My Rambling Thoughts

Spooky Lego sets


Vampyre Castle (#9468), 949 pcs, US$100, 2012

Monster Fighters for Halloween 2012. This was the first time TLG had a spooky theme. It was super popular, but it was a one-off run.


Haunted House (#10228), 2,064 pcs, US$180, 2012

It even had a pseudo-Modular building.


Mystery Mansion (#75904), 860 pcs, US$90, 2015

TLG did the spooky theme again in 2015 with Scooby-Doo. Again, it was one off.


Newbury Haunted High School (#70425), 1,474 pcs, US$130, 2019

Spooky theme once more with Hidden Side. These sets have AR (Augmented Reality) — view ghosts on phone app — but they work well enough standalone.


Mystery Castle (#70437), 1,035 pcs, US$100, 2020

Hmm, does this look familiar? :hmm:


Haunted House (#10273), 3,231 pcs, US$250, 2020

Even the name is reused as-is! This fits three labels: Creator Expert, Fairground and Halloween. When TLG wants to bring something back, it usually has to be multi-role.

Going, going, gone on Carousell!

I intended to sell my stuff on ebay.sg, but there were zero views after one month. It is a dead town. I switched to Carousell.

Return of the Condor Heroes 1983 & Legend of the Condor Heroes 2017

My very first listing. I set the price at $30.

I learnt two things about Carousell very quickly. First, it has a chat function. Second, people can make offers.

I got two offers immediately (within the first hour). One $20, one $30. "Offer" functions like reverse auction. Hmm, so I should set a slightly higher price and let buyers make an offer. I like it! :lol: (Later I would find that it is still uncommon for buyers to make a lower offer. But then my prices are very good already.)

I declined the first offer and accepted the second. Once again, I learnt two more things very quickly. First, the buyer said he lived in the east. Could we meet in the middle, City Hall MRT station? I should have worked out the meeting place first.

Second, accepting the offer meant the item became reserved. It is modus operandi to accept the offer after the transaction.

I was not keen to travel all the way to City Hall. After a while, the buyer proposed meeting at Buena Vista MRT station, which I agreed to, so we had a deal.

Luckily, he turned up. :lol: (This again, is yet another lesson. Always arrange to meet at your convenience. Apparently there are many buyers who "fly aeroplane".)

I asked which of the two he really wanted and he said it was RoCH '83.

I'm surprised this sold so quickly (met up the next day). The two shows costed me S$99.90 at retail. I bought RoCH '83 at full price and got the other "free". Did I price this too low? Well, I'm just glad that I could get rid of them.

Final earnings: $27.23 (after $2.77 train fare).

Transformers comics

I have a ton of Transformers comics that I do not like. In fact, I never liked them. Why did I keep buying? :-(

Among them (the ones I have with me now), I picked three I disliked the most to get rid of:

  • Last Stand of the Wreckers, S$43.94
  • Best of Megatron, S$28.61
  • Megatron Origins, S$28.52

I priced them at $30. No takers. $25? None. When I dropped the price to $22, I got an offer immediately.

This time, I'm a little smarter now. Meetup at my town's MRT station only. We transacted over the train station barrier on the same day. It was fast cos I just flipped the pages to show the buyer the books' condition, then he passed me the money. The buyer was vey nonchalant and seemed to want to take the books without checking! I think he was not too concerned about the condition given the price.

Retail price $101.07. Sold for $22. :cry:

Macross CMS Collection Part 2

I should have used this as the listing cover photo, then it would have gathered more interest. Instead, I used the boring picture of the outer box.

I listed this at $110, but went lower over time. I went as low as $90, then $95. Someone offered $90 and I accepted. He wanted to transact over the train station barrier, but this was not a take-n-go transaction, so I decided to tap-in and meet him at the train platform. I wanted ample time for the buyer to check carefully.

I had multiple enquires for this. Some wanted Minmay or Misa only (the two figures shown), as expected. I had an offer at $80.

