Thursday 28 July 2016

Jason Wong

A short story before I talk about Jason Wong...

Earlier this week, the PlayStation Network blocked my credit card and, at the time of writing, is still performing background checks/clearances to determine whether I am using my credit card legitimately. I find this strange because this is the same credit card which I have continued to use throughout this week and the week before to purchase other items. In fact, prior to this PSN incident, I've never had any issues with online credit card purchases. I won't go into the full story because it was quite a frustrating ordeal. I'm over it now though.**

So, on Monday 25 July 2016, I told a person by the name of Jason Wong about my problem and asked him if he happened to have a solution to it.

Well of course he did. Jason immediately recommended that I go into JB-Hi Fi or Coles to buy a PSN Wallet top-up card so that I could skirt the issue of the credit card blockage.

That same day I duly obliged and went to JB-Hi Fi during my lunch break.

I came home that day and purchased the items I wanted on the PSN. It worked like a charm!

As I was browsing the PSN store, it occurred to me that this situation had a familiar feel to it. What was it? There was this nagging sense of déjà vu. And then this thought suddenly popped into my head:
This ISN'T the first time that Jason Wong has rescued you from a dilemma 
Yes, this was a minor problem here but he's helped you with bigger things in the past before - or have you forgotten?! 
So I had a massive guilt-trip and thought I should do a write-up for him sometime this week in appreciation of his friendship to me over the years.

Tribute to Jason Wong

During my university days, there were only two people I consistently consulted whenever I ran into brick walls.

These brick walls usually came in the form of struggling through assignments, exams and the daily chore of academic life.

One was a Kevin Ngo, whose write-up is sure to come soon.

The other was Wai Yin Jason Wong.

Now, this is not to say that everyone else was less worthy than these two. But they were people who confided in me and I confided in them.

Given their legendary status in terms of intelligence and university marks (both being honours students), I do not know why Kevin and Jason decided to help a mere mortal like me when I could offer very little, or indeed, anything in return. I obviously still tried my best, but in my view, there is no way that my contribution matched theirs.

Nonetheless I am grateful for their unwaivering help over the years. I can say with absolute conviction (and I'll look anyone in the eye) when I say that I would not have survived university without their help.


Jason Wong is a master of analysis. I'm not joking. And I know sometimes I tend to exaggerate, but this time I'm not exaggerating.

Jason will thoroughly break down every argument, every fact and detail. It was almost a pleasure to talk to him about studying for exams, practice exam questions and assignments as he would always be open to what I had to say; yet, obviously, his analysis always seemed to me to be more convincing than anything I could ever offer.

Jason's attention to detail and facts is prevalent in real life too.

Early on in our friendship, I remember back when I had Facebook I posted a picture of the interior of our family car at a petrol station, with seemingly very little information or detail to go off. I still do not know how he did this but Jason Wong commented words to the following effect:
"Andre, were you in the Blue Mountains when you took this photo? And is that a Holden Commodore?"
Sherlock Holmes had spoken. I must have replied something like:
Jason went on to explain how he had compared the design of the seat patterns with Google Images and how he had spotted a small street sign in the background of my photo.

I was pretty much stunned. This was only a sign of things to come...

Worthy mention: Benjamin Lay

During our uni days, Jason was generous and provided me with typed lecture notes to most of the classes we shared. On many an occasion, I had to skip half or all of the class to attend part-time work.

It is at this point that another name must be mentioned here.

Jason's partner-in-crime was Ben Lay, who possessed an incredible typing rate and memory.

I recall sitting in class next to Ben and observing how he typed his notes.

Ben was typing/summarising what the lecturer said one to two lines ago WHILST listening to what the lecturer was currently saying. It was amazing. It was like he was recording the lecture in his head and displaying it on his laptop screen with a 5-10 second time delay. Ben was consistently doing this with little sign of forgetting or stopping mid-way.

Ben and Jason always helped each other out. I respected and admired that. This was clearly a bond that had been built over many years.

Talk about "Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are." (Not applicable to me)


Jason is an interesting character with a different outlook of life.

In terms of video games, we usually can only agree to disagree on what are good games. I like Advance Wars 2, he doesn't. He likes Need For Speed, I don't.

However we do have a few things we can agree on: our love of Final FantasyUncharted and The Last Of Us. Although I am not as big a fan of  Final Fantasy as I used to be, we can both certainly vouch for the series' music and general appeal to its fans.

Overall Jason has high standards for almost everything and is pretty hard to please because he brings his analytical skills to the table wherever he goes, so he ends up dissecting topics like he would an assignment.

