- Finally tested negative for Covid on Wednesday morning, a little more than a full week after testing positive. Despite that, it’s now four days later and I’m still feeling less well than usual. Mostly tired and unable to do very much in the way of physically normal life things, like walking around to eat and shop on a weekend, without feeling winded.
- Thankfully my senses of smell and taste seem to have returned virtually 100% — maybe some things seem a teeny bit different, but overall nothing to really complain about. Crisis averted.
- Monday was the Hari Raya public holiday here, and while I worked through the remaining dregs of illness only from Tuesday to Friday, it felt like an awfully long week and I’m Le Tired. A very nice Peruvian dinner at the end of it all helped restore my HP a little bit, but it’s now Sunday evening and I’m still feeling short of a few days’ rest.
- TV: Just more Bosch. We’re now nearing the end of Season 6, so there’s just one more to go before we can see what happens in Bosch Legacy, the new series that takes place after he leaves the LAPD and becomes a private investigator. I have very high expectations for it to go in weird new directions.
- Games: Only had time to play a bit of Spiritfarer on the Switch, and two rounds of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, which was on sale. We only made it to the $32,000 mark, In theory, playing a round of a virtual game show together every night sounds like a nice little routine, so I’ll try and do that when I remember.
- My only other entertainment has been more dicking around in Midjourney to try and come up with interesting images. I’ll drop some below maybe.
- NFTs: About five months after discovering the 0xmusic project and buying my first piece, I finally acquired a rare “DJ Handel” this week, completing my collection of all 8 0xDJs. I also made a Deca gallery to showcase them and share a few thoughts on the project.
- Oh, and the project that Rob and I were working on together a few weeks back? It was a new design for the 0xmusic website, which has now mostly launched in its first iteration. It hopefully does a good job of explaining what makes these NFTs special.
- I’ve installed the iPadOS 16 Public Beta on my M1 iPad Pro, almost entirely to try Stage Manager out. Huh. It’s disabled by default, and when enabled, completely replaces the old system of multitasking: no more Split View and Slide Over apps. So the iPad now gives you two entirely different interaction models for getting work done across multiple apps. Along with iOS/iPadOS Safari now letting one choose between two different tab management UIs, this suggests we’re maybe dealing with a new Apple that doesn’t believe its job is to make hard decisions, but to “provide more choice” for a customer base that is now larger and more diverse than Steve’s Apple ever had to deal with. Or this is just a gradual phasing in, and if the data supports it (and when everyone moves to new hardware that supports Stage Manager), the legacy modes will be removed in a few years. Still, I expect this will need explaining to family members in the months to come.
No comments on Week 29.22
- For two and a half years, I stayed out of Covid’s way by being an introverted indoorsy germophobe. It also helped that I wasn’t going in to any offices or meeting with strangers for the majority of that time. With the general sense of complacency everywhere now — borders open, masks optional in workplaces, in-person meetings a thing again, restaurants packed — it was only a matter of time.
- It seems likely that I’ve been infected with one of the new BA variants; statistically they are most cases now, and reportedly more infectious and maybe even more severe. It’s Day 6 today since I tested positive on Tuesday (though was feeling it in my cells since last Sunday), and I’m still not over it. I started losing my sense of smell two days ago, and it felt like 95% of it was gone when I woke yesterday. After my nose and sinuses cleared, some of it returned. I could taste certain things more accurately, but some frequencies on the spectrum were just missing or muted. Coffee tasted nothing like it used to, only weak notes of chocolate and a thin woodiness like hot water that had been stirred with twigs. It seemed to be only getting worse, so I started preparing for a life without taste. It was a bit depressing.
- Things seem a bit better today, although I’ve yet to try the coffee test. I suspect it may take a very long time after I’ve recovered for things to get back to normal. Meanwhile, lungs full of phlegm and wheeze, sudden hot flashes, fatigue, and bad sleep.
- Keeping us company has been detective Harry Bosch, of the TV show Bosch, which no one I know has ever talked about despite it having seven seasons. I don’t know why! It’s really good, a sort of modern L.A. noir thing, with a main character who would sound cliche if described aloud (he’s haunted, makes mistakes, an extremely good cop, has no personal life because of his work, takes a pessimistic view of the world), but none of that actually comes across and strikes you at any time, so naturalistically is he played by Titus Welliver. Also: jazz music, cigarettes, great editing and direction. It doesn’t have a large budget but never feels like cheap television. Each season is a seamless story arc with no episodic filler.
