I dreamt that Nana Passed

This morning I woke up sort of crying.

I had dreamt that my dear nana (fell sick I think, as I couldn't remember exactly the cause of death, and) eventually passed away. I believe our bedroom resembled that which we rented in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. And when she was passing, it was as if I didn't care to follow her to the hospital or whichever, perhaps not that I didn't care, but I didn't think that I was either allowed to follow or something prevented me to or maybe even assuming that she would come back, but no, it was quite certain that would be the last I would see her and I knew it before then in the dream. As she was leaving to the last place, I believe it was my parents who took her and I basically parted her there on the second floor alley of my parents' Penang house, walking downstairs.

After that, my dream went to a different story all together, where I think Willy, myself and Nadia were hiking to a place to camp or something.

Then it was back to where I had lost Nadia in the dream, as if the hike was a reminiscent of the past or just the way dreams play tricks. There I laid in bed for the first time in that Brooklyn apartment bedroom without my wife sleeping next to me. As I realized what I had lost, thought back about Nadia, the trouble I've caused her, the labor she'd done for me and what we had together, I began to cry and grieve, even now as I type this. This woke me up. It was around 7:30am.

I believe this dream was influenced by several factors: The Ted Lasso episode (3x11) I watched the night before, where Jamie Tart suddenly felt depressed, humbled, and Ted also confronted his mother about not dealing with grieve and pain and treated everything happy dandy. The replay of the video I took of Nadia walking up the stairs to our room in Penang house, with her innocent face turned playful:

The health issue Nadia had that wasn't taken care of in Malaysia (shivering hands in search of Chinese remedy) because she thought there was no time (This should be the priority the next time we return). Things she had done and planned and my insensitivity to some of those. etc.

May this serves as a reminder every time I get frustrated with her.

Now I also thought to myself, where was my faith in all of this. Was my grief a godless one in the dream? May God have mercy. Only You are to be praised and remembered. May You guide me in true Christian fellowship with my wife. Amen.

Posted in Dreams, Faults, Reflection | Leave a comment

Christian Origin in Korea

Though there are other earlier accounts, the one I remembered most and have now found the detail, is the story about how foreigners carrying loads of bibles were killed and that the bibles were used as wallpapers in Korean homes, where the Bible was unwittingly introduced to visitors.

This is the account of Robert Jermain Thomas, born 1839, allegedly the first protestant martyr in Korea. Thomas married Caroline Godfrey, who shared mission field vision and went to Shanghai dispatched by London Missionary Society (LMS). Caroline unfortunately miscarried and passed away. Thomas wished to resign due to grief despite having even more zeal to completely serve and praise the Lord.

Then after being introduced by Alexander Williamson of the National Bible Society to Korean Catholics who had no Bibles, Thomas was greatly interested to serve in the "Hermit Kingdom" (Korea - fearful government of foreign influence and forbade contacts with westerners) where western literatures such as Bibles were banned and punishable with death for both distributors and recipients. Nonetheless, Thomas, helped by the Scottish Bible Society, obtained large number of Chinese Bibles for Korea, and found there were some willing to risk reading the Bible.

However, on a trip nearing Pyongyang, a group of hostile Koreans wrecked the Thomas' bible carrying American ship, Thomas was eventually killed, with some account that he begged them to take the Bible before being executed. The Bibles were then taken to the Korean homes but was ordered to be destroyed. All but one government official (Pak Yong-Sik) obeyed. Pak used the pages to wallpaper his house, which was later bought by Choi Chi Ryang, who knew of Thomas' event. 15 years after Thomas' death, Pyongyang was already holding around 100 churches and 1907 was a site of a major revival. Today there stood the Robert Jermain Thomas Memorial Church.

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Timothy Keller passed at 72 from Pancreatic Cancer this morning

With many posts on Facebook of this news, especially reading from those Christians who love criticizing reformed position, particularly on predestination and gender issue, I thought to myself: To achieve greatness, to be known, which although is not the goal, what is it that one is known and respected for? To be known and honored by those who have no idea of the position you stood against theirs? Or to be honored by those whom you have made clear of your opposing views with each other nonetheless?

I believe Keller is one of those whom if you truly know him, you know what he's criticizing, even against those who were looking up to him yet didn't get it. This is one example, by my guess:
My last phone call conversation with Tim was on a late Sunday night – it was a rare occurrence, to be sure, so I had thought that perhaps he wanted to speak about something urgent. I was amazed that he wanted to talk about how to communicate a Christian theory of truth to a twelve-year old. He called from Bethesda, Maryland, where he was receiving treatment. He was always thinking about how to talk about Jesus well. Tim was an evangelist to the very end.

