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Friday, 29 July 2011

I just wanna have fun!



Jan 2008 in Shanghai - You may need to click and enlarge the pic to see more clearly
 

Normally it does not snow in Shanghai, but on that fateful afternoon, it did!

Our Shanghai office was overlooking this lower roof-top, and after lunch, I was looking at all that wonder white snow. Being a Singaporean who does not have much encounter with snow, I just couldn't help not having some winter wonderland fun of my own!

Starting from right to left:

1) That's my first attempt at "writing" with my feet. I do first, plan later. Guess what? After JAR, I sheepishly found I've no space left for ED... So much for my sense of perspective and proportion! That's why I drew the embarrassed smiley face. LOL !

2) Next I decided to skip letters and go for pictures. A dolphin and on the top left corner, a butterfly. (Now why the hell would I draw a butterfly!? Its my innocence lah! Don't think astray.)

3) Ta dah! Now that I've warmed up, that's my "masterpiece" on the left square. A stylised horse inspired from the Trojan horse story. Little did I know then I would work in Athens at the end of the year; my job offer came during May that year. Coincidence? Or providence? Life is so mysterious!

After I had my fun, I went back to work. Then I heard a small commotion. Our office ladies were all pointing and laughing at my "paintings".  Some of the other "young-at-heart" like me, went down and have their own fun at the other empty white squares of snow.

Would you have done the same if you were there? Not "proper" for someone 41 years young?

Notice I shameless put my name and initials for all to see? Now you know one of the reasons why I did not blog anonymously - narcissistic me!

Soft start in peeling the onion.









Thursday, 28 July 2011

Peeling the Onion

First of all, I must thank all the recent readers who have given me feedback and got me back on track.

I thought my early posts were self-indulgent crap, and I had to be a little more "proper". That resulted in my "bombed" post on the Man-son-mule story. It's very contrived and artificial. Somehow, my stomach had a feeling something is not right, that's why I asked for the feedback. I have unbalanced myself.

As you can see from my recent posts, I am back! I just have to be myself. Don't take myself too seriously. Self-indulgent as self-indulgent can be!

I've realised that in some situations, we need to have context and perspective when reading blogs. The same words can mean different things to different people - depending on our past experiences and background.

This inspiration I got from Musicwhiz's post: Functional versus Status Items

Go to the comments. I've never seen so many men discuss so much on shoes! LOL!

I do glean a lot from what a person wears or buys. Its not surprising to me that MW is a value investor! His investment strategy is aligned with his outlook on life. That's harmony!

That's why I would like to start another "interest" tab where I will call it "Peeling the Onion".

This name was the result from a dialogue with La Papillion at his blog. I just thought this name is way cooler than "About me" or "My story continues". Thanks LP!

I will open up my "Johari window" bit by bit. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Look within for financial freedom and happiness

I am not here to proselytise, but I would like to share with readers who are searching for external answers to their quest for financial freedom and happiness.

The "easy" path is to seek the external solutions like:

1) Collect more paper qualifications (note: I did not say education)

2) Climb the career ladder

3) Seek multiple sources of income

4) Trading and investing 

5) Marry rich

6) You get the point.


I guess by exploring the external route, if we "fail" or "give up"; its easier to blame others - government, foreign talent, our parents, our teachers, society; etc.


Before you attempt to explore the internal "look within" solutions, you may want to wait for a time when your heart is quiet and calm. If the heart is not receptive, our inner voice will be drowned out by the daily grind of expectations and "surviving".

Because of my zen buddhist leanings (I don't consider it a religion personally), I have a "quieter" heart. I noticed that Christian friends who are at peace with God have this inner peace too. You can try meditation or yoga if you are an atheist.

When you are ready, you may want to read the below commentary - especially on page 2:


10 traits of a successful and happy American millionaire



Your feet, your shoes, your own journey path.  (Don't ever let others tell you what's best for you - including me!)

Monday, 25 July 2011

SMOL’s fun take on common Singaporean trading words:


Big cap       

Alternate name for big “head”. Positions held by traders who believe size does matter.


Small cap                 

Alternate name for small “head”. For traders who believe technique matters more; not size.


Elliott waves             

Technique used by stressed-out insomniac traders to help them get back to sleep – counting waves as opposed to counting sheep.


Candle-sticks

For traders who have not discovered the wonders of electricity.


Moving average      

When given their trading report card on their “average”performance over 50 or 200
days, traders will either break-out in rapture or sink into despair.


MACD

A short-form way of ordering Macdonald’s double-cheese burger by traders in a hurry.


Blue-chips

Companies ran by smurfs. Viewed as safe investment since smurfs are very cuddly and
friendly. Suitable for young children and adults who are a bit “clueless”.


S-chips

Also pronounced as “ass” chips by non-English speakers. These are companies ran by
sharks. Suitable for investors who are not afraid of swimming with the sharks, especially
shark-fin soup aficionados!


