Ramblings

Pre-CNY update

… Yes, January was nuts for me ahaha. Then again most of last year was. Spent it head down in work, reading, and just dealing with several personal lifestyle changes.

On a nicer note, I’m going to be leaving some small positives for myself so I don’t quite completely lose track of the year like I did before. Here goes:

Scheduling habits

Been trying to put some systems and habits into place to accomplish some New Year’s resolutions. For the podcast, I seem to be heading on track – I’m about an episode ahead now, and I think I can continue this momentum. It’s fun!

On the downside, getting the gym schedule to work is still hit and miss. I had two massive flu/allergy attacks that pretty much sapped me of will to continue during the last few weeks, and now that I think about it, both coincided with visits to a particular gym. May need to switch even if it means going further but we shall see.

Benefits of applying for an all-pass yo!

Podcasting experiences

So the podcast seems to be doing swimmingly. It’s got about 5 – 6 listens an episode, with some higher and some lower. I think I may have made a mistake by creating a new website for it instead of using RealName site, so I may move things back over to RealName site and just do a straightforward redirect.

This would help me build RealName site more and probably benefit from SEO. I am still considering this.

Also: Tiny win for me – I HAVE POSTED MORE EPISODE SUMMARIES on the podcast site. Been procrastinating so yes this is a tiny win for me.

Decluttering project

The initial declutter sprint went well, but now I have to continue. Holy crap do I not want to. The fun thing is that the schedule is also meant to help with this. I think I can do it, but it is a matter of building up the willpower.

Work nail bites

My one to one review will be up next week. I am not looking forward to it.

Ramblings

[Review] 13 Stages Malaysia

Photo of 13 Stages' versions of coffee from Johor and Terengganu

So, in the forever quest for dinner places, the Bear and I hit Paradigm Mall last night. We ended up at a place called 13 Stages, which turned out to be a Singaporean-based brand.

What pulled us into 13 Stages were their claims of serving coffee from all 13 Malaysian states. However, when we went there for dinner, not everything on the menu was available – there were quite a few items that were listed as coming soon (including mini buttered mantou).

Tasting the food

image of a steamed chicken thigh with drumstick covered in a layer of ginger
I had the Imperial Chicken Rice (I think, forgot to take the name down properly). The rice is well-cooked and fragrant. It goes well with the sauce from the chicken. The chicken thigh was very soft and tender – I could tear it apart easily with my fork and spoon.

Despite its looks though, it was a little bland for my taste. I was actually expecting the smell and taste of the ginger to be stronger. However, this turned out to be a plus for me – for the first time I was actively mixing ginger into the chicken and rice and the flavours were very filling. It’s not as spicy as Bentong-style ginger chicken but it’s good enough.

Grilled tomyam chicken rice

This was an interestingly-flavoured dish. The chicken was crispy and served warm but the rice was a little cold. Despite its name though, the tomyam flavour was… missing. It was a bit spicy yes, but it lacked the tang and kick you would expect out of tomyam. The Bear found it so-so only.

Coffee verdict – Terengganu vs Johor

This was a very interesting matchup. The Terengganu coffee ended up being stronger in taste without the smoothness of milk that the Johor coffee had. Johor coffee, despite looking extremely milky, was actually very smooth and easy to drink, like a far better quality of the canned Nescafe coffee I usually have. Maybe the next time I’ll try the Perak coffee.

With that said, I ended up falling asleep easier than I expected so I’m not sure if the caffeine was too mild or is it my body acting weird… (I tend to stay awake far too late if I take coffee anywhere remotely near bedtime).

The menu in Malaysia and Singapore are named slightly differently. I noticed when researching that the Malaysian kitchen offers fried chicken, which isn’t talked about in Singapore, so I assume they don’t have it. 13 Stages Malaysia is also a full-service restaurant (somewhat) compared to the self-service places in Singapore. You sit down, write your orders on a piece of paper and then give it to a server (basically the same as every other HK-styled restaurant).

For the price and location, it’s actually pretty decent. Would I go again? Sure, it’s near me and it’ll fulfil the chicken rice craving when I don’t want to slog through the traffic to get to the Jalan Gasing chicken rice shops.

Would I recommend you coming out of your way to try this? Not right now. While the coffee is great, it’s not something you’d battle crazy traffic for. If you’ve got a few hours to kill or if you just wanna hang out with friends it’s a pretty good option though.

One great thing about the bill though: No service charge or tax (for now!).

As 13 Stages has only been open for a few days since I wrote this, I will probably check back again to see if they’ve improved. They have a lot of potential, but will definitely need to tweak the flavours to appeal to the Malaysian market, especially in a competitive foodie mall like Paradigm (can’t believe I just wrote that).

Gaming

A thought on GBF’s latest event

The world is on fire.

Let’s not kid ourselves. If you are an English speaker and spend any amount of time online, it’s hard not to miss the dumpster fire that is our world right now. A lot of rights are under threat or being co-opted by fascists, trolls and general pieces of shit that delight in making the world that much more miserable for the rest of us, sucking out any possible joy from the day.

Tear my heart out why don't you cygames

It’s hard not to just hunker down and hide yourself from the world, from showing any form of vulnerability to anyone just to protect yourself. If your work involves empathising with other human beings, any form of creative expression and in general just trying to make the world a better place, it’s hard not to wonder what’s the point of it all when you see the pedophiles running the place and the loonies stripping you of whatever dignity you had left.

Singing won't turn back time

In times of disaster, art cannot fill the belly. It is powerless in the physical world. It cannot adequately protect from the loss of a home.

Singing won't fill the belly

But to expect that of art is unfair. Art admits it cannot fill the belly. Art admits it is powerless in the face of physical upheaval and the force of nature.

But that is not art’s purpose. It never was.

One of the most amazing things about Granblue Fantasy’s (GBF) writing is that it never quite answers what art is supposed to mean. Everyone has a different (literally) view of art. In fact, in its current mini event, Thought in Song, GBF sends out a timely reminder to all those who pursue any form of creative endeavours, that they need to take care of themselves.

The entire storyline is an expression of love from the writers and designers to the community. It is a comforting message, and in days where people are being hounded because they dared to try to make others feel better, it steels you.

You are needed and wanted.

“We hear you.”

“We know it hurts.”

“We feel the pain, anger, hurt and confusion.”

“We are here for you.”

“We got you.”

Hey, we're here for you.

“We believe in you.”

Thank you, Granblue Fantasy writers, translators and whoever directed this. I needed to hear that.

Now excuse me while I go and sob ugligy. WHY DID YOU DO THAT TO PRECIOUS CARO WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY???? ;_;

Edited: Another reason why I love this storyline is because they make it an IMPORTANT POINT to show that art is not something you get by on sheer talent. No, you need to master the basics and practise over and over again until you get it right.

One of the key scenes involves a main character reminiscing about the time he first learnt to paint. There’s also numerous other scenes in Thought in Song where characters either practise or demonstrate the importance of practising.

In this case, literally, practise does make perfect!