Month: September 2014

Onions, IT crisis and recovery

I went in to buy some onions – they wanted ID – like my passport.  Naturally I don’t carry it, so I showed some made up ID and it was OK. Well, it’s getting ridiculous, but not quite that bad yet.  Actually I was buying a modem, but I was amazed.

Tropical Expat has had a tough week.  Among other things, he used to work in IT networking, which is very handy for setting things up around the home too.  But this week the server failed, then the backup failed, then the backup of the backup also failed.  This means losing more than 20 years worth of data, photos etc..  After four days struggle trying out many different ideas I managed to recover the most important of the data.

In order to rebuild the server I needed at least three new 4TB hard disks.  In Malaysia it is hard to get anything that the majority don’t want or need.  Mobile phone are everywhere, but most IT stuff is a generation behind.  So rather than aiming for 6TB drives I thought I would have to settle for 4T B. They manufacture a lot of IT equipment here, but don’t really sell it locally, and rather export it.

Gurney Plaza is mostly a wasteland in terms of IT equipment, so I went to First Avenue. Western Digital had closed their shop there, which made it difficult., as they had the products I needed. Only one shop, Thunder Match, had a 4TB drive. One. They phoned their Gurney Plaza shop to reserve the one they had in stock for me.  None of the other shops in First Avenue, Prangin Mall or Komtar had 4TB drives. I asked about 30 shops.

new drives

new drives

Of course, there is eBay etc., but I don’t want to wait.  And if something is broken it is difficult to get repairs. So, I have two hard drives and can make a RAID 1 array, at least. When the ordered drive arrives I will have three, and can convert to a RAID 5 array.

But the big surprise was that the equipment I bought in First Avenue had much higher prices for exactly the same items in Gurney Plaza.  A 4TB hard drive was priced at RM468 in FA,  but in GP was RM539.  And the external hard drive that was RM539 in FA was RM599.  Normally no one will give a better price when you ask, but at least going to FA first saved RM130 for two items.

Water fasting that works for me

Currently I am on day 12 of a 14 day water fast.  I have been doing this twice or three times a year for about six years.  The aims are to detox and lose weight.  But I could not do this if I were working.

The first fast I ever did was the hardest.  I had so many toxins to release and I found it so difficult.  But it gets easier and easier, generally.  On the day before the fast, I may  eat the food I may miss, but I don’t eat too much, as I would then feel hungrier on the first day of the fast.  If the day before is fairly light, the first day of the fast is usually quite easy.

Every fast is different.  You can tell that toxins are being expelled from your body, and for some fasts you seem more toxic than others – but as the years pass and I try to be healthier, I find myself less and less toxic.  At some stages of the fast I have no energy and just want to lie down and rest.  I might even sleep for much of the day. Even climbing stairs is a chore.  Mostly I have enough or even plenty of energy.  I have climbed Penang Hill during a fast. On several different occasions. But more normally I swim for some exercise every two days.

Sometimes I am hungry – but mostly it is just appetite and not hunger.  The main thing after a few days is that you miss eating. That is really the hardest thing.  As the fast continues it becomes harder simply because I miss eating.

I am also not overly strict.  I mostly have one coffee a day because it suppresses my appetite, and also it is nice to taste something.  Occasionally my body demands something – such as yesterday it wanted vitamins – so I made a small glass of juice – orange, apple, carrot, ginger, garlic, turmeric.  I might nibble on a nut or a fig or something, just for some taste.  Or if I really need energy, eat a little honey.  But these are very minor, just to get myself through, and not every day.

Depending on how toxic I was, sometime towards the end of the fast the body is no longer expelling many toxins.  This is one success.

Every morning on rising I weigh myself and measure my waist, and then make a note of it.  Thus I can look back and see how I am progressing during the current fast in comparison to earlier ones.

Sometimes I find I lose a kilo every two days, and one centimetre off my waist every two days.  But progress is uneven, and varies for every fast.  During this fast, on Day 10 I have lost 5KG and 4CM from my waist.  Often progress is rapid for the first two or three days as the body releases water retained, and then is frustratingly slow for the next few days, but towards the end averages out at about what I wrote.  In 14 days I usually don’t lose more than 6KG, though.

After the fast I should ease slowly into eating, but I am afraid that I am not restrained enough, and soon I am back to normal.  Often I regain two kilograms fairly quickly, and then stabilise, so I still have a significant net weight loss.  Ditto with my waist – it will increase a little and then stabilise.

