Literary Discussion: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

J and the Barn Owl Discuss: 

Literary Discussions with a 5 Year Old

Literary Discussions with a 6 Year Old

J: FEAR. What is ‘FEAR’?

Barn Owl: Fear is the feeling you get when you are scared.

J: Oh. THE WISE MAN’S FEAR. So, what’s he afraid of?

Barn Owl: I don’t know yet. I haven’t read that far.

J: It’s plants. I think he’s scared of the plants.

Moral of the story: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

P.S. If you haven’t read the Kingkiller Chronicles series by Patrick Rothfuss yet, you really should. Check out this excerpt from Book One: The Name of the Wind.

P.P.S. If you are already a fan of the books, checkout Patrick Rothfuss’s Worldbuilders site where you can buy signed books and cool merch from various awesome authors (and artists like Karen Hallion!) – all the proceeds go to Heifer International, which brings helps poor communities obtain a sustainable source income.

Taken (2008): Thoughts from the Couch (Potato)

taken-poster-dark-fullsizeLuc Besson writes and directs this action-thriller which means that you are virtually guaranteed one TOTALLY AWESOME MOVIE.

Basically, see, this girl goes to Paris and is kidnapped by a human-trafficking ring, and then LIAM NEESON comes to BRING THE PAIN!


The DVD also includes some great behind-the-scenes stuff which includes people running mannequins over with trucks.

Fun times.

P.S. Get Taken here.

How to Eat Leafs (instead of rices)

Close to what I'm doing, but not quite

More procrastiwriting than procrastibaking

Technically, I’m supposed to be studying for my final examination in Business Processes and Accounting Information Systems, which is happening at 6PM today.

However, somewhere between reading a pile of information on COSO (Committee of Sponsoring Organisations of the Treadway Commission) framework and COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology) 5, I suddenly felt the great need to write about important health things for health purposes.

Therefore, I have taken a break from my studies to bring you this important health thing and tell you how to eat leafs[1].

You probably recall from our shared childhood that I dislike eating raw leafs, particularly when they’re aren’t slathered in salad dressings.  However, this last weekend alone, I have somehow managed the impossible feat of eating my way through two large boxes of mixed leaf salad from The Dinner Ladies (more on that later) without any salad dressing.  These salads contained rocket, which I am well known to hate[2].

I have achieved this success through two methods.  The first being the replacement of rice with leafs and the second being the development of a special leaf-eating technique, which Droo developed after watching me wrap hot Korean barbeque meat in perilla leaves at his birthday last year.

Keep your veggies sealed and crisp in the fridge!

Keep your veggies sealed and crisp in the fridge!

Step 1 (Preparation):

Before embarking on your leaf eating journey, first ensure that the leafs that you are eating are fresh and crunchy.  This makes them more palatable later on.  You can keep them nice and crisp in the crisper drawer of your fridge next to your seeds for the next Spring planting.

Also, prepare meat with sweetish marinades or flavours, as the sweet juices will complement the bitterness of the leaves.

For maximum enjoyment and learning, meals should be eaten while watching Crash Course with John Green.

For maximum enjoyment and learning, meals should be eaten while watching Crash Course with John Green.

Step 2 (Dish Out):

Fill one bowl with a serve of your meat for the meal, and a rice bowl with leafs instead of rices.

As leafs are fluffy and non-tiny, you will probably end up refilling the rice bowl multiple times with more leafs.  Do not feel guilty about this.  Leafs are good for you and will not make you fat, a benefit not shared by rice, which will totally make you fat.

By the way, the leaves in this picture are a mixture of rocket, baby spinach and cos lettuce (I think), and come from the Dinner Ladies delicious fresh dinner services.


A leaf pellet

A leaf pellet

Step 3 (Fold Leafs):

Fold the leafs into a small eatable pellet with your hands.  This maximises enjoyment of the leafs because it invokes the forbidden art of playing with your food, which I am totally doing.

Step 4 (Eat and enjoy):

Put a mouthful of meat in your mouth with one hand, and the leaf pellet with the other. Then enjoy it Ratatouille style.

Now you have eat leafs and not rices.  You shall be Healthy and you shall be Energy.  Go forth and do awesomeness.

[1] I am calling them leafs because they came from a box marked “mixed leaf salad”, and also because you can say “leafs” without opening your mouth and displaying the greenery within, but you cannot say “leaves” without spitting out a little bit of the aforementioned greenery. Also because I am brain melt from exam stress.

[2] I’d curse the name of Jamie Oliver for bringing popularising rocket in the culinary world, but I’m a sucker for his delicious pastas, so he is forgiven for his transgressions against humanity.

