Friday, June 23, 2017

Update time! as that implies, it will mostly be about the date (get it? upDATE?). ok i'm sorry. no not really. anyway, i feel ridiculously conflicted at this point in time. as you're probably aware, things haven't been all that smooth sailing these past few weeks. well, things finally came to a head over the past few days. for once, it was the date who wanted to meet up to have a talk. so we did, on wednesday after work. i basically told the date my feelings, that i felt like i was the once doing all the chasing/pushing, that i was worried we weren't going anywhere, that our relationship has been stagnant for longer than i care to remember, and that i could not for the life of me understand why the date was so unwilling to take steps forward to being a couple, or to share certain details with me. after all, if we were going to spend the rest of our lives together, shouldn't i be the person that they trust the most?

to their credit, the date let me get all that off my chest, and acknowledged that what i said was true. they apologized for taking me for granted too, which was unexpected. they did tell me certain details (which i'm sworn to secrecy about), and that helped me understand a bit more about their character. they also told me that they tried (a little too hard) to differentiate me and the ex, to the point where since they had been intimate with the ex, they didn't want to be intimate with me. twisted logic at its best. there were a few other points of discussion too, one being the thing about the date not wanting to give me their word, and about timeframes. the reason i wanted both of those things was to hold the date accountable and not have to wait for an indefinite period of time. the date saw the sense in that, i guess. so, they suggested that we could be a couple - in the sense that i could be the boyfriend. most of you who have been following the relationship development would, at this point, expect me to agree immediately, and have a happily ever after ending, right? would that it were that simple. for some reason, i found myself unable to say yes immediately. in fact, i still haven't said it up till now.

believe me, it was equally surprising for me. i've spent a while figuring out why. and i think i know the answer, more or less. it's actually attributed to both past and future factors. for past, i guess i was (am) unhappy with certain aspects in the relationship. i think i may have mentioned it before, but there's a not-insignificant imbalance here. i thought that i could tolerate almost anything for the sake of the relationship. and i could, if it was the date and i against external factors. but having to struggle against the date's reluctance to progress and seeming unwillingness to fight for the relationship together, it's taken its toll. i just wish i'd did this before the breaking point. then again, that's why it's called a "breaking" point, isn't it? i did tell the date that there were a few things that'd we'd have to iron out before taking the next step, and they were rather surprised. perhaps i've just never let them know how badly i've been affected. and if the date is unwilling to change, or at least strike a compromise, then it's not going to be worth me fighting for. i think i told my scary JC friend as much, and she said something like i'm no longer looking at the relationship through rose-coloured glasses. i'd have to agree, though i'm surprised how drastic a change in perception it is.

i guess the past and the future are kind of linked, because your past experiences affects your outlook on the future. to be honest, the future scares me. i'm so afraid that even though the date says they'll try to change, they're just saying it to appease me. or that i'll grow impatient and end up hurting them more (in my defense, it's been 19 months+ already). i really don't want to take the plunge and have it end up in failure, or to go through this whole thing every few months if the date doesn't take action and keeps going through the motions. worst thing is, i have a precedent that makes me believe that will be the case. or rather, many precedents. before things got this bad in my head, i had told the date multiple times that i would like us to progress faster. i even told the date, "don't keep me waiting too long". that was valentine's day last year, i think? and in the end, look at how things turned out. i really want to believe things will take a turn for the better, but my rational side is preparing a truckload of salt with which to take the thought.

as usual, the question remains - what now? if i could answer that, i wouldn't be in this dilemma now, would i? right now, about 75% of me wants to have either a temporary or permanent break. the other 25% wants to continue on, but with certain conditions. one of those conditions is definitely to address the imbalance in the relationship. the problem is, i don't know how to arrive at a good resolution. i just don't want to feel...unloved, for lack of a better word. it's like, sometimes, i reach over to hold the date's hand, and they just don't want to. even when we're in private. or they'll do it, with some reluctance. it sucks. that's why when relating such things to my friends, the common consensus is that the date isn't all that into me. the other thing is about secrets. the date is not one to voluntarily explain themself to me. i don't think that they have ulterior motives, but it gets frustrating sometimes. and more importantly, it takes away my chance to have an input. like, would it kill for them to tell me that they have my best interests at heart? at least give me a reason, not simply "don't tell you" or "it's not your business" or "because i say so". it's such an inadmissible argument! another thing would be that i'd want to see positive action. the date tells me that they place little stock in words (which is what makes me think that the "boyfriend" thing may just be an appeasement tactic), and that they judge people on their actions. in these past 19 months, i think my actions are quite self-explanatory. so, looking forward, if the date truly wants to show their effort, they have to take action. most concrete example i can think of right now: booking a hotel for a staycation or planning a trip itinerary. i'm not expecting to be taken for a free ride; of course i'll pay my fair share. but i do need to see some effort, i guess. the last thing i can think of right now is for the date to be less critical. we'd actually spoken about this earlier this year, and i think there's been a bit of improvement. but still, the mentioning of my negative attributes seem to outnumber that of my positive attributes. and it's not like i really crave for praise...i would be fine if the date remained neutral and didn't say anything in either direction, i think.

earlier i mentioned that it was quite a radical change in perception. i wonder if it's because i got pushed past my limit already. which, i suppose, leads to the next question. can we work past this issue? as you know, i'm not confident enough to give a 100% yes. and despite what i've written here, the relationship isn't all that bad. there were happy moments, most definitely. i had always been telling myself that the positive aspects of the relationship outweighed the negative. now, it seems that the negative aspects have accumulated sufficiently to change that. i guess i'll find out after talking to the date again, relationships are two-way, after all.

-random thought of the day: Stop worrying.-

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Continuing from the previous, post, i'm supposed to blog about genesis. no, it's nothing biblical. genesis here is the name of a gym, which i've decided to sign up for. their selling point is that they're not really selling a gym membership. instead, they're selling a personal training package, and the training is conducted in their gym facility. i've had 2 sessions over the past week, and if i had to choose, i would definitely give them my money, instead of anytime fitness. the trainers at genesis are more attentive, focused, appear more knowledgeable, and overall just present themselves better. key observation: i haven't smelled cigarette smoke on any of the genesis trainers. so far, it's been a positive experience. i have some clear guidelines on what to aim for now. actually for me, the biggest challenge is my diet. i thought i was doing well for the meal prep, but the trainers broke down what i actually put in, and found that it was still too little. the goal they set for me was 140g of protein and 25g of fiber per day. even with my stew/soup, i wasn't even hitting half of that. so after a week of tracking, i roughly know what i have to do. that is, to approximately double the portion of fish, add some other types of meat, and swap out some nutrient-poor vegetables for better choices. i should really plan a massive grocery trip soon. maybe tomorrow. also, i need to find a supermarket that has a bit more variety than the NTUC at rivervale mall. am tempted to order online, but i don't want to risk it with fresh produce.

hit a minor roadblock in writing the paper. i don't know how much i'm allowed to reveal here, so i'll keep it vague enough. basically i got a result that appeared to contradict previous literature. but upon closer examination, one of the experimental variables was different. so i'm basing my argument on that. on the brighter side, it seems that my compound is more toxic than the original one from which it was derived, so that's a positive sign. but as my postdoc reminded me, i shouldn't get too happy just yet. after all, that was only one experiment out of a set of triplicates. still, i'm choosing to remain optimistic.

in not-so-good news, the date and i are having a difference of opinion. it seems that we are on quite different pages, as far as how we view progress is concerned. the date told me that they thought we were progressing nicely, which as you may know, is totally not how i feel. the date also shared that they still had some reservations about us living together, partially because they weren't sure how i'd get along with the mother if we lived under the same roof. sure, the three of us going out for dinner has been nice and all, but it was a valid point - living together is a whole different ball game. but then, living together will only become a concern in another 6 years at the earliest, so i can overlook that for now. what's troubling me a bit more is that the date can't seem to give me what i want at this point in time. things that i've mentioned in the last post, so i won't repeat them now. it's got me thinking about the whole relationship, actually. we are fairly different people, but that's a gap that can be bridged by a bit more time and understanding. as long as both parties put in effort, you know? the problem is, we can't accurately measure effort. the date may be doing their best, but as you can see, i'm not feeling it as much. and it's not all their fault either. maybe i'm not doing enough to make them feel secure. like, they've mentioned that my temperament is still a rather significant deterrent. to put things in the opposite perspective, i wonder if the date has seen how much i've mellowed, and whether they can appreciate how hard i've been working on it.

anyway, partway through our talk, the date said that they could not promise me anything on when they'd be ready to move on to the next phase of the relationship, and that if i wanted us to stop dating, they'd understand. after all, i deserved a chance to be happy. all i had to do was tell them first. i'm torn about how to take this. on one hand, i appreciate that the date recognizes that there is an issue, and is mature enough to find an outcome that doesn't really do much damage to either of us. and yet, another part of me is a bit upset that the date is willing to just let it go so easily. you know, i think in making the decision on whether to call it off or not, there will be push and pull factors. push being the date alienating me (which has happened to a small extent this past week), pull being me falling for someone else, to quote two of the more obvious hypothetical examples. as of right now, i think we're still relatively ok. so, my plan is to keep what we have going, and do my best to give the date their time and space. i just hope that my patience will pay off. and to accord the date the same respect that they're giving me, i won't attempt to start dating new people without informing them. that's basic human decency, right? and of course, i should be mentally prepared in case the date takes things out of my hands and breaks it off for whatever reason. after all, relationships are two-way.

unlike the previous times where there was the possibility of a breakup, i'm feeling rather calm now. perhaps it's because having that kind of open, honest talk with the date convinced me that even if we were no longer to date, we'd still remain on good terms. i know some people have awkward/messy breakups, and i'm thankful that in the event that this becomes my first breakup, it will be milder. i'm not saying that it won't hurt, but it won't hurt as bad as some of the others that i've witnessed. although the more i think about it, the more it seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy. if we both prepare for a breakup, it makes it seem like a breakup is a viable choice. i mean, it is, but not one that is to be considered so quickly. at the end of the day, i just hope that we'll both be only minimally hurt, if at all. one thing i'm really hoping for is that in the event of a breakup, i won't become jaded and bitter. part of the date's slow pace was because of their past experience with their ex, which is something that i don't have a basis of comparison for. i really wonder, how much did that breakup hurt the date for them to still be carrying the baggage of it close to 4 years later? it's something that i hope never happens to me, to be honest. i'm not sure how i'll handle something like that.

well...let's not worry about things beyond our control. what i can do is focus on research. i've got to collect references for my paper, find a way to explain the conflicting results, and send a draft back to my professor. then HPLC separation of my main compound, plus some further reactions.