After the fast for a time I can easily cope with smaller servings and eat less volume.  We buy less food as I consume less.  However, over the months slowly my eating volume grows, and weight returns.  Three fasts a year would actually be enough to keep my weight and waist where I want it, but often I only manage two fasts.

Here are some notes from the current fast:

01 – Sun – 14.  70KG -91CMwaist- easy – energy and little hunger

02 – Mon – 15.   68.8 – 91 – no energy from morning till night, better after evening nap
03 – Tue –  16.   68.2 = 90 – no energy from morning, felt bad – swollen glands etc.
04 – Wed – 17.   67 – 89 – swim, more energy, Tesco
05 – Thu – 18, 66.6 – 89 – some energy
06 – Fri – 19, 66.2 – 89 – some energy
07 – Sat – 20, 65.6 – 89 – morning energy, afternoon not
08 – Sun – 21, 65.2 – 88 – club for swim, medium energy
09 – Mon – 22, 64.8 – 88 – energy OK. Made small juice because I felt like it – body wanted nutrition?
10 – Tue – 23, 64.8 = 87 – swim, plenty of energy. Still not missing eating so much.

Easy intermittent fasting didn’t work for me

I occasionally do two weeks water fasts, but it is not so easy.  I tried “juice feasting”, but this didn’t work for me as I didn’t seem to detox or lose weight.

I tried eating only during an eight hour window during the day, and then only drinking water for the remaining 16 hours.  I chose the eating window time as 11AM to 7PM.  This is not so difficult. This is how I did it, but it still didn’t work for me.  It looks like only water fasts are effective for me.

What I ate one day:

 

Before 11AM and after 7PM I just drink water = juicer in background

Before 11AM and after 7PM I just drink water – juicer in background

Around 11AM I made juice

Around 11AM I made juice

juice

juice

some fruit as a snack around 12:00

some fruit as a snack around 12:00

a snack of dates and cashew nuts around 3:00

a snack of dates and cashew nuts around 3:00

dinner of pork and corriander, and salad around 6PM

dinner of pork and corriander, and salad around 6PM

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the salad

 

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in September

A short update on what is happening in the garden this month:

There has been so much rain, for a start.  The biggest papaya tree previously would produce only one fruit at once, and the other flowers turned into tiny fruit that dropped off. Now at least three papayas are growing at once, one of which is already quite large.  Other papaya are either still growing or still at the stage of the tiny fruit just dropping off.

papaya

papaya is becoming more productive

roselle flower

Roselle flowers are growing very well

roselle flower

Roselle flower

Passion fruit love the rain.  There are many flowers, many bees, and subsequently about 30 green passion fruit growing

passion fruit flower

passion fruit flower

passion fruit flower

passion fruit flower

green passion fruit

green passion fruit

almost ripe passion fruit

almost ripe passion fruit

However, the passion fruit seedlings are not really growing.

tiny passion fruit plant

tiny passion fruit plant

After I pruned the pumpkin plants, expecting them to die off, some of them revived, and started growing again.  They are producing some tiny pumpkins – which won’t grow to maturity.

pumpkin vine

pumpkin vine regenerated

pumpkin flower

pumpkin flower

tiny pumpkin

tiny pumpkin

tiny pumpkin

tiny pumpkin – which looks like it will grow into a full size one

Otherwise, some pumpkin seeds have germinated and small plants are slowly growing.

tiny pumpkin plant

tiny pumpkin plant

tiny pumpkin plant

tiny pumpkin plant

Plumbago also likes the rain, and they are happy.

plumbago

plumbago

Despite the rain the Bougainvillea are still OK.

bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

We bought some hibiscus plants.

hibiscus

hibiscus

After the rain earlier the mock orange produced a lot of flowers, and now there are a lot of green seeds on the plants

mock orange seeds

mock orange seeds

and some ripening seeds

mock orange seeds - almost ripe

mock orange seeds – almost ripe

The mock orange seedlings are slowly growing. I recently repotted this one to a larger pot.

20140912 (23) (Copy)

mock orange seedling

The blue pea flower plants are dying down now – and there are a great many green and already dried seed pods on them.  I will just let them die down, and they will presumably just grow new plants in the same spot from all the seeds.

blue pea flower

blue pea flower

Another of the tomato plants died, leaving only this one, which is constantly attacked by mealy bugs, so isn’t very healthy.  The rain and then heat is perfect for mealy bugs.

tomato

tomato

And the Cana Lillies are just in the process of growing new stalks, so won’t flower again for a little while.