There was an interested buyer, but in the end he bought it elsewere, presumably at a cheaper price. He also got the secret figure in the box at the front right corner. That was news to me cos it was thought that the secret figure was at the front left or back right, which was why I opened those two boxes (more than ten years ago).

How much is this item worth? The retail price is 5800 yen (~S$75), but that was over ten years ago. Has it appreciated? Sadly, Part 2 was over-produced (in response to the quickly OOP Part 1 and rapidly escalated prices). There was massive speculation in Singapore, so there was overstock of this even after many years. I had always meant to sell this (this was my third box), but I had always put it off.

The supply is spotty, though. Sometimes you find sellers trying to clear their boxes for a cheap price. Sometimes you see sellers selling individual figures (especially Minmay and Misa) for high prices (i.e. $30 each).

Finally, I was worried about the figures' condition because I did not store the box in a climate-control room. But the buyer did not contact me, so I presumed they are fine.

Final earnings: $89.23 (after $0.77 train fare).

Lego Modular Buildings

I am progressing to trim my Lego collection. For a start, I will let go of three of my biggest sets. I sell them as a bundle to save effort. These are MISB. Due to the size of these, I set the meetup location at my block.

I set the price at $660. This is a slight discount over market price. Pet Shop (2011) is the oldest, but it is also the most over-stocked, so its price is around $210 to $230. Palace Cinema (2013) is around $220 to $240. Parisian Restaurant (2014) is the most valuable of the bunch, but it is also around $240 to $260 only.

Someone offered $600. I declined. Another buyer asked if I could deliver. I said $20. He didn't reply. I had multiple enquiries for PR. I offered to sell it for $235. They didn't get back.

One week later, someone took up my offer and collected from my place (he drove). It is as easy as it gets. Even though I put down COD, the buyer used PayNow. (Well, what can I do, he doesn't have the cash on-hand.)

I don't know my exact cost (I bought two from Amazon and shipped using ezbuy; they were still shrink-wrapped), but should be around $250 each. I bought Pet Shop locally for around $270. In other words, I made a loss of $110. :cry:

I must be the only person who make a loss selling Lego. Isn't Lego supposed to be sure-appreciate-one? First, my buy-in price was too high (I had no intention to sell). I remembered Palace Cinema went for $215 new locally at one store. And when it closed down, it had 20% off sales.

Second, these sets are heavily stocked-up. There are sellers setting the price at S$240, presumably with delivery.

I'm considering whether I want to keep or sell Detective Office (2015) and Brick Bank (2016) — I only have five genuine Modular Buildings in all (plus a duplicate Pet Shop). Surpisingly, these are selling at $300+. I had several enquiries if I had these for sale. Apparently there are still new collectors entering the hobby and they want to "catch up".

There are two main reasons to get rid of these sets: space and knockoffs. KO costs only a fraction of the real thing. Singaporeans are very price-conscicous. Massive overstock and KOs will keep the price depressed.

This is making me wonder if I should sell off those that are KO'ed. (I have the KO'ed version as well. :-P)

Galaxy Trucker board game

I bought this from a local online retailer for S$95 in 2014 as Amazon did not ship to Singapore. This was very expensive. Amazon was selling it for US$30+.

I already had the Anniversary edition, which was the base game plus two expansions, from Amazon for US$94.43. The idea was that the card backs would not match over time if played separately, so feeling extravagant, I bought the base game to play standalone. (It was those cost-was-no-object years...) It turned out I never had a chance to play the game.

As part of my price research, I checked that this is currently selling new on amazon.sg for S$46.79. Oh well. :-/

My copy is opened but unplayed. I priced it at $35. No takers. $33. None. $31? Yes, one buyer! He bargained with me, we finally settled at $30.

Unfortunately, the buyer lived in the east. In the end, he agreed to meet at Jurong East MRT station, so we dealt on the train platform.

Final earnings: $27.23 (after $2.77 train fare).

I'm actually surprised that this game got sold relatively quickly. I made a huge loss, but I was also glad to get rid of it. Galaxy Trucker is a very niche game. I asked the buyer and he had heard of the designer Vladimír Chvátil.