-random thought of the day: Focus.-

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dinner with the date yesterday after the olympiad made me realize something about myself, namely that my inhibitions get lowered under 2 conditions: when i'm drunk, or when i'm tired. the latter is new info to me, so that was interesting to find out. the olympiad itself was somewhat taxing, more so than last year. the experiment i had to test was relatively simple. synthesis of a dye using a reaction which my student had to do in the course of his project. i didn't realize that the intermediate was that stable! my student used to do it under nitrogen, i think, but the olymipad procedure was open-air stirring. well, it worked, so i'll save myself the trouble if i ever have to do it again. marking was pretty easy, too. thankfully i got the shorter (easier-to-mark question). and there were lots of blanks and nonsensical answers too, so all those required was a strikethrough. then again, i can't really fault the students. they're only in secondary school. the fact that some of them know what electron-donating and electron-withdrawing groups are is already impressive in itself.

the date and i had dinner at nature cafe at tradehub 21. yes, that vegetarian place where we've eaten before. the food was up to standard (as far as vegetarian food goes). surprisingly, it was really crowded, and also really noisy. the previous few times we went early, and so the place was barely occupied. noise + fatigue isn't a good combination for me, but i somehow managed to hold it together throughout dinner. i had thought we might be going somewhere after dinner, but the date saw that i was looking a little worse for wear and convinced me to call it an early night. in retrospect, that might have been for the best, as i have to admit that i did feel rather out of it

during the drive home, something possessed me to talk to the date about my concerns for the relationship. that's why i said fatigue lowers my inhibitions. normally i'd think about it twice or thrice first before attempting to broach a sensitive topic, but somehow i just started talking. to tell the truth, i don't even remember exactly what i said. i do know it was something about how i felt that we weren't progressing. like, i feel that we are at about the same place as we were 6 to 12 months ago, which is at the stage in a relationship where couples find out more about each other, but are reluctant to fully commit to each other. i was about to say "casual dating", which was actually the first term that popped into my mind, but it would be unfair to the date. "casual" suggests the idea of keeping your options open, or not being exclusive. in that regard, i do believe that the date hasn't been seeing anyone behind my back. but the reason why i say that there seems to be reluctance in our relationship is because other couples who have been dating for as long as we have would probably have spent the night together, maybe even travelled together. i know it's not right to compare with other people. it just so happens that that's what i want too at this stage in a relationship. i did bring up one other thing as well, but in the interest of keeping this place family-friendly and more importantly, to not air any overly-dirty laundry and to protect the date's privacy, i'll refrain from saying too much. but yes, i feel that that other unmentionable thing is an important aspect of a relationship too. another thing i asked was what if either of us got attracted to someone else? the date seemed rather nonchalant, possibly due to their experiences with the ex. i would have thought a relationship that you're in would/should be worth you fighting for, so that response threw me a little. to their credit, the date was receptive to whatever i said, and said that they would think it over. they also hinted that there was something that they didn't want to tell me yet in consideration of my feelings, so there's that potential issue to tackle eventually. i've been thinking over what that thing might be. i have a couple of guesses, but won't jump to conclusions just yet.

so...what happens now? life goes on as normal, i guess. until the date decides to have that potentially difficult/delicate conversation with me, that is. naturally, i've also been thinking about possible outcomes. the best case for me would be if the date agreed with me and we started on the next level of couple-y things. and while it is unlikely, the odds of a breakup are not zero. just have to bear that in mind. the middle ground ranges over a huge spectrum of possibilities, and i don't really want to think about all of them in detail. but if the situation improves, i guess that's a win. but in the rather likely event that some sort of compromise has to be struck, how do i do that? i think that i have been more patient than normal already. yet, i don't want to force the date into doing something that they don't feel comfortable doing. i know people say good things are worth waiting for, but i think that there's a balance between the thing's goodness and the amount of time for which you'd be willing to wait. for me right now...i'd say that i'd be willing to wait until the end of the year, or until this time next year at the very very maximum. the date told me before that they would do their best to stay in a given job for 2 years minimum for the learning experience. in a year from now (assuming no breakups), we would have been dating for 2 years and about 6 months, which should be enough for us to learn about all of each other, right? well, not quite. but it probably will have been enough time for us to learn enough to decide whether we are partner material for each other or not.

thankfully, research has been going smoothly. i'm in the midst of writing a paper, and all that's left are a couple more bio experiments (which my amazing postdoc has agreed to help me with), and confirming the results for a kinetics experiment. my professor wasn't too happy with the draft that i'd sent him, so i'm probably going to have to rewrite a large portion of it. can't say i wasn't expecting it, but at least it's less painful than repeating the experiments. don't want to get my hopes too up or anything, but i think we can make the june submission deadline. i suppose it's good for me too, as it'll be my first-ever first-authored paper, as well as something which i can use for the poster symposium in august.

feels like the next few weeks to a month will be a major "crossroads" point in my life. i don't know why, but something is telling me that the decisions that i make and the things that i do in the near future will have a larger than usual impact on my life. or it may just be me torn about how to feel with regards to the relationship. whatever it is, i'm hoping that i do things which are in my best interest, without hurting anyone else along the way if possible.

-random thought of the day: Write about Genesis.-

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Earlier tonight was probably the closest the date and i have come to an argument in a while. the junior chemistry olympiad is this saturday, and i signed up as a marker again. $160 for a day's work...not bad, right? as a result, i'd have to meet the date for dinner a little later...maybe 6:30pm or worst case 7:00pm. the date suggested we move dinner to sunday instead. i told them that i could make it on saturday, and it would make more sense too, since i would already be in the area-ish. and besides, i was planning on renewing my final fantasy 14 subscription on sunday, so that i could have an uninterrupted day of play. upon hearing that, the date insisted on having dinner on sunday even more. they reason they gave (or at least the impression i got) was that they were purposely trying to make me choose between them and the game. and they gave me an ultimatum too...either sunday, or don't meet. considering all the factors, if i had been really pushed to a choice, i would probably have chosen the latter. now, if a choice really had to be made, like if the date needed a lift to the airport or hospital or whatever, i'd drop my game in an instant. but the thing is, there was no need for any choice in the first place! to sidetrack to a somewhat related thing, this was one of the things my friend was unhappy about in his relationship with his ex. the ex would constantly make it so that he had to choose between her and his car (a great passion of his). and like with my case today, a choice never really had to be made. my friend was perfectly capable of handling his time and money such that there was never any conflict...or at least that's what he told me.

but back to the main story. it struck me as weird, because the date later told me about an experience at work, where another department could not properly account for their not-entirely-correct actions, and wouldn't give the date a satisfactory explanation. i was thinking that isn't it rather similar? you give an answer, but can't justify it. if the date had told me that they were worried that i would rush, or drive less carefully to meet the time we set, i might have been more agreeable in light of their concern for me. and even if the date was thinking it, i wouldn't know. i've learnt to not try and read too deeply into things, in case my overactive/paranoid brain finds hidden meanings that were never really there. i've actually never understood why the date finds it hard to tell me their feelings directly. but well...maybe it's a mental block thing.

thankfully, this story had a happy ending. the date eventually agreed to a saturday date. from my end, i was happy that they were willing to compromise. at the same time, i was also wondering why go through all that stuff about sunday or no date, or about making it difficult for me, basically. as you may know, i'm not one for mind games, especially not from my partner. maybe it's something that we can work on together.

i was actually talking about differences in our (the date and my) ideals with a few other friends. one thing i forgot to mention in the previous post is that the date told me that they don't envision us living together in the future. that's something that i will potentially have an issue with. in my ideal world, i'd want to live with my partner. i'm ok with our finances being separate, but i really think that we should work towards the goal of living under the same roof. i don't mean right now, while our finances are so unstable and insubstantial, but definitely in the future. i think this might be a potential deal breaker in the relationship. luckily, my friends were there to rationalize it a bit. maybe the date has other commitments, like taking care of the mother. or maybe the date feels scared. or can't get used to the idea, or never thought that far. whatever it is, i hope we can resolve it if/when we get to that milestone.

to be very fair, i should appreciate the date for who they are right now. they have a ton of amazing qualities, such as kindness, empathy, consideration, gentleness, cheerfulness, to name a few. not to mention that we've spent a fair bit of effort and time to understand each other. on top of all of that, the mother is ok with us dating. getting the "in-law's" approval is difficult for most people as it is. so i should be grateful. there's no guarantee that i will find similar success if i were to date someone else. so i guess until there's a REALLY good reason for us to no longer date, like maybe because of the living together issue or something of equal magnitude, i will constantly remind myself to treasure what we have.