Upcycling for kids: Houses from boxes

A little village

A little village

So, I had a couple of little empty cartons, so we decided to turn them into a little box village for all of J and Little E’s Lego minifigs.


  1. Empty cardboard boxes of whatever size you fancy
  2. Ruler
  3. Pen
  4. Scissors
  5. Double sided tape or glue
  6. Crayons or oil pastels
  7. Tempera paint


The more you turn me inside out

1. Start out by dismantling the boxes. Carefully tear apart the flap on the inside of the box using your finger, so that the box is now completely flattened.

2. Using a ruler or straight edge, draw a line down the centre of the box using a pen.

3. Use scissors to cut along the two narrow panels of the box, stopping at exactly at the line.

4. Crease the two narrow panels along the line.


5. Turn the box inside out so that the blank part is facing out, and then glue or tape the sides and bottom of the box back together. (We used double sided tape). Make sure the cut narrow panels at the top are left free. As you can see, we chose a box that had a perforated hole, and we left that at the bottom as the door of the house.


6. Fold the two narrow panels towards each other to form the roof of the house and fix together with tape or glue (we used double sided tape).

7. Using a pen, trace the outline of your roof onto the two wide panels.


8. Trim the spare cardboard straight across the top of two wide panels.

9. Crease the two wide panels along the pen outline, and tuck them into underneath the roof or on top of the roof, whichever is easier. You can fix them with glue or tape if you wish!


10. Draw in windows using black wax crayons or oil pastels, then cover your little houses with paint!

Shine Healing Boomerang! Sailormoon Crystal is coming!




As a child of the early 90s, Sailor Moon holds a strong nostalgia factor for me. Back then, if you were a boy, you watched Dragonball Z, and if you were a girl, you watched Sailor Moon.

So, when the new series, Sailor Moon Crystal, was announced, I was pretty chuffed.  The show will be live streaming on Niconico Douga, the Japanese version of Youtube, which is great because it’ll have International reach. This thing is BIG. I mean, Isetan Japan just had like an entire actual Sailor Moon clothing collection released[1].

Rumour has it that Sailor Moon Crystal is going to be a reboot of the entire series to a form that more closely resembles the original Sailor Moon manga by Naoko Takeuchi. This probably means less of the monster-of-the-week formula and more science fiction and violence. After all, it was Naoko’s intention to make a science fiction comic for girls.

It’s a little disappointing for me, since I was hoping for a continuation of the original series[2], but I’m still looking forward to it nonetheless.  Plus, having watched the trailer, I’m a somewhat disappointed with the super-skinny look of the main character.  She looks practically consumptive.  Still,I suppose that’s the style they’re going for.  The animation is a lot better than the original, that’s for sure, though that isn’t hard.  Modern animation techniques allow for more dynamic camera angles and movement.

Incidentally, if you’re wondering where Shine Healing Boomerang comes from, check out this chart that’s been making its way around Tumblr…


I like to imagine that the attack looks like a sparkly blue boomerang that shoots out rays of healing water. What’s your Sailor Senshi attack and what does it look like?

[1] Lacey got me one of their bags. It’s serviceable but not great.

[2] Mostly to find out how Tsukino Usagi gets from innocent schoolgirl marrying her college aged boyfriend to RULER OF PLANET EARTH.

Let’s Build a Newspaper Fort using Math!

There is no better way to spend a rainy afternoon than in constructing a fort!

Usually, I just drape a blanket over two chairs but we decided to go bigger this time and make a fort out of newspaper, using the POWER OF MATH!

Basically, I have been observing that the most stable and economical shape used in general construction is a triangle, and a triangulated structure (like the famous Mathematical Bridge in Cambridge) is able to withstand both compressive and stretching forces to maintain its shape.

This concept is quite a simple one to demonstrate in the playground, where many standing structures like swings, slides and climbing frames will consist of beams, ropes or cables fixed together in triangular patterns. Hence, I decided that the best way to demonstrate this principle of geometry and mechanics would be to build an fort using a space frame truss – that is, using triangular units to build a 3-D frame.

What you’ll need:

  1. Newspaper
  2. Tape (I used masking tape)
  3. Stapler

Step One: Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

We started out by rolling up newspapers and stapling them together into triangles. (This is a great way to put idle little hands to good use.) Fold each newspaper sheet into half and roll it up into a stick starting from one corner, so that you only need a tiny piece of masking tape to hold the whole stick together.

To start out with, we made five triangles and taped them together like this:

Step 2: Make a roof

Step 2: Make a roof

If your kids are pretty small, you can stop there, but we wanted to go BIGGER and BOLDER! 

A full igloo!

