Saturday, December 22, 2012

Be Strong, Tito! Anims Tito!

If you haven't heard already. Barça coach Tito Vilanova had a relapse of his salivary gland cancer, or parotid  gland cancer. He had undergone surgery on Thursday, and will have radiotherapy and chemotherapy in the coming weeks. We wish him a speedy recovery!

His surgery went fine. That's good news, and we'll see what happen in the following weeks.
Anims Tito!

I hate to turn this into a football blog, or a FC Barcelona centric blog. I do have to do this. I also apologize for being completely MIA in the past weeks. I have no excuse other than having no inspiration and my own laziness.

Photo credit: FC Barcelona Official Website

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

El Clásico

We drew. Messi and CRon both scored a brace. We played with no central defense, no el capita, no Piqué. We did show up and play tiki-taka when we were not losing the ball. We drew, and I am quite happy about the result. We are still on top of the table, and we can do better. I am trusting my team that we will do better.  Meanwhile, we'll take that one point against our arch-rival. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Update on my caffeine progress.

So, about the whole no caffeine thing. It lasted three days, then on the fourth I decided that life wasn't worth living anymore, and had one cup of the best instant coffee I could find. The next day, actually, it was almost as soon as I finished that cup of coffee that I realized my mistake and started over again. It continued for another three days. At the end of which I had decided the whole thing was getting a little out of hand. It wasn't cause by the caffeine deprivation, not primarily. At least I didn't think that caffeine was the major reason for what I was going through. I was beginning to get quite paranoid, mostly about my health, and I was definitely in an emotional slum. The tiniest thing would tick me off, things that I usually wouldn't even notice, and I would freak out. That was when I decided it was time to go see another doctor. That decision ended my week long caffeine free journey.
Now, I feel the need to clarify that I am in no way downplaying any sort of substance abuse and the difficult process to quit. I did not feel that my experience had made me understand what people have to go through. What I am trying to say is that this gave me some insights into something that I have never really put too much thought into.
I've never thought about coffee other than where I am going to get mine. I would thought about it, brought it, drank it, and then not thought about it for the rest of the day. Instead of doing that, I thought endlessly about coffee throughout the week. I would wake up, realized I couldn't have coffee for breakfast, and so I drank some water instead. I would get a little frustrated at that point, but nothing too much. As the day went on, however, I would find myself thinking about it more and more. I would be standing in consultation and thought: I can really use a coffee. Or I would be doing some lab work, trying to focus but feeling not quite fully awake and thought the same thing again. By lunch time, I would get a bit twitchy and grumpy. Then by evening I would feel a little better. Just a little, and the thought of coffee never really left my mind. It went on, until I finally broke down and had that first cup in three days. As I was drinking that cup of semi decent instant coffee I felt content, yet at the same time I also felt guilty about it.
I've never put much thought into the process of quitting any sort of addiction previously. I don't personally know anyone who is addicted to any kind of substance. I do have a brother that I have always felt had a game addiction, and a co-worker that drinks a little too much occasionally. My family had talked about getting my brother professional help, but had never gotten around to it. My sister in law had pretty much just chalked it up with him being immature. And surely, as he had gotten a bit older, his gaming habit had gotten far less problematic.
In the past week I have started to think about it. It was a truly horrifying thought. Since I consider my dependence on caffeine to be nothing more than that, over dependence. I knew how long my self imposed break would last, and it was only a short period of time. I was already struggling, and failing half way through it. I can't imagine what it would be like quitting a real addiction of any kind must be like. I think that was a very good motivation to not start developing a habit.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My days without caffeine

I am very much a coffee person. I complain about Starbucks even though I lived around Seattle for years. I order caramel macchiato at Starbucks even though I complain about their coffee. I know about some of the lesser known coffee spots in the city, and when given the chance, I try to avoid Starbucks. Because their coffee tastes more like milk with a dash of coffee than actual coffee. (See! That's me complaining about them, even though I just had a coffee from them yesterday and know every barista at the stall near my work place.)
But this post isn't about my coffee habit, it's about how I have to do without it for the next few days. For some medical reason or another, since I do not feel like divulging my medical history on the internet, I have to refrain from having any caffeinated drink for the next week or so.
My initial reaction was that it would never happen, and so I promptly asked my doctor a multitude of questions. Can I have one a day? Does that even count? Maybe I can just skip the milk in the latte and have an espresso? How long does it have to be? Can it be five days instead of seven? When all those questions were answered with less than favorable answers, I changed tactic. What about tea? Maybe just an English Breakfast with a dash of milk and some honey? Really, not even tea? Then again, the answers were not what I wanted.
Thus began my days without my daily cup of coffee. I also have to keep my diet generally bland, but that in comparison was a lot easier than the lack of coffee. I didn't even count myself as a caffeine addict since I always thought that because I only drink one cup a day, that can't be count as an addiction. I am beginning to  realize how wrong I was.
We'll see if I last through the week, and if I do I'll do an update of how it went.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Discovering couscous.

