Gift Cards Are Worse Than Cash

There’s something that I’ve been wondering about for a long time – why do people think gift cards are a great idea?

Buying someone a gift card assumes that the recipient:

  1. still wants something from the shop you bought it from
  2. is willing to travel to the shop
  3. before the gift card expires

You’re basically making your recipient do work for his or her own present – when you could have just given them the gift in the first place. So you say, you don’t know what the recipient wants – why not just give them cash?

Cash is flexible – because it is not tied to a store, it can be spent anywhere and on anything – they don’t have to travel to an inconvenient or faraway location to purchase something. It doesn’t expire, so if the recipient doesn’t want to spend it, he or she can just save it for something else. There is no way a gift card can be better than cash. If a store offers discounts for people buying using gift cards – the recipient can just purchase those gift cards to get what they want since they’ll be going to that store anyway.

Of course, gift cards can be used as jokes – i.e. giving a vegan gift cards to a popular steak restaurant – the recipient will either end up not spending it (wasting your money) or giving it away (which I guess is a good thing, since you gave them a present to gift for free).

I can’t think of a situation where presenting someone with gift cards is better than giving them cash.

7 months and done

Last Sunday was a momentous date for me because of two things: I finally understood the feeling of rooting for a team and watching them win a tournament (all the other times I’ve felt like I’ve always cursed the team I supported by watching them). Virtus fucking Pro won the KL Major and I couldn’t be happier for them. FIrst Valve-sanctioned major of the season, and my favorite team ever since they put on a hero pool clinic at The Summit 7. That tournament turned me into a fan of the team. Anyway, I don’t want to bore anyone with the specifics, but they put on a great show and I hope to see them continue winning in the coming months. The best part about the event was probably walking around in a Virtus Pro hoodie because everyone at the venue seemed to be a Secret fan (there was a Malaysian player in their squad) – I enjoyed those salty tears.

Secondly – I’ve finally finished my Minoxidil course. All six bottles. It took me seven months, but I’m finally done with having to apply liquid on my face twice a day. Feels good not to be burdened by a regiment anymore. On the downside, I see no significant improvement to the state of my beard. I guess you just can’t make hair grow when there were no hair follicles to begin with. Where do I go from here? Well, at least I know Minoxidil doesn’t work for me and my next course of action would be hair transplants so… yeah, I’m not that bothered or desperate enough – looks like I’ll just have to live my life with a patchy, unimpressive beard. Oh well. On the bright side, it is more facial hair than some of my friends can grow.

Seven months ago, I also purchased my first Topre keyboard. The HHKB Pro 2 is still one of my favorite boards to type on. The sound, tactility, and layout – all amazing. I have yet to come across a better typing experience. Recently there have been rumors about an upcoming HHKB Pro 3, so I’m looking forward to that. Assuming there are significant changes to warranty an upgrade. My wish list? MX-compatible stems, built-in programmability. They could keep everything else the way it is and I’d be happy. I know people would like stuff like USB C (I’m not looking forward to having to buy more cables to replace the ones I currently own), heavier domes (an option would be nice, I’m not sure if I’d enjoy something heavier but I would definitely try them out), metal casing (I am honestly a fan of the keyboard’s plastic case – its sound signature and weight would be very different if it wasn’t made from plastic), and Bluetooth (a fine option as long as it’s optional).

In recent keyboard news, my Planck has finally arrived (after a long-ass wait) and I’m personally not the biggest fan of it. I’ll definitely have to spend more time typing on it. I know it’s not a popular opinion but at the moment, I feel that learning to type using an ortholinear board seems way more trouble than it’s worth. It seems very likely that I’ll be turning it into a giant macropad or selling it off. Will give it a thorough chance before I do that.

Senior Dog

When you hear ‘seven years’, you think that’s ages away. It’s not so soon. I have plenty of time until then. But earlier this week, I realized that seven years can fly by so quickly.

Earlier this week, my mom noticed that our dog was limping when she ran. One of her legs was raised and bent, like she was doing some sort of weird hop. Something I had never noticed her doing in the past, so it was news to me. Straightaway, I assumed that she was injured and brought her to the vet. The vet asked me – how old is she? while he examined the leg she didn’t run properly with.

I told him, over seven years.
He nodded, my answer confirming his suspicion.
She was considered an old dog, and joint issues are a common thing for dogs her age. It was something that never occurred to me – that my dog would be old one day.

The vet recommended I start giving her some glucosamine, which will hopefully alleviate the limping. Old people dog problems.

The label on the bottle of pills I bought for her said – for senior dogs – aged seven and above. It’s as though they knew.


I still remember the first day we brought her home. Snuggles was a feisty puppy, biting my finger before she got into the car. She was so tiny back then, I could easily carry her with one hand. She used to sleep in a laundry basket that we lined with a blanket.

