Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Food, Glorious Food!

First, Happy Chinese New Year everyone! It's only 初三 (chu san - the third day), so I'm not that late, I hope. Anyway, I've had exams for the past three days, so I uh, 'celebrated' by studying. Well, at least it's all over, although that means that my third year is almost over too! I only have one essay and one presentation left.

Anyway, this post isn't to talk about Chinese New Year (though I wouldn't mind), or to talk about my studies (because I won't shut up once I start). Instead, I'm here to talk about food. I'll probably talk about it tomorrow too, because I went and ate something really, really, chocolaty and awesome today.

But before I get to today, I have to catch up on yesterday. After a really, really long period of time, I finally brought my DSLR to my cooking class. What can I say, if I'm not going to class from school, then I have the space to bring a camera. So.... PICTURES

On today's menu:

五目寿司 (gomoku sushi) - although my teacher called it chirashi sushi
すまし汁 (sumashi jiru)
菜の花のからしあえ (nanohana no karashiae) - spicy rape blossoms.

This is the すまし汁. It's made with something my teacher called 一番だし (ichiban dashi - the number one dashi), which is made using konbu and katsuoboshi. But I'm probably most proud of the fact that I managed to tie a knot in the 三ッ葉 (mitsuba). Apparently, it's related to 縁結び (enmusubi) or something like that.

And this is the chirashizushi! Although my family mistook it for fried rice at first. It's my favourite dish of the day, although it's also the most troublesome to make. So many cooking utensils were used. I don't even own that many cooking utensils! But it's good, so I may just slowly, very slowly, make this dish one day.

This is the 菜の花からしあえ, which I didn't eat much of, even though I generally like stuff that has しょうゆ洗い(shoyu arai). By the way, 菜の花 is apparently translated as "rape blossom"? That is so odd... Although I didn't even know that you could eat this, because I've only known it as a blooming flower (this is the pre-blooming plant). Apparently an alternative name for this is broccolini, which I totally prefer. I actually like broccoli.

That's what I learnt to make yesterday! Tomorrow, CHOCOLATE

Friday, 5 February 2016

Exam Updates

Hey everyone! Just popping by to give everyone a quick update about what's going on. Basically, finals season has started!

On Monday, I gave a presentation for my Economics in Japanese class (I don't know if I mentioned it, but I also took it last year). But basically, I presented on how Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet and how that's changing business models through servitisation of the manufacturing industry, and all my questions were about...

A dystopian/utopian future.

It was kinda interesting to see everyone's reactions though.

China (3 people): they were all really negative. My teacher fears the day where robots will completely replace humans, and she seems to think that the more technology progresses, the less human warmth there will be, and that technology will not be able to increase human interaction. The students are "bad people exist. This is unsafe"

Korea (2 people): they were actually positive. Very similar to my view actually.

Malaysia (1 person): The Malaysian dude was more concerned about growing inequality due to progress, which is totally understandable, and one of the things I do worry about too.

Singapore/me: I'm like "there are two futures. The minute we think that the future is dark, the minute we give up, that's when we lose. So we have to shape our own future instead of just letting it happen"

I ended up saying that quite a few times, because I just ignored the definition of crazy. Each time, I got the same response.

But you can't say that a bad future won't happen.

Well, no, but if we all think that way, then the future certainly won't be bright. I had show corning's Day of Glass and NTT Docomo's 2020 vision of the future, before my teacher was like "ok, well, let's all work hard for the future." (video below)

I definitely don't think the future is going to be all rosy, especially in the short term, what with the skills gap and possible redundancy of blue-collared workers, but I can't agree with my teacher that the world is fine the way it is.

There are kids being made to work in unsafe factories.

There are people who can't get the education they want.

There are people risking their lives in places like the Fukushima nuclear plant to keep us safe.

If IoT and the development of robotics can make all those jobs redundant and get kids into schools, people away from dangerous places, I'm all for it. I don't think this future is certain either, but I know that if we don't try to achieve it, we never will.

On Tuesday, I had my first exam, on the stock market! Since I spent all the pre-exam time preparing for Transcosmos, I felt super unprepared. But, the results came out today (my teacher is super fast!) and apparently, I passed with a D!!! Not a great grade, but it's not a fail!

On Wednesday, I had my test on The Functions of the Stock Market and um... I forgot the rest of the name. I normally remember it as "the class taught by people from Nomura". Fingers crossed I didn't make too many mistakes.

Today was my test on the Economics of the Telecom Industry, and it was definitely the hardest test so far. It's also the first test in three years where not a single person left the room before the time was up. Which is a pretty good indication of how tough it is, even though we can bring the textbook in. Although we didn't really use the textbook, because my teacher prefers to set questions to make you think (which is good, actually). Fingers and legs and arms and everything crossed, because this class is taught by my sub-zemi teacher, and I really, really want to pass it.