-random thought of the day: Get red G1 refills.-

Monday, May 22, 2017

With reference to my last post, i ended up rocking the boat slightly after all. things went...better than expected, but not best-case scenario. but i'll get to that later. right now, i just want to put on record that i'm having a little bit of a headache, which is quite rare for me. it happened because i got a new pair of glasses. instead of going to my regular optician, i decided to go to owndays, which is a japanese store. the date got a pair of glasses made, and they gave a $20 voucher for the next purchase, so why not? they sell the frames and lenses, and have in-house opticians to test your vision and all that. it turns out my degree hasn't changed in the past 5 years or so, so they made the new pair with the same prescription. at this point, you'd probably be wondering why glasses with the same prescription would cause headaches. well, it's more because of the condition of the lenses. my old lenses were scratched up and discoloured due to age. these new lenses are, well, new. so everything is a bit more vivid. i figure that i'll be able to acclimatize by tomorrow. the glasses themselves are nice, at least i think so. they're half-framed like my previous pair, but these frames are blue and made of titanium. always wanted titanium frames. hopefully they'll be more corrosion-resistant than my stainless steel pair.

against the date's advice, i went to sign up for grabhitch...as a driver, that is. the date was not particularly for it because they thought my temper would get the better of me. but it's been good so far, both the money and the passengers. since my trips are usually really far (sengkang to NUS or the date's place), the fare per trip is typically above $10. counting back and forth trips, that's about $20 in a day. considering each tank of fuel costs me about $70 (rounded up), and i top up petrol about 3 times a month, i only have to give hitch rides once every day to cover my fuel costs. even then, i'll have some spare cash already. right now, i'm about $40 ahead of my fuel costs, and that's just from 3 days of hitching. my fuel tank's only half-depleted, too. i think that the possible downside is that i'll have to refuel the car more frequently. but i figure as long as my profit stays ahead of my costs, i can afford it. might set a goal to use the grabhitch money to pay for my new tyres...but i won't push for it.

now, rocking the boat. i had a belated mother's day dinner with the date and mother (since the date was sick on the actual day) yesterday. we ate at earle swensen's at westgate. was nice, though a tad pricey. lucky i had redeemed some rewards points to offset the cost. after that, we went back to their place since i had to wait for my NMR timeslot. i figured that it was a good a time as any, so i asked the date how they felt about our relationship, and several other questions. somewhat to my expectations, the date said that they were still not fully comfortable with me. it's because they were raised to be independent, i guess. on the bright side, they also said that right now, aside from the mother, i'm probably the only other person that they've allowed somewhat into their defenses. so i guess that there is progress, but like i said before, not that apparent to me, and not really up to my initial expectations. the date also advised me to not focus so much on the future, and live more in the present. it's good advice, and i'll do my best to take it. of course, i guess that it can be compromised both ways...i slow down while the date speeds up. and as much as i hate to think about it and hope that it never happens, i suppose that i should also be prepared for a not-good outcome. but we'll cross that bridge if we ever get there. right now, i think i'll enjoy what we've got.

-random thought of the day: Writing a paper!-

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Lots of things on my mind today, but let me just get one major thought out first. think i first saw this on askreddit. can't exactly remember what the prompt was; might have been "what's the biggest lesson that you learned too late?", but someone shared this - there's a huge difference between "i don't care" and "i don't mind". more often than not, we use the former when we actually mean the latter. it doesn't seem to be a singaporean thing either; the writer of the original post was american or something. but yes. it's a really common mistake, and one that i'd been guilty of more than once. actually, i was alerted to it by one of the BPS brothers a while ago. he was telling me (over text) that he might end up in ITE, and i replied "i don't care which school you end up in". he blew up over text, saying something to the effect of "that's the problem! nobody cares!" to me, what i said meant that i would still support him and not think any less of him even if he did somehow end up in ITE. but he took it to mean that i had no interest in his future because i did not care about which school he went to. in retrospect, i think that's one of the things that started the end of our coaching relationship. the proper answer should have been "i don't mind even if you go to ITE, i'll still support you". although now that i type it out, "i don't mind" has a slight negative/condescending connotation too in the singapore mindset. you know, like you're being forced to settle for something. context: oh, you don't have my preferred option? well, i guess i don't mind option B. so maybe even "i don't mind" may not be the best thing to say...but at least it beats "i don't care".

been feeling a little restless these past few days. on monday, i thought that it might have been due to nervous energy from the audit (which went decently enough, by the way), but i've still been feeling it yesterday and today. not entirely sure why. through conversations with some people, i've begun to wonder...is it human nature to upset a natural equilibrium? the reason i'm thinking along this line is because i've been reflecting on things with the date. don't get me wrong, i'm not unhappy with the way things are going. we're at kind of a steady-state now, with routine dates, dinners, and daily interaction over text. it's nice, and i like it. at the same time, i kind of want more. to stay over at the date's place. to have them express affection more frequently and in greater magnitude. to be more intimate. to travel together, or at least go on a staycation. to finally be acknowledged as the boyfriend. the date says that they've been hurt from their past relationship, and i acknowledge that it takes time to recover. considering it's been 5-ish years since the breakup, and 18 months since we've (re-)started dating, i just wonder how long more it will take. asking for a timeframe is not right, so i'm left to guess and estimate by myself. but i wonder if this is ok - ok within me, i mean. like, can i accept things remaining the same for another, say, 2 years? again, it's not that i'm unhappy. more like mildly dissatisfied. and at the same time, i wonder if i'm being unreasonable to want all of this from the date, who may not be ready to give these things. if i were to ask myself, i'd (obviously) say that it's a perfectly reasonable request, because i'd be happy to do any of the above things that i've listed...maybe except stay over, but that's due to different circumstances.

i'm not sure how to approach this, actually. it doesn't make sense to rock the boat, since there HAS been signs that we're getting closer (the date passed me the mother's number so that i could wish her happy mother's day, for one). it's just that i feel that we could speed up the process of getting closer, or make it more obvious somehow. how would you deal with this? i think open communication is a vital part of any relationship, but so is tact and sensitivity. right now, i don't see a good way of being tactful and sensitive about this. i don't want to make the date feel like there's excessive pressure coming from my end, because i know that their first instinct will be to protect themself and run/resist. and if i take things as they are right now, i'll be trapped in this schroedinger's cat state where the outcome is both positive and negative before i actually take any action. to evaluate the best and worst case scenarios, the former is that the date agrees and we're closer. the latter is that the date feels threatened and breaks it off. the in-the-middle scenario ranges from us reaching a compromise to everything remaining status quo, so it's kind of a big fuzzy area. perhaps i can do this in a calm, non-threatening manner. just have to choose a good time and place. maybe on a somewhat neutral date. we'll see.

there are a few other thoughts, about age gaps in dating, as well as about settling for someone...both kind of related to the above, in a rather roundabout way. but i think i'll sort out my thoughts and phrase them properly before i write anything on those topics.

-random thought of the day: Motivation comes from the strangest places.-

Sunday, April 23, 2017

21 april is typically a melancholy day for me, but before i tell you about that, let's talk about pets! the reason i've been wanting to bring the topic up is because my cousin bought a dog. i've interacted with it a few times, and it seems to me that it has some slight behavioural problems. the biggest of which is that it sometimes tries to bite people. it's probably in a playful way, or sometimes in self-defence towards a perceived threat, but i think dogs should be trained out of all forms of biting, towards the owner, at least. i understand if guard dogs have to bite. anyway, i was just thinking to myself that my aunt and uncle are spoiling the dog a bit. i've been joking with my cousin that his dog leads a better life than i do, and that i wouldn't mind trading places with it. but taking good care of a pet isn't spoiling it. the spoiling which i'm referring to comes in how they're not taking a tough stance on some of the dog's negative behaviour (biting being a major one), and they're generally a bit too indulgent. for my part, i am stern when i see something that shouldn't be encouraged, but considering i see the dog once a month maximum, it doesn't really help. and i think my philosophy is kind of different. from volunteering at the shelter, i realize that an effective way to discourage or stop certain behaviour from the dogs as it's happening is to be stern, ie. raising my voice. the sharp exclamation is usually in the form of a phrase like "stop it!" to focus the tone. my aunt tells me that the dog doesn't understand what i'm saying, and i agree. of course the dog won't understand english. but it understands the tone of the message (disapproving, fierce) and knows that the behaviour it just did is wrong. i was actually stressing about this issue for a while, like how can i help to train all this bad behaviour out of the dog? after thinking about it on and off for a while, i came to a major realization: it's their dog, not mine. however they decide to train it, or if they decide to train it is none of my business. people keep pets for different reasons, after all. if i had a pet, i would want it to be a well-behaved companion. but that's just me. some people keep pets to show off (eg. this is the most expensive purebred dog in the world), others keep their pets around for entertainment, and there are those who want to care for and nurture something too. none of those aims are wrong, as long as the animal in question is being properly cared for. so yes, that was what i wanted to say about pets.

on to 21 april. this date is a bittersweet one for me, and it's significant to me for a couple of reasons. the first reason is that it's the anniversary of the passing of my maternal grandmother. it's the 18th anniversary this year, in fact. she passed away when i was 11, meaning that she's been gone for more than half my life now. it was also my first real personal experience with handling death. of course, princess diana passed away two years prior (to name a high-profile death in the approximate timeframe), but it didn't mean anything to me since i didn't know anything about her. to be honest, i don't remember much about my maternal grandmother, mainly because my paternal grandparents stayed with us while i was growing up, so the memories of them are stronger. there are photos of me and my cousin (our birthdays are very close) as babies on my maternal grandmother's bed, so i'm sure she helped to take care of us as well. two particular memories of her stand out in particular, that she used to buy lor mee for breakfast when i stayed the night at her place, and that she made great prawn fritters. the rest is mostly stories passed down from the previous generation and older cousins. from those stories, i learnt that she worked ridiculously hard and suffered a lot. i do wish my grandparents (3 out of 4 of them, at least) had lived long enough to see me grow out of my awkward/weird teenage phase. but yes. that's reason #1 for a less-than-happy 21 april.

