling at places like Monash Caulfield, Carlton Baths and MSAC. Organised Sunday training sessions at Carlton Baths for a while, which eventually petered out due to a lack of commitment. Also played in a couple of MSAC leagues as a filler, something that looks to continue this year.
  • Family: Second kid on the way! It took a little longer than when we tried for Elly, but the good old gonads did their work and our little boy will be out in a month or so.
  • Work: After a fruitless series of extensive interviews with another ISP and a black hole experience with every other online job application, finally got something up thanks to Jasmine. Got back into work, this time as a one-man IT support role in a call center. Not the easiest when you know that everything lies on your shoulders, but a job is a job. Bitching doesn’t get work done, get cracking instead. Have to say, the people here are great.
  • Wedding: Attended Joseph’s wedding here in Melbourne, enjoyed it despite having a pounding headache and a shit time with hay fever.
  • Friends: Very lucky to have caught up with primary school mates I haven’t seen in years, like Huiqing, Yuzhong, Zihui, Kenny and Jinwei.

Onwards to another exciting year, which I’m sure will involve more surprises.

Post-2012 thoughts.

2012 has been a pretty huge year with plenty of changes; some planned, and others that were sort of make-it-up-as-we-went-along. Regardless, I’m not kidding when I say it has been a very, very productive year – it felt like three years crammed into one. Frustrating at times, immensely exhausting, full of dumb mistakes and learning curves but still joyful nonetheless.

Here’s a recap (as far as I can tell, could have missed some stuff):

  • Venture: started StudentConn. It was supposed to be a Australian student-centric site, functioning both as a classified ads site plus blog. Sadly, I failed the sustainable effort test on this little project, leading to its eventual neglect (and likely demise).
  • Visa: Got my Australian permanent residency at long last. What a milestone, after years of hanging in the air on this topic.
  • Concerts: thoroughly enjoyed watching these first-class performers:
  • Housemoving: moved out from the city and into the burbs. Hello car! You just became my best friend. It’s great to have friends just around the corner, deeply thankful to have the Lim family so near, most especially on that crazy day when V was down with vertigo.
  • Quit my job to become a SAHD. Big change, just huge. Wrote a dozen parenting posts (read here, here, here and here). Spending time with Elly is exhausting, but priceless.
  • Sports journalism: Began writing on a slightly more serious note, both at US Sports Under and under my own venture, Celtics Down Under. Having fun on both ends because of all the like-minded folks, especially guys like Justin, Steve and Jim.
  • Basketball:
    • Quit Shohoku at the Doncaster league, probably something I should have done earlier. It was a good experience but I had to leave – personally too frustrating, and we were getting nowhere.
    • Enjoyed the early morning MSAC sessions with Dinesh, Denver and the rest.
    • Got started on Sunday league games thanks to Josh. Enjoying myself and slowly getting into the pace of things.
    • Almost had another year of injury-free ball until I tweaked that damn ankle in November.
  • Weddings: Attended two weddings in Singapore; both dear and old friends.
  • Travel: Found time for another trip back to Bangkok. A short one, but still had fun nonetheless. Love the FG for taking time out on this, and also to Marc for meeting us up.
  • Friends: met up with a few people I’d lost touch with over the years, good stuff! Referring to guys like LK, Qiuyan and Joseph. Also glad to have caught up with some of the usual people in Singapore. Thankful to the friends in Melbourne for the regular meetups too.
  • Habit: made a promise to myself on writing daily, keeping it up so far. Posts on tech, life improvement, parenthood and random blurps, take your pick.
  • Had a little fun writing about troubleshooting Wazapp on the Nokia N9, which blew the site visits up for a few weeks. Crazy how niche content drives site traffic.
  • Health: Was in pretty bad shape when I first took over childcare, but several months of sustained acupuncture and massages took care of that. Gotta be thankful for private health insurance really.

Woops, it’s past midnight already! Caught the fireworks going off, pretty lucky to be able to see them from our place. Happy 2013 everyone, may the new year be filled with joy, learning and discoveries of the pleasant kind.