She was a very quiet puppy. Hardly anything would make her bark back then. Now that she’s older, she barks a lot more – which is something I found out after doing a Google search – some dogs do bark more when they’re older. They also have trouble controlling their bladders.

All this just made me realize how old Snuggles is. While she still has many more years to live, I’m afraid it’ll all just pass by in the blink of an eye.

I should stop googling so much. It’s making me more upset 🙁

Dark Blue

It’s been a while since I’ve listened to a brand new podcast on a topic I’m unfamiliar with and today, I decided to check out a podcast called Dark Blue – by one of my all-time favorite vocalists, Geoff Rickly of Thursday. Coincidentally, I was wearing a Thursday T-shirt (also, today is a Thursday ). It’s a podcast series that covers a topic I don’t come across often – the struggles of being an artist and how to deal with it.

While I consider myself a part-time artist, in the sense that I write, draw, and make music in my spare time, I’ve never really thought about the lives of musicians who aren’t on the radar. Sure, I may listen to their music but whatever goes on in their personal lives – I don’t really know or even care enough to find out. Turns out, despite us seeing them “living the dream” a lot of them struggle with their personal lives.

One of the reasons cited in the podcast is that there is no guide-book on how to be an artist. Sure, in school you can learn all the skills you need to be one but what happens when you become one? Nobody teaches you how to deal with the struggles of being an artist – let alone be a successful one. Then again, speaking as an unsuccessful artist – it doesn’t seem like it would be hard to deal with. Just go get a regular job to pay the bills.

I’m not suddenly an expert on how to deal with the struggles of being an artist, so I won’t be giving out any advice here – I’m probably the last person you want to ask for life advice. However, I am really glad I started listening to Dark Blue as it has opened my eyes (or ears) to a world I’m unfamiliar with. I never thought I would find a podcast about such dark issues so compelling. I guess it helps that I’m a fan of some of the artists on the show, including the host.

Anyway, if you are interested in learning about how to deal with psychological issues as an artist, or you’re dealing with such issues yourself, I would highly recommend you check out Dark Blue. It should be available on all your favorite podcast apps or you can listen to it online.

I am not that George Wong

There, I said it. I had nothing to do with posting photos of some random flight attendant online. If you fapped to those photos, you can thank the other dude with the same name as me.

I’ve been receiving quite a few messages from people about a certain topic, and instead of having to respond to individual messages about it, I thought I’d write a blog post about it. Could have easily said this in a status update, but hey – might as well make use of my dead blog (RIP).

For those of you who aren’t aware – that’s good. Keep it that way, feel free to close this tab. For the rest of you – I’ve given you the answer above.

The fact that reports about viral social media posts are considered ‘newsworthy’ says a lot about our media – and the people who care enough to read them. If the outlets didn’t have an audience to pander to, ‘articles’ like these wouldn’t even exist.

The worst part about this situation: some of these writers call George a pervert and still have the audacity to stalk the attendant’s social media profile for more pictures of her to post in their articles. Oh, let’s take it to the next level by sharing more of her photographs to our thousands of readers!

So sanctimonious.

Diamonds In My Chain Gold

Random thought post? Sure. I haven’t done one of these in a while.

It’s interesting watching how my nephews are growing up. I’m happy that the elder one is generally obedient and very patient with his younger brother. I don’t know why, patience is one of those traits you don’t see in every kid. Hopefully his younger brother will follow in his footsteps. He’s definitely not patient right now. However, they are both extremely loving and caring towards their younger sister, so that’s a good sign. Crankiness seems to be a common factor if you try engaging with them after they wake up. They need a couple of hours to warm up it seems.

Today’s kids are the TV – or screen – generation. At least based on my observation. Not that there’s anything wrong, it’s just how times have evolved. Like back in my days, it was action figures and army men. TV only became a hobby much later in life. Nowadays, we have access to so many more displays – everywhere we go we either have a TV, smartphone, tablet or laptop. Back then, all we had was the living room TV and the shared family computer. Even I’m a TV kid now – these days I fall asleep watching Twitch streams or YouTube videos, and it’s all by my own volition. I bring my phone into the toilet to Reddit while I take a shit. I listen to podcasts from my phone while I’m driving. I read articles or watch videos while eating if I’m by myself.

Now that I own a smartwatch, I can’t imagine spending money on a non-smart one. It’s crazy. A few years ago I would’ve said that was a ridiculous thought. Then again, it’s not like I was much of a watch person to begin with. But now that I’ve experienced life with one, I don’t think I could resort to regular watches. My phone already tells the time, why would I need something that only does the same thing? Also, the fact that I can change my watch face to match whatever I’m wearing (not that I do it very often) means I have a watch to suit every occasion.

