Nestum Cookies
There are quite a number of plastic containers with Chinese New Year snacks in my home, and I leave the majority of them basically untouched. However, there is one labelled "Nestum Cookies" that is so delicious, I find myself munching non-stop.

I am not familiar with the word "Nestum", but the Chinese name on the label indicates that it is cereal. The ingredients of this high calorie snack is listed as: Nestum, Flour, Sugar, Marjerin1. It doesn't give me more information about Nestum. Like many other Chinese New Year snacks sold in Singapore, this one is also produced in Malaysia.

Googling the term "Nestum" shows that it is a registered trademark of Nestlé, as a brand of cereal that is widely sold in Malaysia and some other countries. At the same time, searching for "Nestum cookies" reveals a large number of blog posts containing recipes for making cereal cookies, mostly originating from the same region.

Apparently the trademark "Nestum" has become genericized in Malaysia, much like the Kleenex brand in the United States.

1 Malay for "margarine".

New Year
Happy New Year 2017!

During the Chinese New Year that just passed, we did some obligatory stuff: we visited other people, and other people visited us. Prior to that we had our reunion dinner. We also visited a few places as part of the Chinese New Year festivities. We took part in the countdown at Chinatown, and also watched fireworks at Marina Promenade.

One thing I don’t like about the typical Chinese New Year period is that it is very tiring, requiring quite a few days to recover. Actually, fatigue reduction is something I would like to work on this year, because I found 2016 way too tiring. Towards this end, I have decided to let go of the weekend 15 km or longer runs for now, and replace them with cycling instead. My weekly exercise regime tentatively becomes: IPPT training (push ups, sit ups, 2.4 km) on one weekday evening, one run of up to 10 km on another weekday evening, and then cycling in the weekend. This scheme may be adjusted over the year. Hopefully, I find myself less fatigued.

The new exercise regime also means that I have no plans to take part in any running races for the moment. Actually, I find that I don’t really enjoy taking part in races any more. Perhaps because it is too much of the same thing, perhaps because the races are all moving towards some ungodly starting time like 4:30 am in the wee hours, perhaps I had been focusing too much on personal bests. Unlike certain people whose energy level is very good, I observed that those weekend long runs often make me so tired that I don’t manage to do anything else during the weekend, missing out on things like discovering other parts of Singapore. I find that I am increasing becoming unfamiliar with many places in this fast-changing place.

So in this new year, I decided to make a change in sports. I had been contemplating such a change since two years ago, but the knee problem at that time caused me to put this adjustment on hold. I suppose 2017 is the time to implement this change.

May all have a great year ahead!

Standard Chartered Marathon (21 km) and The Performance Series, Race 5 (10 km)
Here is my race report for the final two races of 2016. For both races, I delayed the decision to register as late as possible, but still not late enough. In hindsight, given events immediately before each of these two races, I would not have registered for any of them.

Standard Chartered Marathon - 21 km

Unlike past years, this year the organizers were not able to get trains running before the race, so they arranged for shuttle buses instead. For the typical race, one single private hire bus is provided per pick-up location. However, due to the sheer scale of this race, each pick-up location actually required several SBS Transit double-decker buses. This sight is amazing. However, the buses deposited the runners at Orchard Road more than one hour ahead of the flag-off time, so I still prefer having train service if it is available.

This is the first time I started a race at Orchard Road. Previously, half marathons for Standard Chartered Marathon started at Sentosa. Also, instead of starting at 6:30 am, this year the organizers flagged off the half marathon and the full marathon together from 4:30 am onwards. I was in Pen D and we started at 4:45 am. Race wise, I thought I ran reasonably okay in the first 11 km, but subsequently fizzled out. At 18 km, one helpful volunteer informed that "the balloons are coming up behind you" and indeed they are right behind me. Then I pushed as hard as I can towards the finishing line, but still got overtaken by quite a number of people. Overall, I feel I ran a okay race, but not a very strong race.

In the weeks leading to the race, I was already fairly exhausted from work. And then right in the week before the race, but after I have registered for the race, I was asked to rush some last-minute work, so I was not able to get sufficient rest before the race. While registering, I had a hard time deciding whether to register for Pen C (less than 02:00) or Pen D (less than 02:30), as I anticipated two hours plus or minus due to the less than ideal body condition. Although I eventually ran less than two hours, which meant that I should have registered for Pen C, but it turned out that it was a good idea to register for Pen D, since the two hour pacers are located right at the start of Pen D, and for this particular race the pacers are extremely helpful in allowing me to get a timing of less than two hours.