I'm listing several board games for sale, but they are shelfwarmers. I may list a few more in the future.

Positive news from Trump!

Breaking news: Trump has been infected with nCoV!

For the sake of four more years of entertainment, he has to get through this.

The first five days (just like run-of-the-mill flu) are the most crucial. After that, well, he is immune! :lol:

Update (6 Oct): Trump is out of hospital, but he is not fully recovered yet. (He climbed two flights of stairs as a show of strength, but he was out of breath.)

"Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.". This could very well be the slogan for Trump 2020. He has earned it.

We have become so risk-averse. We wanted to save lives at all costs, that we destroyed so much livelihood.

There is so much fearmongering and denial, when the truth is right in our face. Now it cannot be obscured anymore. It is not just Trump, but all those who caught it at the White House. They will show the world just what the virus is.

(This is what leadership is, even if not by choice.)

Be flexible to avoid default

News: HDB extends suspension of late payment charges on mortgage arrears; 50% rebate on rental flat payments for 3 months

Date: 1 Oct 2020. Source: Today.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will extend its suspension of late payment charges on HDB mortgage arrears to March 31, 2021, to help households cope with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said on Thursday (Oct 1).

This is the second time that the suspension has been extended. HDB first suspended late payment charges on April 1 for three months, then extended the suspension to Sept 30.

And from Oct 5, those on HDB loans can also extend their loan repayment period up to age 65 if they need long-term adjustments to their cash flow, Mr Lee said in a Facebook post.

Hmm, don't people pay mortagage using their CPF? Are their CPF empty too? If so, this is very bad.

Only 2.5k applied from April to August. From July 16 news:

Giving an update on the uptake of these relief measures at the release of MAS’ annual report, Mr Menon said nearly 34,000 individuals have successfully applied to defer the payment of their principal or interest of their mortgage loans.

More than 25,000 have also deferred paying their insurance premiums for six months.

As for SMEs, more than 5,300 have also applied for repayment deferment.

34k! Either they applied before April or they took up bank loan.

50 people unable to pay, it is their problem. 5,000 people unable to pay, it is the bank's problem. 50,000 people unable to pay, it is the nation's problem.

Debt iceberg ahead!

News: MAS, banks said to be in talks to extend debt relief scheme for borrowers hit by Covid-19 pandemic fallout

Date: 28 Sep 2020. Source: ST.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is in talks with lenders about extending the Republic's debt moratorium programme beyond Dec 31 to provide extra relief to borrowers hit by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

One of the key measures being discussed by the MAS and local banks is the possibility of lengthening the debt relief programme with industries that have been impacted most by the crisis potentially having aid extended by as many as six months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are confidential.

An extension to the debt moratorium would help mitigate the so-called "cliff effect" on consumers and businesses once relief measures end.

The way I look at it, avoiding the "cliff effect" is to allow businesses to wind-up over six months, rather than all at once. That's it. Can they recover? The chance is low.

Consumers can defer both principal and interest payments on residential mortgages.

Pretty good deal. But if you are in an affected industry and you need this, can you re-skill and find another job with similar pay? It would be challenging.

(The monthly repayment for 30-years tenture $1mil loan at 1.80% is $3.6k. This is at the low-end of private housing in Singapore.)

UOB has 16% of their debts under relief programs? That's pretty high.

The crash is looming.

Career crash landed

News: One sees his flying dream cut short, other SIA pilots become delivery drivers, retire early

Date: 27 Sep 2020. Source: Today.

It was his life-long dream to be a pilot but for Steven, his career was over before it even began.

He is among the cadet pilots from the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group who will have to leave the company after completing his third of four phases of training, which lasts about three to four months.

Steven, who declined to reveal his real name, spent five years in a corporate role before making a career switch to pursue his dream of flying.

The aviation sector, along with aerospace, tourism, gaming, events and hospitality, are decimated.

Brian works as a delivery driver and earns $2 – $3k. That seems pretty good. His basic pay (should be around $6.5k) is not enough for his expenses.

A 50-year old used to earn $23k, now $13k. His monthly expenses is $19+k. He spent almost 90% of his take-home pay. Hmm...