For example, I know that, apart from F1, tennis is one of the few sports he thoroughly enjoys because of its 'sensible and logical structure' - both sides get a chance to serve; both sides get a chance to break serve. Fair is fair. I had never looked at sport that way before. I just say whether I like it or not.

Thank you

Jason I'd like to thank you for helping me out over these years and for our varied and amusing conversations. May it live long and prosper.

I wish you all the best for everything, and I know you will do well in your chosen calling in life.


Andre Lim

** On one view, given the 2011 hacking incident, I can understand why the PSN has gone berserk with policing security. On the other hand, judging from a quick internet search of the same problem, you can see that a lot of users have been affected by this problem (where accounts were blocked from paying for items for a good 24-48 hours) and people were obviously not happy. I think it has tipped too far down the negative end. If they wanted to check my credit card they should 1) have reasonable grounds for checking it and 2) given me notice that they would be checking my card. Instead, I had to contact them about it and it took them a fair while to get to the core issue.

Monday 25 July 2016

Quote of the Day - Excuses to Justify decisions

"Everyone has a story they tell themselves to justify bad decisions..and it never matters. In the end you are always alone in your actions."
- Hawke, Dragon Age Inquisition

Andre Lim

Friday 15 July 2016

Colonoscopy - Reflections

Today I did a colonoscopy and an endoscopy procedure.

Nothing serious occurred but I just wanted to post a quick note partly for the benefit of any of my friends who have never done a colonoscopy before, and partly for my own reflection.

The battleplan....
I am NOT a doctor, please get your own medical advice and do NOT rely on this, but:
  • A colonoscopy is a procedure that checks your large bowel by inserting a tube down there
  • A general rule seems to be that if you get regular bleeding down there when you go to the toilet, for say 6 months, then you should do a colonoscopy.
  • Another general rule is to get a colonoscopy once you hit 50.
  • Yet another general rule appears to be that you should not do a colonoscopy more than once in a less-than-five-year period.
I also did an endoscopy to check my oesophagus - to see if there were any problems associated with heartburn or reflux.

As far as I can tell the procedures went well thanks to the nurses and doctors, subject to the biopsy results. 

However the worst part really is the PREPARATION for the colonoscopy -- in particular, drinking the PREP liquid (which in my case was Moviprep)


My particular procedure required me to, amongst other things, abstain from:
  • Seeds; 
  • Skinned vegetables; 
  • Skinned fruits;
  • Nuts; and
  • Whole grains
for two days prior to the colonoscopy procedure

Some of the recommended foods were hot chips, mash potato, white bread, ice cream and fish. Which was certainly doable!

One day before the colonoscopy:

Starting from 9am on the day before the procedure, I had to drink "clear fluids" ONLY which was defined to include, for example:
  • Water
  • Black tea
  • Black coffee
  • Clear soup
  • Sports drinks (only certain colours permitted)
  • Jelly (only certain colours permitted)
In my case interchanging between the clear soup, jelly and sports drinks was a lifesaver - it provided me with savoury and sweet options!

My sister and my mum's friend were real life savers in particular because they helped me to find, and even prepared, the right food for me :)

Moviprep - $22.99 from Chemist Warehouse to a max (?) of $29 elsewhere

Moviprep deserves a heading of its own because this is what creates the chaos. The best way I can put this (as someone said to me) is that it is a liquid that causes you to 'cleanse your bowels'. 

In other words, there is no nice way to say this --- Moviprep causes you to diarrhoea very badly LOL. Stomach cramping seems to be common too.

Not all procedures are the same but:

At 4pm the day before the procedure, I had to drink 1L of Moviprep, interspersed with 500ml of clear fluid over the next hour or so.

At 8pm I had to drink ANOTHER 1L of Moviprep over the next hour or so.

Starting from midnight of the day of the procedure, I was not allowed any solid food or liquids.


Prior to doing this procedure, I had read a forum on the topic. The procedure is not as bad as some people exaggerate ("IT WAS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE"), but it is not easy either.

For starters, although Moviprep is 'lemon-flavoured', no amount of lemon scent can actually mask the liquid's true intent. The taste gradually becomes foul after the first few gulps, particularly during the second 8pm dosage (when you are already quite full of liquid).

I had two real battle points during this procedure.

First testing point

The 4pm dose was fine. However the first real testing point was the 8pm dose.

At that point I was already full of liquid (from the 4pm dose plus my clear liquids for 'dinner'), and had to put in more liquid at 8pm. 

I almost felt like vomiting due to the horrible taste, but eventually spread out the 1L over the next 1 hour. 

Yellow Gatorade was my saviour.