This race is the most expensive race I have taken part in, but it is pretty well organized. There are sufficient hydration points along the way, and the route is sufficiently wide enough for the most part. One interesting aspect of the race is that the half marathon runners are segregated from the full marathon runners from after East Coast Park where the full marathon route rejoins the half marathon route. Another nice touch is in the area just before East Coast Park, very prominent signage is provided to inform full marathoners that their route will split from the half marathoners over a very long distance of several hundred meters long, and on top of the signs the information is actually painted on the road itself. However, part of the route in the Gardens by the Bay East is very dark with insufficient lighting given.

Official result:

Net time: 01:58:54 (Overall: 501/9313, Category: 172/2415, Gender: 446/6409)
Gun time: 02:12:23 (Overall: 632/9313, Category: 212/2415, Gender: 550/6409)
Split 1 (5km): 00:27:12
Split 2 (10km): 00:29:03
Split 3 (13.2km): 00:21:52
Split 4 (18.9km): 00:29:09
Split 5 (21.1km): 00:11:36

It appears that half marathons in Standard Chartered Marathon have their actual distances greater than the stated distance. The result is not a personal best, but as this one seems to be a few hundred metres more than 21.1 km, so this seems like a reasonable sub two hour timing.

The Performance Series, Race 5 - 10 km

On the morning of 2016 December 18, two reece troopers had a little run down the memory lane of Exercise Long Walk that they participated in 16 or 17 years ago. This event is the 5th and final race in The Performance Series, a 10 km run in the Neo Tiew area from Sungei Buloh and up to and including Lim Chu Kang Road opposite Bahtera track. This area is very close to the end point of our particular Exercise Long Walk.

The race start was delayed from 6:30 am to 7:05 am due to rain. But the effect is good, because the race took part in totally bright yet cool conditions. The race itself went through beautiful and very open rural locations where we typically very rarely visit; my last visit to this part of Neo Tiew was exactly 16 or 17 years ago during the Long Walk. The parts of the route along Neo Tiew Road was incredibly narrow with only one vehicular lane available for the run, but the modulus operandi of The Performance Series appears to be sacrificing things like route width for experience in exotic locations. The theme of this race is Farm, which I find a slight overstatement as we did not enter any farms at all.

My phone battery went flat halfway through the race, most probably because I took too many photos before and during the run. I have no personal timing, but I saw a net time of less than 1 hour 2 minute. For this race was positioned at the back of the wave, I did not push myself very hard, and it is good enough given that I was on MC for two days in the preceding week - my recovery was faster than anticipated.

After the race, I lingered around in Gardenasia, the event site for the race. Had a meal at the bistro in Gardenasia in a beautiful setting, although I don't consider the breakfast set value for money for the food and service level rendered. Instead of joining the extremely long queue for the shuttle buses back to Kranji, I chose to do a fairly quick stroll in most of Sungei Buloh and departed the area around noon time near the Kranji dam, to end a satisfying morning.

* Exercise Long Walk was one of the most grueling aspect of my entire national service. For our batch, we walked in full battle order in team level for perhaps about 40 kilometers as one of the highlights of the reece trooper course - this distance was already considered a watered down version when we did it in the 1990s. I no longer remember where we started - most probably Mandai - but I do recall that walking alongside the KTM tracks up to Sungei Kudat, cross the Kranji dam, going through the Neo Tiew area and finally ending at Jalan Bahtera. Figuratively, we almost died from the very long walk. These days, I heard that the Long Walk is held entirely within the Lim Chu Kang training area. The distance is shorter but probably also incredibly boring.

Official result:

Net time: 00:59:04 (355/1520)
Gun time: 01:01:37 (322/1520)
Split 1 (3.4 km): 00:20:06
Split 2 (7.3 km): 00:22:39

Net time wise, this is my slowest 10 km race for 2016.

Proof by Contrapositive and Proof by Contradiction
In logic, it is well known that P → Q if and only if ¬Q → ¬P. The statement ¬Q → ¬P is known as the contrapositive of P → Q and is often used as a method of proof for P → Q.

I have always seen "proof by contrapositive" as a special case of "proof by contradiction". This is because to prove that P → Q, first we assume P. Next, we assume ¬Q, and somehow we also manage to prove ¬P from ¬Q. As ¬P contradicts the original assumption of P, then Q must be true.

The above proof by contradiction shows that P → Q if ¬Q → ¬P. To show that both are equivalent, the "only if" part can be proven by substituting P with ¬Q and Q with ¬P, giving ¬Q → ¬P if ¬¬P → ¬¬Q, which leads to ¬Q → ¬P if P → Q, our desired result.

Somehow, proof by contrapositive always felt a bit superfluous in my eyes.

Mapletree 18
Mapletree 18 is an upcoming industrial building facing Upper Paya Lebar Road, adjacent to Tai Seng MRT station. It finished construction earlier this year and has obtained TOP, and currently it appears that the building is undergoing internal fit-out works before opening to the public. At this period of time, the lights in this building is completely turned on at night, and I have to say that I found this newest building rather ugly.