in a somewhat contrasting way, the second reason has to do with birth. 21 april is also the birthday of someone for whom i care greatly about. it's not the date; their birthday is in january. but anyway. my relationship with this person is good in general, but not as close as i'd have liked previously. it's kind of a bittersweet feeling, in that i am happy to be friends with this person, but sad that it'll never be anything more than friends. but i guess i've grown to accept it as the years passed. i sometimes ask myself what makes me care so greatly for this person in particular. so far, i haven't really got a good answer, except that there's something about them that makes me want to do it. i suppose that's reason enough. in case you're wondering, no, i'm not pining for this person or anything melodramatic like that. i got over that years ago, thankfully.

my car is in the shop for the parts replacement. i decided to replace everything that the mechanic recommended, except for the engine mount, which had been replaced sometime in the past 2 years. and since i wanted to give them a nice working environment, i thought that it was a good time as any to go through all the stuff that's been piling up in the back. ended up removing a fairly large box's worth of various stuff. the car looks so much cleaner now! i hope the procedure will go off well, and that its performance will be enhanced. i had thought that the procedure would be fairly fast, and that i would be able to collect the car on the same day. turns out that that wasn't the case. the nice guy at the workshop (with whom my cousin is acquainted) arranged to lend me a honda fit. i've had it for about a day, and it takes some getting used to. the driver's seat is really high, and all the reference points are different. nothing i can't handle, though. funny story - i was at the petrol station to top it up, and couldn't for the life of me find the lever to open the fuel tank cover. on my civic, the lever is close to the floor, to the right of the driver's seat. pushing it opens the fuel tank, pulling it opens the boot. so i was looking for something similar. after frantically searching for 5 minutes, and as i was about to call the workshop guy to ask how on earth i was supposed to refuel his car, an attendant came over and showed me that the fuel tank on the fit was accessed by pushing down on the fuel tank cover itself. i would never have guessed that, not in a million years. isn't it risky, though? seems to me that anyone can just pop the cover and siphon your fuel off. maybe there's a security feature that i haven't noticed, like it only works when the car is unlocked.

while on the topic of the car, i finally decided to renew the COE for 5 years. while the decision is based mostly on facts and logic, there are a few assumptions. the main assumption being that i can earn enough to afford another secondhand car by 2022. as for facts, having a spare $25000 right now would be nice. could channel it into more productive areas. not to mention the money not spent on the COE can be channelled into the parts replacement costs, as well as to the upcoming servicing. i do have some other plans for the money, but that's a story for another time. for now, i've got to get ready for tonight's date soon. the date had something on yesterday, hence we pushed it a day back.

-random thought of the day: Looking forward to getting the car back!-

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Weird dreams have come back over the past week. i think i've had literally 7 nights' worth of them. although i usually don't remember them beyond half an hour of waking up, immediately telling the date about them in the routine good morning message seems to help with memory retention. it seems that two major themes have persisted through most of the dreams - professional wrestling, and secondary school...although i think there was that one odd army dream too. i don't understand it myself. why those things, out of everything i've experienced in my life? goodness knows. i used to think that weird dreams meant that i was stressed, but now i'm not so sure. i feel some pressure, but nothing debilitating. and if those dreams were caused by stress, wouldn't i dream about the thing that stressed me out? don't see how something that happened 10 years ago or more would affect me now, yet here i am, dreaming about these things. well...i doubt it's of much significance, unless i subconsciously want to switch careers to professional wrestling.

made a couple of important decisions in the interval between posts. i'll be renewing the car's COE after all. i'd asked my regular mechanic at my last servicing, and he said that it was ok to renew (ie. that there weren't any major problems with the car, and that it could last another 5 to 10 years). got a second opinion from my cousin's friend, who's a mechanic too. he says that the gearbox and engine are in surprisingly good condition, and that the only issue with the car is that some parts need to be replaced due to wear and tear. in fact, he recommended that i renew the car, because it's japan-made, and sturdier than the newer thailand-made ones. the wear and tear is expected, after 10 years. i'd replaced some things during servicing, but apparently my regular mechanic didn't get everything, or thought that the parts weren't a priority to replace. i'm expecting a quote tomorrow, and am also hoping that all in all, it costs less than $1500.

although i'm pretty sure that i'll renew it, the next question is how long to renew it for. there are two options, 5 and 10 years. i can renew the car indefinitely for 10-year blocks, but only once for the 5-year option. renewing for 10 years will cost more upfront, but actually costs less per year than 5 years ($6000 vs $7000 per year for 10 and 5 years respectively). the rest is about the same. both require annual inspections, both face the same increments in road tax. i suppose it comes down to how that fits into my own timeline. let's see...5 years from now will be 2022. with luck, i should have graduated, and probably be 2 or 3 years into a job. by then, i think i should be able to afford a new second-hand car. so logically, 5 years would be the way to go. at the same time, that "no renewal" condition really makes me hesitate. it's like, what if i need the car for say, 6 or 7 years? the only way that's possible is if i renew for 10 years and deregister early. the flexibility offered by the 10-year COE is really a significant draw. it's not that urgent yet; i can afford to sit on it for another week before committing to a decision.

can't remember when it started, but as i grow older, i'm increasingly losing faith in singaporeans. it seems that i've become more aware of peoples' ugly sides. well...maybe not ugly. i think a better way to say it is that people look out for their own interests first. there's nothing wrong with that. what's wrong is when they serve their own interests at the expense of others. the date works in customer service, so i hear about this kind of stuff on a regular basis. customers knowingly incur charges, yet try to get them waived. when they're refused, they abuse everyone in their path, including the customer service person taking their call. i guess people feel that they're more important than everyone else around them, just like with some drivers. it's best illustrated with a phenomenon i've observed way too often. here's a question for you. in heavy traffic, which lane moves the fastest? i think under normal circumstances, the logical answer would be that the fastest-moving lane is the rightmost, or overtaking lane. in practice, my observation is that it's the second-rightmost lane that moves faster in general. there could be a multitude of reasons, but i think the more likely ones are that people hog the right lane, and that too many drivers try to cut in. you know, i have nothing against people driving slowly. i do, however, have problems with people driving slowly in the fast lane...because they inconvenience others who actually want to get somewhere quickly. and don't even get me started on the idiots who can't drive within their lane, or don't signal when changing lanes. could be that i was never exposed to it so much until after JC, but i didn't remember it being this bad. well...i guess it's inevitable that we meet horrible people at some time in our lives. what really matters is how we react to the horribleness. the date had mentioned that i was rather easily provoked while driving. my usual response is that i naturally get agitated when our safety and well-being is on the line. i'd rather come across as aggressive than run the risk of being injured or worse due to some other driver's mishandling of their vehicle.

research is slow, but there's progress. my enzyme project is about 80% complete in terms of data gathering. just 2 more experiments to go, but somehow it's these last few experiments that i'm having the most issue with. 80-20 rule again. the main issue is that the compounds are very poorly soluble in the solvent i have to use, so i'm trying using a co-solvent, lowering the concentration, pre-dissolving, sonication, basically every strategy that i can think of. hopefully i'll arrive at a solution within this coming week. i've written a few paragraphs of the paper, but i know there's a lot of work that needs to be done there still. searching for references, for instance. i'm still confident of making the june deadline...hopefully the experiment i set up over the weekend will be successful.

there's been a lot of unhappiness/outcry about the legal system in singapore recently. first about the pedo MMA instructor, then about the church pastor. don't think i need to drop names here; you'll know who i'm talking about if you live in the country and/or follow its news. personally, i do feel that they both got off too lightly. the MMA instructor, especially. without revealing too much, let's just say that i knew of him before this case (not that he was a predator though), and i found his character to be somewhat questionable. and there is no good way to explain away the fact that he got such a light sentence despite knowingly and repeatedly committing the crime. as for the pastor, you may call me cynical, but i don't buy the argument that he did it all for the church. truly altruistic people are few and far between, and i really doubt he can be counted amongst their number. i am not religious myself, which may be why i smell a rat in/with his style of christianity. giving of tithes makes sense, when it's a small church and a small community who give within their means. but to persuade/instruct people to "give till it hurts", sometimes to the extent of selling a car or downgrading to a smaller house is way way too extreme. what makes it worse is where the money goes. from what i understand, it isn't all that transparent. and is there really a need for such a ridiculously huge church? if i was inclined to religion, i'd rather give what i can out of my own free will. even if it means that the facilities are a little run-down. after all, as long as you have god/whatever deity you worship in your mind, the physical environment doesn't really matter, does it? on a semi-related note, the idea of religion is a great in theory. but the human element twists it and distorts the message to further certain agendas. it's similar to communism. it sounds good - all men are equal. yet, i think it fails because man is greedy by nature. you know the whole animal farm thing. all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. what was supposed to be a great noble thing gets turned on its head because some (most) people will never be satisfied with what they have. but well...not my business. if they don't bother me, i won't bother them either.

i keep wanting to write about pets, but by the time i remember, i've run out of steam. shall start the next post with it, then.