Even with access to every kind of music imaginable, these days I still find myself going back to the same old artists – Post Malone, Joji, Rich Brian, Higher Brothers, Dance Gavin Dance, Emery and Tilian are my jam right now. I guess I’m a creature of habit. Every time I hear songs from them played in random locations like cafes and clubs, it puts a smile on my face. I get so hyped for no reason. I used to feel the same way back then when there wasn’t internet streaming music. It’s amazing how the way I react hasn’t changed.

Vaping is more enjoyable when you have a good coil and good juice. It can definitely replace cigarettes. Not that I’ve been looking to do that – it’s just something I noticed. Snus are still great. I make sure I have some with me all the time.

I think I am easily influenced – at least by people I like. I don’t think I’m a trendsetter. Not that it matters, but quite a number of things I’m into now are directly because of my friends.

Dabbing for photographs is very cringeworthy.

Unironically, I’m a Pewdiepie fan. I enjoy watching his videos. He deserves his success.

Better Call Saul’s next season can’t come soon enough. I’ll have to settle for Riverdale in the meantime.

Having a beard hides your double chin. Then again, maybe I should work on losing weight instead. I have been watching my diet again though. Went for a health check up the other day and was told by the doctor that my BMI was a bit high. Fair enough, I thought, since I had let my diet loose for a while.

My laptop is still under repair, which kinda sucks. On the bright side, I still have been able to complete my work using a tablet – great because it takes a lot of weight off my shoulders when I walk around with my backpack. Typing on the screen is still terrible but I’ve got some great portable keyboards which rectifies this issue. Battery life on this tablet is also insane – I love how I don’t have to worry about keeping it charged.

Animal Bus is officially in the works. Stay tuned for updates 🙂

Destination: Gwangju

It’s been a while since I’ve traveled for work. It has been almost a year since I’ve stopped doing back-to-back traveling. This change of pace is welcome. Anyway, today’s flight was good. Didn’t end up landing five-years later, like the TV show Manifest. Am here to attend the Gwangju ACE Fair which begins tomorrow morning. In case you’re wondering, I’m not in Seoul – nowhere near, in fact. Not that it really matters since I won’t have much time to do touristy stuff. Also, I’ve never been to South Korea before, so I have nothing to compare this place with anyway. For what it’s worth, we seem to be in a very seedy/happening part of town. Tons of massage parlors, gambling dens and motels in the vicinity. On the plus side, there are tons of bars and restaurants around as well.

I didn’t manage to sleep for long on the plane today, so I watched a few movies. It didn’t help that the lady next to me kept flicking her long dreadlocks on my arm and went past the arm rest, invading my personal space. Also, she kept looking at photos of herself on her tablet. I have no idea why. Upon loading the movie selection list, I realized how much I took MAS for granted. Korea Air has such a limited selection of movies. Also, their captains make way too many announcements. I managed to watch: The Commuter (I was let down by the middle-end 5/10), Life of the Party (couldn’t even finish the film, 2/10), Fahrenheit 451 (interesting concept, though I thought it could have been executed better, 6/10 – will probably have to read the book or wiki it), Dude’s Manual (honestly, it’s not a very good film, but the actresses were gorgeous so I kept watching 4/10). Maybe on the flight back I’ll spend it sleeping instead.

I had a terrible omelet on the plane for breakfast but that was made up by the delicious spicy beef soup meal I had after landing. Had spicy pork for dinner and that was good too. Looking forward to more meals in Korea! Coffee wasn’t impressive – it’s very light and watered down compared to how I like it. The weather today was pretty good – neither hot nor cold. Just the way I like it. According to the forecast, it’s going to be raining over the next few days, so I’m not looking forward to that.

Anyway, I’ve only spent half a day here, so I haven’t got much else to say for now. If you’re interested in the random photos I take, you can follow me on Instagram. Oh, this post was written on my Tokyo 60 – Box Navy switches are so damn loud, but man, they feel so good. This is definitely a board I won’t be bringing to work unless I replace the switches.

Shower Slippers are Aptly Named

So, over the weekend I decided to replace my 10-year-old+ flip-flops. No idea why it took me so long, but the soles of the footwear were coming off and they were already ugly as hell. I figured Saturday would have been a good time as any to get a new pair. Off I went to Mid Valley, braving the crowds and going from shop to shop, looking for a pair of nice flip-flops.

I don’t think I was very picky when it came to choosing my footwear, but there were a few criteria I had to meet:
– not hideous
– cheap enough to leave outside of my apartment (we’ve had a history of stolen flip-flops left on our welcome mat)
– no strap in between the big toe and the rest of the toes (I hate the feeling of something in between my toes)

That was it. Surprisingly, it was quite difficult finding something that matched my criteria without breaking the bank or in my size. It all came down to a pair of Nike flip-flops I found in Sports Direct. Other close contenders were some pricier Birkenstocks and Skechers footwear which I didn’t really feel like shelling out that much for.

