Precious

My baby passed away today. I’ve known her for the past 5 years (almost to the date). It seems like much longer than that. She was around 18 years old, and we’re not 100% sure of her exact age.

She was white with a bit of grey, mostly on her ears and face. And her tail was really beautiful, w/dark grey rings all the length of it.

She was a generally scared being, most likely from some early trauma or maybe a fight with a brother or sister at an early age. Precious, or “the princess” as we sometimes called her, was very selective of who she would approach, and only a few people were ever able to get close enough for comfort — her “inner circle.”

She spent most her life in the comfort and safety of her indoor palace, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t like going outside. She loved being outside actually. Loved the breeze, the sound of birds singing… and of course eating grass.

You’ve prob’ly realised by now that my “baby” walked on four legs and was covered with fur.

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When she didn’t get her way, she’d get cranky, which happened quite frequently. (There’s a reason she’s nicknamed “the princess”). She loved to play, and it usually ended up with her getting really pissed off, which was oh-so-cute in her adorable little kitten body.

And when it was time to love, she loved. We described her as a “lovey” kitty. Much more so than most kitties. She would give kisses when the mood struck, usually when she was lonely from being home alone all day, ready for bed, or right after just we’d just woken up. Oh, she was so happy in the mornings! Love & treats! She started eating wet food several times a day (her mom spoiled her so much). So much so, that if her treat was ever late in delivery, she’d start yelling for it.

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She and her brother had a tolerate/hate relationship, where he mostly tolerated her, and she hated him. Haha! He was about 3x her size, and could probably throw her around… yet this older sister mostly managed to keep him in line… at least she kept him away from her.

But he was also a big, sweet younger brother. Sometimes he’d lay beside her on the bed and they would nap together, just inches from each other. She wouldn’t even know it!

Oh yeah! About 2.5 years before she passed, she developed cataracts & couldn’t see. Quickly went from seeing fully & clearly to completely blind. So that’s why brother was sometimes able to sneak naps together with her.

Of course this changed her, too. Her blindness actually caused her to get a lot more mellow & less scared, once she got used to it. “New people” weren’t so scary after that.

She also got a bit more cranky than before… but maybe that was her old age.

In her later years, when she’d had enough “play time”, she’d get angry and start growling… which only made us want to play some more (because she was such a cute angry kitty!)… so funny! Really funny coming from that little 6.5-pound kitten anyway…

She was such a big part of our family. The whole family loved her. (It would be impossible not to.) We’re sure going to miss her. I will always have her in my thoughts and memories. My sweet, Precious little kitten.

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Review: Wiko Lenny 3 Smartphone

Wiko Lenny 3 — A Game Changer? Hardly.
Wiko Lenny 3 — A Game Changer? Hardly.

Update: Be sure and see my update below. Even more brickkery!

I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand when my Nexus 5 finally just gave out. The infamous Nexus 5 “power button issue” meant that I could not use it for more than 2 minutes without the phone just shutting down again, just immediately, as if the battery had been removed. Then my screen cracked when I was trying to get it to work. It cracked bad, so much that I couldn’t see anything even when I could get the damn phone to power up. So it was finally dead.

In the modern world where everything depends on 2-factor authentication (with a cellphone and either SMS or a smartphone app), it’s incredibly frustrating to go without a Smartphone. I won’t even get into the assumptive nonsense of requiring a phone number for just about anything these days. On to the review.

I shopped around for a couple weeks, because I really don’t like shopping and didn’t want to make a bad decision. I settled on the Wiko Lenny 3. I should state that my only experience with a smartphone before this one is with the Nexus 5, which I had for about 2 years.

The good?

It’s an Android smartphone and pretty modern, meaning I can get most (not all) of the apps I previously had on my Nexus 5. That’s about it.

The Bad

Slow. As. Molasses.

The damn thing is slow. Really slow. Like, imagine running your current computer on a x386 machine. Ok, even a Pentium.

It even comes installed with an app called “One Clean” just to kill off any background apps which are eating up RAM memory. Oh, it’s only got 1GB of RAM. I didn’t realise what a difference this would make, but apparently it’s huge (the Nexus 5 has 2GB).