-random thought of the day: Something feels off.-

Friday, March 17, 2017

In describing the act of doing things, there's a metaphor/simile that goes "it's like pulling teeth". i don't use it myself; think it's more of an american thing. if i'm not wrong, that phrase means that the thing to be done is very difficult, and/or the person who is supposed to do the thing is very reluctant. after yesterday's experience, i can understand why. so what happened is that i had to get a wisdom tooth extracted. one of my secondary school friends is now a dentist, and since i couldn't remember my last dentist visit, i thought i might as well go and see him for a cleaning and consultation, because that wisdom tooth wasn't sitting properly in my mouth. this is only the second major procedure i have ever had in my life, and i count myself extremely fortunate that a tooth extraction can be deemed as major. so...what caused the tooth to end up this way? that actually links back to my first ever major procedure, which was surgery to remove an impacted wisdom tooth in my left lower jaw when i was in J1, slightly less than 10 years ago. my friend told me that what happened was that since there was a missing tooth in my mouth, there was no opposition to the corresponding upper tooth's growth. and so, it had supraerupted. my knowledge of scientific language suggested that supererupted or hypererupted would have been the correct word, but apparently not. it wouldn't have been an issue if it had grown straight down into my mouth, but it grew at a slightly forward-facing angle, and could not be effectively cleaned. so, i set the date (yesterday) and went to get it done.

now, i don't think it comes as much of a surprise that due to my limited experience with painful procedures, i was rather nervous. the worst things i've had happen to me are ankle sprains and knee injuries. but those were accidents. here, i was voluntarily subjecting myself to pain. anyway, i showed up early to the clinic and had to wait a bit. that didn't help with the nerves. my friend finished with his previous patient and called me in. he told me about the procedure and explained some risks and potential complications, then numbed the area with some gel thing. after that came the injections. if i've never said it here before, i am not good with needles at all. good thing my friend was nice and patient. after the anaesthetic kicked it, the actual extraction started. it was a lot more medieval than i had imagined...it was literally pulling the tooth out. for some reason, it still hurt a bit when he turned the tooth anticlockwise, so we paused for a few more anaesthetic jabs. eventually, the tooth came out almost whole. there's a few mm of the root still lodged in the jaw, but my friend says that it's insignificant enough to be left there. all in all, the whole procedure took about half an hour to 45 minutes, and it's not something i would want to do again. i kept the tooth...it's sitting in bleach now for sterilization purposes. i noticed that it's showing some signs of decay, so i guess it's good that we got it out before it got serious.

the recovery so far has been pretty manageable. had to change the dressing quite regularly last night. not particularly enjoyable, removing bloody gauze pads every half an hour. thankfully the bleeding lessened before i fell asleep, and more or less stopped by this morning when i woke up. i'm happy (and thankful and relieved) that there's no pain, and i didn't need the painkiller that i was given. it's not even an ache...more like a feeling of discomfort. as i type this though, it's becoming more ache-like. still nothing that i can't handle. to tell the truth, i'm no expert in dental/jaw anatomy. i don't even know how the teeth are connected to the jaw, or how exactly the gums fit over them. in my imagination, it was an open wound that bled non-stop, but apparently that's not the case. nevertheless, it's still trauma to the body, which requires special care. so i'm making effort the chew with the right (uninjured) side of my mouth, and rinsing my mouth with salt water after food. should take about another 2 days for me to recover more or less fully, which means i should be back to normal by monday. here's hoping that no complications arise. as a reminder to self, no vigorous nose-blowing for a while, no swimming for the next 2 weeks.

over the last weekend, i went to attend a free workshop on value investing. it was conducted by a company whose founder's posts i'd been noticing on facebook. this guy seems to be the perfect person. wonderful family man, highly successful, rich, nice, and all in all serving the greater good instead of himself. so i thought it would be ok to burn a sunday to see what it was all about. as most of you will know, i am not financially inclined at all. they presented their content in a rather layman-friendly way, and the take-home message i got was that wages can't keep up with inflation. i know some political parties have been saying that as well. the next message was that value investing is the key to becoming financially free. to their credit, the speakers (who are all associated with the company) have quite impressive portfolios. i'm actually inclined to give it a try. previously, i've heard too many horror stories about people losing massive amounts of money in the stock market, and the impression i got was that it was super risky. while it's true that you can lose money and that risk exists, i realized that there are ways to mitigate such negative factors. for instance, don't borrow money. no matter how low a share price goes, it can only bottom out at zero. that means that the worst case scenario is that you lose everything you put in. and if it's solely your money, you don't owe anyone anything. along with that, don't dump all your money in. so that way, if you do end up losing everything that you put in, you have backups elsewhere. the second bit about mitigating the risk is where this concept of value investing comes in. the basic principle is that each company has an intrinsic value, which may or may not be equal to the share price. and the share price will tend to the intrinsic value over time. so by buying shares of companies whose share price is lower than their intrinsic value, the odds of you making a profit are higher. i figure that i should do a bit of investing, to have a bit of passive income in the form of dividends, and if all goes well, become financially free before i'm too old.

during the workshop, we were asked what financial freedom means to us. my answer is that it's the ability to pay for all your needs and wants without worrying about the cost. of course, i have to stop for a bit and clarify that needs and wants are subjective. personally, i'm not too greedy, i think. i'm not chasing after sports cars or bungalows. while a condo would be nice, i could be just as comfortable living in a HDB flat. as for cars, i'm perfectly happy with driving something similar to my current civic. higher engine capacity means higher road tax, after all. in that sense, i suppose my idea of financial freedom will be easier to meet. right now, a tentative goal is to be able to afford a flat by the time i hit the age of 35. that's another 6-ish years.

you know, i think a sign that i'm growing up is that i'm worrying about money matters. i intend to be independent one day. or to put it bluntly, unless i die early, i'll be forced to become independent one day. so every now and then, i'll review the distribution of my money and see how i can optimize it. the most recent review was because the OCBC 360 account's terms and conditions had changed yet again. they're rewarding less for spending and moving towards investments and insurance. some people might be ok with it, but i cant capitalize on it. so i opened a UOB one account. it's the same principle...spend above a certain amount per month, then use GIRO and/or credit your salary for maximum bonus. i figured that the interest rate for UOB would be better overall, since i could meet more of the conditions. the hassle is in shifting my GIRO arrangements to a different bank. well...i guess a one-time inconvenience is tolerable. hoping that they will all be approved soon.

might be because of the extraction, but i feel a slight headache coming on. or it might also be because of minor dehydration. i've been minimizing eating and drinking due to the discomfort in my mouth. maybe i need more water.

-random thought of the day: Going to sleep early tonight.-

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Going to use this post to get rid of some mental debris, aka odd little thoughts that have popped up in my head now and then. hopefully i remember them all.

let's get recent events out of the way first. two big events have passed since the last post, namely CNY and valentine's day. odd as it sounds, CNY was a non-event to me. just went to the lab to do some work, or stayed at home rotting. met the date over that period too, so it was nice. CNY has come up as a small-talk topic with some people in lab. the typical conversation with me goes something like this:

them: how was CNY?
me: oh, i came back to lab, did some stuff.
them: eh? you didn't celebrate? go overseas?
me: nope
them: why?
me: no 气氛 (festive mood), i guess. been like that since my grandparents passed away. how about you?
...and so on.

this year, i realized a couple of things. first, the reason why my (paternal) grandparents' passing is my go-to reason for not celebrating CNY is because they passed away late in the year, one year apart, more than 10 years ago. that means we didn't celebrate CNY for 2 years. i guess things just went downhill from there. the next thing i realized was that the other reason i don't like CNY is because how fake it is. this may not apply to everyone, but it's happening close enough to me. here's what i mean. normally, the house is in a state of minor disarray. come CNY, there will be frantic cleaning, cooking, and in general, everything that doesn't happen during the rest of the year. hence why i say it's fake. somehow i think there's a kind of invisible pressure to present your best side, pretend to get along, and show off to everyone that you're the model family or whatnot. and i hate that. i agree with the no dirty laundry in public, but i'm not ok with covering up everything and pretending. if i don't like a person, CNY won't change that. maybe i'll get more into the CNY spirit in a few years...when more of my close friends have kids. i believe that family does not necessarily refer to the people with whom you share DNA.

for valentine's day, we kept it a bit simpler than last year. having realized that most florists are ripoffs, i decided to get a bit crafty (no pun intended) and get flowers myself. i went to the flower wholesale place that i discovered last year, and bought flowers, wrapping paper, ribbons, the works. i'll be the first to admit that it wasn't the best-looking arrangement out there, but the date was impressed enough. had i not told them, i think they may have assumed that it was from a store. a nice bonus was that it was literally about 1/5 the cost of last year, assuming we do a bouquet-to-bouquet comparison. just one bouquet last year cost me a 3-digit figure. this year, i paid under $100, and had enough flowers, paper, etc for 5 bouquets total. might have been more if i split the excess flowers up better. as it was, i was trying to save space, so i just lumped the same kinds of flowers together. the downside was the excess flowers. since it's a wholesale place, they sell flowers by the tens and twenties on average. so i had lots of leftovers after doing what i wanted for the date and mother. it's both good and bad, i guess. good because there's a safety net - some of the flowers may be wilted or misshapen. bad because there's so much excess! i think the most cost-effective thing to do would be to come with friends who are looking to get flowers too. then you buy what's mutually agreeable, and split them among yourselves. might suggest that to the lab people next year.

the other crafty part of valentine's day was the date's gift. if i've never said it here before, let me tell you now that the date is really hard to shop for (they agree too). their fashion sense is way better than mine, so clothes is out of the question. tech stuff and gadgets too. i don't follow what phones are coming out, or what games are nice. so i decided to go for something safe, which is sweets. chocolates, to be precise. the date doesn't like chocolate in general, but is a bit more receptive to white chocolate, so that's where i started. and instead of getting any old box of chocolates, i thought it'd be nice if i made them myself. besides, where in singapore would you find a box of pink heart-shaped chocolates? ok. small confession here: i've always wanted to try working with chocolate, ever since i read a reader's digest article about it in secondary school. i bought 3 X 200g blocks of organic white chocolate (whatever that means) and 2 bags of white chocolate buttons to experiment on. the first 2 batches were disasters. i used liquid food colouring and flavouring (big no-no, water and chocolate don't mix), and got a lump of stuff that stuck to my spoon. it was edible, but not exactly presentable or romantic. then, i went on youtube and learnt about tempering chocolate, and that there's a baking goods store in the kallang region that sells chocolate-friendly food colouring. batches 3 and 4 came out much better. batch 3 was for the date, 4 was for the date's mother. i haven't received complaints yet, so no news is good news i guess? you know, this chocolate thing could become something regular. it's actually quite therapeutic. and outside of the lab, i think this is the most relevance my chemistry degree's had in a while. tempering chocolate has something to do with crystallization and controlling temperature to get the chocolate into the right solid phase. was quite easy to understand. and as a bonus, this is the most luck i've had with growing crystals. i've got a block of dark chocolate in the fridge waiting for a free day. i'm going to be a bit more ambitious and try making chocolate truffles this time. gentle reminder to self, never swallow neat peppermint oil again. i think i burned a (small) portion of my throat. and that was from just one drop!

