Letter to my sixteen-year-old self

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Dear 16-y.o. Topher,   You are in a different country, in a very different situation. You are idealistic, ambitious, and have time to play basketball. You’ve met hundreds of people so far, from your family and beyond, from high school … Continue reading

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Maze Runner 3 reviewed

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Let’s get straight to the point: this Maze Runner instalment is both overblown and overhyped. The movies I’ve seen prior, Jumanji and Star Wars, were more review-worthy than this one, which I watched in Gold Class last Sunday. Not for … Continue reading

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Australian Open 2018

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The new tennis season kicked off and the best tennis players in the world compete in the Aussie summer of tennis. From the Hopman Cup in Perth to the Hobart International, from the Brisbane meet to the Sydney tournament, the … Continue reading

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Chasing Gordy

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A while ago, I analysed Alex Garland’s smashing debut novel, The Beach (1996). Titled ‘Chasing Daffy’, the post evaluated, in part, the bizarro Daffy Duck, whose ramblings entrances protagonist Richard in finding the elusive beach paradise. The book of the … Continue reading

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iPhone 8 Plus reviewed

Diverting from the usual, this time I’m going to do a product review. About three weeks ago, I bought a new gold iPhone 8 Plus outright. Many would argue that going on a contract is more practical, given you pay it off over time. But having been burned by bad mobile internet coverage in the past, I chose to go with the road less travelled. While the iPhone 8 Plus is still in demand 3 months after its release, it lags behind the iPhone X, which is what everyone wants. Despite being smaller, the latter has a bigger screen size and of course, facial recognition technology. Before buying my phone, the Apple representative told me that while fingerprint technology is one in fifty thousand, the chances of having the same face is one in a million.


During the visit, I considered four iPhone models: the 7 Plus, and the iPhones 8, 8 Plus, and X. Getting the 7 Plus would set you behind a year already, and I wasn’t satisfied with the 8’s screen size. It was thus a toss up between the 8 Plus and X. After some back and forth with the knowledgeable rep from Apple, I decided that the 8 Plus was a smarter investment. I was upgrading and going for the X was riskier. I initially wanted the silver colour, just like my other Apple devices, but they didn’t have it in stock. I opted for the gold one instead. Looking at the people around me, I’d say this is a popular colour of choice. I also managed to find a pretty sweet case from another store. Not only was it at a good price, it was handmade leather, with three card slots and two compartments for papers and receipts. Now I don’t even have to get my Opal card out; I just tap my case on the reader, and voila! Too easy.

‘Houston, we have a problem’

Like other iPhones, the battery is the problem. I heard it has a smaller Li-ion battery than its precursor, the 7 Plus. It could last a full day’s use, and you’d have to charge it every night. Even when just checking email, or using mundane apps, the battery remains your enemy. I like how they have two rear cameras, in itself not an improvement over the last. In many respects, the phone is just iPhone 7 Plus 2.0, same size, similar specs, with a higher price tag and more storage capacity. I’ve learned that 32 gigs is not enough. The difference between the 128 GB 7 Plus and 64 GB 8 Plus was marginal, hence my inclination towards the latter. One rap against all iPhones is the lack of Swype keyboard. When you’re sending texts and punching in every key, you’ll really feel the difference.

The new order

Some of the pluses of my iPhone over previous mobiles: the fingerprint technology, Apple wallet, and a better camera performance. It would be great if most apps would have fingerprint technology, just for the added security. Meanwhile, Apple wallet is so convenient for movie tickets, loyalty cards, and gift cards. It does a lot of good to the environment, bypassing the need for printing vouchers. You could also avoid that awkward moment at the counter where staff can’t read your printout. Add the vouchers to wallet, troop to the shop, get your barcodes scanned, and go paperless. Goodbye, awkies!

An apps story

The iPhone came with some included apps already. On the home screen, there’s the Mail app, Calendar, Photos app, the camera, Maps, Weather, App Store, Settings and Wallet to name a few. I’ve downloaded about half of the rest, including Afterpay, Facebook, MYER, NBA, Flybuys, YouTube, and Qantas Cash. At the moment four of my downloaded apps use Touch ID: Afterpay, my bank app, Qantas Cash, and Flybuys. The latter is the weakest of the four; they have Touch ID, but it’s practically useless. I still scratch my head at how their current version rated four stars on the App Store. In the end I’m very happy with my purchase; it has made things easier. They say ‘You can’t buy happiness’, but with the iPhone I’d like to see us try.