- Frustratingly, Amazon Prime Video in Singapore claims to have Bosch, but each season has multiple episodes missing/unavailable. I don’t understand the point of putting up incomplete seasons if there are licensing issues holding back some parts.
- I managed to find a few hours to spend with Spiritfarer on the Switch which I’d started awhile back but then left alone. It takes awhile to open up and get all the loopy mechanics going, which has now happened. With all the things that need tending to, it’s very easy to get sucked in. Unlike most games in the time management/busywork genre, however, this one is cozy and doesn’t penalize you for taking it slow and chilling out, just enjoying being on the open sea, on your metaphysical boat taking the lost souls of your friends and family to the afterlife.
- After some delays, rumored to be China related, Diablo Immortal finally launched here in Southeast Asia about a month after the global release. It takes a criminal amount of time to start up, sometimes close to a minute, because the server it checks for updates is slow to respond. But the game itself is polished, fast, good looking. I played it to Level 21 with my Backbone One controller and it feels like a proper Diablo game. Edit: Polygon has a look at the much-criticized monetization system, and I should clarify I have no intention of becoming invested in this. It’s just a fun game until it ceases to be.
- I’m concerned that the ever-growing camera bumps on iPhones are going to make the Backbone One stop working again later this year when the 14 series comes out. Already, Razer’s Kishi controller doesn’t work with the iPhone 13 Pro. If you go on Apple’s official store, the only game grip they sell for it is an odd controller that holds your phone above it in a mount, connected via a lightning cable. Very uncool. It’d be great if Apple made their own. I’m sure they won’t.
- I made more Midjourney art.
- Covid has finally made its way into our household. Kim is down with it, and given our proximity I decided it was impossible. She’s on Day 2 of the whole cough, sore throat, headaches package, while I’ve now started feeling the beginnings of it this afternoon too. So pretty sure I’ll be out of action this coming week.
- It’s probably evidence of a new wave of a new variant (BA 2.75?), because several people we know have also come down with it, including about three others at work. I may have passed it to more while I was in the office this week, unfortunately.
- We had an electrical scare in the house when a light tripped the power. I wasn’t home when it happened, but Kim forced the circuit back on and the LED bulb exploded. After consulting with an electrician, it seems it was a failure in the track light’s transformer, which apparently happens. He was nonplussed about it and said we just had to buy a new one and put it back on the rail. I’m not really comfortable with the idea that QA in the lighting industry is so poor that this happens and we can dismiss it.
- Malaysia’s export ban on chickens continues to generate content opportunities for ChannelNewsAsia, like this program on whether frozen chicken is an acceptable substitute for Singaporeans. We tend to watch these things at night when not in the mood for anything challenging. If Covid ends up giving me brain damage or fogginess, it may be all we watch from now on.
- My GR III came but I’ve had nearly no opportunity to use it. Just a couple of snapshots at work.
- The bear market continues, but I minted a new NFT for my collection from the release of Collapsed Sequence by toiminto earlier in the week.
- After only having access to Dall-e Mini like a pleb for weeks, I finally got access to Midjourney thanks to new friend and good guy Hunn who had a spare invite. You won’t believe how much of my week has been taken up by messing around and trying to get a feel for its prompts. I said in an Instagram post that I’m now 100% certain that these tools are going to be a part of creative work everywhere. No doubt in my mind.
We got used to wearing masks all the time. But then as of this week, they became no longer mandatory (I’m not using the word “necessary” yet because who knows) when outdoors. So when I finally left the house without a mask, and walked amongst other people still choosing to stay masked, it felt both weird and wrong. Did I get the date wrong? Was I the bad guy? Were they staring at me the way they would an anti-vaxxer or Covid denialist? It doesn’t help that no one seems sure what “outdoors” really means. Some think that includes elevators on the outside of buildings. What about an open-air food court where you’re talking to people, hovering over trays and cutlery?
