Saturday, January 31, 2009

Top Dropper Day

Life after Work is slightly over four years old, and has been in the Entrecard system since around August 2008. I joined EC to find new blogs to read, and am glad to say I found quite a few. Hopefully, other droppers feel the same about this little corner of the blogosphere I've carved out for myself! Anyways, EC is calling for a Top Dropper Day, where we give some linky love to those who have dropped on our blogs the most. As such, I’d like to take a little time to acknowledge the Top Droppers of the past 30 days on Life After Work, as at 00:15hrs 31 January 2009, as sourced from my EC Statistics page.

And they are..

In addition, there's this Dropaholics thing that also lists the top droppers within their own network of monitored blogs. Since I can get more than 10 form this list, I figured I'd also linky love the following top dropaholics :)

p/s: I will be having another "I'll send you a postcard" giveaway: details coming soon... stay tuned!

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Fitness Friday: my treadmill strategy

I used to hate the treadmill.

I hate to run.

It's totally different when I'm on a tennis court chasing after a ball, though.

But to just run (or in my case, jog) on a treadmill?

I'd rather reduce stress on my joints and do the elliptical instead.

Problem was, about a month ago, I was on the elliptical, and then just. didn't. want. to use it. anymore.

So how else was I going to get any pretense of cardio if not for the treadmill?


So I started out with walking for 30 mins.
Then I jazzed it up: 5 mins walk, 5 mins jog, for half an hour.
Then I extended it: 5 mins walk, 5 mins jog, for one hour.
Then I increased the duration: 5 mins walk, 10 mins jog, for one hour.
Then 15 mins jog (~3 "sets" in an hour)
Then 20 mins jog (~2 sets in an hour)

The walks are at the 3.0 (mph?) setting, and jogs at 3.5
I usually increase the jog rate to 4.0 and 4.5 right at the end, just before cooldown.

I had worked up to making more and more of the jog allocation to be at 4.0 speed.

Would be nice to say it's still the case... unfortunately things over these past two weeks have derailed me... and the last time I was there, my feet weren't happy with the jogging, so I switched back to the elliptical. Thankfully, I was able to use that machine without feeling like I was going to die of boredom.

Haven't hit the gym since Monday.

I do hope to get my hour's worth of workout today, sometime!!

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

all's well!

I didn't mean to leave you all hanging, awaiting news of the fate of the gumstick iPod shuffle lamented in the post below.

Good news!

Walked from the apartment to the Apple Store (over 1hr) last Fruiday, and went up to the Genius Bar, where we told that we might have to wait a long while if we didn't have an appointment, but we only had to wait like 10mins.

They plugged the bugger into their computer and hey, it was recognised!

The bugger got reset, of course: all songs lost, but that's not a big deal because the are stored in Kosh's laptop, it's only copies that get loaded onto the shuffle.

There had been some other files on there too (it can also be used as a usual USB stick) - but since Kosh hadn't touched or bothered with them for over 2 years, figured they weren't anything we'd miss.

They loaded some songs onto the now-functioning thing - all seemed well.

Made our way back (took the el back in - enough walking for the day!), plugged the shuffle in, and hey, *now* it's recognised. So I've loaded my playlist back onto the thing.

So far so good.


My thanks to all who provided support and suggestions during this difficult time. I appreciate it all :)

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Fitness Friday: ~broken!~

Thursday afternoon I was multitasking on Kosh's laptop: looking around for plane tickets / dates for my impending trip back to KL next month (another postcard offer coming soon!) PLUS charging the iPod Shuffle which is what I've been using to keep me occupied while at the gym.

Rather than being stuck into the side like in the picture, the shuffle was attached to a USB hub, and was sticking out at me a little.

iPod Shuffle
Originally uploaded by strollers
And whaddaya know, I must have nudged the bugger while typing... because all of a sudden there was an error message, talking about how a device was attempted to be removed without properly ejecting it which may result in damage, loss of data, etc.