Like, scrolling between screens takes 1/2 a second minimum. I want to emphasise minimum (see what I did there?). I’ve had it take 3 seconds to scroll to a different Desktop screen — just a simple swipe left or right.

Apps take seconds to open. Not fractions of a second, but multiple seconds. Like, I’ve had some take 5 – 7 seconds. It does get better after a reboot, but only a little.

Everything about the system lags all the time, e.g. when typing something on the keyboard, and you try and press a key but it’s still processing from the previous key, and just lags.

Doesn’t recognise swipes/touches well

This actually happens most of the time. I believe it’s directly related to the memory issue. I have to swipe/touch really slowly for it to even register. Otherwise it just gets lost or spotty, e.g. if I tried to draw a line, it would end up patchy, with spaces.

Example: When I use Pleco and try and draw out a Chinese character on the screen, it doesn’t always catch all the strokes. I mean, I’m pressing hard enough, but even just drawing a straight line will result in a broken line. It’s so frustrating.

Extremely Low Storage

It’s got 8GB storage. Ok, fine, I knew that when I bought it. My Nexus 5 had 32GB, and I hardly used most of that. And I filled the thing with videos and photos. But I’ve taken only 3 photos total with this Lenny 3, and installed very few apps (basic things like Google Keep, etc. which weren’t pre-installed, and things like Pleco and ChineseSkill). No Instagram, no Facebook app, none of that junk. Yet I’m at 6+ of out 8 GB already. It is expandable via MicroSD to 64GB though.

“Desktop” Icons

I can’t remove the default app icons from the “Desktop” screen (or whatever it’s called on a smartphone). On my Nexus 5, it was not a problem to remove the Desktop shortcuts, but that’s not possible at all on the Wiko. My solution was to move all the pre-installed junk to a single folder and so all that crapware just takes up one icon space instead of several screens’ worth of screen real-estate.

I’m also not able to create new icons onto the screen. On the Nexus, you open the apps folder, and drag the icon to create a new Desktop shortcut. Not how it works on a Wiko. You just don’t have the option.

Hardware design

USB charger/data port plugs in from the top. When you’re charging the phone while trying to use it also, it’s really frustrating having the cord protrude from the top of the phone. It gets in the way, feels and looks awkward.

The audio jack is on the top also, and this is the one thing about the Nexus 5 that I didn’t like, because it also has it on top. Bad design decisions.

Summary

The Wiko line looks nice, shiny, new, inexpensive. What’s not to love? Well, you heard it here first. Sorry Wiko, you’re not a “Game Changer” at all. You manufacture sub-par junk which barely functions.

You might say, well, the Lenny 3 is a low-budget model, and if I really wanted a great phone then I would have shelled out the bucks for a nicer one. And to that I would respond: How you do one thing, is how you do everything.

If Wiko didn’t want to be known for making junk phones, then this 1GB RAM model would never have been released. Don’t try and satisfy that lower price point, and instead focus on quality. But that’s not what happened, and the fact is, this company manufactures junk.

I’ll never in my life purchase another Wiko phone ever again, nor can I recommend it to anyone at all. Buy a new or used Nexus instead. The Nexus 5 has a power button issue, which I blame on LG, the manufacturer, so I’ll opt for the Nexus 6p or whatever newer model Google will release soon that’s not made by LG. But never a Wiko, never again.

One might even ask why I took the time to write this review? Well, when I was searching for information on Wiko phones and specifically the Lenny 3 model, I found nothing. Nothing to help guide me. So, hopefully this can help someone steer clear of an incredibly frustrating experience and save a little cash in the process.

Update: 2016-06-26

This phone is even more of a brick than I expected.

Every once in a while, it will just freeze up completely, and nothing works, short of opening the back and removing the battery. Yep, that’s right. About every 1.5 – 2 weeks or so it becomes a brick until you physically remove and re-install the battery. Not to mention that you have to have fingernails to claw the cover off, because apparently the hardware engineers didn’t anticipate that anyone would ever have to install a battery or a SIM card.

Obviously, this is really irritating if you’re doing something time-sensitive, like trying to take a photo.

I will repeat: DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE.