I wondered if it was better to just keep wearing one anyway, for the anonymity benefits, but then remembered that people I hadn’t seen in many months were still recognizing me with a mask on. The deep state wants gait analysis systems everywhere for a reason oh god I’m one of them now aren’t I?
We had to run an errand near the Ghim Moh area and ended up eating at the hawker center there, which I haven’t been to in quite possibly a decade. Prior to going, we found YouTube video tours of the place, highlighting all the essential and famous stalls: selling braised/roast duck rice, chai tau kueh, satay beehoon, Hokkien mee, and wanton mee. But I can never resist the siren song of Tong Fong Fatt chicken rice, so that’s what I got.
All this to say I’ve been living in a tremendous bubble these past couple of years, and visiting a hawker center is now a novel experience. The last one was Amoy Street a couple months back when Rob was in town (I also ate Tong Fong Fatt, come to think of it), and that was the first in a long time.
A couple of weeks ago, we swapped out our Nespresso Essenza Mini machine for a Pixie model and I neglected to mention it because how absolutely boring do these updates need to be, really? Short on content this week, I bring it up because it’s turning out to be a markedly better experience and that annoys me. You see, all Nespresso machines are essentially the same from a brewing standpoint. They push the same amount of heat, water, and pressure through a pod. It doesn’t matter if you buy the basic model or the one that goes over $500. Milk frothing capabilities aside, all the differences are artificial.
The basic Essenza mini has a smaller water tank and trash bin, so you’re forced to fiddle with it and clean up daily. The Pixie increases both of those metrics, so using it incurs less mental load, which feels great! But holding more water (and adding some cosmetic metal parts, who cares) translates to a 42% price premium! Ridiculous, but we already knew that about the business model. Anyway I don’t want to be looking after a proper espresso machine so I’m still a happy customer, I just hate false upgrade trees.
- Apple TV+ is hitting its stride. There’s suddenly now too much to see and too little time.
- Coda won Best Picture at the Oscars this week, so I’ll need to watch that soon.
- Pachinko is not bad at all, and getting great reviews in the local press. But I say this not having read the book.
- WeCrashed continues to be quality despite the presence of Jared Leto, as mentioned before. The founders are presented as so out of control/out of touch with reality that I find myself physically cringing from embarrassment.
- Suspicion has ended, and it wasn’t a strong finish. I’d put this lower in the queue if you haven’t seen it.
- But the absolute best show I’ve seen on Apple TV+ in the past few months is Slow Horses. Do not miss this. It’s a British spy thriller starring Gary Oldman that quite perfectly balances being serious/thrilling and funny (not in a silly way, thankfully).
- After finishing Top Boy, we learnt that there are two prior seasons on Channel 4 from back in 2011, and the Netflix-produced seasons are technically Seasons 3 and 4. The previous series (only 4 episodes each, in line with that worst of British traditions: the short season) are supposed to be on Netflix, renamed Top Boy: Summerhouse, which sounds like a bad reality dating show*. But only Season 2 has been added to the local library so far, with no signs of the first season yet.
* We’d probably watch it, to be honest.
- It’s a new pandemic record for me, leaving the house six times this week. Also the government announced further relaxations on the way. As of March 29, masks will no longer be required outdoors, and people can get together in groups of 10, up from 5. Most importantly for some, alcohol sales after 10:30pm will finally be okay again, so that hopefully means the end of taxi surge pricing around 10pm, and also longer hangouts I guess. It’s a weird rule that started very early on in this, and that I sort of appreciated as an older person who didn’t really want to stay out getting wasted past midnight anymore.
- Two of those times were dinners to celebrate an occasion, which meant massive caloric intake. To balance it out, I’ve had a couple of lunches this week that were just peanut butter sandwiches. I haven’t had peanut butter outside of an ice cream flavor in years, which now seems like a waste of a life. It’s awesome!
- We’ve been binge watching Top Boy on Netflix. It’s a UK gangland sort of thing, and extremely good (and I don’t normally go in for depressing inner-city stories about drugs and thugs). Like, at no point would it occur to you that it looks like British TV, if you know what I mean. But it sure sounds like it, and now I’m mentally adding “fam” and “bruv” to the end of every sentence I say.