Kosh spent a few hours trying to get the blasted thing to get recognised by his laptop, but to no avail. Moved to my PC, which recognised the thing, but couldn't do anything with it, due to I/O error of some sort. Downloaded some software that claimed to be able to fix things. Didn't work on the Mac. The PC version wasn't compatible with Vista.

So tomorrow, we are going to the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue. See if they can salvage it... or propose some sort of trade-in that's worth it. After all, this now-dead shuffle has a capacity of 512 MB or 120 songs -- utterly minuscule compared to what's available out there today!

I can survive half an hour on the treadmill without music, but now that I've upped the routine to one hour (I'll talk about that next week), having some tunes is vital something ideal. But I don't want us to shell out $$ unnecessarily. Not at this time. Not in our current situation. *sigh*

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

I thought the bird bird bird, the bird is the word?

A quiz found at Angelika's:

Your Word is "Think"

You see life as an amazing mix of possibilities, ideas, and fascinations.

And sometimes you feel like you don't have enough time to take it all in.

You love learning. Whether you're in school or not, you're probably immersed in several subjects right now.

When you're not learning, you're busy reflecting. You think a lot about the people you know and the things you've experienced.

I think (haha) it describes me quite well.. whaddaya think?

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

from Unitarian Universalism to Mahayana Buddhism!

In April 2004, a quiz told me my religious views matched that of a Unitarian Unversalist.

In April 2006, I took another quiz, on, with the same result: Unitarian Universalism (100%)

Just today, I saw that Bradley (from How Is Bradley?) took that quiz and shared his results. I was moved to see if I was still going to score as a Unitarian Universalist.

Nope. It's now #3. It's not a surprise to see others emerge higher this time around, reflecting my own journey...

    1. Mahayana Buddhism (100%)
    2. Neo-Pagan (98%)
    3. Unitarian Universalism (86%)
    4. Hinduism (83%)
    5. New Age (81%)
    6. Jainism (79%)
    7. Theravada Buddhism (78%)
    8. Liberal Quakers (77%)
    9. New Thought (75%)
    10. Reform Judaism (70%)
    11. Scientology (67%)
    12. Taoism (65%)
    13. Baha'i Faith (64%)
    14. Sikhism (59%)
    15. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (56%)
    16. Orthodox Judaism (51%)
    17. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (49%)
    18. Orthodox Quaker (48%)
    19. Secular Humanism (44%)
    20. Islam (43%)
    21. Nontheist (27%)
    22. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (21%)
    23. Seventh Day Adventist (18%)
    24. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (17%)
    25. Eastern Orthodox (11%)
    26. Roman Catholic (11%)
    27. Jehovah's Witness (5%)

I would love to expand on this topic, but I think I'll just bite my tongue. The walls have ears! :p I'll just let the list speak for itself!

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Monday, January 19, 2009

January Book Update!

So I managed to finish Existential Joss Whedon: Evil And Human Freedom in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly And Serenity early in the year.

Here are the books I'm reading right now:
1. The Touch of Twilight (Sign of the Zodiac, Book 3) 2. The Samaritan's Secret
And no, I don't usually read two or more at a time. But I find myself doing that more often lately. Is it an age thing?

And here are the other books I've got from the library, waiting for my attention:
1. Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1) 2. Last Argument of Kings: The First Law: Book 3
3. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 100th Anniversary Edition (Books of Wonder) 4. The Marvelous Land of Oz (Books of Wonder)
Hopefully I'll manage to read all of the above before they are due back/can't be renewed anymore!

... what are YOU reading right now?

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Fitness Friday: fellow gym-goers

Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump! I am jolted out of my reverie. Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump! Thankfully my legs continue to jog valiantly, keeping me seemingly stationary on the treadmill as the rubber beneath me continues to churn at 3.5 mph.

in place, moving forward
Originally uploaded by dead_squid

I blink a few times to bring my eyes back into focus. Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump! In the meantime, my music, which I usually keep at the bare minimum of hearing because I don't want to get deafened more than necessary, is being drowned out by that dratted Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump!