That's about it! Next week, I had exams on Monday (which is also the start of Chinese New Year), Tuesday and Wednesday, and them I'm done for the term! Except for one essay and one more presentation. But I'm just going to focus on Wednesday first. Anyway, depending on how efficiently I study during the weekend, I may or may not be able to blog more next week :D

A really random photo of a bag my friend bought. Apparently, there's a
pun on the word sushi there. 

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Transcosmos Essay Contest

Hey everyone!! I just came back from Tokyo, where the Transcosmos Project was held. (By the way, thanks for the best wishes +Jim Gorycki !). I'm really, really happy to say that...


It's really a result that we weren't expecting, because the judges seemed quite distracted during our presentation, plus we had to rethink our entire essay in one night. What happened was this (narrated entirely in third person, just because):

Friday, 7:00am 

Eustacia wakes up, thinking that this is going to be a fairly normal day, albeit one with less sleep.


We start the sub-zemi.


The teacher leaves. Our presentation was deemed 'really bad', so we start rethinking the entire thing. Along the way, there's a very, very long digression into the stuff that we should have gotten down in the beginning of the project, because Eustacia accidentally said something that made her teammates think that they weren't on the same page.


Eustacia hears that it's forecasted to snow and takes a break to rush home, get heattech, eat her first meal of the day (she had a headache, so... not much appetite), and then go back.

Looking at the clock.. I took this at either 2:30 or 3:30. Everyone still working hard.
Saturday 6:00am

Eustacia heads for the airport. Everyone boards the plane for Haneda, and Eustacia... you know what, third person is feeling more and more awkward. Back to first. So basically, I was really tired but I wanted some juice, so I'm not actually sure if I slept. I remember getting the juice, and I remember closing my eyes, but I also remember the sun being irritating so...

I may or may not have slept.

I did see the Hello Kitty Airplane though


The competition starts.

Transcosmos headquarters
We were actually the last group to present, and as you can guess, that made us really, really nervous. And since I was the one taking photos, I had to let go of the camera for once. Our topic was on "The Effects of Artificial Intelligence on Digital Marketing", and our title turned out to be "Digital Marketing and Disintermediation in the age of the IoT: What should Amazon do?"

And against the odds...


I don't think I'll get tired of saying that, because we really, really didn't expect to win anything. Our presentation was pretty far from the topic after all.

After the competition, we went to a restaurant for dinner and small talk (which was really interesting), and after that, my zemi had our own party. I checked in to the hotel around 11:30, and pretty much hit the hay right after I took a bath and dried my hair. 

Apart from that... I didn't really do much in Tokyo. I did go to Magnolia bakery today, before I went on the plane, but I'm still photographing/eating the food, so that will be a post for later.

By the way, can you believe today is the last day of January?!?!!?

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Coldest Day This Year/Visit to JSDF Camp

It's really cold today!! I woke up and it was supposed to be minus two degrees or something like that! No wonder I didn't feel warm even with the heater on. All I wanted to do was to stay under my heated blanket and sleep.

And it basically snowed on and off today, which, coupled with the subzero temperatures, meant that the snow didn't melt. It means we have scenes like this:

Near Muromi Station
 and this:
Church :D 
While people like my brother might be very happy (and he asked me to go play with the snow while on FaceTime), I'm sufficiently old and have too little energy to keep warm. I spent the day just shivering in my clothes.

At least it's an excuse to run a hot bath! Hopefully tomorrow clears up.

Visit to Japan Self Defence Forces (JSDF) Camp

On to warmer topics. On Friday, which was a 3-9 degrees day (and which sounds absolutely warm by today's standards), my sub-zemi went on a field trip to a JSDF camp!! The first time I've ever been to one too, so I was pretty excited.

Except about the having to wear a suit part. Good thing suits have a pants version for ladies, so I could wear my heat-tech tights underneath.

The first part of the visit was a lecture on Japan's Peace Keeping Operations. Since the current active mission is the one in South Sudan, that was the case study. As someone who used to do MUN, I found this really interesting, and it brought up the old "do PKOs/UN resolutions help?" question that I used to have (after realising how little resolutions actually do). But the JSDF do a lot of humanitarian work - road building, training, etc, which is really cool.

The second part was the fun part! We got to go see some equipment, THEN TRY ARMY RATIONS!! No photos allowed for the most part, but we were allowed to take photos of the food.

By the way, do you know the SDJF has a vehicle-like thing that can cook rice and soup? So cool!

Beef Stew Packet
They actually gave us a variety of rations + onigiri, so we could try a bunch of stuff. Kinda fun, like a picnic :D

This was some sort of rice. And the smaller container was pickles!

So apparently all the food was really high in calories, which makes sense cause they need the energy. And the flavour is stronger, which actually suits me better, because Singaporean here hahahaha. The food was honestly very good, and I wouldn't mind having a few packets lying around the house. But according to the soldiers, you can get sick of this after eating it for many days straight, especially if you have to eat it cold!

