Driving in Seattle

It was my first time driving on the other side of the road. And so I had to be extra careful. I didn’t have any real issue, and this, I believe, is largely due to the graciousness of those who were driving around me. Some observations:

  • Right lane line should align with centre of car. Back home, I had gotten very used to my car and hardly give any thought to this. But in Seattle, the rental company issued me a car much wider than I am used to.
  • Turning right on red – did it for the first time!
  • I had read about the middle island for turning vehicles but had to overcome the idea that I can drive onto an area marked by yellow lines.
  • Nobody horned (at me) and motorists waited until they could safely overtake me.
  • People tend to give way once you signal – in crawling traffic, I could make it to the HOV lane quite easily.
  • People drive at speed limit on the slowest lane of the freeway. That would be a marvel in my country, where the speed differential from the fastest to the faster to the slowest lane can vary quite a bit.
  • The entry lane of the freeway merges with the slowest lane on the freeway – so when I am on the slowest lane, I need to watch out and give way to entering vehicles.
  • How to behave at uncontrolled intersection was another matter I was curious about. It was quite easy – each driver goes in turn, depending on who reaches the stop line at that intersection first. Frankly easier than what happens in my home country – you are supposed to give way to your right but many a time, it is a matter of who is more daring.
  • Went around a roundabout. It was in a quiet neighbourhood and so narrow! And it goes counter-clockwise.

Everything is amusing when it is new/ flipped from what you are used to. I was happy that I managed to come out of this unscathed. Haha.

📺 🎵 Some things I’ve watched and listened to – 2023

Singles Inferno, Season 2
Madoff: The Monster on Wall Street
Friends – reruns of various seasons
Physical 100
The Chaser
White Lotus, Season 2
Cunk on Earth
Survivor, Seasons 40, 41
The Glory
Love Between Fairy and Devil
The Diplomat
Light the Wild
Copycat Killer
Detective vs Sleuths (movie)
Selling Sunset, Season 6
The Good Doctor
Siren: Survival Island
Till The End of The Moon
Secret Chef
Muscles & Mayhem: An Unauthorized Story of American Gladiators
Fallen Angels (movie)
Barbie (movie)*
Oppenheimer (movie)*
Jujitsu Kaisen
The Amazing Race, Season 33
Devil’s Plan
House of Usher
Where the Wind Blows (2022 movie)
Cyber Heist (movie)
Hidden Blade (movie)
Loki, Season 1
Kitchen Nightmares
Squid Game Challenge
The Boy and The Heron (movie)*

*watched in the theatre


Akira Kosemura
Future Sound of London

Ten Percent Happier podcast
The Pen Addict podcast


Games too:
Obra Dinn
Mario Kart 8
Super Mario Bros. Wonder


Recommended titles in bold. I continue watching Hong Kong movies on flights. There are quite a few Korean reality shows this year. House of Usher was outstanding, and it was great to close off the year with the mind-blowing The Boy and The Heron.


Suddenly we have been together for 12 years and on alternate Sunday mornings, we put our night guards together, in a bowl of water, and use Brite on them.

Lately, aka perhaps a short summary of my early 40s

I got myself a pair of glasses with progressive lenses. I wear full-strength contact lens to correct the near-sightedness in my dominant eye, and on the other eye, I wear a multi-focal lens that is powered down for my near-sightedness and has provision for my new-found far-sightedness. There are quite a number of options these days for people with both myopia and presbyopia and none are perfect apparently.

Listening to a bunch of new-to-me music: Bluetech, into.cassette, florist, caroline. Oh I love Bluetech. Especially when your audio equipment is capable of rendering some form of soundstage. I also made a playlist of ambient electronica from the 90s after I watched John Darko’s videos on how he got into electronic music.

I sought out old comforts – film cameras, the Ricoh Digital IV, keeping a blog. I obviously cannot find that version of myself anymore, but living is searching, refining, and hopefully finding some equanimity.

Relatedly, caring a little more about meditation, taking walks, and sleeping better.

I started running in my late 30s, and last year, my running volume halved. Covid undid my efforts at building my running self, and it has been tough trying to get back to the same speed/ volume. I keep things fresh by going to different places but with the world moving on from the pandemic, I find more places more crowded these days, which adds friction to my going for a run. Ah well, I will figure something out.

