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Monthly Archives: July 2019

I’ve been playing a lot of dungeon run-type games in Hearthstone, but decided to take a break and go back to the traditional PVE. Still stuck on Blackrock Mountain, so decided to work on Lich King some more. The Hunter battle penalizes you if you have minions in your deck, so guess it’s time for spell hunter. Here’s my deck:

  • Arcane Shot
  • Bear Trap
  • Cat Trick
  • Explosive Trap
  • Grievous Bite x 2
  • Misdirection x 2
  • Quick Shot
  • Snipe
  • Animal Companion x 2
  • Deadly Shot x 2
  • Eaglehorn Bow
  • Powershot x 2
  • Flanking Strike x 2
  • Marked Shot x 2
  • Multi-Shot x 2
  • Wing Blast
  • Explosive Shot
  • Deathstalker Rexxar
  • Lesser Emerald Spellstone x 2
  • To My Side!
  • Unleash the Beast

Deck code: AAEBAR8MigPJBK4G7Qb+DNQR0RT4sQKG0wLq4wLc7gL5lgMJpAK1A8MIxQjOFIbDAt3SAuPSAuaWAwA=

This deck took a bit of finessing and adjustment. Most of the spells are AOE to take care of the small minions at the start of the game and then the Frostbourne phase. I had to play it through about 20 times to get the right matchup. Deathstalker Rexxar is almost mandatory for the Frostbourne phase (although the time I won, I had it in hand, but didn’t play it until right after Frostbourne was destroyed). One or two powered up spellstones are also critical as the 2/6 lost souls end up fighting your 4 3/3 wolfs instead of hitting face.

If you didn’t play DK Rexxar in the 2nd phase, you’ll need it in the third. The ability to create lifestealing zom-beasts is necessary to overcome the Lich King’s hero power. In my winning game, he ended up doing 10+ damage per turn! Here’s a screenshot as I was winning the game:

I’m not sure how you’re supposed to beat the Lich King as Hunter without the DK or the spellstones!


  • What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane
    It’s been 5 years since MH370 disappeared and we haven’t heard it on the news cycle lately. The mystery of what happened is more or less solved, even if the exact details are missing.

    Of all the profiles extracted from the simulator, the one that matched MH370’s path was the only one that Zaharie did not run as a continuous flight—in other words, taking off on the simulator and letting the flight play out, hour after hour, until it reached the destination airport. Instead he advanced the flight manually in multiple stages, repeatedly jumping the flight forward and subtracting the fuel as necessary until it was gone.

  • Inside the shadow world of scooter chargers
    What’s it like to make money from charging scooters? I always wanted to know, and now I do.

    I was finally able to retrieve three, and charged them in my kitchen. At 5 a.m., I awoke to release them to the nearest available “nest,” Bird’s term for its sanctioned drop-off locations, but had troubles with the app. No matter how many times I refreshed it, no nests showed up.

    Paranoid I’d be accused of hoarding if I didn’t dump the scooters before 7 a.m., I awkwardly walked them down the street and placed them in a nest outside someone’s house, making sure to copiously document the process in order to receive my $14 bounty (I charged two Birds for $5 and one for $4). It was windy that morning; the scooters kept falling over on unstable dirt. Walking away, light just breaking, I heard them clatter into a pile.

  • Why Weather Forecasting Keeps Getting Better
    Interesting article about why predicting weather is so important (particularly for war). I also found it illuminating how weather is predicted now.

    At weather-prediction centers around the world, Bjerknes’s equations have been tweaked and Richardson’s methods refined (the chess squares can now be as small as a couple of kilometres across), but the fundamental ideas are essentially the same. Blum describes the process of prediction as though there were two parallel worlds running in sequence: the real one, our own blue marble, and the simulated one, which lives inside the machine. Model Earth adjusts itself to match real Earth, to take into account all the observations fed in by “flying satellites, buoys and balloons,” and then it races ahead in fast-forward. Periodically, it pauses for real Earth to catch up, checks its answers, corrects anything it got wrong, makes adjustments, and then gallops off into the future again.

  • Watch Your Step
    The 10,000 step goal is the threshold for being active, but turns out that number is kind of arbitrary. Well at least we can all agree that increasing fitness is an improvement in lifestyle regardless of what the step goal actually is.

    This is all despite the fact that 10,000 steps is a completely arbitrary figure, one that originates from a successful Japanese marketing campaign in the mid-60s. In an attempt to capitalise on the immense popularity of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the company Yamasa designed the world’s first wearable step-counter, a device called a manpo-kei, which translates as “10,000-step meter”.

  • Why is airport food so expensive?
    I’ve noticed the prices have gone down, at least in Toronto where Tim Horton’s has opened, but it is still a problem.