Beef Stew
The last, and final part of the tour was a lecture on the budget of the JSDF and how they work in general. The last time I was in a similar tour was when we went to see the Officer Cadet School in Singapore, and we definitely did not get to hear about the inner workings.

Not too sure what this had to do with telecommunications (my zemi topic), but it was a super interesting trip all the same.

Now, I really, really hope there's no more snow when I step out of the house tomorrow, because I have to be in school for first period.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Slow Motion Snow

It started snowing yesterday (and here I was, thinking Fukuoka would be warmer and escape the brunt of winter, since it's South). Unfortunately, school wasn't cancelled. But I did try to take a picture of the snow, and I quite liked how the slow-mo looked, so I thought I'd share.

That's about it. I have nothing more to share.

As always, if you have things you want me to blog about, feel free to let me know! 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Vote for me, please?

Hey everyone!! I don't think I've ever done this, but I have a huge, huge favour to ask of you.


Ok, backstory first. Last year, I took a big leap of faith and published my first book (I just told my mom, so I'm like, yay, I can tell everyone now!). The novella (30,000ish words, so it's a quick read) is called The Nutcracker King.

cover done by my über talented bestie
What if there was no ‘Happily Ever After’? 

It has been eight years since the defeat of the Mouse King. Marie has never told the Nutcracker she loves him, and he has never broken the curse. Instead, Marie dances her nights away at Marzipan castle every night, while the Nutcracker tries to break the curse. Desperate, he uncovers a dark secret about his kingdom, and decides to use the knowledge to reverse the curse. In the end, who will get their happily ever after - Marie or the Nutcracker?

This story is a roughly 30,000 word novella.
My novella is available on:

Amazon (link leads to the .com site)
Page Foundry
Tolino (Can't find the link, sorry)

But if you're willing to give me an honest review, I'm willing to give you a free copy. Just drop me a message.

Actual Request

Ok, so now that you know the backstory, you know that I like to write. So, I entered a publishing contest, run by the OnlineBookClub!

Basically, this contest is based on votes, and the winner (the one with the most votes)
"wins a publishing deal from worth thousands of dollars!  
 The winner will also get an advance. will cover all the costs of publishing including editing and digital services. Additionally, will invest thousands of dollars worth of advertising into the published book."
The first place entry currently has over a hundred votes (compared to my 8), but there's still about three more months.  I mean, it would be awesome if I won, but to be honest, my current goal is to get onto the top 10 list. And the current 10 has 19 votes, so if I get about 20 soon, I can probably make it on there. So if you're a member, or if you're willing to be a member, please vote for me! You can find the link to my entry here, and I'll repeat again later, and make it super obvious haha.

My entry would be my NaNoWriMo 2015 project - Heart-Less (back then, I called it Free of Heart). If you want to read the entire raw first draft, you can find it here, on WriteOn, and I'll be taking it out of 'shy mode' for the whole competition so that you can check it out.

My pitch, since the one in the photo is tiny, is:

Heartless, foreign Ada is finally getting used to life in Sakoku. Too bad the wizard Pendragon has other plans. But no matter what he throws at her - magic lessons, council membership, she can handle it.  
Her only goal: Keep the truth a secret.

If you have a membership to the OnlineBookClub and are willing to vote for me, or if you're just willing to create a membership and vote for me, you can find the link to my entry here (haha, just bolding and making all the links extra large. If it's annoying, let me know and I'll stop).

Ok, self-promotion over! I hope you'll consider voting for me, and if you want a review copy of The Nutcracker King (please post your review to at least one of the review sites, like Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, etc when you're done, though there's no rush), let me know too!
P.s. If you are entering that contest, do let me know :D I'll help vote!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Mochi Ice-Cream!

I don't know if anything heard about this, but in December, Haagen Dazs started selling a limited-edition MOCHI ICE-CREAM. And very annoyingly, it was sold out almost immediately. I haunted the convenience stores for two weeks (until the people told me there was no more stock), and I only managed to buy one.

Oh well, I guess the bright side is that I got to try one, even if it wasn't my number one choice.

Anyway, I got the mitarashi dango + nut (can't remember which) flavour! Mitarashi is the sweet soy sauce. 

looks good!
 And obviously, the ice-cream was good. I love dango, so no surprises there. Oh, and if Haagen Daz decides to sell this for the third time (this is the second time), and you manage to get your hands on it, you should definitely wait a few minutes to let the mochi soften before you eat it. I think I waited about five minutes, and that wasn't enough :p

And although I did not manage to get the other mochi-icecream (which was Kinako and Kuromitsu), I did manage to find a substitute!

 It wasn't a layer of mochi, but rather five mochi balls, but still really good! I love kinako powder hahaha. Totally recommend this, plus it's not as expensive as Haagen Dazs.

I ate these some time back, but I also had ice-cream today. Because evidently, feeling cold is no excuse not to eat ice-cream. Plus, milk tea McFlurry. How can I not try something with that name??

The milk tea flavour was strong, so I totally approve! :D