Friday, October 3, 2014

Twenty Random Thoughts #240914: Hot D:

1. It's raining heavily outside, but I'm sweating heavily in my room. I cannot compute the logic of the weather in Singapore. Or perhaps my own room has its own weather system

2. The picture used for this blog post is totally a link bait, and has nothing to do with whatever I am writing. Except the fact that I may want her to be my girlfriend, that is

3. Got pulled to attend a "meeting" with a financial consultant two weeks ago, which turned out to be quite an interesting meeting. Reinforced my perception that we are worrying too much about money, and yet we cannot not worry about it lest we go bankrupt or something one day

4. Financial consultant impressed with my ability to spend more than 500 dollars on food alone each month, and forsake the need to buy other things, such as new clothes. I have a golden mouth I guess

5. Speaking of clothes, my clothes have been getting old, and I guess it's time to restock my wardrobe. Starting to miss my mum because she'd be the one chasing me to buy new clothes every time. I'm lazy, but yet I still want to look good, so I guess I might try the New Look online for men as my new clothes source

6. If only Eve had not eaten the apple, and we'd all be nude right now, without having to worry about buying clothes

7. Winning DOTA through public matchmaking isn't a question about skill, but rather statistical probability

8. Finding true love is also a matter of statistical probability

9. Judging by the amount of luck I have been having recently, it seems like I have a long way to go before I'm able to find true love or win a match in DOTA


11. I love Emma Watson, but she'll never love me :(

12. Entertaining this thought to visit Germany next year :)

13. I think looking at pretty girl photos have this effect of boosting your health or something. I don't know. I've been feeling quite happy since I put that girl's photo above

14. Thinking of changing this blog's layout/design too, but that'll be in the future. Like next week

15. If you cannot stand someone, sit down #lamelukeyjokes

16. If you have a chronic case of Monday blue, jump into a pool of yellow paint. Or wait til it's Tuesday #lamelukeyjokes

17. I am mobile gaming when I should be reading on MRT rides :(

18. I wish there's no such things as temperatures

19. And feelings too

20. Or the need to sleep

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Feeling Orangey - Staying at Orange Hotel, Ximen Taipei courtesy of Forte Hotel Group!

I have always wanted to travel out of Southeast Asia. Like dying to. But I always thought that it'll be quite a while before I can do that, travelling to a faraway place is never cheap. I hope they would invent a teleportation machine soon to replace air travel.

As luck would turn out however, the folks at Forte Hotel Group was really kind to have offered me a accommodation sponsorship at one of their hotels, thus giving me a reason to buy myself that air ticket and fly to Taiwan. One of the more established hotel chains in Taiwan, Forte has 10 hotels across the country, each with their own unique design and architecture.

The one that I was straying at is located in Ximending, one of the busiest districts in Taipei, which is also known as the Shibuya of Taiwan.

front view of the hotel

Nestled amongst the different shophouses near one of the most popular tourist spots in Taipei, the Orange Hotel is unlike most hotels that I've been to. It is certainly not big, due to the space constraint of the location it was at, but it has a very unique and hipsterish feel to it. The design of the hotel itself reminded me of a guest house rather than a full fledged hotel. Like a blend between the two. On one hand you have the chic design and friendliness that you would normally expect from a guest house, while on the other the professionalism of a well established hotel chain.

the lobby of the hotel

One of the features that I really liked was the design of the rooms, in how furniture was arranged and the decoration that was used to beautify the room. Ours had the bed next to the window, which gave us a good view of the busy street down below. It had also a TV hung right in front of the bed, accompanied with a few cute artwork and designer shelves.

how often do you get to see a bed like that :p

another view of the bed

the view from further away

Quaint and cozy, the room is quite a welcoming sight to the weary traveler after a packed day of exploring the city. You can just lie and chill on the bed while watching TV, enjoying the quietness the room offers from the busier city life down below.

the view from the bed is quite amazing, though I must say those are not my feet

But if you are not the type who enjoys staying in the room for long, the hotel offers a common dining area too, where you can sit and talk with your friends, or maybe eat the snacks that you have bought from earlier at the night market. Located at the basement level, it's quite a cool place to hang out, and best of all, it's opened for 24 hours as well. Perfect haunt for late sleepers like me.

staircase leading down to the basement level

who knew there was a gem like this hidden at the basement

our friendly tour guide planning the our itinerary for the next day accompanied with a cup of milk and cookies

The staff at the hotel were friendly too, because when they spotted me and my friend headed to the dining area, they offered us biscuits to keep us company for the night. Homemade biscuits which were quite delicious, in my opinion. I guess there's nothing that's not delicious in Taiwan. Except the smelly tofu, that is. There was also free milk available too, which I gladly helped myself to.

free yoghurt and milk up for grabs!