I look around. I see the source of the noise. Looks like I'm going to have to name him Mr Elephant. Seriously. If you make that much noise while running on the treadmill, I think you're hurting yourself big time. Try to run *lightly*, dude!!

Congratulations, Mr Elephant, you are the newest member of the ignominious group of gym-goers Kosh and I can't help but make fun of.

There's Mr Grunt, or was it Mr Groan? Doesn't matter, really: he does both! It's like he's having sex right there in the gym as he's lifting weights. Dude, if you're grunting that loudly, that much, at every. single. rep. in your set. then I *think* you might *just* be taxing yourself a *bit* too much. Unless you really have no sense of decorum and are totally oblivious that you're making other people majorly uncomfortable.

There is the one person we try to avoid at all costs, though. Mr Stinky. The name says it all. He just needs to step into the room and his aroma permeates everywhere; now it's even worse because it mingles with the rubbery smell of the new floors, resulting in olfactory senses overload. Thankfully for me, I have this built-in ability where I can unthinkingly just. not. smell him. Kosh is not so lucky. So much so that we've tried to figure out what his schedule seems to be like, so that we minimise or totally avoid any exposure to Mr Stinky's reek.

Hopefully we won't be adding any more people to this group!

Have a good weekend, y'all!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm no longer a jobless bum!

I am being paid to blog!

Okay, I haven't seen the money yet because I made less than $50 last month, but by this time next month, I should have a cheque in hand for over $50, for something I already do anyway.

Here's how it works: You apply and propose a blog idea. If accepted, they'll set you up with the proposed URL, and off you go!

Blogs are reviewed by the 10th (or next business day) of every month, and payments are made then. There is a minimum payout of $50, so if you don't make that much in one month, that total will carry over to the next month, and the month after that, until your total is over the minimum payout. You can get paid via PayPal or by cheque via snail mail.

When I signed up, the program was such that I get paid based on unique visitors ($0.002 per impression, or $2 per thousand unique visitors) and $1 per post (only one paid post per day, minimum 100 words).

If you're turning your nose up at the rates, hang on a second. I believe Google AdSense will only pay out when you reach $100, and it takes forever to get there unless you've got a majorly high-traffic site. I think most ads run on a similar "do the work in advance and if you're good enough then we might pay you" basis. Being on the network frees you from this: sure, their minimum payout is $50, but you have two ways to increase that - up your traffic and up your posting.

fyi, traffic experts encourage multiple postings a day of posts at least 250 words in length... I have no problems getting to 250 words, but multiple posts a day?? I prefer a slightly more static page, giving returning visitors time to revisit posts and perhaps decide to drop a comment the second time around. I know that's how *I* tend to work, anyway. As a result, I tend to post every other day there. I'm thinking of switching to shorter daily posts on weekdays and taking the weekend off. We'll see...

Back to the $, as I'm sure if you're still reading, this is what you're interested in. Your compensation plan is up for review every month. As such, your rates may be changed up or down depending on your performance and productivity. After all, you're getting paid on the assumption that you are able to attract lots of readers who would also click on the ads on your site. These ads look at impressions and clicks then pay, who will then turn around and pay you. So yeah, if you do see some ads that look interesting on my site, please click!! You're helping my employer directly, and me indirectly :)

You won't get the same program I did if you sign up, though. It looks like they are imposing some sort of probation period now, probably to see if your blog would bring in enough moolah to cover your pay or not. Here are the revised terms:

From now on new blogs get:
  • $2.00 per thousand unique visitors

  • After a 30 day provisional period outstanding blogs may be promoted to our pay per post program.

"We will not be giving out anymore free rides" is right! :D

Uncertain about "outstanding"? I don't have the details, but the criteria would certainly include daily posts, good traffic and high click-through ads. If you've got a good base of followers who will visit you at your new digs, and/or if you are in Entrecard or a similar system, I think you'd be okay.

Wanna sign up?

One more thing: I do have an ulterior motive for blogging about this... yes, I will get paid for any successfully referred blog. And what's the criteria for a successfully referred blog, you ask? New incoming referred blogs will need to post at least 20 times over 20 days to become a qualified referred blogger. Yikes!

