My Notes


Olivia Dean

Last night I stumbled upon Olivia Dean's performance – “Live at the Jazz Cafe”.


Please check her out in whatever platform you listen or buy music on.


On running

Did you make a resolution to start running? Or have you always wanted to and kept it off? Let me share my lessons learned. Maybe useful for you.

But please consult a qualified doctor to check that running is suitable for you. And keep in mind that everyone IS different. What works for me may not work as well for you, so apply with caution.


It is never too late to start. Start gently and short and then increase over time.

Pay attention to how you run. To make running sustainable, you need to get into the habit of running style that minimises pain. Everyone is unique, so you need to invest time to figure out your running style that minimises your pain.

The running style that you grew up with may not be suitable anymore and it is difficult to change style. But if your running style causes pain, you need to change it.

Running shoes that fit your running style will help. The shoes do not need to be expensive as long as they are shoes for running, not for a different sport.

There are two pains: pain when running and pain after the run. Pain is different from sore. Pain is to be avoided, but sore is at times unavoidable.

If you have no sore whatsoever after a run, there is a chance you did not push yourself enough. If you want to improve, you want to push yourself.

Your sore level will gradually change for the better, if you run regularly. In the beginning the sore is intense and may take days to dissipate. If you run regularly, the sore eventually will lessen and disappear quicker.

If you desire to run further and push yourself regularly, your body can potentially run further. But push gently and gradually. Do not rush: increase your distance over time.

You must hydrate yourself properly.

Regularity is important, but you do not need absolute precision. Pick a schedule and try to stick with it. Moving it a day early or a day later is alright. For example, you decide to run once a week every Saturday. Running on Friday or Sunday, if you cannot do Saturday on a given week is no big deal, as long as you run.

There may be circumstances that you cannot run for a period. Running again after a hiatus will give you a lot of sore. It is normal. Do not let that stop you from returning to your regular schedule and getting back into shape.

Running is a mental / psychological exercise as much as a physical exercise. Pick a personal objective to stay motivated to run regularly.

And even if you do not feel motivated at all, run anyway.


Lovely cloud

Today I am not going to write about cloud computing infrastructure, but instead about real physical cloud in the sky.

I ran 10K this morning and as I was walking to cool down, I looked up to the sky and saw an expanse of cloud lighted by the golden sun that had just risen above the horizon. It was lovely.

Too bad I did not have my phone to take a picture with so I can show you what it looks like. I searched on DuckDuckGo for types of clouds. The closest shape I found was either “altocumulus” or “cirrocumulus”. And the cloud I saw seemed quite high in altitude, so I am leaning toward cirrocumulus.

I do not know if every cirrocumulus looks lovely, but the cloud I saw this morning was indeed lovely in my opinion. It made me felt like I was on holiday somewhere in a beautiful beach resort. What a gorgeous way to start the day!


A spider web that is stronger than wall

I was cleaning my old emails and found this story that was forwarded to me back in 2005. I do not know the source of the story nor whether this was real or made up.

Author: Unknown

During World War II, a US marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific island. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire he had lost touch with his comrades.

Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves.

Although safe for the moment, he realised that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed.

As he waited, he prayed, “Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen.”

After praying, he lay quietly listening as the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, “Well, I guess the Lord isn't going to help me out of this one.”

Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave.

As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave.

“Hah, he thought. “What I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense of humor.”

As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on.

Suddenly, he realised that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered for quite a while. “Lord, forgive me,” prayed the young man. “I had forgotten that in you, a spider web is stronger than a brick wall.”


When I migrated my blog to, there was no search functionality, but I found the post in the community forum on how to add search using Glitch and DuckDuckGo and tag. I use tag, but it is not exactly search. DuckDuckGo does not return exhaustive search result for me; possibly because they do not index my site fully. Glitch somehow did not interest me much at the time. So I wanted to set up my own search someday.

Fast forward to now. Recently I deployed a couple of simple personal projects using serverless platform on Cloudflare and for the third serverless project on Cloudflare, I decided to do search. And so here it is:

Search indexing uses Elasticlunr and text rendering uses Showdown. Both are open source libraries under MIT License.