No, this isn't my salad, but mine looked similar, before I ate it all.
I know I am really late to this whole couscous thing, and honestly I don't really know why I haven't try it before. There are certainly plenty of recipes on the internet that I've came across in the past, and it's really not that difficult cook. What finally did it was the combination of a couple of posts from a couple of food blogs that I've been following and coming across a small package of it in my local supermarket. It was a small box of it, and the instruction on the back made it look even easier. It was basically pour hot water on it, stir, then wait four minutes. So I picked up the box along with my other grocery, and went home. When I got home, I looked up the posts that I saw previously, then it led me to couscous tabbouleh. Later that evening, I got a bit peckish and it just so happened I had some cucumber and almost overripe tomatoes in the fridge, so I decided to give it a try.
I cooked the couscous following the instructions, but instead of salted water I used chicken broth instead. While the couscous was sitting there, soaking up all those chicken broth for those four minutes. I diced up some cucumber, tomatoes, along with some celery that was in my fridge as well. Onto the next thing, which was the dressing. I pulled out a mortar that had been gathering dust in the corner of my kitchen for some time and worked some garlic into a pulp. I think I used two cloves, which was a bit overkill, but I really love garlic so I think it turned out great. I then squeezed about half a lemon's juice into it, added some coarse sea salt and grind up some pepper. The last step was to whip some olive oil into it and then it was done. Then it was just a matter of throwing everything together.
That first spoonful was eye-opening, and really made me wonder why I waited so long to try this grain like pasta. I am already thinking about making it for lunch at work and other possibilities.
Photo credit: Hunts

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Eleven Years Ago

I had just arrived to the US three days prior, that fateful morning eleven years ago. I woke up to a chilly Pacific Northwest Fall morning, washed, gotten dressed, and was getting ready to have breakfast before heading off to school with my sister. Then the phone rang, and it was my mother who was in Hong Kong. She didn't say much, just told me to switch on the television and watch the news. There was this really old set in my living room, one of those old bulky one that still used CRT. The quality of it was pitiful, staticky at times, and with pretty faded colors. But we were having breakfast, so we just turned that on. I still remember to these days the footage I saw when the television flickered on. The commercial airliner crashing into a familiar tall building. I remember thinking to myself, this can't be true, this must be CGI, because this just can't be true. It made no sense. It happened eleven years ago, but I remember everything as if they happened last week.
Eleven years had passed, Hussein and Bin Laden are both dead, and it still doesn't make any sense.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My two cents on Republican and their pro-choice, define rape, view point.

I'm a bit late to this, and I was a little uncertain as to how I can properly express my outrage at Todd Akin's comment on how women rarely get pregnant after being raped. Then the GOP vice president candidate's comment on how proud he is with his pro-life view and it doesn't matter the method of conception. I found that I'm constantly surprised by how stupid, okay that's rude, let me rephrase. I found that I'm constantly surprised by how nonsensical (is that a better word?) people can be.
During my time studying at the US, I lived in a relatively conservative household but a fairly liberal state. I think eventually, the opinions from my more conservative family members and my liberal friends cancelled each other out. They were usually quite willing to debate their view points as well. As a result, I have always been under the impression that people in the US are quite reasonable. Then Sarah Palin happened, and I had to wonder about the Republican party's strategy. although I did think it must have been just a genuine one time mistake (albeit a pretty outlandish one), since as we all know, the US didn't pick McCain and Palin in the end. But if Palin was just a one-time political mistake, meant to draw in female voters, and counteract the Hilary Rodham Clinton effect. Then what is this new strategy of putting out a very uncharismatic candidate, and then trying to compensate for it by picking an attractive VP running mate with a P90X exercise routine? I am confused.
I have to say though, entertaining as the US presidential election campaign can be (I often compare it with TV soap opera, particularly the US produced ones). I think both parties had been missing the point a bit. They were so focused on pointing out the other party's flaws and shortcomings, they didn't really talk about what they want to and will do for America. 
Back to the discussion on rape. I leave you with this. Jon Stewart is a very witty and funny man.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The curious thing that's FC Barcelona right now.