And when morning comes, the place also offers a selection of light food for breakfast as well. Kinda gives you the homely feeling as there were two lovely ladies who helped to serve the food. The type of food that were offered ranges from the usual cereals to something a little more special, such as their raisin bread and bacon. Fruits and boiled eggs were also available as well.

le breakfast!

But I guess one of the strongest selling point of the hotel was the accessibility of the place as well. Like I said, it's located just a few minutes walk away from the busy district of Ximending, the which is the the Times Square in New York or Shibuya in Japan. The MRT is also only nearby, with the main station that connects to the rest of the MRT network just one stop away.

The strategic location of the hotel made travelling around the city much easier, as we had easy access to most places that we wanted to visit. From the calm and quiet mountains of Jiufen to the nightclub Luxy to the hot springs of Beitou, everything was just within a few MRT stops away. Many of my friends wondered how on earth did I managed to cover so many places in just 3 days. I guess staying in an easily accessible place helped a lot.

But sadly the stay was too short to get the best of of Hotel Orange or even Taiwan, but I had fun. Certainly going to go back Taiwan again, and perhaps try out another one of Forte's 10 hotels.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Twenty Random Thoughts #260914: Taiwan! And the less glamorous

1. I won't be blogging for a fair bit, I foresee, so here's me trying to cook up a random blog post just for catching up sake. It's been a while, don't you think?

2. Hurray, 12 more hours and I will be in Taipei! Eh no, 16 hours I mean. 12 hours I'll be flying off. Can't believe that I am going to sit 4 hours in the plane. Think my 8 hours bus journey back to my hometown has trained me well

3. First trip out of Southeast Asia! Genuinely excited and nervous. Still can't believe how lucky I am to have my accommodation sponsored by Forte Hotel Group. Some ask me why the air tickets are not also sponsored, but I sincerely think that having your accommodation sponsored is already quite cool, taking away 50% of your worries

4.  Did I say I was nervous? I still am, a lot. Honestly not the person who enjoys stepping out of the comfort zone, especially going to a totally new place. But I guess I shan't complain anymore and just take the leap of faith. Whee!

5. They say that writers are generally better well off than most people, which is why I guess even though I consistently scored high on the neuroticism scale on the Big 5 personality test, I am still somehow surviving and not depressive

6. I guess everything kinda makes sense now, because during moments that I was the most down and emotional, writing has always helped me brace through the storm. It's therapeutic, to be honest

7. Am I glad that the younger me decided to get started on a random diary page the day I got dumped by my first love. I wonder what was the influencing factor that made me do that? Must give thanks to the person

8. With almost one piece of writing per day, I guess I must be the happiest person on earth

9. Did I say how much I hate packing? And unpacking?

10. My OKC writeup: Professional OKC user. Professional kids chaser. Professional sleeper. Professional self-deluded writer. Professional narcissist. Professional slow jogger. Professional food addict

11. I used to hate internet/online dating apps, but after a while, I must say that I stand corrected

12. Not that I met anyone special though, but it's just interesting all the people you meet there

13. I said I was going to blog about OKC right? Anyone wants to read shit like that anyway? If there's one person who said yes maybe I'll do it. If not it's just airing your dirty laundry where no one wants to smell it

14. Hero number 38 in Dota All Hero Challenge! STILL. SUCH. A. LONG. WAY. TO. GO

15. Heroes that I am afraid I would absolutely take 100 games to clear: Techies. WHY TECHIES WHY

16. Hardest hero so far? Broodmother and Skywrath Mage, both taken 8 games each to clear

17. My name's Luke and I am lonely. And bad in luck. Not as charismatic as most guys out there

18. I am itching to DOTA. But I need to sleep

19. Considering whether to bring my laptop with me

20. Nah, Not enough cabin space after all. How heavy is 7kg, anyway?

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Monday, September 22, 2014

RE: HeForShe


So the internet has been pretty hyped up about Emma Watson's latest speech in the UN, calling for gender equality in our society today. The speech was a good one, calling for the males to be a part of the feminist movement, because by helping the ladies we are helping ourselves as well. Thus the campaign name, HeForShe. The struggles highlighted in the speech are indeed true and apparent in our society today, which is sadly gender divisive and exclusive. Benefits and rights are still unequally distributed between the two sexes. Emma Watson hit a note among people around the world, evident from the tons of article that popped like mushrooms after it.

