Day 11 – 2nd June – Quarantine Room Design Notes – Windows

I’m lucky enough to have gotten a room with big windows.

Switched on the lights for this picture. Getting dark inside at 5.30 pm.

The view I get is pretty fantastic. Well, for a concrete jungle. I tend to focus on the clouds.

A grey day today at 5:30 pm

But looking up or down, the view is expansive and this helps me in feeling less closed in, and for that I’m grateful. In my mind I soar from cloud to cloud, from rooftop to rooftop.

(Like, you know, Janet in Runaway. But of course even in my mind I don’t look half as fabulous and sexy and cheery as she does doing it, but yeah.)

Same view, 6:30 am today. I’ve stood in front of the big window and watched the changing colours of the early morning several times now. It’s pretty special.
Turning my head left, I see this. 5:30 pm today.
Same view, 6:30 am today
View from the smaller window. That’s City Square Mall on the left, and City Square Residences on the right. 5:30 pm today.

That traffic junction is to cross over to reach Mustafa Centre. (I miss you, Mustafa! So much! 😿 )
Looking up a bit.

Signing off with Janet. Ms.Jackson, if you’re nasty!

105 Burpees a day for 30 days

I hated burpees for a long time! Because they’re so damn hard. But yesterday I just finished 30 consecutive days of 105 burpees a day. Months ago I would find that crazy unbelievable so I’m happy about it.

It’s made possible by a YouTube fitness trainer I’ve been following called Jordan Yeoh, who cleverly sneaked in 105 burpees at the last part of the last day of his 21-day fitness challenge, which I wrote about here.

It was clever because if he had said before that there was going to be 100 burpees I’d be all like “Forget it!” but it innocently started with 10, then shots of 5 with rests in between, and somehow I went along till completion. And after the hundred he still breezily squeezed in 5 more. As Jordan puts it: the power of not thinking too much, just do it. Click to play the video below. The burpees start at minute 15:05 and end at minute 28:40.

With lots of huffing and puffing noisily throughout and feeling like I was going to die while screaming and cursing on the inside, I scraped through. In my exhaustion soon into it, many of my pushups were barely half done, my ‘jumps’ quickly reduced to inch-high hops, and at one point I had to pause the video to take a longer break of a full minute more, but whatever. When I finished, my lungs felt like they were going to explode out my chest, but at the same time I was so shocked and happy I managed to do it.

I gave it another go a week later. While still painful and left gasping in full breaths of air, once again I felt like such a champion that I could do 105 of the formerly dreaded burpee in one session (never mind the crappy form). I then decided to try it for 30 consecutive days. On Day 7, I made the mistake of pushing it off till I plain forgot to do it, so I had to start Day 1 anew.  Yesterday I finally finished Day 30. The bonus is that with all those reps, my form had also slowly improved, and I think my pushup part is okay now.

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Instead of having to refer to the video above all the time, for convenience I use an interval timer app I already had in my phone, installed from Google Play Store. I keyed in the following sets of workout and rest. This is what works for me; enough time to not rush through it, and I find 20 seconds of rest is enough to catch my breath.

Work 40 seconds – Do 10 Burpees for a total of 10 Rest 20 seconds
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 15Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 20Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 25Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 30Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 35 Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 40Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 45Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 50Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 55Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 60Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 65Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 70Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 75Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 80Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 85Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 90Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 95Rest 20 secs
Work 40 secs – Do 10 for 105 (Total Time 13 minutes)

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I was actually introduced to burpees like a year ago, via the following video of a Japanese YouTuber that was featured on an online article.

Even though his burpee is sans pushup, it’s still really tough to me because of the tabata style of workout, a very short 4-minute but very intense workout incorporating sets of 20 seconds of work (in this case 8 burpees in those 20 seconds) followed by 10 seconds of rest. A total of 8 sets make the 4 minutes.