Meanwhile there is a baby chick living in a nest in one of my mock orange trees, being cared for by her mother.  It’s nice to watch the chick grow.  Birds come and eat some of the mock orange seeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My highlights of (living in) Penang

Just a short list of my highlights, as I feel at the moment:

  1. Freedom.  The government leaves me alone to do as I wish.
  2. Tropical fruit is cheap and delicious – Favourites – durian, mangosteen, mangoes
  3. Seafood is cheap and delicious – Favourite – prawns
  4. The cost of living is relatively low
  5. Going to the cinema is particularly cheap – RM8 on discount Wednesdays
  6. Plentiful water – I pay about M5 per month
  7. Hornbills
  8. Eating out is affordable
  9. Most places I want to go are only a few minutes drive away
  10. Very relaxed and casual
  11. No need for a jumper or coat, ever
  12. Reasonably easy access to Langkawi and the beaches of Perhentian Islands
  13. Some very nice temples on the island – Favourite – Burmese Temple
  14. George Town Heritage area
  15. I can grow passion fruit

Bird nesting in my mock orange tree – UPDATE 1

UPDATE 1 at end of original blog

At the end of last month I noticed a bird’s nest on a mock orange tree in my roof garden. Only about shoulder height from the floor. No bird was in residence.

What is this in my tree?

What is this in my tree?

Ah...a bird nest

Ah…a bird nest

A few days later I noticed an egg.

with one egg

with one egg

Then a week later, two eggs.

now, a few days later - with two eggs

now, a few days later – with two eggs

After this I knew when the bird was in residence by her tail feathers sticking out of the nest a little.  A week later the chicks had hatched.

chicks have hatched

chicks have hatched

chicks have hatched

chicks have hatched

bird in residence

bird in residence

Many times I disturbed the bird when I went to look – she just flew on and hid. Once the birds were hatched she seemed less shy and would just wait higher up until I went away.  Mostly I tried to leave here alone. She is a cute bird.

muumy bird

muumy bird – it could be a yellow vented bulbul.

muumy bird nearby

mummy bird nearby

muumy bird is shy, and flies away from nest if I approach

mummy bird is shy, and flies away from nest if I approach – but not as far away as before – perhaps she is a little used to me being around

After a wet day yesterday, when mummy bird stayed in the nest a lot, today I find only one chick.  One egg was earlier than the other, so maybe one chick developed and has already left.

chick

chick

This chick is noisy.

chick

chick

So I wonder how long before this one is ready to fly. It seems to develop so fast.

chick

chick

UPDATE 1

sleeping chick

sleeping chick

Bird flew nearby to keep watch

Bird flew nearby to keep watch

hungry chick

hungry chick

hungry chick

hungry chick

hungry chick

hungry chick

Bird nesting in my mock orange tree

At the end of last month I noticed a bird’s nest on a mock orange tree in my roof garden. Only about shoulder height from the floor. No bird was in residence.

What is this in my tree?

What is this in my tree?

Ah...a bird nest

Ah…a bird nest

A few days later I noticed an egg.

with one egg

with one egg

Then a week later, two eggs.

now, a few days later - with two eggs

now, a few days later – with two eggs

After this I knew when the bird was in residence by her tail feathers sticking out of the nest a little.  A week later the chicks had hatched.

chicks have hatched

chicks have hatched

chicks have hatched

chicks have hatched

bird in residence

bird in residence

Many times I disturbed the bird when I went to look – she just flew on and hid. Once the birds were hatched she seemed less shy and would just wait higher up until I went away.  Mostly I tried to leave here alone. She is a cute bird.

muumy bird

muumy bird – it could be a yellow vented bulbul.

muumy bird nearby

muumy bird nearby

muumy bird is shy, and flies away from nest if I approach

mummy bird is shy, and flies away from nest if I approach – but not as far away as before – perhaps she is a little used to me being around

After a wet day yesterday, when mummy bird stayed in the nest a lot, today I find only one chick.  One egg was earlier than the other, so maybe one chick developed and has already left.

chick

chick

This chick is noisy.

chick

chick

So I wonder how long before this one is ready to fly. It seems to develop so fast.

chick

chick