My advice? Flesh out a few blog posts already before you apply. As soon as you get approval (mine came within 24hrs!), start posting. And make it a point to meet the 20 posts in 20 days, please? Then at least I get a little something back! :D

If you're not sure what topic or niche to choose, here's a tip: make it something that you can see yourself posting about very often, without running out of ideas. For me, I just refined, repackaged and refocussed what Life After Work is about!

Click below to explore blogs within the network... there are loads of blogs in plenty of categories, here is just a random list:

So.... All set? Willing to take the plunge? Click on the image above to start the process. And please remember to tell them lynne naranek from a malaysian abroad sent ya!

And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments. I'll be happy to answer as best I can.


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Monday, January 12, 2009

We're going to be housebound for a few days...

... because it's going to be C.O.L.D.

(screenshot from the National Weather Service)

Chicago is buckling down for a blizzard that's expected to hit during the evening and last through the night. It's only going to dump 2 - 4 inches of snow, which by itself wouldn't be too bad, except that the snow is of the light powdery kind... pair that up with 30 mph winds, then the fun starts - WHITEOUT! This might not impact me too much, since we don't have wide open spaces here in the city itself, but based on how things went the last time something like this happened, I think we'll just not go out unless utterly necessary.

... especially when on the heels of this blizzard comes mega-cold temperatures. Look at the forecast above. Thursday we're expected to have a HIGH of 2F (-17C) , Friday of 5F (-15C). That's not factoring in the wind chill. No. I ain't going out for nothing!! We'll make do with bread and water if we have to, I ain't going out no way no how!

Not 'till Saturday, anyway. By then, it'll be starting to warm up.

You know it's sad when you consider temperatures barely hitting 20F (-6C) as "warming up".

a little aside: back when we moved to Chicago in '06, I was cautioned by many people that the winters here were brutal. Winter '06/'07 was fine, there was the one week of real cold. Same with the following winter - nothing too bad, maybe a week or so of nasty weather. So I was thinking, wow, if this is what y'all call brutal, well, I suppose I can handle it! Yeahhhh..... then came this winter of '08/'09. Okay, okay, *now* I've experienced a real Chicago winter! Brutal? Yeah, that word fits! :p

... on another aside: Solid details are difficult to find, but it seems that today is (Inter-)National De-lurking Day! Whether this happens on January 12th every year, or on the 2nd Monday in January, or requires knowledge of the phase of the moon, I have no idea. In addition, it might also be (Inter-)National De-lurking Week. Who knows. What's important is, this frees you from all that's holding you back from commenting!

So please, do drop by and say "Hey", k?

C'mon, you know you want to! :)

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Foody Friday: pumpkin edition

About a month ago, I shared a Foody Friday post about my mega-pumpkin bread. Since then, I've made at least three iterations:

The main change has been to use an 8x8 instead of a loaf pan. As KTN pointed out, this makes it no longer pumpkin bread but rather pumpkin bars. Whatever you want to call it, it works out much better in the 8x8.

The most recent iteration is the most unusual to date: I added a melted brick of cream cheese into the whole thing. Oh wow. Makes it REALLY heavy. And we're back almost to square one with the pumpkin pie filling consistency. I have no idea how to change the cooking temperature and time to accommodate the new ingredient. It's absolutely delish, though.

They have all been delish. So much so that I have no pictures of the finished products, LoL!

I've been threatening to make a batch with some chocolate chips inside. Kosh scrunches up his face, saying he doesn't think they go together. I don't know why it's stuck in my mind, though. What do you think - chocolate pumpkin bread bars sound good to you? (minus the cream cheese though; one surprise ingredient at a time!)

Have a good weekend!

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

what a waste!