There are still improvements that can be done, but for now, I can already search all my posts. Yeay! 😎


New coffee grinder: smeg

This is the second post on the coffee topic. The previous post is here.

My manual coffee grinder broke. Specifically, the plastic inside the upper portion of the grinder broke off and went into the burr grinding mechanism. So in addition to ground coffee, I also got ground plastic. Bummer.

Never thought this part would be the first to break and nobody sells that spare part. I needed a new grinder.

Looking around the internet, turned out good quality manual grinder cost almost as much as low-end electric grinder. Some electric grinder even costed less than good manual grinder.

Electric grinder is much more convenient, obviously, but I had some concerns. It is noisy, takes up counter space, a bit boring, and may lead to me drinking much more coffee. I will get back to these later in the post.

I found a few models that look interesting within the price range that I was willing to part with. But I have no experience with electric grinder (except for using an espresso coffee grinder once at a friend's place), so I looked for local store options to see first hand what I was buying.

The store that sells Baratza never picked up the phone in the few days I called. Their website did not say anything, but I wonder if it closed down. Another store sells Hario. I called and they ran out the small model that I liked, but the other model is in stock and the store is not too far. I found other stores, but they carry expensive stuffs in the price range that I am not ready to part with.

I enjoyed my Hario manual grinder and I still like the brand, so I went to the store. The Hario electric grinder looked alright and the staff explained how to maintain it to keep it running well. And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the smeg electric grinder on the other side of the table. I inquired the staff about it in comparison with the Hario.

It's more expensive than the big Hario, but seems worth the extra cost.

I splurged for the smeg.

One week in, so far my concerns had been mitigated.

The noise is not so loud as I had feared and it has a pleasant pitch. (The smeg's housing is made of metal.) It looks nice, so I don't mind it taking some counter space in the corner. Obviously, pushing a button is not the same ritual as manual grinding, but the process is not so boring as I thought. Probably due smeg's good look and good user experience in operating the machine.

And to date, despite the convenience, I have not drunk more coffee than before.

Here's to a nice cup of coffee! By the way, I wrote this while enjoying a nice cup of early morning coffee. :–)

Check out the smeg website.


I found this professional guide to immersion brewing. No, I do not do it like him at home; too cumbersome, but this YouTube video confirms some of my assumptions / techniques.



I am thankful that I still can be thankful

The gale seems scary all the time and the waves are very tall at times but the boat is afloat and all hands are on board

For this I am thankful

The cloud is dark and foreboding but out in the horizon peeking a silver lining because the sun is still shining

For this I am thankful

See also – Don't quitLittle things



Lately, my 10K time had been nowhere near my best times of 58:27 and 59:20 and my recovery period had been less than comfortable. The outsoles of both the Adidas PureBoost and Asics SortieMagic are wearing out, so maybe it's time to get new shoes.

Unfortunately, the Asics boutique did not have SortieMagic in stock anymore, so I had to find another model. I checked out a few stores and ended up with a pair of Brooks Ricochet.

Not as thin as I prefer, but really nice ride for slow runs. I like them.

I tried running fast with them and only got 59:59 and subsequent tries were slower. I retried harder and eventually I was able to get 58:50. Yeay! Unlike the fast-feeling SortieMagic, I had to consciously make the extra push to get a good pace from the Ricochet.

Recovery period was good.

Lesson learned: When recovery period is painful and long, it is probably time to get new shoes.

And the day before yesterday, I was hoping to do another sub-60 minute 10K. I felt great physically and the early morning weather was nice. I checked the stopwatch periodically and gave it a push in the last 2K. I did not intend to make a new best time, so I was very surprised to see the time.


So to-date, my best times are 57:50, 58:27, and 58:50. I think that is enough fast running for a while.



This morning, I got up early and went for a 10K run around the park. I decided to wear my slow shoes (Adidas PureBoost), instead of my fast shoes (Asics SortieMagic), because I did not feel like running fast.

First few kilometres went well but I somehow went a faster than I planned. By seventh km, I felt tired already and was unsure if I could finish 10K.

I thought, “Maybe a fast 8K is enough for this morning?”