whoa. big digression. the last thing we did for valentine's day was to go out for dinner on the sunday before the actual day. unlike last year, i didn't cook. we went to the cornerstone at bishan park. it's a pretty atas place, with above-average prices. i figured it would balance the homemade feel of the gifts...and the date did express interest in the place previously. i'd made reservations about a month in advance, and they didn't email me back to confirm. i called twice, and they said that my reservation was there both times. i asked for email confirmation both times too, still never came. i also went to their facebook page, where there were a mix of positive and negative reviews, but more positive. so, i decided that we'd go down and see for ourselves...and i'm thankful we did. since it was out first time there, i don't know if the crew was extra on form in preparation for valentine's day, or whether it was their normal level of service. whatever it was, i was super impressed. i think that that dinner ranks among the top 3 best service experiences i've ever had. the lady who served us remembered my name, and kept us feeling really comfortable. if there is one single negative that i had to pick, it would be that the food was not up to my expectation (the menu described the pork as being melt-in-your-mouth. not quite). but then, i'd gladly go back for such wonderful service. at most, i'll order something else. there are a few more dishes that caught my eye. next time i guess would be the date's mother's birthday? hopefully they're consistent. and also, the date got me a 3DS for valentine's day. quite unexpected, but i'm kind of enjoying it.

right. that's recent events done. next thing. car purchase. i realize that my previous comparison had too many variables, so i'm going to do another one with more solid figures, as in, with the cars which i am inclined to buy. let's start with the old car. COE prices are about $50000 now for a 10 year renewal. if i renew, i also forfeit the PARF rebate of about $10000. inspections will be annual instead of once every 2 years, and road tax will increase 10% of the original amount per year to a maximum of 50%. totalling that up, it's 50000 + 10000 + (60 X 5 additional inspections) + (400% X 740) = $63260 total over 10 years, or $6326 per year, excluding repair works and servicing.

one of the more interesting cars that's caught my eye is a toyota prius. yes, it's a hybrid. and because it's a hybrid, i only get back 30% of the ARF rebate as PARF, instead of 50% as with a petrol car. the asking price is $58321, which i will try to lower to $55000. the rebate of it's ARF is $6900 (rounded off). it would thus cost me 55000 - 6900 = $48100 over the 5 years left on its COE, or about $9620 per year. this is assuming it doesn't require major servicing and more importantly, that its battery doesn't malfunction. a battery replacement could cost 5 digits.

comparing that to a regular petrol car, i just saw another black civic for sale. the asking price is $50888, which i will try to push to $49000. i'll get back about $12000 at the end of its COE, so the total cost is 49000 - 12000 = $37000, or $11300 per year roughly. that's high depreciation.

of course, renewing the COE is still the cheapest on paper, but who knows how much work the car will need a few years later. comparing between the hybrid and regular, the hybrid seems to make more economical sense over its lifespan, though the upfront cost is higher, and you get back less at the end of its COE. that actually makes getting a car after this one a bit harder. less capital and all. the one thing i haven't accounted for is the fuel savings that a hybrid is supposed to bring. reviews say that it can go as high as 22km/L, compared to the 14 or so that i get now. a difference is in the tank capacities; my civic holds 50L, while the prius holds 36L. perhaps we'll have to use absolute distance. i normally fill up the tank at around 12.5L (or a quarter tank) remaining, and that's after about 560km. 560km/37.5L = 14.9km/L. hmm...a bit higher than expected. 560km/22km/L = 25.5L for that same distance, using the review's figures. but 3/4 or the prius' tank will get me 27L X 22km/L = 594km. i can probably fill up the tank a bit later, though my fear of running out of gas will mean that i fill the tank at around the same frequency. so that's unchanged. what changes is the cost. each time i go to the petrol station, i spend about $65 for a full tank. with the prius, that would go down to $46. if i go for petrol once in 10 days (3 times a month), annual savings will be $684. assuming road tax is calculated the same way for both hybrids and regulars, it's a saving of $45 per year. nothing to write home about, but still a saving nonetheless. so factoring in the hybrid savings, the cost for the prius would be 9620 - 684 - 45 = $8891 per year. that's just a bit higher than my current civic! the one key assumption is that the fuel economy is as high as stated.if it's say...18km/L instead, i'd still save, but not as much. i suppose i could check out other models, like the vios. or maybe find cars that have COEs expiring in 2019. after all, my candidature will end in mid- or late-2018.

that took up way more time than i thought it would! maybe blogging is a skill - you lose it with infrequent usage. and i haven't even talked about my recent dental appointment yet! have to wait for the next post, i guess. other things i may want to talk about include occupying my time, credit and debit cards, research, driving, and whatever else crosses my mind.

-random thought of the day: Be more efficient.-

Sunday, January 22, 2017

So far, 2017 is off to a decent start. survived the big end-year presentation (end-2016, that is. we always have a wrap-up presentation of the previous year's work early in the current year), and results are coming in nicely for my second project, which surprisingly, is more bio-based than my first/main project. it's my first foray into biological territory, and i suppose that i'm being eased in nice and slowly. i'm working with enzymes, which i think are less finicky than cells. all i have to do is thaw out the quantity i need, and use it with no special treatment...unlike cells, which have to be cultured, grown, split, and are prone to dying if not taken care of well enough. not to mention the results from my enzyme assay are highly reproducible. what's been bugging me for a couple of days now is how to modify the assay for a kinetics study. i'll probably figure it out soon. my professor is aiming to publish this by june, so you can guess that there isn't much work left to be done. in fact, if i do publish in june, this project will have been in my hands for only 7 months, which is really fast/short. once i have the protocol, it should be quite straightforward. am hoping for a march/april submission, but i won't get ahead of myself.

the date and i are still progressing ok, except that we had a little conflict a couple of weeks back. it was about punctuality, and my lack of it. i do acknowledge that it's my fault, because i didn't plan well enough. if the roles were reversed, i guess i would be upset as well. the only possible thing i can say in my defense is that i'm the one driving more than halfway across the island to make the appointment. plus i had cooked, so that should count for something, right? the date told me that they would rather i not cook and be on time, vs cook and be late. it was a bit surprising to me. then again, different people have different values and priorities. while i would have liked the issue to simply blow over as soon as it happened, i wasn't in the position to demand anything, because i was the one to blame. so there wasn't much else i could do other than apologize and promise to try and do better in future. it's been ok since then, i think. next time i do want to cook or anything, i'll have to give an hour's buffer, just in case. all in all, it's part of learning about each other, i guess. no major hard feelings...though the date said that they'd stopped seeing someone previously because he was consistently late. so that should give you an idea of how high it's prioritized. the date says that this was instilled in them from young, so i guess that's why. and the mother doesn't like tardiness either, so apparently it runs in the family. speaking of the date and mother, we had a mini (and very early) reunion dinner earlier today. ate at the london duck at west mall. we didn't order any duck, quite ironically. maybe next time. i could get used to this early reunion dinner thing. we had ours (with the extended family) yesterday at long beach, east coast. it was not crowded at all. i think aside from us, there were at most 10 other (small) tables occupied. should make this a new tradition.

been thinking about conflict resolution recently. just like there's more than one way to skin a cat, there are multiple ways to solve conflicts as well. for the sake of my own health, i've decided to inconvenience myself a bit and avoid that stretch of road where idiot drivers will try to cut in before the double white lines, rather than the more direct/confrontational approach of trying to block them and blaring the horn. sure, it means travelling a longer distance by the CTE (which is prone to jamming as well), but the switch makes for a smoother drive overall. and i suppose it matters what time i leave lab. so far, i've been experimenting with two methods: come early go early, or come late go late. the former is more difficult, i think, because it involves beating the 7:00am ERP at braddell road, and fighting with morning rush hour traffic. thankfully, the journey home is really smooth if i leave early enough. for come late go late, the journey to school is fine, but going back is the problem. there's the usual problem of moron drivers and double white lines, and the CTE remains jammed past 10:00pm. i wonder if i would be better off taking the money set aside for a car, and putting it towards renting a place near school, like within walking distance. it's actually an interesting thought. or maybe even just move into lab, since that would be free. i have a portable bed there, plus there are accessible showers. only problem is that it gets really freezing cold in the early morning, like between 5:00 and 7:00am. i know from experience; had to stand in front of an open oven to warm up.

driving really makes me see the worst in people. every single negative stereotype applied to singaporeans can be used on moron drivers. examples include "first-world country, third-class citizens", "selfish", "self-important", "inconsiderate", "no social awareness", "cowardly". i could go on, but i think you get the idea by now. i do notice that these morons are typically (in no particular order) women, old men, middle-aged men. it's pretty equal race-wise, though i think indians have the slight majority. if i ever run for politics, i'll go after the transport portfolio, and implement stringent criteria on car and driving license eligibility. don't signal? suspension for a month. if your not signalling results in a near miss or accident? ban for X years depending on severity. inconsiderate driving? 6-month ban minimum. 3-time repeat offender? permanent driving ban. caught driving while banned? number of minutes behind the wheel = number of weeks in jail = number of multiples of $100 to pay in fines. and i'd also modify the COE system. moron drivers are subject to a multiplier or even outright disqualification, based on how big of a moron they are. good drivers get massive discounts. that's just a dream, but if anyone with decision-making power in LTA or the ministry of transport is reading this, do be sure to credit me.

after a bit more research on cars, i think i'll stick to spending within my means, ie. no vezel. also looked through mitsubishi, mazda, toyota, suzuki, nissan. nothing really eye-catching. there have been a few more second-hand civics going up on the market in these few days, though depreciation is still in the 5-figure range. one of those has kind of caught my eye - a 1.3L hybrid. good news, it's black too! and it's OMV is surprisingly high. think close to twice that of my current regular civic. i think i'll get in touch with the relevant people after CNY. not too sure if the next 4.5 days will be conducive for closing deals. maybe a car change will happen around february? i don't know. as long as it happens before may. and reminder to self: enquire about keeping the same license plate number. i'm sure that a fee has to be paid, but i'm not sure how much, exactly.

with all the talk about reunion dinner, i think you'd know that CNY is around the corner. friday is the eve, saturday and sunday are days 1 and 2 respectively, and monday is an off-in-lieu. the year of the rooster will be starting, and according to various sources, it seems that it extremely favours the dragon zodiac sign, ie. me! apparently, dragons are rated the most lucky in wealth, health, romance, and in general. while it's reassuring to know that the stars have my back, i definitely have to rely on myself too. also, it's the first CNY in sengkang. not that i'm too excited about it. i think i'll be spending most of it in lab, same like last year. with luck, i'll finish the enzyme kinetics stuff. the date is also planning on a low-key CNY. maybe we'll have our usual saturday date night, or push it to sunday if it seems everywhere's closed. also, reminder to self: see about getting a car wash if the prices haven't already been jacked up.