    When a retail spot opens up in an airport, the city puts out a Request for Proposal (RFP) and opens it up for bids. An aspiring restaurant or storefront must declare a Minimum Annual Guarantee (MAG), or a base amount it pledges to pay the airport each year, based on set percentages of projected sales.

    For example, the airport might specify that it wants 10% of all sales up to $1m, and 12% on anything over $1m. If you estimate your sales at $1m, your MAG would be $100k per year; if you end up doing $1.5m in sales, you’ll pay $160k.

    A 2018 RFP for 9 retail openings at SFO lists MAG fees of between $365k and $630k per year and requires a 10-year commitment — a hefty cost for any small business, even one in a highly trafficked location.


The Leakers is the name of a group of journalists who want to expose the truth about nefarious corporations. Their first leak is the obvious-to-the-watcher news that a pharmaceutical corporation has both created an outbreak and its cure. But their attempt to actually share this information and the evidence is convoluted and ends up involving a bunch of people in both Malaysia and Hong Kong. This is like the bad guys spending too much time explaining their scheme, causing them to get caught. If the Leakers just uploaded their leak to the internet, they would have saved a movie!

In any case, an interesting set of characters show up to try and solve the puzzle. Maybe it was the couple of previous movies that I saw, but I felt this movie had potential – and I wanted to see how the players would develop. The plot didn’t give them a lot of opportunity to do that though. But at least, it was able to earn The Leakers a three out of five stars.


I find that all the Japanese films I end up watching have some sort of philosophical and existential question that they are trying to answer or shed light on, and that is the same way with Colors of the Wind. The question is, what is this movie about?

It starts off with a theory that everyone in the world has a doppleganger, but if one half finds out about the other, then they will be driven to depression and suicide. Then it goes off on a bender about magic. Not real magic, but just show magic. Except that the film creates a situation where it looks like magic has created two dopplegangers. Then it is up to the film to figure out who is real (or not) and what happened to create two sets of intertwined but lost identities.

It’s not as confusing as it sounds. There’s an almost logical explanation for this. But once the mystery building ends and the explanation starts, the premise starts to be ludicrous and all credibility this film has built to ponder an existential question is gone.

I happened to split this film right at that break, so it felt so promising that I wanted to finish the movie. But then I watched the remainder and just thought that it was dumb. So I’ll give Colors Of The Wind an average of 2 stars.


  • We Are Nowhere Close to the Limits of Athletic Performance
    Recently I saw a quick video from F1 comparing pit stop from the olden days and now. Not surprisingly, changing tires and refueling the car is a lot faster now due to advances in technology and processes. It’s a lot like sports. However, this article says there’s one other factor – finding the outlier athletes.

    We find a similar story in the NBA with Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal was the first 7-footer in the league who retained the power and agility of a much smaller man. Neither a beanpole nor a plodding hulk, he would have been an athletic 200-pounder if scaled down to 6 feet in height. When Shaq got the ball near the hoop, no man (or sometimes even two men) could stop him from dunking it. Soon after his entry into the league, basket frames had to be reinforced to prevent being destroyed by his dunks. After the Lakers won three championships in a row, the NBA was forced to change their rules drastically—allowing zone defenses—in order to reduce Shaq’s domination of the game.

  • The weird world of kidnapping insurance
    A look at the world of kidnapping insurance, where a bunch of firms work in concert to keep fees low. It’s a strange life to tell yourself that you’re going to work every day so kidnappers won’t suffer inflation

    From Shortland’s perspective, that makes sound moral sense as well as sound business sense: By controlling the ransom payouts, you minimize the profits kidnappers make from each ransom, and thus minimize the money they can pump into their next kidnapping, or whatever other scheme the criminal or terrorist group they’re part of is working on. “If you left rich western families to negotiate these ransoms by themselves, they would probably do a lot more harm, and kidnapping would be a lot nastier, and more profitable for the kidnappers,” Shortland said. “Once you’re talking about multi-million dollar ransoms, then the people who can’t afford it — they get killed, or they just rot for years and years.”

  • Building a Cathedral
    I wouldn’t have picked this article if not for the fire at Notre Dame. But it raises an interesting question as to why cathedrals take so long to build. I guess the short answer is a slow trickle of money results in slow construction, and slow construction means dramatic changes can occur

    As Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote in The Black Swan, human lifetimes and the lifetimes of human projects seem to obey an opposite set of rules. For humans, “the older we get the less likely we are to live.” But once a project exceeds its due date, its estimated time to completion expands. While humans tend towards death, late projects become immortal. “The longer you wait,” writes Taleb, “the longer you will be expected to wait.”

  • Hand dryers v paper towels: the surprisingly dirty fight for the right to dry your hands
    While the article is about paper towels and air hand dryers, the deeper issue is that even in seemingly minor and trivial industries like this, there is a lot of lobbying and potentially fake science trying to make one side win.