My first impression from the above statement was: That Keller probably saw some talent and interest in Sutanto but that he wished Sutanto to gear his gift in theology towards the lay people rather than the academia. But Keller does it so subtly as he always did, that most people just don't get it and focused on his hospitable tolerant manner instead. His wife, Kathy, had balanced that out after all. Of course, this is highly speculative on my part, though not without good reason. I would that Nathaniel in his last line said something like "Tim was a surprising yet humbling mentor to me to the very end" instead. But what Sutanto didn't get, I shall keep in my heart.

Keller's desire to be with the Lord on multiple occasions is publicly known as his son Michael Keller made sure of it:

He expressed many times through prayer his desire to go home to be with Jesus..."I’m thankful for the time God has given me, but I’m ready to see Jesus. I can’t wait to see Jesus. Send me home."

This is a wake up call to all mediocre Christians, those who might fear that they are too far from the Lord, that they have drenched themselves in mud so deep in hypocrisy that they would be shy to have Jesus look at them in the end.

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Side Income from a developer's perspective, and a programmer's must read today

Today's TLDR newsletter: A thorough article by Sasidhar Gadepalli on the subject. I pasted the entire article in comment in case the link gets broken. It's valuable as it gives example sites and services to deal with the gigs mentioned.

On the must read, I also pasted the entire article in the comments, just in case.

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A quick view on Tesla's Full Self-Driving (FSD) mode

It's interesting how its sensor looked for nearby cars.

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Cigarette effects on Lung: Simplest experiment

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On Durians

So I didn't really get a chance to taste durians during my recent home trip, but here's an article on differentiating different kinds of durians:

TYPES OF DURIANS I AM CRAZY ABOUT

durian © Adrian Cheah

Different people crave different varieties of durians. However, I truly relish durians from older trees as they bear fruits that have buttery-smooth, thick and creamy flesh, often with a stronger "fragrance" and flavour. Even from the same tree, durians can vary from season to season as the trees are influenced by soil conditions and weather. Over different seasons, the Or Chi (Black Thorn) fruits do not necessarily taste the same.

Nevertheless, the taste of durian is like no other and here are some varieties I am crazy about (listed in no particular order).

Musang King (Mao Shan Wang in Mandarin)

durian © Adrian Cheah
durian © Adrian Cheah

Musang (palm civet) King, also known as Raja Kunyit in Malay is undoubtedly one of the most sought after varieties. The fruits fetch high prices for their irresistible deep egg-yellow flesh that is bittersweet, rich and liam chooi (Hokkien for describing the lip-smacking smooth, creamy and sticky-dry texture). Having just the right balance of bitterness and sweetness, it does live up to its reputation as being the crème de la crème of durians. The tasting experience is highly memorable and if you are going for a durian buffet, it would usually be served last as the highlight of the feast.

Besides having a strong export demand, Musang King (D 197) has also made its way into endless delicacies like ice cream, cakes, pastries, mooncakes, coffee, teas and whiskey, even flavouring condoms. All this has contributed to the skyrocketing prices of the Musang King in recent years (2022: RM58 – RM90 per kilogramme).

Or Chi / Ochee (black thorn in Hokkien)

durian © Adrian Cheah
durian © Adrian Cheah

Like Musang King, Or Chi is another premium variety that is highly priced (2022: RM105 – RM85 per kilogramme). If you love Musang King, Or Chi is definitely a must-try variety as well – if you can get your hands on it! It is in such high demand that there is a standing order at certain orchards in Penang.

Its thick custardy orangey-pink flesh has an intense and complex bittersweet flavour (a touch sweeter than Musang King), enriched with a subtle whiskey-induced sensation. This is one variety you have to take your own sweet time to savour. It is not that you are "eating gold" (chiak kim in Hokkien) but when enjoyed slowly, various depths of your palate will be titillated, accentuating its luxurious character and flavours of Or Chi. This variety has less fibre and is truly liam chooi.