In the beginning I managed only 4 or 5 burpees per set, and was already panting like crazy after a couple of sets. It took me weeks to finally manage to do 8. Even then I never really got the hang of it. Having only 10 seconds to catch my breath in between those sets was just too hard. But now thinking about it, thanks to this brilliant workout I was already cranking out 64 burpees in just 4 minutes! Okay, sans pushup, but I still think it’s so cool.

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So why do I do burpees (let alone 105 in a session) even though I think they’re kinda sadistic? I have to admit it is a great full body workout, and giving me both cardio and strength training in one go is a great bonus. When I struggled with it in the beginning it made me realize how out of shape I was, and I decided to use the exercise to get better. Well I’m still out of shape haha, and still panting madly throughout most of the workout, and still need to sit down a bit afterwards. But my fitness level has improved somewhat so I feel better about it.

The journey continues!

Those Who Wish Me Dead trailer

A new Angelina Jolie movie! What a treat. She’s my favourite actress, but for years has such few projects, probably due to personal stuff that are always reported to death due to her being a mega movie star.

The bonus is that this one is an action flick, my favourite kind of movie from her even though she’s very talented and incredibly and fascinatingly watchable in any movie. I guess that’s what they call ‘screen charisma’, and she has tons of it. Her last action thriller was ‘Salt‘ and that was released over a decade ago in 2010.

Another bonus is that there are quite a few other actors in it whose work I’ve also enjoyed watching: Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead), Nicholas Hoult (X Men: First Class), Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones). I’ve heard of Tyler Perry who is in it as well, but I have to admit I have not seen any of his work yet.

The movie is scheduled to be released middle of next month. Can’t wait.

The Pharaohs’ Golden Parade in Cairo

I’m not into Egyptology, but I came across this in the news and, wow, I find it really fascinating.

I know of National Day or military parades by different countries, LGBTIQ+ pride parades, Macy’s parade in New York, and of other parades all around the world, and each can be spectacular and special in their own way. This one is also very special. It’s so unique, it happened for the first time and is quite possibly a once-in-a-lifetime event. Called The Pharaohs’ Golden Parade, it took place in Cairo, Egypt, last Saturday the 3rd of April.

22 mummies of 18 kings and 4 queens, were transported from the Egyptian Museum with great fanfare to their new home, the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation, located 5 kilometres away. They were transported chronologically according to their reigns, from Seqenenre Taa II who ruled in the 17th century BC to Ramses IX who reigned in the 12th century BC. The mummies were placed in climate-controlled cases loaded upon wagons decorated for the occasion.

Here’s a more polished promotional type of video below. It looks like a movie production or something, dramatic and grand lol.

It’s so wonderful that the Egyptians are enjoying their heritage which they obviously take great pride in. I sure hope that the tourists will flock back soon to see their new museum and other marvels after the nightmare that is Covid is finally over. I wish the same healing for all countries around the world. The tourism industry has been battered globally and so many millions of people employed in the industry and their families are suffering because of that.

Here’s a short video of less than 3 minutes explaining what the parade is for:

Below is a longer video, but still short at under 8 minutes. It features brief snippets of information about the Egyptian Museum where the mummies had been for over a hundred years, and which will still be operating and open to visitors. It also tells a teeny bit about who the kings and queens are and what they were known for, and gives a peek into the new state-of-the-art museum. Fascinating stuff!

And finally, below is a video of some of the music featured in the parade. I find it very beautiful and moving.

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Related:

The BBC article where I first came across news of the parade – “Egypt mummies pass through Cairo in ancient rulers’ parade“.

Auntie Dionne is wise

I’ve been following Dionne Warwick on Twitter and she’s always cracking me up but this one is really funny to me.

My thoughts exactly.

l hardly use Twitter. I created an account a while back (a year ago, maybe?) to what I thought cover my bases in social media when I was thinking of starting illustrating and some kind of print-to-order account. Or something something.

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Well since we’re on the subject of the great Dionne Warwick, here’s one of my favourite songs from her. Is the video fabulous or what.