I very rarely talk about properties. However, I pass by this region twice every working day, and nonetheless I look forward to the opening of Mapletree 18, albeit for a selfish reason.

Perhaps some history is in order. When the Tai Seng MRT station opened in 2010, it is quite a curiosity as to why both its exits are located on the same side of Upper Paya Lebar Road. The thing is that it is not so convenient to cross this major road at this location. The road proper has four lanes per direction, widening to 8 lanes at the junction with MacPherson Road and Airport Road. Then add one KPE exit and a frontage road, both in the northbound direction, and you will easily see that it is impossible to safely cross this road anywhere other than the humongous traffic junction or an overhead bridge that is quite far away. Because of the density of industrial buildings on the other side of Upper Paya Lebar Road, this traffic junction sees not only heavy traffic, but also very heavy pedestrian footfall.

It suffices to say, this ten-lane road crossing is not pleasant under the typical hot and humid weather, and is much worse when it is raining. For this and other reasons, I often prefer to take a taxi or bus on my way to work, and use the MRT only on my way home when the weather is cooler in the evening.

It is also a curiosity that the plot of land which Mapletree 18 stand on is the very last plot of land to be sold in this Tai Seng industrial area. Buildings have started appearing in all other plots except this, and it was only sold in 2013. Apparently, URA had to permanently close a vehicular linkway to the industrial area and amalgamate the freed up land to make it into a bigger plot, and turned it into a white site, before it managed to sell off the land. But once the plot was listed, it attracted a total of seven bidders, and was eventually sold to the highest bidder for more than $120 million.

One major condition for this plot of land is, the developer must build an underground linkway from the building to Tai Seng MRT station, under the drainage canal. From information that can be found on the web, the MRT station even had a knock-out panel to facilitate this connection. So it has been the government's plan all along to push the cost of building of an entrance on the other side of Upper Paya Lebar Road to a private developer. Just that JTC took so long to sell this plot of land.

And so, I anticipate that Mapletree 18 will open to the public some time next year, and I look forward to it for the selfish reason of not really liking having to cross a ten-lane road. Apart from that, I have no interest in this rather ugly-looking property.

Performance Series Race 4, Bedok Reservoir
This 10 km race was marred by poor weather and poor decision making by the race organizers. It had three waves starting 45 minutes apart, and the first wave was cancelled about 35 minutes after flagoff when lightning struck in the reservoir region. The funny thing is that the organizers only cancelled the wave only lightning activity has died down. Complaints in the Facebook page mentioned that the first wave flagged off despite the obvious lightning risk, further highlighting poor decision making by the race organizers.

I was in the second wave, and it got delayed 45 minutes to 8 am when the race organizers decided to start the second and third waves together. I don't complain about this decision from the race organizers, but at a personal level this wait seemed exceedingly long when I woke up at 4:45 am to catch the first bus to the race venue, when I could have gotten another hour's sleep. Additionally, I was very fatigued the week prior, which made me feel out of energy even as I started the run. As a result, I had no feelings after the run, without the post-run satisfaction.

For this race, I am positioned almost right at the front. Once the fast runners have disappeared, I pretty much run this race on my own, except on occasion where people overtook me. The route was two rounds the Bedok Reservoir, with a narrow branch where we are supposed to run to and back. The route is pretty flat for about 8.5 km, and then one huge upslope in the final 1.5 km. Weather is cool with a nice view of the reservoir under an overcast sky.

According to my own measurements, this race is almost exactly 10 km in length, not like some races where the actual distance is several hundred meters short of the advertised length. If my own unofficial timing is 53:36 is officially verified, then this timing will be a personal best in the category "10 km race in which the actual distance is not significantly less than 10 km".

Update. Official net time is 53:27, ranked 113 of 1603. The splits are 1.4 km - 06:50, 4.0 km - 20:25, and 6.5 km - 34:38.

Hosting change
I have a web site at Nine years ago, I had slightly bigger plans for the web site, but these plans never materialized. Over the years, the web site is hardly updated and receives very little traffic, as to be expected.

A consequence is that the hosting plan has been somewhat oversized for the current usage. Together with price increases over the years, I finally decided to change to another company that provides budget hosting when the time is up. This includes migrating my domain registration over, as the annual domain name cost is only two-thirds of my previous cost. The expected new yearly cost should be less than half my previous yearly cost. In return, I don't expect a level of service that is as high as my previous hosting provider.

This is the first time I initiated a domain transfer, and I do not fully know what it entails. Hopefully, the transfer completes in a couple of days, but given the relatively low importance of the website, I can accept some downtime if the web site goes down for a while if the transfer was not completed before the service ended at the old hosting provider. What I don't want to happen is having to spend time contacting support. I shall see what happens in due time.