You have to finish each dosage as prescribed. As Harry Potter said to Dumbledore: "You've got to keep drinking, remember? You told me you had to keep drinking."

Second testing point

The second testing point is the period from midnight of the day of the procedure to the time of the procedure itself (about 11am for me).

This is difficult because:
a) You are dehydrated but cannot drink water; and 
b) You may get hungry during this time, which is rather dangerous.

I woke up at 4am and at this point I was praying that I would not get hungry because that would be an awkward time to get hungry (my stomach was rumbling). 

However, thankfully I was able to have disturbed sleep for the next few hours and I shook it off.

In hindsight...

...I should have probably:
  • Drank 2 cups of water at about 11.50pm before going to sleep. However quite honestly, I was too tired to do that and had slept by 11.30pm. I was still rather full of liquid.
  • Spread out my consumption of clear liquids in between 4pm to 8pm so that I would not be too full for the 8pm Moviprep dosage.
Being put to sleep

It was also the first time I was put to sleep for a medical procedure.

Thankfully my friend was the anaesthetist which made things comforting :)

I can only remember him saying that there would be a cold shiver down my arm, and the next thing I remember was the nurse waking me up. I did not know what was going on when I woke up and I felt rather dazed!! It was such a strange sensation. I almost forgot who I was or what I was doing there. I had to lie down for it to wear off.

And that makes me wonder...this might be a distasteful subject but...that moment when one blacks out before surgery --- is that what it is like when someone passes away peacefully? 

They just suddenly fade out without realising it? 

Topic for another day.

Happy to be eating now

All I can say is that I'm glad that I can eat again and I would rather NOT do that again LOL.

I now have a tiny understanding of what it is like to undergo a medical procedure - doing a serious operation must be a 1,000,000,000,000 times worse because there is the added element of pain during rehabilitation and recovery etc. What I experienced these last two days is absolutely nothing compared to what others have faced.

I hope this short note proves to be useful for someone :)

I'd like to thank my mum's friend for dropping me off and my granduncle for picking me up - you are not allowed to drive after the procedure

Andre Lim

Monday 11 July 2016

Nothing like football/soccer

I found this cool quote on the Guardian:
I actually watched the entire match today and caught highlights of some others. As an American, I envy the national fever that football (our soccer) creates. There is really nothing like it here. Most of the professional sports are tied to cities or states, but not the US. I guess the Olympics is as close as we get. I do see the ratings for Euro 2016 increasing, but there is a long way to go. I was very happy for Portugal.
Andre Lim

Eating Portuguese humble pie

So I'll be blatantly honest here.

Courtesy of
I betrayed my one cardinal rule in football, which is also a rule that I apply to most sports I follow:
"Always support the underdog...unless it is Italy**."
Today I was taught a humbling, but important, lesson by Portugal. A Portugal who, against all odds, beat France in the latter's own backyard to win their first major international trophy. In doing so, Portugal laid to rest 41 winless years and 10 consecutive defeats suffered against the French

Now, how did I miss that headline in the first place?

You see, I started off with all the wrong concepts. Concepts that blinded me.

Iceland - bad sportsmanship from CR7

Right from the time when Portugal played Iceland, and captain Cristiano Ronaldo refused to shake hands with the Iceland team, I refused to support Portugal. In fact, I confess that I wanted them to lose! Desperately. The whole team was tainted in my eyes all because of their captain.

Knockout stage - Round of 16 and Quarterfinal

When Portugal played Croatia in the Round of 16, I was quite clearly rooting for Croatia. I thought to myself: "This half of the draw is easy, and it looks like Croatia will meet France in the final."

How wrong I was. I failed to realise the signs when Portugal nullified Croatia to beat them 0-1 after extra time. That should have been a wake up call for me, but it wasn't.

Still, I stubbornly refused to believe Portugal could make it past Poland in the quarter-final. I desperately wanted to see Poland beat Portugal to teach the Portuguese captain a lesson. It didn't happen. Portugal edged out Poland in a penalty shootout.

The Welsh

Now, when Wales continued their miracle run into the semi-final, I thought to myself:

"This has to be it, Wales will beat Portugal to reach the final and make history. A small footballing nation like them deserves it. They are the underdog team to cheer on in this tournament."

And I was wrong again. Wales lost 0-2.

The Final - which changed my perception of everything

So in my mind, it was now up to the French to set this perceived 'injustice' right.

Then something crazy happened.

Credit Getty Images and Lars Baron

Cristiano Ronaldo got injured in the final. And he was taken off the pitch. In a stretcher. In tears.

Hang on a second..he's injured?!

Portugal's best player is injured! 

The fellow who made me annoyed is injured. It's almost as if I didn't have a reason to dislike the Portuguese team anymore.