Originating from Penang, Or Chi is the pride of the state. In 2012, it emerged victorious in the Penang State Durian Competition, dethroning the national favourite Musang King! In 2013, the Malaysian Agricultural and Research Development Institute (MARDI) certified the variation into its durian registration as D 200 and listed Leow Cheok Keong’s farm as the source.

durian © Adrian Cheah

It is a common deduction that the name Or Chi is derived from a thin black tail/"thorn" that protrudes out of the bottom of the durian. The "thorn" is actually the durian’s dried up flower stamen. According to my good friend Eric Chong from Green Acres, all durians would have this as well, many breaking off when the ripened fruits drop. Eric runs a thriving organic orchard in Balik Pulau and is kept extremely busy especially during the fruiting seasons. With over 500 durian trees, some 80-100 years old, Eric harvests quality offerings. He once gave me a "divine" Or Chi that was heavenly in taste and experience.

Ang Haeh (red prawn in Hokkien)

durian © Adrian Cheah

When it comes to colour, Ang Haeh stands out from the rest of the variants with its uniquely dark pastel orangey-red hue. It has a dense and creamy texture coupled with a sweet taste that is extremely enjoyable! Being on the sweeter side of things, this durian is ideal for those who shy away from bitter-sweet ones. Having said that, the flesh of Ang Haeh varies according to the age of the tree – younger trees offering sweet fruits while in older ones, a hint of bitterness is present with a stronger aroma. The bitter-sweet fruits also could have an alcoholic undertone. Most Ang Haeh fruits have small to medium size seeds, meaning that there is more delectable flesh to feast on.

The Ang Haeh is a hybrid breed officially registered under the Department of Agriculture Malaysia in 1990 with the code D 175.

pulut durian © Adrian Cheah

If you love pulut durian (glutinous rice with durian smothered in a thick coconut milk sauce), Ang Haeh would be an ideal choice because of its sweet and bulbous flesh. Although some would add sugar to sweeten the sauce, you could opt to grate fine shavings of gula melaka (palm sugar) over the dish prior to serving it. The pinch of salt added to the sauce further enhances its "lemakness", complementing brilliantly the creamy Ang Haeh flesh. This is one satisfying and hearty meal that will keep you feeling full for hours. Besides Ang Haeh, you can opt for other varieties that have a thick flesh and sweet taste.

If we were to compare Ang Haeh to Or Chi, the latter has a much firmer texture and the former has slightly more fibres.

Ang Bak (red flesh in Hokkien)

Ang Bak and Ang Haeh are very different in taste and texture. The former has a slightly firmer texture with only a moderately thick pulp and a creamy sweet taste. Contrary to its name, you will not find crimson red flesh in Ang Bak; rather, it has a golden hue with a slight tinge of orange. Between these two varieties, Ang Haeh to me is a better option to consider.

Teoh Eng Eng from Balik Pulau, Penang registered this variant under the Department of Agriculture Malaysia in 1987 with code the D 164. It won the third prize in the Penang State Durian Competition in 1987.

Capri

durian © Adrian Cheah

Another variety that I like is Capri with its thick ivory-coloured flesh. It has a creamy and sweet taste with distinct hints of banana and rum nodes. I cannot get enough of this underrated variety. Maybe it is because of its pale white flesh that hampers its marketability. Colour aside, Capri ranks high on my list of delectable durians.

The best way to truly enjoy durians is to always have a variety of fruits. Your taste buds can pick up the subtle differences which only goes to show that the durian, although one kind of fruit, can offer such a wide range of flavours to savour. Add Capri to the mix and you might also fall in love with it.

XO, D 24 / Sultan

Like Capri, some XO fruits have a pale off-white shade and a distinctively soft and moist flesh. The colour can also range from pale sage green to shades of yellow, depending on the region, altitude and age of the trees. This variant also has a strong bitter taste with an alcoholic twist (thus the name XO) and a strong aroma. This is ideal for those who prefer durians with a strong and bitter profile. Although the bitterness is obvious, its flesh is sweet as well (unlike bitter gourd or coffee, sans any sweetness). Each compartment has only one to three fleshy pods.

Because of its pale colour, XO is also not as popular as its golden, sun-kissed cousins. However, colour to me comes only a distant second from the character and taste profile of the fruit. In my book, the XO thick flesh and small flat seeds make this variety far more superior to many of the yellow flesh counterparts. If you come across XO, buy and indulge in it. Better still, you do not have to pay an arm and a leg for it.

I would not recommend opening the fruit and placing it in a plastic box for later consumption. Handling this fruit would turn it into a mushy mass. Always enjoy it straight from the fruit.