So we made another 10 triangles and joined them together like this:


Step 3: Complete base of fort

The whole structure turned out to be pretty stable! I covered the whole fort with a flat sheet to give the kids some privacy and they played together quietly in their little igloo for the rest of the afternoon…giving me some time to lie down and have a well-deserved nap on the couch.



How to avoid Drips (when selecting a Teapot)

Never fear, Meimei! I have the solution to your Tea-related Problem!

Fortunately for you, we are holidaying in the Great Island of Tea. The Father-Outlaw is a great tea connoisseur and an expert in all things tea-related, and thus I have asked his advice on selecting good tea-making implements.

Teatime is Anytime

Teatime is Anytime

1. I’m a little teapot

Teapots are often classified by the number of cups of tea that they can make in one go. I personally prefer a 3-4 cup size teapot, because it is large enough to be accommodating when one is entertaining, but it is not so big as to be unwieldy when full of boiling hot water.

2. Short and stout

The shape of the teapot is of course, very important! Teatime is warm and friendly time, and requires non-angular implements. I like a round teapot that squats in state on the end of the table, steaming merrily to itself. .

3. The spout and rim

If you look at the inner workings of a good teapot, it should look something like this:

Observe my stately friend

Observe my stately friend

– Firstly, you may observe that the inner bore of the spout is very a large oval shape. This allows for a quick and unimpeded flow of tea which means that you reduce spillage caused by Slow Tea Dribble.

– Secondly, you may notice that the inner bore of the spout slopes down to the bottom of the pot. This means that even if you have a small amount of liquid left, you do not have to tilt the teapot to a ridiculous angle to get the last drops of deliciousness out. This greatly reduces the dreaded Lid Drip, when the tea spills out from the lid of the pot, burning your hand.

– Thirdly, the rim of the teapot is not perfectly round, but has an additional guard at the spout end, further preventing Lid Drip.

So there you have it, all the information that you need in order to select a good, clean-pouring, drip-free teapot!

By the way, in case you were wondering, the Outlaws do take their tea very seriously, very seriously indeed.

In fact, this is what happens to teapots that fail to meet the standards…

Strung up for the birds

Strung up for the birds

They are beheaded and strung up upon the stone wall for all to gaze upon.

Oh, the horror and the shame.

I Need a Little Teapot

A fine example of a bodum teapot, except mine had a dark green plastic base and handle.

A fine example of a bodum teapot, except mine had a dark green plastic base and handle.  Note the roundness.

Once upon a time, when I first moved to this apartment, I had a little Bodum teapot.  It was a cute teapot of glass that served me well, even if it did only make about 2 cups of tea per brewing.  I loved this teapot.  Its round shape was reminiscent of the budum sprites in Harvest Moon (whose favourite drink is, incidentally, tea).  Plus, I really loved how the filter prevented loose leaf tea from spreading to the rest of the pot.

Unfortunately, this roundness served in its demise.  One windy day, after it was washed, the little Bodum teapot rolled off the drying rack and, with a terrific crash, shattered onto the tile floor below.

So, I did what any good teapot owner would do.  I swept the pieces up into a bag, mourned the loss of my teapot and then went out and purchased a new teapot.

Green tea canister from T2, perfect for storing tea leaves.

Green tea canister from T2, perfect for storing tea leaves.

I found the new teapot at a bargain sale at the local T2.  T2, by the way, is not known for terrible merchandise – most of their stuff is incredibly well made and the blends of tea that they sell are fantastic.  I keep my loose leaf teas in one of their air tight Japanese-style tea canisters and it has never ever failed to keep the tea fresh as the day it was bought.  I highly recommend them.

Unfortunately, the new teapot is not one of the usual quality merchandise I normally get from T2.  The new teapot was advertised as a no drip teapot.  It has certainly been quite true to its advertising.  Tea poured from this teapot does not drip.  It does, however, spill all over the place due to the unique design of the spout, which is curled in around itself, ensuring that the maximum amount of tea dribbles down the side of the pot onto the table.

My stupid teapot.  Note the multilevel spill of water on the desk, down the keyboard tray and onto the chair below.  Good thing I didn't waste any actual tea.

My stupid teapot. Note the multilevel spill of water on the desk, down the keyboard tray and onto the chair below. Good thing I didn’t waste any actual tea.

Not only is this teapot the worst teapot ever, but it is also plain, white and boring.  It pretends to be a good Chinese-restaurant style teapot, but it is all lies.  It was the only teapot I could afford at the time, though, so I guess the price was reflective of its quality.

Now that I’m a little more well off, I need a new teapot.  Preferably one that doesn’t waste my tea.  Any suggestions?