    These were strange conclusions, because the Leeds study’s data was quite equivocal. The scientists sampled six different parts of the restrooms they visited. Only in two of these locations – on the floors, and on the surfaces of hand dryers or towel dispensers – did washrooms with dryers show appreciably more bacteria than those with paper towels. Even then, those higher numbers were half of those typically found on our own bathroom floors at home. Unless you were planning to caress the floor, it didn’t seem to matter

  • ‘We all suffer’: why San Francisco techies hate the city they transformed
    Every time I got to the Bay area, I think, wow this is a place where I wouldn’t want to live. Here’s some more reasons why.

    “It’s just not sustainable for a couple to live here,” he said. “A million-plus for a home with $300,000 down? Then when we have kids, $30,000 a year for private school? Who can afford that even making $300,000 a year? … There’s hundreds of other places in the country with the same restaurant culture or at least on par that cost half as much.”


This is a Spanish film set in Mexico during the financial crisis they had in the early 80s (?). Instead of focusing on the government though, it followed a group of socialites and specifically one family who started on top, but could no longer sustain their position. What drew me to Las Niñas Bien was that it was supposed to be how the family tried to maintain appearances (social status) under this stress, but the lengths that she went too weren’t as outlandished as I would thought. Given that this movie was classified as a comedy, I thought there would be a lot of hijinks. I think it was misclassified and is more of a drama that gave me a look into how upper class Mexicans lived. Not something I can connect too, so two out of five stars.


I watched this cantomovie because I was curious about how it would meld the old historical Chinese era with modern day HK. But apparently, the Iceman in the title referred to the first movie in the series where they “travelled” through time by being frozen solid. Luckily, the beginning of the film played a quick “Last time on Iceman” segment to get me caught up.

This movie is a snooze. The time travel mechanics didn’t make any sense, fighting wasn’t great, and used a last minute Japanese villain to be the final boss in a battle that travelled through a CGI time tunnel. I guess this should be a one star movie even though I never thought about turning it off in the middle. I guess it is “good enough” for TV.


It is strange when some random comic that I read in my younger days becomes a blockbuster, especially when it is not a prominent title from an established universe. In fact, I don’t remember why I even read this series. I don’t think it’s by a prominent writer so maybe I just read it because I had access to it! Curious as to the reasons why they made a movie about this, I watched Alita.

From the beginning, I felt this was not a movie that I would enjoy. The world had an anime feel with the Utopia/normal world divide (or maybe just because I knew of its origins). And I didn’t like the coming of age story for Alita. It made it feel like I was watching a kid movie complete with a budding teen romance. Then the fighting started and it was clearly not a kid movie – the bad guys are the basis of nightmares! So, why make the beginning of the movie so juvenile? Alita also looks like a CG creation which is jarring (especially when she is being played by a real actress).

However, once the plot (fighting) started, it ended up being ok. Stylistically, the idea of the battle angel, mechs, and sword fighting is fun. So this movie claws its way back to three stars. In the credits, I was surprised with all the big names tied to this film (James Cameron et al)


Hmm, I didn’t realize that I was blogging about each episode of Discovery. Well that died off pretty quickly. None the less, I enjoyed the first season of Discovery as I saw it as GoT meets Star Trek (or Star Trek in the new style of TV). I was excited for Season 2 and waited to “binge” watch it.

Note 1: “Binge” as in not having to wait a week in between each episode, too old for just watching all the episodes back-to-back

Note 2: I didn’t realize that there were only 14 episodes in the season, and though that they were just doing a mid-season break. So I could have started watching earlier.

I wasn’t overly excited about Captain Pike (although he turned out quite ‘Captain’ly ), the search for Spock (didn’t they make a movie about this already) or any of the Enterprise universe (wasn’t a fan of TOS). And, after about 7 episodes in, haven’t been super impressed with the series.

I felt that the writers have chosen good themes and ideas, but the execution is just lacking. It’s like it is missing some polish and doesn’t leave you with a satisfied feeling once the episode is done. There are a lot of Star Trek type episodes (discovery of new species & etc) but the overall story arc isn’t as exciting. Hopefully it picks up in the latter half of the season!


June meant that the school year was finishing. All of the programs that the kids were in were done and they had their weekends back. It was a bit sad for Jovian since he is switching schools next year, but that seemed to be OK for him (I guess he’s not old enough to worry yet). June meant preparing for the summer, but since their camps had been setup several months ago, it wasn’t worrisome. One big change next month is that Katana is going to start daycare.

Summer came this month, and while the weather wasn’t too hot temperature wise, it already feels too hot. I went down to the Bay area in the middle of June and the temperature there was in the 30°Cs, but it felt nice. Not so in Toronto even when the weather was just the high 20s.

On my trip for work, I caught up on most of the movies I wanted to watch and there aren’t a lot of things that interest me on the inflight entertainment system now. I always had to go down a second time for a very short trip, but luckily that got cancelled (it would have been a long commute without any more movies to watch).