According to Ang Hock Leng, commonly known as Ah Leng who sells durians at Anson Road in Penang, XO is part of the D 24 variant, fruits coming from older trees at higher altitude. To me, XO is of a higher quality than D 24. This only goes to illustrate that even under the same classification/code, there is an obvious split that branches off into various subtypes. Ah Leng's stall provides al fresco dining under shaded trees and is popular among tourists and locals due to its location and quality durians.

D 24, one of the most popular durian clones in Malaysia, was very saleable in the 1990s before the craze for Musang King took the world by storm. D 24 strikes a good balance between sweet and bitter flavours with a thick, firm smooth and creamy flesh. It also has a mild alcoholic aftertaste. The yellow flesh has a less pronounced flavour compared to Musang King, making it a less overwhelming option. For those sampling durians for the first time, D 24 would be a good start.

Some unscrupulous durian vendors could short-change you by dishonestly selling you a D 24 as a Musang King. Understanding the difference between the two varieties would enable you to avoid such embarrassing situations.

The first thing to look out for is the colour of the fruit. A Musang King has a greenish-yellow ochre shade with a noticeable colour gradient from the tips of the thorns to the base. On the other hand, a D 24 has a homogenous green all around the fruit. The thorns in Musang King are fairly large, set fairly far apart whereas in D 24, the thorns are in clusters. The obvious difference is at the bottom of the fruit where the seams to open the durian run. These seams run into a five-pointed star shape at the base of a Musang King that is very visible; in the D 24, the seams are completely covered with thorns. If you look at the "crown" circling the stem of a Musang King, it is smooth with a little gap before thorns start. Also, Musang King has a relatively longer stem than D 24. With this in mind, you could save yourself from being hoodwinked.

Cheh Phoay (green skin in Hokkien)

I enjoy all types of durians from sweet to bitter ones. Cheh Phoay is definitely more bitter than Musang King but less so than XO. It also has a stronger sweet aroma and a firmer texture than XO. Although it has less oomph than XO, it is still a wonderful option to savour. The fruit has a melon-like shape and a bright green skin (thus the name). Also note that the seeds are rather big and the yellowish pulp (colour like fresh butter) is slightly fibrous but liam chooi. It is registered as D 145.

Hor Lor (bottle gourd in Hokkien)

durian © Adrian Cheah

Hor Lor has a peculiar elongated shape, with a curvy inner compartment that resembles a calabash, commonly known as bottle gourd (hence its name, Hor Lor). The flesh is very creamy, has a slightly dry consistency and a tinge of bitterness. It is less pungent compared to other durians. It is generally a mild tasting durian with medium to fairly large size seeds and a good amount of flesh. However, if the durian hits the ground hard when it falls, the pastel yellow flesh could have a stronger bitter thereafter.

durian © Adrian Cheah

Originating in Balik Pulau, Penang, Hor Lor was registered as D 163 in 1987 with its origin listed to Chat Fatt Hin. It also emerged winner in the state durian competition in Balik Pulau in 1987.

durian © Adrian Cheah

There is such a huge variety of durians and although I have listed some of my favourites, there are others that I enjoy as well. Above all, durians must be enjoyed "fresh". Beware of vendors who sell "stale" fruits that are previously kept in refrigerators overnight. Older trees offer more complex flavours and I am constantly surprised by some kampung durians that have yet to be registered and given a code. I am sure you have your favourites and since taste is so subjective, this makes such a great conversation piece among Penangites. Our preferences are shaped by our neural responses gravitating towards what we love and appreciate and should not be dictated by prices. Although many insist that the most expensive is the best, that is not always the case when it comes to durians.

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Photographed and written by Adrian Cheah
© All rights reserved
30 June 2022

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Is Drinking too much water bad?

Yes, a doctor died from this: Death of Dr. Cynthia Lucero in 2002 Boston Marathon. Apparently there had been debates on this since the late 80s where there were official guidelines in the US promoting drinking water during sports, interestingly coincided with the birth of the US sports drink industry.

I started watching the below video after a discussion with my dad back in my recent return to Malaysia on topics ranging from China to the harm of extreme exercise.

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Chinese Puzzle: 曹操的步步驚心

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Infinite Canvas

To create timeline charts that can zoom into more detail and more timeframes, virtually infinitely, is to use none other than an infinite canvas app or site or javascript/html5.

Apparently Concepts is a good app for this that should work with Windows.

https://infinite-canvas.org/#/ is also a good public online version.

It also seems that there are more such apps for Mac/iPad: i.e. Endless Paper

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