-random thought of the day: Be more conscientious/diligent in using the planner.-

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Haven't had consecutive days with posts in a while. but as you know, it's the usual practice to do that on new year's eve and new year's day here. unlike previous years, i'm having little to no difficulty accepting that it's now 2017. might be because i got myself a cool planner. hoping to put it to good use over the next 12 months. in fact, there's a goal-setting section, which i'll fill in in detail after i work out the big picture here.

since i'm still in grad school, i suppose the goal remains the same - to publish a few papers and graduate within a reasonable timeframe. we're looking at end-2018, considering that's when my scholarship runs out. while it's possible for my professor to hire me for an additional semester or two, i shouldn't count on it. his funding situation's been a little tight these past few months. so, let's say i have 2 more years to go. and right now, i have 2 main projects, plus one idea which i'm going to propose to my professor this friday. that means a possible 3 publications, and an average of about 6 months between each one? if only events would go as i liked. if so, i'd have graduated by now. or maybe even retired. coming back to more realistic goals, i think i can finish my enzyme project by june, so that's hopefully a paper down. my main platinum project requires a bit more proof, and synthesis of the actual thing...i don't dare to put a timeframe on it. as for the last one, the idea i'm going to propose, i have no idea if that will even be possible. after all, it's aiming to tackle a question that nobody has found the answer for for about as long as research into our type of platinum compounds has existed. but well...isn't that what research is about, at the most fundamental level?

research and school aside, i realize that as i get older, my goals stay more or less the same - maintain good relations with people who count, and the usual newton's third law thing. have to remember to be more patient and tolerant, too. though with other drivers behaving like idiots, that's a really tall order. i still don't understand the refusal to signal. you know...i don't care if people get into accidents, as long as (1) it doesn't involve me or any innocent bystanders, and (2) my route isn't affected. if all the people whom i don't know want to get into a huge pile-up because all of them don't use their signals, i wouldn't feel the slightest bit sorry. after all, they brought it on themselves. all i ask is that they do it on a road i don't plan on using that day. and having said that, of course i'm hoping for another accident-free year.

with regards to the date, our relationship is in a relatively good place, and i hope that it gets even better as time passes. the good thing i guess is that we know most of each other's trigger points by now, so probably most arguments can be totally avoided. i'm still not sure if we'll end up together forever and all that, but i guess nobody really knows. we'll just have to keep working at it. i'm not sure if i should set any goals or objectives here. perhaps not in terms of time (eg. stay together for another year), but like in terms of our interactions. be nicer, more accommodating, but not to the point of ridiculousness. just...be reasonable, i guess. give in where i can, but not excessively.

i hope that 2017 will be a good year, with minimal upheavals. i'm pretty content with the pace of life right now, though i sometimes wish research would progress more quickly and be more successful. well...i'll have to work harder. as usual, i'll remain cautiously optimistic. you know, hope for the best, prepare for the worst kind of thing. with enough luck, it won't come down to the worst case scenario. from my experience so far, it rarely does.

-random thought of the day: Have to watch my budget for the next 2 weeks.-

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Keeping up with tradition, i'll get started on my year-end post. this year, i'm in lab! had to work on my presentation and take care of a couple of reactions. one failed, while i'm hopeful for the other. for now, back to the task at hand. a lot of people are saying that 2016 was a bad year, and one of the reasons they give is that many famous people died (and some which should be dead are still alive). i don't think that's a good reason at all. i think that the number of people that die per year doesn't really change that dramatically from year to year, unless there was some natural disaster or outbreak of war. it just so happens that this year, the proportion of famous people out of that total is higher.

personally for me, it was a good year overall. there's progress where it counts, and in general, the good bits made up for the bad bits. that's the reason for the first of my 2 candidates for theme of the year - ups and downs. it's competitor is "discovering myself". you'd think that at the ripe old age of 28, i'd know all i needed to know about me, right? apparently not. experiences with the date have revealed that under some circumstances, i behave differently that how i'd imagine myself to behave...sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. i guess it's because you don't really care as much about what your normal friends say as compared to a potential partner. i'll sit on the theme question until the end of the post. hopefully i'll decide one way or another.

numerous memorable things happened over the course of this year. good things include passing my QE, maintaining my relationship with the date, and moving house. that last one's debatable, actually. of course, i'm not really mentioning the usual take-for-granted things like being in overall good health, being accident-free while driving, maintaining my savings target. not-so-good things include various arguments with the date (thankfully they were all resolved), basically leaving the local judo scene (this one's both good and bad), and losing some friends (in my view, anyway). i think that there were no monumental screw-ups, which is probably a sign that i'm doing things somewhat right...or at least not too terribly wrong.

if i had to choose one day out of the past 366 to repeat, it would be 15 february. that was when both the date and i took a day off and went out. so far, that has been the most perfect date in the 13 months that we've been seeing each other, for various reasons already mentioned in the post written on that day itself. and if i had to choose to erase one day, it'd probably be one of the several days in which we argued about magic. funny how the brain remembers negatives more strongly than positives. perhaps it's also a sign to me, that i should be able to remember the lessons learnt from negative experiences, but let go of the associated feelings and negative emotions.

i guess that brings me to the end of this post. to sum things up, there were many memorable moments in 2016. bad or good, they all have helped me to develop and grow as a person. and although some things were horrible at the points in time while they were happening, those times will pass in the end. all that remains now is to look forward to next year, which will bring me a step closer to graduation.

-random thought of the day: Should go off soon.-

Friday, December 30, 2016

On to part 2! like i mentioned previously, this post will be more for thoughts and feelings regarding some (relatively) recent experiences. keywords are friends, car, judo, and not necessarily in that order.

starting with friends, there's this thing that says if you're friends with someone for 7 years or more, you'll be friends for life. i would like to strongly contest that. i have 2 examples...one of which is directly related to me. if you remember, i had 2 close friends from my class in JC. we went went to japan together for our grad trip 3 years ago. in the past few months, i'm starting to think that our friendship is all but gone. for one guy, it's because we had a disagreement, which was kind of indirectly caused by his ex. issues with her, to be precise. it was never really resolved, and the first time we met after that (which was about 9 months later, in late november or so), it was awkward. there's this distance now, and we're not as close as before. as for the other guy, he's good at heart, but sometimes the things he does and certain aspects of his character have me shaking my head in disbelief. he's almost every stereotype of the loud ugly cheapskate ignorant singaporean. i can handle him in small doses, but even that is proving a bit too much now. at present, i'm a bit ambivalent about these friendships. we definitely had good times...but that was in the past. as the years go by, i think that we're gradually having less and less in common. i guess i'll give it one last try. the previous try (aka. the last time we met) didn't go very well. i suppose i should try to catch them individually.

but even if i can't salvage it, i shouldn't feel too bad. after all, even friendships of up to 30 years can be destroyed if the conflict is serious enough. such was the case in the judo world. i'm not part of this, seeing as i've only been practising for 11 years. but yes, some of the elders who were friends are no longer on talking terms, because someone was power-hungry and stupid. that's a bad combination if there ever was one. while on the topic of judo, i firmly believe that there is no future for singapore judo. not with this administration (or any possible permutation of the people) in charge. compared to 3 years ago, the state of the sport is dismal. back then, we still had somewhat of an asian presence. these days...it's barely south-east asian. i'm no longer affiliated to the federation, so as long as i don't participate in any JUA-sanctioned events, they can't touch me. besides, what's the worst they can do to me? suspend me? ban me? NOT AFFILIATED, so i don't care. they can strip me of my qualifications, which is no big deal either. i resigned my referee license, am no longer actively coaching, so it's of no consequence. at worst, they can take my black belt away...my SJF black belt, that is. fortunately, i still have IJF and kodokan certification, which has not been awarded in singapore for a long time.

the other thing that makes me think that judo it's on its way to worldwide decline is the recent updating of the rules. the rules are now much more simple...perhaps too simple. i guess the IJF is trying to make it easier for casual spectators to watch and follow, but i think there's a point where simple becomes dumb. without going into the technical details, i'll just say that perhaps not refereeing any more is a good thing. so...what's left in judo for me? not much, frankly. it's literally the next thing on my priority list to go if need to drop anything. i think i have to make peace with the thought that i won't be getting high dan grades in this lifetime. if i can go to 5th by the time i'm 50, i'll be more than happy. for now, i guess it's dropping by the judo clubs whenever i'm free, or if/when they need me for something.