(My monthly expenses are also pretty high as a percentage of my income. I should probably look into it...)

He told TODAY that he is cash-strapped because the money he has earned during the span of his career has been invested in properties, stocks and bonds.

This is the problem with investments. In a downturn, when you need cash the most, investments are often at their lowest. Even though it is commonly recommended to keep 6 months of savings, well, it's 6 months now.

CJ is 28 years old and used to earn $14k, now $6.5k. So 28 years old earn $14k, 50 years old earn $23k.

The 59-year old took early retirement. Very noble of him. But he is only able to do so if he has no large financial commitments. That is not easy with our debt-driven lifestyle — we borrow large amount of money to buy house/car and pay them off over years. If our income stops, oops.

I think there will be more rounds of pay cuts. SIA is retaining these pilots at quite a high cost ($6.5k to $13k). They better be prepared.

Wasted $7 on useless shows

I bought these two shows for 9.90 yuan each, plus 12 yuan domestic shipping, in Jan this year. They are cheap because they are DVD-Rs.

I only wanted 吉星拱照 (The Fun, the Luck & the Tycoon), but the high shipping made me look for other titles. I could only find one in the seller's catalogue that I had the slightest interest in: 战神传说 (Moon Warriors). I had not watched it, but it was remastered on blu-ray, so it should be good, right?

(I bought this 吉星拱照 DVD-R just before I found there was a pending blu-ray release. Otherwise I would not have wasted my time.)

How's their quality?

吉星拱照 is non-anamorphic widescreen. I should have known. There is a long-OOP anamorphic widescreen HK DVD release. That's the one I wanted.

Moon Warriors looked like it was recorded in cinema! It had a very nostalgic 70s discolored old film kind of look. Anyway, I skimped through the movie (downloaded a blu-ray rip) and it was not to my liking. The story is very simple and the director seemed to be showing off his cinematography instead.

I have decided to throw both of them away. (Principle: don't live with your mistakes. :lol:)

Blu-rays update 2020

I bought just one blu-ray disc since 2018 (outside of old Chinese serials on BD-R).

Movie Year DVD Price Show Disc Year Notes
1984 Y US$17.19 Nausicaa (USA) 2017 No red cast. Denoised to remove much of the grain, but I think it is done well enough.
1990 N 150 yuan (S$30) The Fun, the Luck & the Tycoon [吉星拱照] 2020 I liked it back in the days. It does not really stand up to the test of time. As far as I can tell, this is HD as opposed to DVD-upscale, but it is not remastered.
1999 Y US$21.63 The Matrix (4K+BD) 2018 I said I won't get it, but this removed the green cast. :lol:

I got just the first movie, rather than the trilogy. The first movie by itself is great. Don't spoil it.

2001 – 2011 N US$27.49 Harry Potter: Complete 8-Film Collection 2018 I'm not really a Harry Potter fan, but who could resist such a bargain price?

The films are not remastered, though. The 4K blu-rays are, but normal blu-rays were never updated.

I should not have bought this. :-D

2006 Y US$24.99 Cars 2017 Paid a high price for it. It's worth it, but should have waited for price to drop. :-P This is one of the few movies I would buy on 4K, provided it is a true 4K transfer. (The current one is a 2K-upscale.)
2014 N US$24.99 Guardians of the Galaxy 2017 Overpriced and not my cup of tea. I don't like superhero genre as a rule, but thought this would be different.
2014 N US$10.11 The Maze Runner 2014 I decided to get the individual films rather than boxset. Best of the trilogy, but that's not saying much. Average only.
2015 N US$13.80 Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials 2015 Worst of the trilogy. Not much story. Many chase scenes, especially by zombies. I skipped all of them. That cut the run-time by half. I hate zombies.
2017 N US$14.99 Blade Runner 2049 2018 Now US$7.99! Destined to be a cult classic like the original. No one appreciates slow low-key sci-fi anymore.
2017 N US$19.45 Cars 3 2017 While much better than Cars 2, it does not live up to Cars. Just like many other franchises, it is better to pretend sequels do not exist. :lol:
2017 N US$14.99 Ghost In The Shell 2017 2017 Now US$10.10. Not very well received, but I like it well enough. Doubt will have a sequel.
2017 N US$14.99 Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle 2018 Still not watched.
2018 N US$14.99 Maze Runner: The Death Cure 2018 An okay action-adventure story. Ultimately forgettable. Too much diversity for me. :ninja:

Missing:

  • Castle of Cagliostro 4K (not yet released)
  • Stagecoach (1939)
  • The Time Machine (1960)

I now have 42 titles on blu-rays (counting entire Harry Potter series as one title). I plan to get rid of some that I don't really like.

Originally, I intended to have a total of 30 titles only, but that does not seem possible. I will go by categories instead:

CategoryCurMax
Anime1012
Cartoon44
Chinese45
Classics69
English1915

Note to self: the show should be remastered, preferably in 4K. Otherwise there is no point to pick up the blu-ray.

Will I buy any of the shows in 4K?

Presently, the only two I will buy are Castle of Cagliostro (USA release) and Cars (assuming true 4K transfer). I may feel differently when I have a 65" TV... :-D

(But I still stand by what I said before. I believe 4K-remastered blu-ray is sufficient.)

Be dry, be cool

Xiaomi Deerma DT16C

This is rated to remove 4.8 - 6L of water (at 60% RH @ 27C) from the air a day. The tank has only 2L capacity, though.

Review

This is exactly what I want: a mid-size 2L model, is attractive and has some controls. It falls short of my expectations by just a bit.

When you receive it, you want to run it in an open room for several hours to remove some sort of burnt smell. I didn't and my room was filled with the smell for a night.

There are two fan speeds. "Low" (really normal) speed works well enough. It is pretty loud, though. This is not for (flat-size) bedroom use if you are a light sleeper.

It continues to operate when it hits the target humidity. If only it goes into (real) low-fan mode for quieter operation.

Some cons:

  • The front LCD panel (very attractive!) cycles between humidity and temperature every 20s. You may need to wait a while to see the reading that you want. Both are accurate, checked against external thermometer and hygrometer. It can be turned off by long-pressing the power button (explained in the manual).
  • The water tank can be somewhat difficult to put back. It must be positioned exactly before it can be pushed in. It is easy to take out. The water tank sensor is not real-time. It takes 3-5s to detect the tank has been removed or put back. This is not a big deal, though.
  • There is no memory. Every power on, it resets to 40% humidity, low speed, no ionizing (which I don't use) and no timer. This happens even if you use the power button and not switch off the electrical power.

Everything else, perfect!

Tip: long-press the timer to disable it.

More thoughts

I wrote the above review (slightly condensed to fit in 1,000 chars) after I bought it from Deerma Singapore on Lazada for ~S$200. But they dropped the product soon after. :-(

One thing not stated above is that DT16C is a top blower. Reviews generally say these produce more pleasant sound.

The unit does stop after it reaches the desired humidity. However, it only stops only for ~10s before resuming. The other thing I observed is that if the room is at 55% RH, then I set the unit to 60% RH, it will stop, but does not seem to resume even after RH reached 63% RH as measured by itself — maybe it has not exceed its threshold.

The dehumidifier warms the room by 1 - 1.5 degree celsius.

There is one real issue with my unit. It shows E3 error every several days of 24/7 operation (at either 55% or 60% RH). When this happens, it must be power-cycled. I suspect it overheated. :lol:

When I got the dehumidifier, I was so impressed that I wanted to buy a second unit (for a second room). But I held off after getting the E3 error. I'm in no hurry. I really only need to dehumidify one room, the other room is okay for now.

(My strategy is to control the humidity at 50 - 60% RH @ 28C in my storage/display room. I will use thirsty hippo for the Master room.)

It's a good thing, because now I want something "smarter". It should support scheduling, say, 8 hours a day. Or support two RH levels, say 60% RH in the day and 55% RH at night. Or RH tied to temperature, e.g. 55% RH @ 30C and 60% @ 28C.