I read “big” books like The Third Reich, Lord of The Rings, The Complete Works of Plato … and added War and Peace and The Art of War to my list. Even though I once said I decided to not read W&P. Ha. Perhaps someone in her 20s might have wanted to read such books, youth affording the time and headspace but life moved along quickly. Perhaps someone in her 40s might find joy in the labours of reading such fat tomes, so that she does not reach her retirement, thinking, “Oh maybe I really should read these books now, before I die.”

🎥 Everything Everywhere All At Once

The movie looks very madly paced, and I forgot about it for a while. One day, in between reading books, and wondering why it gets such great reviews, I rented the movie from Apple TV.

I really, really enjoyed the movie. I know it is unnecessarily messy and one wonders if there is anything new, but I appreciate that it entertains and also goes, without being too soppy, into poignant themes and meaning. It is a deep breath and a fresh breath of air at the same time. I hope it brings some calm and perspective for the young ones, and also the middle-aged ones like myself, trying to not lapse into a mid-life crisis. There are so many possible lives, but let’s live this one well.

Some notes from Japan 🇯🇵 ✈️

  • Topping up our Suica card (which we added to our phones’ Wallet app on a previous trip) has become more arduous. Of the various credit cards, only the Amex was able to complete the top-up in the iOS wallet app. I had to add my Amex card to my partner’s phone so that both of us can continue to use our Suica cards.

  • Japanese merchants still aren’t that cashless. Trying to wave our cards didn’t work- we are generally invited to plug our card into the machine and sign. I used Apple Pay once. If they allow payment by IC card (a reference to the transport cards), you can use your Suica, which makes things faster. Most payment machines can take payment from your Suica (loaded onto the iPhone’s wallet) without you have to press twice on the lock button to activate payment.

  • Prices are as if there had been no inflation over the recent years. On top of that, the exchange rate had gone in our favour and so, things felt more affordable than usual.

  • I used to buy my contact lens solution after I landed in Japan. This time, there was more difficulty in finding a 100 ml bottle of solution + case. The Japanese are now selling single-use solution + case. It is quite a thing to marvel – the single-use product is quite well made!

Reading – 2022

Books here are only listed if I’ve completed them; recommended titles are in bold.


Snow Crash
The Hobbit
Born to Run
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
Crying in H Mart
Autopsy (Kay Scarpetta)
The Fellowship of the Ring
Mother of Invention
Truly Peculiar
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
The Nineties
Portrait of a Thief
Just Keep Buying
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
The Impossible City: A Hong Kong Memoir
Plays Well With Others
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race
Samsung Rising
Death and the Penguin
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
The Puzzler
Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis
Stolen Focus
Lucy by the Sea
The Two Towers
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
The Power of Meaning
The Simple Path to Wealth
Walking: One Step at a Time
Impractical Uses of Cake
Life Time
How Will You Measure Your Life
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

38 books; 15 fiction

Mega books are being dealt with, and although LOTR is not done yet, I’ve decided to go into HP for 2023. Quite a number of good books this year; my top ones are Death and the Penguin, and This is How They Tell Me The World Ends.

📺 Some things I’ve watched – 2022

Next Level Chef
Singles Inferno
The Amazing Race S31
Top Chef
Inventing Anna
Endless news footage of Ukraine being invaded
Seeing Red (movie)
American Idol S20
Dr Strange (movie)
The Handmaid’s Tale S5
Sisters Who Make Waves S3
Masterchef Singapore
Iron Chef – Quest for an Iron Legend
Bridgerton S2
Call Me By Fire S2
Pulau Ujong (a play)
Spy Family
The Playlist
Friends reruns
Generation Wealth (documentary film)
Foundation S1
Harry Potter 1 (movie)
Slow Horses S1
Harry Potter 2 (movie)

I would recommend those in bold. Oh, Severance is very, very good.

Notes on e-reading

My Kobo reader (a lovely Clara HD) died some months ago, having spent about a year with me. It could not be revived (probably the battery) and I was out of the warranty period. [In any case, I purchased this from Rakuten Kobo over Lazada, and the customer service was slow, but I took it as a sign and moved on.]