Could Portugal fend for themselves without their star player?

And this is how Portugal proved me wrong.

You bet they could.

They absolutely proved today that they are NOT just a one-man team. I find it incredible that I had allowed one person to distort my view of the whole team - which was entirely unfair to the rest of the Portuguese squad.

I had betrayed my cardinal rule of always supporting the underdog team just because I took offence to one player's actions.

You see, no team is perfect and no person is perfect.

Today, my view of Ronaldo and Portugal changed. When Ronaldo injured his leg and was stretchered off, he was understandably devastated. I had never seen this side of him before. They were genuine tears. But even when he was off the pitch he was still at the sidelines, giving encouragement to his team mates. In my view, that is a heroic effort -- putting on a brave face and giving your team mates all the support you can give despite being unable to contribute directly yourself.

The whole team stepped up.

João Mário's energy was unrelenting; Rui Patricio's saves (vs Sissoko, Giroud, and from memory, Andre-Pierre Gignac and Griezmann) were outstanding; Pepe, as much as his character leaves a lot to be desired sometimes, was resolute this whole tournament; Fonte was also doing his job at the back; Carvalho was solid defensively in breaking up play; Guerreiro, the lively free-kick specialist, almost scored; and Nani, the fired-up stand-in captain, was pumped -- just to name a few.

Eder - the hero

And incredibly - this is my favourite part - a new Portuguese hero was born.

Eder is a huge muscular big guy who relies on his hold-up play and height. His dribble and shot must have caught everyone off guard!!!

Prior to this match, Eder had only scored 3 times in friendly matches over his 27+ appearances for Portugal. He had never scored in a competitive fixture for Portugal before. He was also criticised for his performance at the World Cup 2014; he did not score for Swansea last season and was eventually loaned out.

Despite this, Fernando Santos still had faith to put him on. And guess what.

Eder, a man of humble beginnings and a disadvantaged childhood - the striker no one expected would score - stepped up and belted home the most important goal of his career.

And in doing so, he proved EVERYONE wrong. Prior to the goal, even Martin Tyler and/or Alan Smith said words to the effect that "Eder would be a most unlikely hero."

Portugal unfairly castigated 

Portugal didn't just defeat the odds; they also proved their critics and haters wrong. Myself included.

I have never been happier to be proven wrong.

Portugal were undefeated the whole tournament.

Honestly, how can I not give credit where credit is due: it's one thing to debate whether Portugal deserved to win -- but how can anyone say Portugal DIDN'T deserve to win?!

People may criticise their defensive style of play but Portugal did what was best for their team, not what was entertaining in the public view. And they won. Who can argue against that? If you were good enough, you would beat them. But no one was good enough. So how can there be any complaint?!

They may have only scraped 3 points, finishing behind Iceland and Hungary, but is it their fault the tournament format allows four best third-placers? How can they be faulted for that?!

They were formidable underdogs -- or dark horses this tournament at minimum -- and for that, I have absolute respect for them.

Worthy Euro 2016 champions in my opinion. Let the celebrations in the Portuguese community run into the night - Petersham included!!

Andre Lim

**Of course the Italy part only applies to football/soccer. If you want to know why, you'd have to go back 10 years to a certain match in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Sunday 10 July 2016

The Travel Book - Lonely Planet Kids

Even though I've not finished reading this, I am pretty sure that (one can never be too sure) this is one of my favourite books of all time.*

Price: AUD$19 from Target (Hardcover), $25+ online
Published: September 2015 (1st Edition)
Author (?) and Illustrator respectively: Malcolm Croft and Maggie Li
Pages: 211 (slightly larger than A4)

If you love countries, travelling or learning about cultures, I would highly recommend this book to you. It is absolutely excellent and a real keeper.

Forget about the fact that the book is supposedly for kids. If an adult knew every fact in this book, they would either have to be very well-read or incredibly well-travelled because the book covers a plethora of cultural concepts and national facts.

In essence, Lonely Planet Kids' The Travel Book captures the imagination of its readers by going through the unique aspects of EVERY country in the world (albeit very briefly).

When I talk about unique aspects I mean:
  • Culture;
  • History;
  • What the country is renowned for;
  • Wildlife, plants, animals; and 
  • Geographical features or landmarks.
The term 'EVERY country' could be up for debate but the book does include the world's newest 'nations' South Sudan and Kosovo (although the latter may still be waiting for formal recognition). By my count there are 203 nations included in the book in total.

I understand there are actually some 196 official countries in the world at the time of writing -- how the book reaches 203 is something I'll have to look into but I suppose you have to bear in mind that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Palestine each have their separate entries. Perhaps some of the Oceania entries are actually 'external territories' of existing nations rather than countries?