previously, i thought i'd already worked out the car issue. use the money to renew the COE, then drive this current car for another few years until it dies and has to be scrapped. my cousin told me it may not be that simple. quick background: when deciding on which car to buy, we generally go for lowest depreciation, which is calculated by (amount paid - amount returned to you at end of car lifespan)/number of years you drive the car. for this current car, that works out to about $8500/year, which is ridiculously good by singapore standards. if i were to renew it for the next 10 years, it would be about $6000/year over that time period. but my uncle said that cars will typically break down very seriously around year 12 or so. it may then not be feasible to send it for repairs, as buying a new car may be cheaper. a similar honda civic is depreciating at more than $10000/year these days. it doesn't seem economical. as such, i've expanded my scope a little. but before that, let me just quickly outline my 2 approaches. the first approach is to look for a car with 3-4 years to go, and drive it to the end of its life, similar to what i did with this one. the second approach is to look for an almost-new car, and drive that to the end. first instinct would probably be to ask, why choose an almost-new car over an older one? well, it depreciates less due to the longer time. for a car that's about 8 or 9 years old, the benefit is that it costs cheaper upfront. but the downside is that it can only be used for so long. if i could, i'd go with the almost-new route. problem there is that the upfront cost is staggering. if at all possible, i'd rather not take another loan.

putting the money issue aside first, i have to admit that i'm quite taken by the honda vezel (no it's not a typo of vessel). it's a hatchback/SUV type of car. quite newly introduced too, i think. earliest registration date i can find for a second-hand model is late 2014. though it looks tall, rugged and sporty, its engine capacity is surprisingly lower than that of my civic. i am quite intrigued by it, because most models feature keyless entry, push-button start, and bluetooth connectivity to the stereo and possibly car phone. not to mention it looks pretty good, too. however, if i change to something that's not a civic, i'll definitely miss the digital speedometer. and as a minor aesthetic thing, i like my single-row license plates. the other models all necessitate double rows. well, my current thought is this: try for civic first, then jazz, then vezel or other japanese cars, and finally continental cars. the vezel is actually plausible, depending on whether i can source for the required funding. but then, i should remind myself not to get in over my head. i'm paying several bills now, and if i want to include a loan for the car, i'll have to rework my budget. guess what i can do now is to do my homework and see if any good deals come up.

-random thought of the day: Going back to lab tomorrow.-

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Really cutting it close with this post. i'm just about to miss my once-a-calendar-month minimum updating frequency. it's actually been more than 30 days, if you're counting, but well, at least i have posts in both november and december. i can't really explain the lack of posts in these past 5 weeks. i guess that everything's been rather routine, with only a few exceptions. hence, i didn't really have enough substance built up to warrant a post. and i guess i do now.

following our one-year dating anniversary, the date and i have still been going out regularly. a few of the more notable dates include going to sentosa (because i couldn't filter in time to get to vivocity, and we missed the subsequent u-turn back to the mainland), going for a concert, meeting the chemistry guys for christmas celebrations, and spending christmas itself together. i think we'll talk about each of them in sequence.

as mentioned earlier, we ended up in sentosa by accident. i was a bit apprehensive, mainly because i didn't know what the parking rates were. turns out that they were surprisingly cheap! $3 entrance fee, and a further $2.20 per entry at the carpark. spending $5.50 total for about 5 hours is actually pretty reasonable. we took a walk along the beach, caught pokemon, and explored some of the attractions. prior to this, the last time i'd been to sentosa proper was in sec 3, for a CCA camp (USS doesn't count). a lot changed in the 13-year gap. it looks more modern and more touristy, for sure. and it also caters to a more affluent crowd, as the increase in beach bars and restaurants showed. it was one of the more memorable dates, i think.

the concert which we went for was the distant worlds: final fantasy one. it featured final fantasy music, but distant worlds isn't affiliated to square enix. quite messy, but at the end of the day, what mattered was that we were treated to about 2 to 3 hours of good music. this is literally like the second-ever concert i've attended in my life. the first one was back in secondary school, and was actually the school band's annual performance. i think that most concerts aren't really worth the money in general, since i can stream stuff off youtube or other sources. but the date already got the tickets for this one. and i'm happy that they did. although i'm not all that familiar with most of the titles (everything other than 7, 8, 10, and 14), i enjoyed the music. there was a good mix of slow, classical-sounding pieces, and more up-tempo ones as well. we also met one of my JC friends there...more on him later. despite saying that i'm typically not one for concerts, i'm scheduled for another one with the date. this one features this korean pianist/singer called yiruma. same venue - star vista, in february next year or so; i forget the exact date. the one thing that quite impressed me about the organization of the concert was that they had a super-strict "no photography" rule, and they really enforced it. like, there were ushers and other personnel keeping sharp eyes out for anyone taking photos. and when one of them spotted a rulebreaker, they'd swoop down and politely insist that the photo(s) be deleted, even going as far as to check the camera roll. while some may say that it's an invasion of privacy, i think that it's good enforcement.

christmas celebrations with the chemistry guys was done a week in advance. we went to one of their houses, as we did last year. the date said that they had came along with me last year too. funny thing was that i didn't remember it. looking back at the archives shows that it did happen, and that my memory sucks. the gathering was nice...i got to see some people whom i haven't seen in longer than i care to remember. in addition, my friend's kids are growing up! yes, captain obvious here. but what i mean is that there's noticeable progress in their development! like his elder daughter can now walk and (somewhat) talk, while at this time last year, his younger son didn't even exist! i noticed something quite funny, too. normally, i have very low tolerance/liking for kids. but i found myself being quite ok with my friend's daughter. i guess it's because she's, well, my friend's daughter, so i feel closer to her. and objectively speaking, she's also rather well-behaved. mostly quiet, and not at all annoying. hopefully that doesn't change as she grows up. while interacting with her, i had this awful flashback to/of myself, aged between 6 to 9. i seem to remember really wanting the attention of the older relatives when they came over for CNY. goodness. how lucky i outgrew that nonsense by about primary 5. reminder to self: be a little kinder to kids. most of them will go through the attention-seeking phase. i suppose it's part of their brains maturing.

by this time, i think christmas should be over, no matter what time zone you're in. so, i hope you enjoyed your christmas. i know i did. had more celebrations than usual this year. the aforementioned one with the chemistry guys, one with the lab, one with the extended family, and one with the date and mother. that's like 3 more than a typical year for me. the lab one was nice. plenty of food, nice atmosphere, and we even played secret santa! i got my giftee/recipient a grapefruit-scented candle for his house. not because i think he smells bad or anything, but if i'm not wrong, he just moved into his own place with his wife. so (the date and) i thought that it would add to the homely atmosphere. my secret santa was my professor(!), who got me a notebook, a pen, and some type of chocolate biscuit. practical, as expected. unfortunately, i'd already got myself a planner, so i don't foresee myself using his notebook all that much. well...maybe it'll just be another one for the collection.

for the extended family, we had lunch at long beach east coast. turns out my aunt (that's chemical engineer cousin's mother) was visiting. the last time i saw her was probably when i went to her place in new zealand as part of my grad trip. gosh, it's been 3 years and 6 months. anyway, it was pleasant enough, though i did recall a quote from a TV show, which goes something like, "christmas is when we all meet up, to remind ourselves why we don't do it for the rest of the year". in the asian context, christmas could probably be replaced by CNY, but you know what i mean. anyway, the reason i say that is because gatherings like this remind me that the maternal aunts can be a bit...overbearing. don't get me wrong, i know they mean well, and that that's their way of showing their concern. but sometimes, "no thanks" really means just that. i'm not refusing food because i'm shy or afraid to look greedy. i just don't want any more. reminder to self again: they mean well, although it can get repetitive and thus, annoying. we also went back to my other aunt's place, where i played with the dog for a bit, and discussed car matters with my cousin and uncle. more on that later, too.

lastly, with the date. we did our christmas present exchange earlier in the month. they got me 5 mini stuffed toys from our favourite series. at the time when they gave me the gift, that series of toys hadn't even been released in singapore yet. so that was rather special. i got them gloves, because i noticed that their hands were really cold after a day's work. the interesting thing is that these gloves can be used with touchscreen devices. i have no idea how they accomplished that. i get how it's possible with regular nitrile gloves, because the material's thin enough to not affect the capacitance that much. but those gloves are decently thick. it's probably the material. maybe metallic nanoparticles or fibres? we also both got together and gave the mother a phone. she likes it, which shows that the date is in tune with her tastes. since we had done the gift exchange earlier, christmas eve and christmas day itself were relatively quiet. we went to bugis on the eve, and the date picked up a PS4. no, not for me. i specifically told them that i had no space or time for one. the date seems to enjoy it, which is nice. on christmas day, we went out for dinner with the mother, followed by an evening at their place where we played some games, like guilty gear and divinity: original sin. guilty gear was a bit of a different experience. i'm a bit more used to street fighter style controls. we both went through the tutorial, but somehow it didn't help that much. thankfully, the game offered a "newbie mode", which allowed us to pull of amazing combos by button-mashing. we played a few bouts with different characters, and i wasn't really keeping track of win/loss. what i did notice was that the date accused me of bullying them again. in this case, i didn't mind that much, because we were at similar skill levels and had similar exposure to the game. if i wanted to be egotistic, i could probably say that i had a slight advantage. but well...i'm not sure if the date wanted me to give way or not. in the end, it didn't really matter, as they started a winning streak. funny how i didn't mind losing here at all. wonder why. divinity was interesting, but a little bit slow for my taste. the date enjoyed it though, said it was those kind of dungeons and dragons style RPG that they liked. i think i need some more exposure about it before i form my final verdict.

part 1 of this post will end here for now. part 2 will be where i talk about more feelings-related stuff, like about my JC friends, and analyze the car issue again.

-random thought of the day: Holiday inertia.-