The timer for DT16C is one-shot only, which is useless. It should be on a 24-hour cycle.

Know your humidity


Digital hygrometer

Everyone knows it is humid at the tropics. Everyone also knows air-con lowers humidity, so a conventional advice is to turn on air-con to "dry" the room.

Does it work?

For a long time, I thought so. Imagine my surprise when an item got moldy in my Master room where air-con was turned on 8 hours a day and the door was closed the entire day.

There is no need to guess. Just get a hygrometer and measure. These digital ones are cheap (though accuracy is suspect) — just get one for each room. They cost around 4 yuan (S$0.80) each, excluding shipping.

Long story short, the Master room had RH of 80+% — even when the air-con was running! :-O The air-con only dries the room when the condenser is running, so when it is in fan mode (i.e. the room is cold enough), somehow it adds humidity back to the room!

This happens even when the air-con is in Dry mode. The reason is that my air-con does not have a humidity sensor, so it goes by temperature alone. It stops running the condenser when it thinks the room is dry enough.

The Master room is somehow special. It is not due to the attached bathroom, though. The bathroom door is somewhat gappy, and there is a ventilation window that is normally kept open to air it. I closed the window and the humidity remained as high as ever.

Air-con in two other rooms behave normally. In fact, one room is the exemplary example. It reaches 50% RH when air-con is on at night, rises to 65+% and remains at that level when air-con is off in the day. I had noticed nothing ever get moldy in that room even though I did not take any special precautions.

The hygrometer also answers three questions that I had.

Thirsty hippo

I put Thirsty Hippo in many of my cupboards. One costs $2 and lasts around one month. I need 10. It adds up fast.

How much humidity can it lower? Answer: by about 5% RH in cupboard. It can reach 60% RH in a closed, but not air-tight, container.

Long room

I have one room that is longish in shape. It measures around 4.7m x 2.7m. The air-con is at one end of the room. When I turn it on, does it dry the whole room evenly? Answer: yes. The humidity level will equalize.

I was so unsure that I put two hygrometers in the room, one at each end, so that I could measure both at the same time.

Dehumidifier

I have a small dehumidifier that is rated to remove 300ml/day. It does extract water from the air (the 1L tank fills up in three days), but is humidity lowered? Answer: no. Not even a single percent.

I need a real dehumidifier. :lol:

YouTube audio frequency cutoff

Spectrogram for Final Fantasy VII - Complete Soundtrack:


M4A, 128 kbps

Normal 128 kbps AAC is cut off at 16 kHz.


M4A, 256 kbps

YouTube used to offer 256 kbps AAC. It was stopped after a while, though. The frequency is cut off at 18 kHz.


Opus

Always opt for Opus for music. The file size is not only smaller, the frequency cutoff is at 20 kHz.

Can the difference be heard? Yes, but not on casual listening. It is easier to tell in two cases. First, if you play a list of full-spectrum songs back-to-back, then have one that is cutoff, it will sound a little flat. Second, if you are used to listening to one full-spectrum song, then hear the same song that is cutoff, you may feel it sounds a little off, like the sharp tones are missing, which is what is happening.

It is said Opus is one step more efficient than AAC. As in, 128 kbps Opus is equivalent to 160 kbps AAC, just as 128 kbps AAC is equivalent to 160 kbps MP3. We have come a long way.

(There is no need to be too stingy with audio bitrate, since it is very low compared to video. I would use 128 kbps Opus, 160 kbps AAC and 192 kbps MP3 for "almost-transparent" encoding. One step lower for portable version.)

Diagon Alley rehashed

Diagon Alley
Diagon Alley (#75978), 5,544 pcs, US$400, 2020

TLG just released the new Diagon Alley. It looks.. colorful. I suppose they can work as civilian buildings if the pink and purple are substitued with neutral colors.

Diagon Alley
Diagon Alley (#10187), 2,025 pcs, US$150, 2011

The original one looks so much more elegant.

Newer is not always better! :-P (In this case, it is due to different design objectives.)