But this gender equality thing. It sounds too complicated for me, to be honest. Equality is a pretty strong word, after all. To be truly equal, one needs to do away with the two dimensional view that we adopt to view gender. True equality means that when we're born, there will be no gender assignment. Not a boy, not a girl. 

Because I believe that by labeling everyone into two categories, you are essentially giving someone a group identity. An artificial boundary is created. And psychology has shown time and time again that we humans are innately inclined to favor the group we belong to rather than the outgroup. It's our survival instinct, woven into our DNA. The minimal group paradigm methodology is an alive and well mechanism.

As long that the label male and female exist, differences in feelings and emotions do too.

But of course, that doesn't mean that we should forgo the entire fight together. I think feminism is a complicated fight. I mean how to you fight for your rights without alienating the opponent's? I mean there are those who believe that women should be given more rights, but at the same time their existing rights should not be compromised.

Like I said, complicated fight. But that doesn't mean I am against feminism though. From a very selfish perspective, I'm tired of hearing all this talk about how guys should always make the first move, how guys should pay for the dinner or how guys should sacrifice for the girls, because they're the "weaker" gender. I certainly wouldn't mind things going the opposite way for a change.

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The thing about creating

image source

You sit down at your desk, your whole self brimming with enthusiasm. This is it, you tell yourself. You stare at the empty word document before your eyes, thinking of all the things you want to write. Or it could be an empty canvass for you to draw. Perhaps a blank musical sheet for music composition. You're going to create something today, you tell yourself. Something. Anything. You're gonna write, draw, code or compose. You want to give something back to the world. Perhaps change life a little through your work. It's something that you do because you're passionate about it.

But wanting to do something does not always equate to actually doing something. You stare at the empty screen for minutes, your mind devoid of any ideas. You switch tabs to other sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, losing yourself in it. A funny picture leads to a funny video, then perhaps a drama episode, and before you know it, it is already time to call it a day. The screen is still empty, not a line or word on it.

That's the thing about creating. The lack of inspiration is always a major roadblock. Not to mention the tons of distraction that you can find out there to fill your time, or to give you reasons to procrastinate. It's much easier to mindlessly consume something, than to produce something out of nothing.

You see, I believe that the world can viewed in a consume versus creator dimension. All of us are in certain degrees a consumer and also a creator. People who consume absorbs things that others created, such as watching a drama, reading a book or listening to music. The drama, book and music that the person is in essence "consuming" was created by other people, the creator. All of us can be measured by the degree of how much we consume or create everyday. There are those who mindlessly consume, watching dramas day after day, playing video games perhaps, and there are those who dedicate their lives into creating. Writers, developers, musicians for example.

And when it comes to consuming versus creating, you will notice that the successful people in life are always people who create. People who produce something out of nothing. Steve Jobs created the iPhone. Bill Gates founded Microsoft. Zuckerberg Facebook. No one ever got famous or successful by just mindlessly consuming. You don't hear someone attaining success for watching the most drama episodes, reading the most books or playing the most games. Even if they did, it is through the act of creation. Say writing a review piece or giving an interview for example. In essence you're still producing something.

All success comes from the act of creation. ALL.

Which is why I make it a point to write something everyday. Though the effect of my writing is close to negligible as compared to other more prolific writers out there, I believe in the need of creating. I believe one needs not only to learn and consume in order to move forward, one needs to produce something to constantly improve. I believe that's the only way improve. Heck even in school they have homework and assignments to force you to create. Because this is how humanity progress I think. By each of us giving something back to the whole.


And come November 2014, Nanowrimo is back! The month where you word vomit all in the name of writing a novel. I have completed one while I abandoned two, but I guess this time I have to be dead serious about finishing it. Of course, I would need to work on my spell-check inertia (meaning that I always publish my posts without re-reading them for error).