Saigon vs Chiang Mai (winner: CNX)

Chiang Mai, Thailand is one of my favourite places in the world. After arriving yesterday from Saigon, I immediately noticed the stark constast between the two places. Saigon is loud, crazy, bustling, dangerous, a concrete jungle. And hot. Really freaking hot.

Chiang Mai is less of all of that, in every category. It’s not too loud, a little less busy, not very dangerous, and instead of concrete jungle, it kinda feels like the city was built in an actual jungle. There’s trees, greenery, plenty of wats (Buddhist temples) just about everywhere you look. It does gets hot here, and it feels a bit more humid, but it’s worth the tradeoff, in my opinion.

I don’t ever want to go back to Saigon for a long, long time, if ever. This is my 3rd time in Chiang Mai, and I’m falling in love with the place all over again.

Today will be dedicated to finding an apartment and renting a motorbike. I got a horrible haircut in Saigon 2 days ago, so I’m also gonna have to get that fixed soon. (I look like Chet from the movie Weird Science. The only fix at this point is to get it all buzzed off.)

I’m also excited to see all the places that I loved to visit when I was last here 3.5 years ago. It’s really been too long between visits.

Some things have changed. May Kaidee’s is a favorite vegetarian/vegan restaurant that I sought out yesterday, and apparently they moved to a different location. There’s also a new mall which was built on the corner of Nimmanhamen and Huay Kaew Road. I still haven’t been able to check out all my old hangouts yet. A big surprise is seeing all the touristy places which cater to Chinese speakers. I’ve seen way more Chinese on signs and advertistments than I ever remember seeing in the past.

What’s really surprised me the most is that so much hasn’t changed. Kad Suan Kaew mall is still standing, and it still looks like a giant semi-abandoned warehouse. Aum vegetarian restaurant is still exactly where it was by Tae Phae Gate (eastern gate) of the old city, and they’re still serving the same fare (“The One” smoothie w/spirulina was a hit waaay back in 2012, and apparently still is). But now they have quinoa dishes too.

The Wawee coffee on Nimmanhaman Road is still there, as is the Starbucks just down the road and on the other side. But they now serve cold drinks in re-usable cups with a message to “go green”, and some suggested up-cycle ideas (e.g. make the cup into a planter). They still don’t have soy milk though. (Sigh. Some things *never* change.)

I’m most excited to go visit Pun Pun vegetarian restaurant (both locations), which is one of the best places I’ve ever eaten. Thai food really is the best food in the world. And Free Bird Cafe was another favorite, but less dependable. Are they even still around? Gotta find out.

It’s such a crazy juxtaposition, Saigon and Chiang Mai. If you can handle riding a motorbike in Saigon, then you’ll be totally fine in Chiang Mai. Really, you won’t have any problems at all, except maybe getting used to driving on the other side of the road. I don’t even think I could find kombucha in Saigon. I lived there for 3 months and can’t tell you where to get it (ok, I can tell you where you *might* find it). But here I can find it in several places, usually homemade.

Prices seem a bit lower here, for everyday things like bananas and coffee. The city is a bit nicer in general, amenities are higher quality. It’s much less dirty than Saigon. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison as Saigon is a much bigger city, but then again, I couldn’t find too many areas in Saigon where it was very clean, and I visited a lot of different places during my three months there.

The people seem friendlier here. I have a theory about the collective Vietnamese psyche in general, but I’ll save that for later. Truth be told, the food in Vietnam isn’t that great, and it’s really not healthy. They eat white rice most everywhere. If only they could make one small change, and use brown rice instead, I’d have eaten at the small cơm tấm places a lot more. But I don’t want the blood sugar spikes and low fiber content from eating pure white rice, versus brown.

CNX has more Westerners in general, is more touristy, and definitely has more of a health-conscious Western tourist subculture, at least in the old city area. It’s really nice.

In Saigon, I struggled to find any books in English, and when I did, the selection was scarce. There are plenty of book stores in CNX where I can find any type of book imaginable in English. Sure, of course they have Thai books. But they also have a nice selection of English books. (It’s equally easy to find English-language books in Bangkok.) It’s almost impossible in Vietnam. Things like this are what make it so difficult for me to imagine living in Vietnam full-time. Little things, which add up.

Ok, that’s it for now.