I have had Kindles but I got the Kobo because I wanted a device that could load titles from my local library via Overdrive. I was beginning my weaning off from physical books. It is safe to say that since I was a child, books were a significant portion of my spending. When I first started working, I spent Friday evenings buying books, and hoping I would have time to read them during the weekends. As all devout readers know, book-buying and reading are separate hobbies. Anyway, at the peak, I was buying around 50 books a year (the last time this happened was in 2018), and while I do manage to read most of them, book-owning was getting to me. The housemate also loves books, and we had piles too formidable for our relatively smaller home. So we started on our path towards e-books.

(Statistics: I bought 20 books in 2019, 14 in 2020, and 6 in 2021. I am at 9 for 2022. I read around 30 books a year.)

The Kobo was great – it had a warm lighting option, and worked well in bright daylight and also in bed. It was the size of a book but I could make the font bigger for my aging eyes. You could load fonts you like and/or geek out about which fonts are more suitable for e-readers (vs print). And so, the Kobo was great until it wasn’t and I was wondering if I would buy another e-reader. I wasn’t convinced that I needed one, and so I continued reading on my phone (as I have, using the Libby app).

Very happily (and belatedly), I realised that highlights made on the phone Libby app could be extracted easily. This suits me very well, because for non-fiction books, I usually have many highlights and this is a good way to keep them. [I tried hand-writing notes but it is either too disruptive to be switching to taking notes while reading, or too tiring to have to seek out and write notes after you are done with a book.] This merriment offset the mild gloom of realising I had no way of extracting the highlights I made on my now-dead Kobo.

So far, I am fine staying on this path of reading on my phone. Sometimes it annoys me that the screen is relatively small and I have to remember to take eye-care breaks. Sometimes, I wonder whether there is a better setup for myself, and I chuckled at this post on reading books on the iPhone. Sometimes, I wonder how much authors earn from e-copies lent out by the library. Because I worry about the bookshop closing down, I still buy books, which means I’d still need to dispose of some books from time to time. For that, I leave them at the book exchange corners of our public libraries.

A note on walking

I started jogging in 2019. When the Covid pandemic hit, I jogged a lot more. Exercise allowed me to go out of the home; if life is put on hold, the least I could do was – running to stand still (my life motto, it seems).

In 2022, between a hectic period at work and contracting Covid (which meant a recovery period), my running volume dropped. Perhaps it was just waning interest making the time/ effort seem more onerous. And so, I looked for different places to jog, and found that I really enjoyed being amidst big trees. This small city-state does not have much of forests or trails, but I began checking out more places.

I love running at Gardens By the Bay, but it is more of a garden and the routes around it does not offer much shade. I tried Changi Bay, Tampines Eco Green, Punggol Park, Botanic Gardens, Labrador Park, Hort Park, Fort Canning… and finally, I decided to give Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and MacRitchie Reservoir a try. I quickly realised that they were not suited for jogging (for me). I am the sort who worries too much when it is a slippery downslope. They became places to walk for me.

These places are a little further for me, and I worry about it being crowded and so I went during weekdays on my days off.

And those days off were almost magical. I love hearing the crunch of my feet on the trail; I love how once you enter the shade under the big trees, it is a different world. There was so much to pay attention and yet, nothing to really pay attention to. You have to be careful of boars and monkeys, and put on a lot of insect repellant but being in nature, and walking yourself among big trees, this activity pleases me so. I don’t think of anything in particular, and I end up smiling to myself. I perhaps check my route to see I am still headed the correct way but well, I am fine if I end up slightly off-course. I take walks that are around 5 to 8 km, and average around 15 min/km. At this speed, a 8 km route takes around 2 hours. It seems like a big chunk of time to spend (because you also have to add travelling time to/from the park) but I can only say that I don’t regret the time spent.

Currently, I think the MacRitchie Reservoir area (see images below), starting from Windsor Nature Park is quite a pleasant route for me. It is not too difficult and is interesting. I do see (relatively fit) elderly people on the trails. Of course, I also see very fit people running within the trails and I am always full of admiration when they run past.