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Dota All Hero Challenge (Day 10): This Obsession of Mine

Day 10. Headaches. Dizziness. I can no longer remember how the sun looked like, nor how its warmth felt on my skin. I am constantly in this state of limbo, drifting between a state of half consciousness and blank outs. Gone were the days where I went out with friends, the days where I explored new places and the days where I actively exercised. It's still hard to believe how a curious attempt at the challenge has evolved into a single minded obsession to complete it, consuming so much a significant portion of my time and energy.

I guess I'm a achievement addict like that. 

With 60 games so far and 28 out of 108 heroes completed (omg still got such a long way to go), I must say that for people like me who loves challenges, this has been the best tactic Steam has used so far to get me back into playing Dota. I must admit, there has been high and low moments, but the one thing that I've learned most from this challenge is that completing the challenge has nothing to do with how skillful you are, but rather the people that you're paired with/against in a game.

I've been through hellish heroes and came out victorious (Earth Spirit was a big joke) while heroes that I've had an advantage on since the early game came up quite messed up from the match. It all depends on your team and opponents. 

One thing is certain though, Steam certainly has fucked up my life with such challenges like this.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Hang In There

Like, in two minutes time.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How Much Longer Do You Want To Wait?

"How much longer do you want to wait?"

The boy stared impatiently at the edge of the tall bushes, his feet making nervous taps on the ground. Amongst the prickly leaves a few steps away stood his friend, dressed in green to match his surroundings. He was chewing away at a loaf of bread, his fingers fiddling away at the dozen or so red and white balls that he brought.

After like a minute or so of silence, he responded, his back still facing his friend.

"I don't know. I guess I will keep waiting. And trying. Until something changes I guess." He went back to eating his bread.

The boy who was standing outside sighed in annoyance. If it was up to him, he would have let his friend rot among the bushes holding on to that impossible dream of his. But his conscience wouldn't let him do it. After all, he owed that much to this friend of his.

"You do know that there are other trainers here as well who are after the legendary Pokemon right? Trainers who have much more experience than you, trainers who are more well equipped? I mean, they're using ultra balls for goodness sake. And what you have there? Normal pathetic Pokeballs? You do realize how disadvantaged you are, right?"

The friend in the bush nodded.

"And you do know that you have been defeated twice right by this said Pokemon? Twice! I mean how on earth do you expect this time to be different? Did you change Pokemon or anything? Did you find a stronger team of Pokemon to help you catch this legendary god knows what that you have been waiting so long for?"

The friend shook his head this time. 

"So why on earth are you still waiting for something that you will obviously NOT GET?!"

The boy simply could not understand. To emphasize his point, he folded his arm angrily across his chest. A guy could be stubborn, but not so foolishly stubborn. He believed that the only thing that his friend would get from this attempt of his is disappointment. He had already seen how forlorn his friend looked after the first two failed attempts. And he sincerely believed that there are other Pokemons out there that would be easier to capture than this legend of his. At least he had a fighting chance with those. At least it would not be a waste of time. 

Another few moments of silence past between them. A flock of Pidgeys flew overhead, seemingly trying to give their own opinion in this matter. Finally, his friend spoke.

"I don't know," he began again, this time his voice sounded much more sombre. Serious. "But I guess that there's some feelings that you cannot describe. When I first saw this Pokemon a few weeks ago, fighting off a few wild Tauros, it sparked off something inside me. I fell in love with the way it fought. The way it moved, the grace it exuded, everything about this Pokemon connected to the core of my soul. Never before have I felt such a strange feeling when I saw a Pokemon. I envisioned how we would fight together, train together. We would conquer the Elite Four together. It's as if I have found my perfect partner Pokemon."

The boy wanted to roll his eyes so badly at his friend. Only idiots believed in such things called perfect partners. Pokemons are nothing but fighting tools, or at most pets. If you're slightly crazier, you can call them friends too. But perfect partner? Please. Still he listened on.

"I think the Pokemon must have felt the same way too, because it did give me two chances to capture it. Two chances! While all other trainers have only caught a glimpse of it. It felt that it wanted to see whether I was worthy, and two times I failed the Pokemon. Things that I should have done I did not, and things I should have not done I did. The Pokemon must have felt quite disappointed, I guess, because it stopped appearing altogether after that."