But as I completed 8K, I glanced at my old faithful Casio digital watch and was surprised that I was around 50 seconds ahead of my normal 8K time mark. By now I told myself, “I ran too fast. If I run at a slower pace and focus on keeping running, I may be able to finish the next 2K.”

So I paid close attention to my breathing and focused my run one step at a time. I tried to relax a bit, but kept myself going. Eventually, I forgot about my tiredness and finished the next 2K.

As I stopped the stop watch, I was even more surprised than 2K ago. I slowed down much less than I planned. I finished the run at 59 minutes 20 seconds – my fastest time.

Amazed and elated.

Lessons learned

  • Be clear on the goal: the journey or the destination.
  • When overwhelmed, take it one step at a time, one day at a time.
  • Slow down, but don’t lose focus.


Update 1:

A couple of mornings later, I put on my fast shoes and tried to replicate the achievement. It was an epic fail. I focused too much on the time target that I failed to sustain a good rhythm and was exhausted at 40:27.

Update 2:

I am not into races at all; in fact, to date I have never enrolled in one. I just wanted to know “what if ..”, so curiosity drove me to try again.

Seven days after my 59:20 run, I went out in late afternoon with my SortieMagic. This time I focused on the journey: my breathing and my rhythm. Fixing the technique took care of the time.


I do not see any reason to go faster than 58:27, so this is my current personal best and maybe for the foreseeable future.

Update 3:

I wrote a new post: 57:50


Drinking coffee

I did not grow up drinking coffee, but during college years, I started drinking coffee out of necessity and I eventually grew to love the taste. Lately, I am enjoying coffee more and here I share a few things that I do in the hope that they can be useful for others.


Years ago, I saw in a film documentary that coffee tasters tested the coffee brew at cooler temperature. Out of habit, I kept drinking my hot coffee at brewing temperature. But roughly a couple of years ago, I tried drinking my hot coffee a bit later after it is brewed and I learned that I enjoyed my coffee better when it has cooled down.

And with good coffee ground, the difference was more noticeable.

I can drink coffee in a hot state; I am used to it. But when it is a few degrees cooler, my tastebud can taste the richness of the coffee better. Fruity beans show forth their colours and chocolatey beans make me wonder if somebody sneaked in some cocoa beans in the bag.

Yes, it is that much better for those who wait.

Lesson learned

We do not need to imitate everything the experts do, but it helps to understand why they do things they do.


I typically brew the coffee manually in a cup. Similar in style to French Press, except without the “press”. I gave away my French Press a very long time ago and have learned the necessary technique to drink from the cup as is.

Coincidentally, waiting for my hot coffee to cool down a bit has a positive side benefit, besides helping me enjoy the taste of my coffee better. This technique reduces the floating coffee ground, since there is more time for them to sink to the bottom of the cup.

Obviously using French Press or coffee filter might be nicer, but this method means there is only one thing to wash. So there is pro and con to it. And I am used to drinking coffee this way for years, so it works fine for me. But be warned, this method is not for everybody.

One thing to note. The “body” of the coffee is different when you drink coffee this way versus using filter. (By “body”, I am referring to the mouthfeel of the liquid. Similar to the way you recognise the “body” of a wine.)

Lesson learned

Obviously, there is more than one way to accomplish something. We need to know when to be dogmatic and when to be flexible.


I have always bought ground coffee until recently. A few months ago, I started buying whole beans coffee after I bought a coffee grinder, the Hario PRISM.


PRISM is a hand-wound manual grinder. It takes me a few minutes to grind enough whole beans to make my cup. It is not hard work, but still it takes effort and time which turns drinking coffee into a more deliberate activity than before.

Sometimes I wish I had bought a coffee machine that could grind the beans and spits out the liquid hot coffee for me. But that thing tends to be noisy, so I think I will stick with the manual grinder for the time being.

But manual grinding is not for everyone.

So far for me, manual grinding is turning into some sort of relaxing tactile ritual.

Lesson learned

Obviously, there is more than one tools to do a “job”. And sometimes, a tool can serve more than one “job”.


Well, that's it for now. There is still much to learn, so maybe I will post more on this topic in the future.

Here's to a nice cup of coffee.



Update: The Hario Prism broke and you can read the story here.