The One Book, One Chicago program is launched each spring and fall to cultivate a culture of reading and discussion in Chicago by bringing our diverse city together around one great book. Reading great literature provokes us to think about ourselves, our environment and our relationships. Talking about great literature with friends, families and neighbors often adds richness and depth to the experience of reading. We invite you to join us as we explore yet another great piece of literature.
- from the One Book, One Chicago website

The first time I heard about this program was back in Fall 2006, where I saw intriguing colorful posters of Indian hands and eyes advertising Jhumpa Lahiri's The Interpreter of Maladies at the el stations I'd frequent. Interpreter of Maladies Then in March '07, I walked into the Popular Library and saw shelf after shelf of this book, in both paperback and hard cover versions: it was the end of the One Book, One Chicago program for that season, and so all the books that had been bought in order to satisfy the demand during the season were no longer in circulation.

I did idly wonder what they were going to do with all those books, then put it out of my mind.

Since then, the program (which actually started in 2001) has featured Go tell it on the mountain by James Baldwin, The crucible by Arthur Miller, The long goodbye by Raymond Chandler, and most recently, The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. I didn't bother with any of those... I had checked out a copy of The Right Stuff, but didn't end up reading it, so I returned it unread.

Today, Kosh and I dropped by the library; while we were there, we checked out the discard alcove, where the library places a whole bunch of books that have been purged from their collection for a variety of reasons. There are occasional gems: I had found Alex Bledsoe's The Sword-Edged Blonde there once, to my horror and amazement, but I was quick to grab it :) But today... oh my... today I felt such disgust at the sight:

That's right... the most recent One Book, One Chicago selection is being given away, essentially for free: suggested donations for paperbacks is like ten cents. I counted about twenty of these paperbacks, that officially sell for $16 (Amazon marks them down to ~$11), and I'm sure there are/were plenty more.

It was so ~wrong~ to see all those books discarded just like that!

I'm not entirely unsympathetic:
  • I'm sure the library got a good deal buying these books in bulk, so it's not like they are throwing out a whole bunch of $16 books...
  • They still have TONS of the hardcover version of this book within the CPL system - so they are just getting rid of the paperbacks, which won't last as long anyway.
  • Because they are a library and not a book shop or a commercial entity, I figure they might not be allowed to sell the excess books to anyone, even if they could probably turn a tidy profit by selling said books to a second-hand bookstore for $5 each.

But still!!

Surely they have better options than practically giving them away???

Any librarians want to weigh in?

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Foody Friday: New Year edition

Did you know that in 2008, I published 133 posts on this blog? This translates to one post every 2 to 3 days. Sounds about right. Especially since I'm juggling more than one blog now!! :)

... once again, HAPPY 2009, everyone!

Kosh and I spent the New Year's Eve / Day quietly. I ended up feeling quite rajin (hardworking? motivated?) and produced three items in the kitchen!

First: another round of Mira's Broccoli Cheddar Salad

Then: a re-engineered version of Shawn's Sopapia Cheesecake.

Re-engineering in this case involved using half of everything and therefore using a smaller 8x8 pan; *and* the introduction of mini chocolate chips (I'd tried before with regular chocolate chips and half melted into the filling, half didn't... it was okay but not something I'd share with others!). Here you can see the dots of chocolate in the cream cheese mixture.

Covered with the other half of the crescent rolls and drowned in butter/sugar/cinnamon... then baked for 30 mins at 350F.

Final product:

(we polished off half of it in 2008, and the other half in 2009 - it didn't last 24 hours!)

So, the above were salad and dessert.

The final item is the actual entree, depicted here prior to being covered and put in the oven:

What is it? you ask... look well and you'll see signs of:
  • 2cups frozen cut leaf spinach
  • 5 skinless chicken thighs, looking bright orange, as a result of being liberally rubbed with turmeric, red curry powder, cumin and garlic powder and left to absorb the flavor for a few hours
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (used the water from this to rinse out the next two cans)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup

After about 1h 15 at 350F, you get a very creamy soupy chicken thingy that would go really well on rice. ... since we knew we were going to have the sopapia for dessert, we forgoed (forwent?) rice and had it just like that, a piece of chicken smothered in its sauce.

Yes, I'll be the first to admit it looks kinda weird, but lemmie tell ya, it's good! :)

Gosh darn it, now I'm hungry!!

Have a good weekend, y'all!

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