The friend seemed to have sat down at a rock nearby, though he was still hidden partially amongst the leaves.

"And I am well aware that there are others here who are better than me in every single way possible. But that doesn't mean I should throw in the towel right? Besides, the other trainers here want the Pokemon just because they want to manipulate it. Make it do their bidding. But I would want to see myself differently. I want to treat it as how I wanted to be treated as Pokemon. With love, dignity and respect."

The sun must be getting to his friend's head, the boy thought.

"I want to at least try for something I believe in. If I am going to settle for a Pokemon that I think is not my ideal partner just because there are others better than me, and just because I failed twice, that's pretty stupid right? And true, maybe the Pokemon just treats me as nobody right now, but if I am really going to fail, at least I fail knowing that I have tried my best."

"So I am going to wait as long as I need to."

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Monday, September 15, 2014

The Dota All Hero Challenge (Day 5): Slark and Meepo

Day 5. Slark, and then Meepo. The infamous AGI killers. Two paper heroes. One that requires you to time your pounce correctly to initiate, while the other requires you to micro-manage like hell. Two heroes that I dread. Two heroes that I'm afraid would take me forever to clear. But still, I took the leap. And prayed that the almighty god Valve would be kind to me.

My first game as Slark was a game made in hell. Thrown at the top lane alone against Legion Commander and Shadow Shaman, I was unable to farm at all, constantly staying behind, afraid of the shackle that may come. But still I held on, believing that as long as I don't die, Enigma, Nature's Prophet and Earthshaker at the bottom lane would chip away at their defenses. But it proved to be too much of a hope. My first mistake came when I made the jump at Legion Commander, unaware that Skywrath had teleported to the top. And I learned painfully that Slark can never engage alone without solid backup.

Team fight after team fight, all of us died horribly. The fact that Earthshaker was shouting into the mic constantly with his Tagalog accent did not help too. In the end, my score was at 0-7-5. I was a goddamned feeder. Deeply ashamed with myself, I pondered if I should just stop. But somehow my finger still pressed the search button.

The second game went much better. Instead of constantly shouting in Tagalog, my teammates roamed and ganked. We pressed the opposition, made them on the defensive. In the end, we won, me with a score of 4-4-16. Not too bad, at least I cleared the challenge.

My last game with Meepo was the teeth grinding game. For almost an hour the game hung in the balance. Their middle lane was down, a straight path to the Ancient. We tried and tried. The bottom lane, smoking to the middle lane to try and take down the ancient. Time and time again we got wiped out. There were moments when we wondered if we could actually win it. I wondered if we could win. Because every time I went into team fight, my brain switch into panic mode and I keep forgetting to tab tab tab to switch between the four Meepos. But somehow we won. During the last engagement, we smoke and Ancient rushed, and I only had one objective in my mind: HIT THE ANCIENT.

As Tidehunter blinked in and unleashed his Ravage, I kept the objective burning bright. I spam clicked the Mekansm. And as my teammates rushed off to chase the opponents away, my four Meepos with their Assault Cuirass just kept hitting. And who said that too many Meepos is bad?

Next up, Shadow Shaman.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Dota All Hero Challenge: Day 3. Or 4

It has been three (or four?) days since the almighty god Valve unveiled his challenge to the normal denizens of Steam, the Dota All Hero Challenge. The challenge where one is required to don on the mantle of all the legendary heroes in Dota 2, and win one game each for all the 108 heroes. One hundred and eight.

I have been fighting ever since then, picking the heroes that appear on the list one by one, trying to score a win with each of them. It has been 40 matches with 17 heroes since then, with 91 more heroes to go. It's a long and torturous journey, and going by what that has been happening in the past 40matches, it seemed that the odds was never in my favor. Or in other words, it's freakingly unbelievably difficult. I'm not sure if I am that noob with some heroes (but it's not that I feed also) or that Steam seriously has some matchmaking issues, but for my first try with Broodmother, I spent a total of 8 games on it. Morphling came close at second with 6 games. Yes I had a 6 games and 8 games losing streak.

Still I managed to clear some pretty tough heroes like Chen and Morphling (heroes that I can never master), so I guess that's not too bad. My only worry now is how horribly I'll die when it comes to heroes like Meepo. Or Techies.

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