I’ve loved her since a kid watching her host Solid Gold. Funny thinking of the show now, especially the dancers.

And I just discovered this video a few minutes ago while doing this post. What a gem:

New Year Resolution begins today

At least when it comes to exercise.

I don’t really believe in New Year Resolutions. If we really want to do something, there’s no need to wait until 1st January. Or use it as an excuse to delay doing it. If you think about it, it’s actually more constructive to adopt a New Month Resolution or New Week Resolution instead. That would cut down the procrastination to a great extent. Of course, the best would be New Day Resolution, even better if Day refers to Today, not Tomorrow, or worse, Forever Tomorrow.

But New Year Resolutions are more fun and novel because it’s just once a year, feeding into grander dreams of what we can achieve in 365 days. Who doesn’t dream of being better people, in better situations, in better shape. New hopes, new beginnings. Hopes and dreams are fun. But that’s possibly because we can do our hoping and dreaming while our asses are still in bed or on the sofa. It’s actually having to put in the effort come 1st January and the weeks and months after that it progressively ceases to be less and less fun.

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So I’ve been thinking, the reason why my New Year Resolutions to exercise regularly crumbles soon after is sore muscles. Yes, when we work out after not doing it for weeks or months, naturally our joints and muscles become all sore the following day as they seek to recover from the sudden workout they had suddenly been subjected to. Depending on how strenuous the workout is, we might take days to recover.

So what usually happens year after year is, after only the second or third workout, I finally can’t take it anymore and have to take a break for a few days. And then find that I can’t fully get back into the previous momentum. This affects the will to exercise which gradually peters off, with more and more breaks in between, until by March or so I’m back to square one.

So, my strategy is simply to start now in early December. Get all the soreness out of the way, so that come 1st January, I’ll be all up and running. That’s the idea, anyway. Which I may or may have not thought of while my ass was still in bed or on the sofa.

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So what’s my New Year Resolution with regards to exercising regularly? Oh, only about 30 minutes or so, 5 to 6 days a week. Nothing too ambitious to cut down the chance of burning out. A mix of dumbbells for resistance training, and cardio.

For cardio, I want to incorporate the following video I came across on YouTube by an instructor called Rowan Row. I tried it yesterday (a Monday = New Week Resolution!) only to discover how out of shape I’ve become. The 10-minute routine is simple to follow: 10 simple exercises, each 45 seconds long followed by 15 seconds of rest. I found that I can’t do some (like the half-burpees, the third exercise) for the whole 45 seconds. It’s too hard.

Never mind, though. I simply do what I can for now, 30 seconds, with a view to build up my stamina over the next few weeks to do the whole 45 seconds. I also modify some exercises to suit my current fitness level. For example, for now I don’t go low on the lunges, the seventh exercise, so I don’t over-exert and hurt my knees.

So that’s another great reason to start our New Year Resolution early. Get the kinks all sorted out, get our joints and muscles acquainted to the routines we want to do. Get used to the time of day we’ve set to exercise, especially if it’s early morning. Settle all these and other things to be mentally and physically ready.

Come 1st January, we’d already be doing it with comfortable confidence, instead of just starting out. Best of luck to all of us, especially me! I’ll be needing it 🙂

Microwaved Keropok and Pappadam

I made a video about microwaving Keropok and Pappadam yesterday, because, well, why not.

I believe there are many types of Keropok and Pappadam out there, but the ones used here are savoury crackers popular in parts of Southeast Asia and South Asia, eaten as snacks and with meals.

They’re both normally deep fried, but as I’ve written in the video, there are benefits to microwaving them instead, which are:

  • Healthier than deep-fried, without all that oil and grease
  • No oily mess to clean up afterwards
  • No used cooking oil you have to store or discard
  • You cook only what you want, even if only a few pieces
    • When deep-frying, we tend to fry a lot to make the clean-up afterwards worthwhile.
    • These crackers don’t exactly keep well, even in airtight containers. They lose their delicious crispiness quite quickly. So we tend to gobble them all up in one sitting. (Well, okay, I’m talking about me, haha)

But, then again, there’s just no beating the deliciousness of deep-fried food! Keropok and Pappadam are still tasty microwaved, but of course they are tastier deep-fried.