- It’s been about a month since I’ve properly read a book. Unless you count Ace Attorney Chronicles, and why wouldn’t you? It’s 99% reading slow-assed text crawling over a screen, accompanied by a handful of the same character animation loops on top of a smaller handful of backgrounds. I’ve started the second game now, but it’s beginning to wear me out. So I’ve started Mark of the Ninja, which is a 2D stealth platformer currently on sale for $4.99.
- Speaking of money, dropping by to see my parents usually throws up more stuff I’m meant to help clear out or take a look at. This week we found some antique money from my granddad’s collection. Tarnished lumps of metal I’m told are ancient Chinese money. You can’t even call some of them coins because they’re… thick and rectangular? Might let them sit in some Coke for a bit and maybe they’ll come out shiny again. We also found this paper note for 10 cents, dated 1919. Singapore The Nation didn’t even exist yet, of course, so it was legal tender of the “Straits Settlements” government. I doubt it’s worth anything, but it might be a nice prop for kids studying local history. I think it would have added some color to my dull classes back in the day, when the idea of a chaotic “Before” felt hard to connect with modern reality.
- I also found a bunch of old books that I’m thinking of giving away to the free community library in my building, the kind where you can take or leave anything you want. Except it doesn’t exist yet, so that’s another project I want to get going on in the next few weeks.
In William Gibson’s book, The Peripheral (soon to be an Amazon Prime Video series!), there are references to an epoch-making event that turned everything to shit, and it’s all quite vague so you don’t know at first whether it was a nuclear war or some natural catastrophe. Everyone calls it “The Jackpot”, and you soon figure out that it wasn’t one thing, but several bad situations improbably lining up and landing at the same time. Not necessarily on a single day but a longer period of months or years maybe — still short when zoomed out on the timeline. We might already be living in a Jackpot of our own, but if not… it sure felt like the final “7” rolled into view this week.
All the updates and gory details of the Ukrainian invasion shared in real time now seems completely expected, but the invasion itself wasn’t, and so probably airdropped several tokens of ANX(iety) to everyone’s wallets. Coincidentally, I started reading Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing, a series of essays about how to resist social media and its effects. She prescribes exposure to nature quite a few times, which just isn’t going to work for me in this climate. Back to Twitter, I guess.
Locally, our Covid numbers hit a new high with 26,000 cases in a single day. Medical services are stretched, and the government has taken the step of telling employers to just believe employees when they say they’ve got Covid and can’t come in, no medical certificates needed. Unsurprisingly, this was followed by reports of companies still insisting on them.
Perhaps stupidly, I went out more this week than I have in a long while. I know because the number of socks in my laundry load went back to pre-pandemic levels. First was to see a couple of friends who moved to Japan just before Covid and are only now able to leave for a visit back here. There was also a night out with too much expensive tequila that I don’t need to remember, but I got a cat photo out of it.
I also saw Rob a couple more times before he left, and we took his kids out to eat “the best chicken rice in Singapore” (it’s not Tian Tian at Maxwell — don’t get me started). I asked his eldest what he thought of being back, and “it’s hot” was inevitably said, but he also observed that “everyone likes to say ‘it’s freezing’ when it’s like 30º”.
- Rob turned me onto Jonathan Richman’s song That Summer Feeling, during a conversation about songs that induce nostalgia. Pulp’s Disco 2000 was my pick for a song that made even young people overcome with the regrets of growing old.
- We started on the new season of Young Wallander on Netflix, a title I will never tire of saying out loud. I remember almost nothing of the first season, but this is going well.
- As an antidote to all the murdering and double-crossing in our weekly TV diet, we’ve also started on season 3 of Love Island Australia, which is exactly what you’d expect. Some highlights include a girl who doesn’t know anything about Western Australia because she’s not good at “geometry”, and a guy who tried to say something wasn’t in his wheelhouse, but used the word “jurisdiction”, which he tried to pronounce several times before giving up and going with “it’s not in my area”.
- On the Switch, I’ve started playing Ace Attorney Chronicles, which takes two previously Japan-only installments for the 3DS and translates, remasters, and packages them as a single purchase for USD$40 (often on sale for USD$30).