In other news, the WING web site has been down for a sufficiently long amount of time that it disappeared from Google searches. Nevertheless my alumni group is still intact, except that the WING web server suffered a failure and the undergraduate system administrators require quite a bit of time to bring it back up.

Army Half Marathon 2016
This must be my most mentally unprepared race. Registered through my mobile phone in a MOF restaurant during the only nights off during my reservist in-camp training, a few hours before registration deadline because I was too busy with work prior to that to pay attention to races (the organizers subsequently extended the registration deadline). I collected my race pack on a Friday evening barely a few minutes before they officially close for the day. After race pack collection, I never paid attention to the contents of the race pack, and never read the race guide except for a brief glance of the map. Was working on a programming task till past midnight the night prior, so slept for less than two hours before waking up for the race. Felt quite heaty when I woke up, and only pinned my bib and tied the timing chip in the taxi on the way there - it was when I realized my bib number is a palindrome. The taxi was doing so much abrupt acceleration and braking that I arrived at Padang slightly dizzy. The whole thing is quite a comedy.

And then I proceeded to run the best half marathon in recent times, should be less than 1 hour 58 minutes. If I discount the 2014 edition of the 2XU Compression Run, which seemed like more than half a kilometer less than 21.1 km, then this Army Half Marathon will be my new personal best for half marathon if it is officially recognized.

For myself, I tried to squeeze towards the front of the pack, and once the race started I headed towards the 02:00 pacers, overtaking them at Anson Road. I like knowing my relative position among pacers as a gauge of my own pace, but the downside of this strategy is that I run too fast during the first few kilometers. The first ten kilometers proceeded normally, but subsequently I started to lose core energy. My pace slowed down quite a bit in the final third of the race, and everybody else seemed to be overtaking me. According to my tracker, the final kilometer took almost 6 minutes. I pushed myself very hard during this race, and passed the finish line exhausted and totally out of energy. During the race, I consumed one chocolate bar at 7 km and another at 14 km. I didn't accept the bananas from the race organizers.

Additional comments:
1. Haze threatened to affect the race right till the evening prior. Thankfully the winds blew away the haze, and the race events proceeded as planned in good quality air.
2. I very much appreciate that there are a lot of water points along the route. Although I also acknowledge that the organizers have a lot of free labour resources at its disposal.
3. Previous editions of this race have been plagued with serious congestion at the Tanjong Rhu area under the Benjamin Sheares Bridge. There is no such issue this time, because the path at that area has been widened.
4. I observe an increasing amount of pacer service at running races. This particular race had pacers for 01:50, 02:00, 02:10, 02:20, 02:30, and even 02:40. Although I rarely run with the pacers, I find them very useful.
5. There isn't much to do at the race carnival post race. But this is a very minor point for a race that is well organized.

Update. Official timing is 01:57:33, ranked 692 of 9903 by net time. The splits are:
1.55 km - 00:07:10
10 km - 00:52:57
15.7 km - 01:26:55
17.3 km - 01:35:07

High-Key ICT 2016
This is my 6th high-key ICT. For this ICT, the arrangement is the same: 5-day low-key for the young guys, and add another Monday for us old guys to make it a minimal high-key.

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Performance Series Race 2, Jurong Lake
This morning I participated in Performance Series Race 2 in the 10 km category. I completed two rounds of Jurong Lake in less than 51 minutes net time (unofficial). However, my GPS logged only 9.75 km.

Comments about Performance Series Race 2:
1. Interesting location at Jurong Lake. This was what drew me to register. Overall view is good. I want to support more such races.
2. Route is mostly flat but slightly undulating at a few places, such as the bridges leading to Chinese Gardens and Japanese Garden.
3. Hydration stations sufficient but the volunteers at one of them fill the cups with less than half cup of water. The other hydration station only has Gatorade and no plain water.
4. Paths too narrow to accommodate so many people, I heard 7000 but not sure whether this number is the total sum of all waves and categories.
5. As usual general etiquette of runners and pedestrians is poor. I ran some distance on the grass beside the path in the first two kilometers.
6. Race route was dry but the surrounding areas were extremely muddy, both the start and end points. I could not stop myself after passing the finishing line and stepped into one big pool of mud.
7. Weather is relatively cool but I prefer singlet rather than T-shirt. The T-shirt made my core feel warmer than expected.
8. Shuttle bus not available in Serangoon. Need to spend $23 on taxi fare.
9. The registration fee is on the cheap side ($49 for Passion Card members) and overall race experience is reasonable. Given the fairly low cost and unique location, the relatively minor blemishes can be forgiven. I hope they can improve the logistical matters in future races.

I didn't take part in Race 1, and will be skipping Race 3 because it is in the city. But will consider participating in Race 4 and Race 5 if they announce interesting locations.

Update. Official net time is 50 minutes 32 seconds, ranked 103 of 1958. Looks like a new personal best, with the caveat that the distance appears less than 10 km.


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