Rescued Kittens

UPDATE: All 6 Kittens had been adopted! Praise God! 5 of which went to one family on the 12th September! May God bless the 2 families that are so kind-hearted as to open their homes towards caring for these cats, and may the cats adjust to their new homes well and be happy. Now I just need to worry for Belly and Luna, but at least the 6 are safely housed in loving homes!

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These are 3 of the 6 kittens we brought in the house back around mid-May, at our house in Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.

What happened was that there were two female sister cats (from the same mum) outside the house who we were feeding. They would come and go. They were timid and suspicious, refusing to be stroked when we tried to, They just stayed away at a distance and come and eat when we have gone away from their food bowls.

Turned out their temperament and wariness was highly warranted, yet tragically it still did not save them from their fate.

The two sisters who we called Goldie and Grigia got pregnant and gave birth at very near the same time, and curiously each gave birth to a pair of girls and a boy. Not only that, both sets share almost the same colours gender-wise. Both pairs of females are various shades of grey, while both males are gold/ginger. By the way, both mums Goldie and Grigia were mainly shades of grey, with Goldie having streaks of orange too.

Goldie had parked her three kittens at one corner of our porch. while Grigia hid hers at a sheltered part of our little garden patch. We had never seen anything like it, two female cats with newborn kittens getting along well with each other. Even though these two were sisters, this behaviour was new to us. Usually new mums are aggressive to be fiercely protective of their brood.

One day around mid-May, we found Goldie dead and stiff, surrounded by her three kittens who seemed to still be trying to suckle milk from their lifeless mum. We were so upset. We suspected someone in the neighbourhood who hates cats had poisoned her. As for Grigia, coincidentally she had disappeared. She never returned for her kittens. So, we suspect the same fate had befallen her as well.

Suddenly there were 6 kittens without their mums. Afraid, crying, hungry.

We buried Goldie. We brought in her 3 kittens. The next day we saw that Grigia had not returned. It was starting to rain heavily again so we brought in Grigia’s 3 kittens too.

Suddenly we’re stuck with 6 new kittens! And we already have two grown cats in the house. We put the 6 kittens in the ‘wet kitchen’ part of the house, so that they are separated from our cats. There was no question about trying to save the 6 despite our situation. It felt like such a sin to just let them die outside the house. But now we have a huge problem.

The still ongoing Covid-19 situation complicates everything

Besides the cost of vaccination and spaying/neutering, there is the equally-pressing matter of us having to leave our rental home in Malaysia by mid-September to return to Singapore, if our Social Visit Passes are not approved for extension. What’s happening now is that we are currently allowed to stay on in Malaysia for a maximum of 14 days after Malaysia’s current stage of lockdown called RMCO (Recovery Movement Control Order) ends on 31st August. So we have to leave by 14 September if our extensions are not approved.

I still don’t know how to go about trying to get them adopted besides asking around.

As it is, our two cats Belly (who is already quite elderly) and Luna will have to be boarded at a vet here in Johor Bahru for God knows how long, until the Covid-19 situation has subsided and travel between Singapore and Malaysia goes back to normal. Why? Because in Singapore, we live in public housing flats (called HDB), where cats are not allowed. In fact it was partly because of this that we started renting a house in JB about 10 years ago, where we placed 3 cats adopted in Singapore to care for them.

So if they are boarded in JB, who knows for how long. Months? Years? The monthly fees for boarding for Belly and Luna will already cost a lot, let alone for 6 additional cats. So we really need the 6 to go to new homes. But I just don’t know how to have that happen.

I’m really depressed about it. It’s only a month left until the 14th September.