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Long year’s journo…

The title has been paraphrased from a famous play by the late Eugene O’Neill. Regardless, there are good years, and not so good years. Sometimes, we just want to turn over a new page, walk over the past and start a new chapter. When we look back years later, we’d be happy to chalk it under one of those years, and appreciate our good fortune. Twenty seventeen: I’m glad *it’s over*. Insert Vinsanity post-dunk contest Vine here.

It’s bloggin’ time

This year started with so much promise, in all phases of my life. I’m not gonna give a shopping list of what appeared well, but the beginning had the look of something more. I picked off from where I left in twenty sixteen, quite an eventful year per se. Since August 2016, I have become a prolific blogger. This year, I was there to document for all twelve months. From Donald Trump to Jose Rizal, snowy Jindabyne to lost friends, I was present and chronicling. From the cold war in summer to ‘some winter chronicles’, I battled the heat and chill in bringing you my thoughts. Aside from that, I’ve been writing fiction. Five stories altogether, four of them published. Later on, I thought of compiling my body of work thus far. Hello, first ever book!

An imperfect world

Of course, there’s more, but I’d like to leave them out, since it’s still a work in progress. Meanwhile, the book and blogging alone would seem more than enough for some. While I would like to offer that I write for my pleasure, we all know it doesn’t work out that way. We need others; as they say, ‘It takes two to tango.’ Of course, in a perfect world, we would have it all: commercial success, critical acclaim, mainstream popularity. I guess what I can say is: be lucky with what you’ve got. This year, I’ve seen people suffer. Whether it was man v man or man v nature, there is no shortage of broken bones and shattered lives. A swim in the water could cause you to lose a limb, courtesy of a shark. Carollers might convince you to donate hundreds to Vision Australia, and help vision impaired kids. A drunken rage may even cost a life, and poor judgment could see you placed behind bars for decades. In the end, this cynic is thankful that he can face another year. I may not fully embrace the heavy challenges ahead, but I’m glad that I have the opportunity to do so.

Twenty eighteen: welcome to the world of the brave!

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The wrong Christmas party

To paraphrase Eminem, ‘If you had one moment, one opportunity, to be everything you never were, would you capture it, or let it slip?’ Christmas is a time of giving, of reconnecting with loved ones; I’d like to share my own experience of a library sponsored Christmas party. I felt so out of place in said party. Everybody else was at least 50 years old. The lib was in downtown sydney. I wouldn’t name it in spite of my experience, as it is best to avoid name dropping.

Restricted access
From the start, there were signs that this repository was a bit off. I remember how I had to sign up and pay a membership fee, with an older friend having recommended the place for the quiet and conducive ambience. Later, I went in with another friend before the staff told us not long after, to get lost since my other pal wasn’t a library member. Another time while studying in the lib, the same grumpy witch told a lady who was sitting head down, ‘No sleeping in the library!’ 

Going back to the partay, I felt really out of place. I struck a conversation with this guy, who couldn’t yap enough about his being an atheist. He gave me a good rant about the Jesus myth and how Hitler happened to be Catholic. He said he enjoys Christmas, a pagan tradition arrogated by Catholics. The food wasn’t bad; there were nachos and a few other finger food. They even had peach juice and wine. Soon I was talking with this bald guy about paintings. When we were studying this nude artwork, I asked him what he thought. ‘Something’s missing,’ he said. ‘How old do you think I am?’ ‘60?’ ‘I’m 73’, he retorted.

Jamming with Sue
Then I met these two ladies, Sue and company. It was a long time ago, so I can’t remember the latter’s name. We had a good talk; I told them I was just finishing my Honours degree. I distinctly recall Sue saying that she cooked some dinner for her teenage kids, so they won’t starve. I complemented her, saying that she’s a good mum. I also told them that I yearned to travel the world someday. I’m sure you will, they said in unison. While shaking hands with the oldies, I met the main man, Douglas. I heard he ran the show. He told me that I was their youngest member. Gauging from the crowd gathered that day, I’d say he was spot on. 

The prize draw
Before the night was done, there was a raffle. Numbers were called, with each guest provided a ticket upon entering. Sue’s friend was just one number away from winning the cruise to Fiji. Neither of the people I approached won anything. The atheist left before the draw was over. So much for the Christmas spirit. This Yuletide season, let’s mull this one over: Giving something you don’t need is easy, but to share something you hold dearly is divine. On a personal note, buying things is a cakewalk, but how about buying others things? I hope you, like me, would learn each Christmas that it’s not the gifts that matter, but how willing you are to share the love, no matter which party you join. 

From Mot Juste on the eve of the big day: a happy and safe holiday season to all

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