Seeing how the Nikes were cheaper than Birkenstocks or Skechers and they felt comfortable enough, I decided to go with them. So, this is where I managed to ignore two warning signs: the flip-flops had a label on them “Kawa Shower“. I said to myself – what are the differences between shower slippers and regular flip-flops anyway? I always thought people wore regular flip-flops into bathrooms (but I have no idea why they did it – I guess it’s for people who don’t shower at home and the floor of the bathrooms they use are filthy? Like in public places? Beats me.)

Second warning sign: there were holes in the soles of the flip-flops – I didn’t think they mattered at all, beyond being able to drain away any sweat from my feet – which was a plus point in my mind. And in the event of rain, flip-flops weren’t going to protect my feet anyway.

After paying for them, I immediately put them on and threw away my old flip-flops. They were textured and a little grippy, but they were comfortable enough for me to walk around in them. Soon I forgot I was even wearing new flip-flops. All was good. I was happy about my purchase.

Fast forward to today, when I had to use a public restroom. I walked into a stall that had water all over the floor and without thinking, I took a step towards the toilet bowl. Immediately, I felt the filthy public toilet floor water rise up through the holes of my soles to the bottom of my feet. It was then I realized my mistake.

Right after I exited the toilet, I bought myself a new pair of flip-flops from Yubiso (only RM28, and they fit real well). I’m just glad the combined cost of the flip-flops didn’t exceed the Birkenstocks or Skechers but now I have a pair of flip-flops that I’ve only worn for a day and will probably never wear again – at least not to places where I’m expected to get my feet wet. I guess I now own a pair of holiday flip-flops.

Curated Feeds

It’s been a while since the introduction of in popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. While I’ve always been a huge proponent of UI updates and redesigns, I was initially upset. I liked viewing stuff chronologically – it was something I was used to. However, after a while, I stopped bothering with trying to get my updates sorted chronologically, and just accepted that the algorithm knew what it was doing. So far, it’s been alright. I hardly check out updates in order anymore, since the more relevant posts do pop up on top.

But after a while, I discovered that I kept seeing posts about things I was interested in (let’s not forget the ads as well) – it was no longer showing me random stuff that I used to encounter. It has turned my feeds a little stale. Sure, it’s great to know that what I want to know is readily available – but what about all the things I never knew I wanted? It’s all buried under this circlejerk/echo chamber of a news feed. Don’t get me wrong – I like the fact that after months of me filtering my feed, Facebook now doesn’t show me things I don’t care about – but I now miss out on stuff that I might care about because I don’t know about them.

If I want to discover something new – I have to intentionally look for it – a harrowing task when I don’t know what I’m looking for in the first place. Imagine missing out on something revolutionary and life-changing because it wasn’t on your radar in the first place? You now have to rely on people you see to hopefully keep you abreast of whatever that is. I haven’t gone back to browsing my news feed chronologically (Facebook still offers the option but Twitter and Instragram removed the option unless you were viewing individual pages) – it was just something I realized not too long ago.

These days I get most of my updates from Reddit, fortunately I don’t think they have algorithms to tailor your front page according to your profile – you just get highly rated stuff from subreddits you’re subscribed to. Hopefully in the future we’ll get options to see the news however we like it – chronologically or curated. I think having the option is always a good thing. Imagine getting your email in a curated order, with no way to switch it back – that would be such an annoying feature.

The International 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to experience The International properly, and boy have I missed it. For those of you who aren’t already aware, I’m a huge fan of Dota 2. I’ve been vocal about it, writing about the topic in the past. Nothing in-depth of course, mainly because I don’t have the skill or knowledge to do so, and because it’ll mean nothing to most of you guys.

The International is something I have been looking forward to every year for the past 6 years now. Ever since I got hooked onto Dota 2 around its second year, I have been using up a whole stretch of leaves just to catch the matches live. Then I started working in Big Bad Wolf, and that wasn’t a possibility anymore since I would be out of the country during the same time every year (Bangkok) for our sales. Now that I’ve left that job and am no longer working super-long days, it’s nice being able to catch the matches live again. There’s something about watching an event unfold live that makes it so much better than watching replays, highlights and reading reports.

The story lines this year are good – we’ve got a lot of underdog tales, extremely competitive teams, a brand new venue, and all sorts of other antics that r/dota2 memelords will appreciate. I’m a VP fan this year but am also rooting for Liquid, Mineski and Winstrike to do well. I still rock VP’s hoodie when it gets cold – the orange and black is also a great combo (here’s to hoping they revert after TI8). Day one is over and day two starts in a few hours. Can’t wait to experience the remaining week of top-tier dota (and hopefully replicate some plays in my pub games lul). One day, when the stars align, and if Dota is still around, I hope to attend TI in person. I can only imagine how much fun it would be.

If you’re interested in catching the action, The International 2018 will be streamed on Twitch and Steam.TV.