I think this book would make for a great preliminary travel research tool for adults. Each country is featured on a page with approximately 5-7 unique things about it represented by real photographs or cartoon drawings. I've already started to make a list of things to see and do in Africa for example (not that I would ever get the chance to do all of them - but just for fun).

Every country has something interesting to offer, and so far there is no real repetition that I can see. Certainly some countries have similar sorts of cultural features though (eg. the warrior-clan-like tribal groups of various African nations) but every country's page is a fresh discovery and well-presented for fun light-hearted reading.

Countries are somewhat randomly sorted by region, but there is an index on the front if you want to look up at particular country.

The more obscure countries are really quite fascinating, and you can tell that the creators of this book have done their research [not that I am capable of verifying any of the information - except by Googling or using Wikipedia].

To give you an idea of what to expect, kindly have a look at the page above for Australia -- I have deliberately not included pages of other countries because I don't want to spoil the experience for you should you choose to get this book. :)

You may never look at any country the same way again.


Andre Lim

* However this book, which is the kids edition, may soon be eclipsed by the adult version, which I have ordered!

As long as Portugal lose...

...I am happy.

Prediction: France 1-0 winners.

Andre Lim

Thursday 7 July 2016

A cry for help

If there is such a thing as justice, Portugal will lose the final of Euro 2016.

Portugal 'fluking' their way upwards may have been amusing at first, but this is NOT funny anymore.


I'm getting desperate.

Andre Lim

Tuesday 5 July 2016

General Rule of Thumb #1

It's OK to be aggressive if the situation calls for it --- but certainly not to the point where it causes you to become stubborn or unreasonable.

How many times have we heard of the phrase 'moderation is key'?

Andre Lim

Euro 2016 - Semi-Final Predictions

Germany to beat France, 3-2, despite losing key players.

Wales to beat Portugal in a penalty shootout, after a 1-1 draw.

Andre Lim

Sunday 3 July 2016

Hung Parliament?

This morning at around 5am I woke up to watch Germany v Italy.

I was curious to see where the election results stood at the time.

Curiously, everyone seems to be reporting different results.

The Australian Electoral Commission Tally Room reports a pending Labor lead of 71-67 (It was 72 to Labor this morning); whereas the major newspapers have reported something in the order of a 69-65 or a 68-66 lead for the Coalition/Liberal.

So my question is: how come no one, apart from various posters/commentators on the internet, seems to have pointed this out?

It seems pretty strange to me. Could the differing results have anything to do with the way in which the numbers are interpreted, for example, the way in which preferences are predicted to flow to certain candidates? If so, then what is the point of the AEC Tally Room?!

Not that I am too concerned - politics is not really my thing.

But I do certainly take a general interest in many things - obviously this is a big thing, a country's election result.

Counting resumes Tuesday apparently.......... Here's an interesting thought from a reader of the Guardian:

"What's the deal with no counting today or tomorrow? In a country looking for stability it seems very strange to leave everything in suspense like this. Can the AEC really not gear up once every 3 years (federally at least) to work through until a result is known?
What am I missing?
The next 2 days are going to be unbearable as the media and politicians over-analyse the same sets of numbers with no new information. Can't wait to see what the markets do on Monday with no counting and an undecided election." 

And another comment:

"No, it's because a box of votes was stolen last election. What happens now is they are tracked and come to a central location for counting under scrutiny. The votes will all be there by Tuesday for counting."

Andre Lim

Saturday 2 July 2016

Wales v Belgium

What a result!

What about that "hold-up-and-turn" play from Robson-Kanu? It's my favourite goal so far in this tournament, simply because of how unexpected and important it was in the circumstances.

Welsh Chaos - highly effective
And what about the Welsh tactic deployed during their set pieces off corner kicks? That trick involves 4 players lining-up, huddled together almost single-filed and then dispersing into 4 (seemingly) random different directions as the ball is kicked from the corner flag. According to my dad, this is a common tactic used in AFL games - called a clusterbomb or "Clarkson's cluster" - deployed with great effect by Hawthorn in 2008. I've not really seen this tactic in football?!?!

It's pretty funny to watch, as the strategem causes mass confusion from the defending team's point of view. It requires the players to clump together at the outset. And if you try to separate them before the corner kick is taken, they will not budge. The Belgians tried that. They will just stand there like buffalo.

Wales will miss Ramsey who was fantastic tonight - he's suspended from the semi-final against Portugal.

I hope they upset Portugal, I really do.

Wales v Iceland hopefully?

Andre Lim