I am a watcher of football, I watch football games. There are a few teams that I support. Among them is the much loved and at the same time equally hated team that's FC Barcelona. I can certainly understand the reason for the polar opposite opinions of the team, but I digress, that is not why I'm writing about them. The reason I'm writing is because something must have happened to the players, something like an aliens abduction or something.
Let's start with Don Andres, Andres Iniesta. The magnificent midfielder was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2012 Euro, and deservingly so. He was absolutely great during the Euro Cup, dribbling around opposition defenders and midfielders, and giving assists. He also got married just days after Spain's historic 4-0 victory against a strong Italian side (until they went a player down, poor Italy). But his last few games back from his short summer vacation was definitely not up to his usual standard. Given, even a sub-par Iniesta is still better than a lot of other players. That and Cules around the world have been quite spoiled by an Iniesta that's just beyond words.
The same can be said about two times Ballon d'Or winner, best player in the world, Lionel Messi. It's really hard to complain about him most times. Just like Iniesta, but even more so, even a sub-par Messi is a step above most players in the world at the moment.
For some strange reasons, both of them had been quite off their game in the last few matches. And because the Barça system is built around Messi and a great team of midfielders, when they are off their game, Barça became less like Barça.
I am thinking some aliens from outter space, maybe some kind of body snatchers? might have abducted two of our best players and replaced them with clones that obviously still play football, just not as well. Those aliens are likely running tests to see why the ball seems practically attached to their feet by a string when they dribble, and how they sometimes seem to defy the law of gravity and stay on their feet despite the best effort of opposition defenders. I am hoping whatever tests those aliens want to run on our beloved Don Andres, and our Messi-ah, they would be done really soon and be able to send the originals back as soon as possible. Because even though we still have our cerebral midfield maestro Xavi (I love that man!), and the lesser half of our center back duo Piqué seems to have located the user manual of his brain, plus the wonderful return of Villa (welcome back! David maraVilla!). We still need our dynamic duo back, pronto.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Crazies - Ridiculous Merchandise of the Day

Jil Sander Vasari Bag

Details of product:
Made of brown covered paper
Stitched seams on both sides
Metal eyelets at the bottom
Jil Sander printed on front panel
Price: USD290

Yes, yes, you read it right. It is indeed a brown paper bag, one of those that you probably use daily to carry your lunch in. Yes, yes, you read the price right as well. It is indeed retailed for a whooping $290 in US dollars. No, I don't understand it either, but I think Fight Club is making more and more sense by the day. Just imagine how many things $290 can do. I went and took a look on the American Oxfam website and found that for the poor communities in third world countries, $290 could means:
Around 8 water purifiers
Nearly 6 sheeps or goats
Approximately 11 mosquito nets
Funding almost enough to train 2 midwives

Society is going crazy.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Archive Picture - Australia

Because I have to organize something that I'm going to say. This is archive picture day.
I took this on my first day of the trip to Australia last year. It was off season as it was Winter there, and the weather was just in general cold, wet, and dreary. This is downtown Melbourne, just off the street from where we parked. By the way, that parking lot was likely one of the most expensive one we could have possibly found, but of course we didn't realize that until later. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

A bit of an introduction

Some of my friends who have known me for a while know that I write. I've been writing since High School, and my topics cover just about everything. From practical journalism pieces for school paper, to semi-correct research paper that's really boring, to ridiculous story that I'm too embarrassed to even tell my friends about. 
I've entertained the idea of starting a blog, since writing has become one of my favorite pastime. But then I have no idea what to write about, or if my writing is even half decent so as not to embarrass myself all over the internet. So I've thought about it, then did little about the idea. That's until recently.
I was recently informed of a Master's degree from HKU for people who are interested in creative writing. I've looked into it, then thought more about further education in the field of English and writing; international journalism, perhaps, or screenplay writing. Then I talked to a friend at work. He was trying to get his book published, a non-fiction he has been writing for the better part of a year about finance, and was complaining about the difficulties of finding someone who is willing to publish his book. We then started talking more about it, and he mentioned blogging. It was then that I started thinking about starting a blog, again.
I've blogged, however briefly, about beauty and fashion. And I've since discovered that those are not exactly something that I can keep on writing week in week out. I've also thought about blogging about current issues and social commentaries, a la The Libertines Pub, but that might be a little too heavy for my taste. I tend toward the melancholy anyway, and tackling heavy weight issues like the Hong Kong government policy might be a bit out of my league as of now. So I might write about some fashion, some beauty, some personal observations, and some general non-sense. Consider this your warning, there might be a lot of general nonsensical entries ahead. Read at your own risk!