Derivatives

A kind of laxative. Suitable only for traders with strong stomach.


Brokerage

Commissioned middle-man who will go broke if their clients don’t trade enough.


Sure win one!

Sales pitch by ex-durian seller turned dealer. 

                                
Huat ah! 

A very unique war cry used by Singaporean traders who have yet to get over Chinese
New Year’s “lo hei”.


Chong ah!

A phenomenon seen at 5:05 pm after the introduction of all day trading by SGX.
A grand sight to behold when all traders rush to the loo at the same time!

Friday, 22 July 2011

To nationalise or privatise?

The recent call to review and perhaps nationalise the public transport of Singapore caught my attention.

There are pros and cons of course, but let's take 2 examples:

1) HDB - nationalised.

2) Taxis - liberalised and deregulated.


HDB

I thought there were lots of noise recently that HDB is not "transparent" with it's costing and pricing? Making too much profit? High prices and all?

So how would our public transport be better off being nationalised if the new entity adopts the same HDB pricing principles?

OK, let's assume the transport ministry won't follow the HDB "surplus" model. Then it's the deficit and "subsidised" model - and none can beat the Greek model: Can Greece's rail system scare up an investor?

If we want greater transparency, would a nationalised entity or a publicly listed transport company be more transparent with their costs, profit margin, return on investment, etc?


Taxis

Once upon a time, I only see blue Comfort taxis and black & yellow-top private taxis in Singapore. Now when I return to Singapore during home leave, I am amazed at the number of different taxi companies in Singapore - so many different colours now!

For free market competition fans, this liberalisation and deregulation should also apply to public housing to make HDB prices more competitive. Even more so for those who shout loud loud that Government should stay out of the private sector and not compete with local SMEs.

I don't know. Did free market competition result in lower taxi fares?


Who would win?

So we have 2 camps: the nationalise and free market privatise camp.

Clash of ideas and healthy debate of opposing views are good. It's how democracy should work. But if the same person today say privatise for apples, and tomorrow say nationalise for oranges, then its simply playing "politics". No? See people talk people; see ghost speak ghost.


Thinking out loud

I don't think the focus should be on the ownership structure. It's the quality of people running the show that should matter. Like the old NS joke of my time: Army is always good; its people that spoil the show.

By the way, I am a bit puzzled. If I am in opposition, I would never say nationalise (not when I'm not in power anyway). It's a bit like saying to the Government of the day that I trust you will do a better job than private enterprise?

A compliment to the ruling party and alienating private business owners and citizen shareholders? 

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Me and my scooter

Taken last Autumn Nov 2010 at Gothenburg, Sweden

Man, I feel frisky today!

Let’s take my scooter for a spin. Yes, it’s time we do the deed together!

As I approached my scooter, I whispered softly: How are you my baby? Don’t worry, you are in good hands. Leave the driving to me. I’ll be gentle.

I gently lift the cover off. Slowly revealing the front tyre… I gasped as the headlights are revealed. Heart beats fast. Breath shorter…

Ever so slowly, the handle-bars, then the black soft leather seat are revealed. I licked my lips in anticipation… Finally the rounded bottom of my scooter is exposed. You are beautiful my baby! I couldn’t hide my excitement any longer.

I lift my leg and stride across the saddle in one smooth action. Turn on the ignition and gently squeeze the accelerator. I am a man with slow hands. I’ll let my scooter warm up. I won’t ride her cold; that will be painful for her engine.

My scooter moans… She is ready. I kick-off the stand and with a jerk, I’m in.

Into the saddle, I gently gave the accelerator a few rhythmic turns. Off we go!

Attentively, I listened to her moans and groans. I will playfully ease off the accelerator each time her engine strains; and will accelerate hard again. This gets her into the next higher gear.

Perspirations start to drip from my forehead. Back drenched. Go baby go! Scooter and I are locked as one.

I see a hill approaching. I urge my scooter on. Let’s ride the crescendo together! I push hard at the accelerator. Hands clenched tightly at the handle bars. White knuckles showing. Thigh muscles tightened against the front of the saddle. Shoulders and spine arced backwards.

At the very top of the hill, we jetted off into the air. That brief moment of climatic joy seems eternal! I tilt my head back and released all my energy. Every muscle in my body relaxed. Wind blowing in my face. I am in nirvana!

We landed back to the ground with a thump. I slumped my limp body over the handle-bars. No more acceleration. We just let gravity take us down the hill. I am spent. I need to pull-over and rest.

What a ride!

Me and my scooter.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Help me understand why this story bombed....

It puzzles me why certain stories struck a chord with readers, while others bombed big time!

Last week's story on this popular Father-son-mule story is a very good example where it bombed...

I have added my intentions for the story at the comments section.

For those that don't mind helping me out, can you re-read the story and my comment? Can you share your feedback on how I can improve the next time?

1) Was the story too long? (I normally kept my stories to max 2 x A4 paper in MS word)

2) Or having a twist to a popular story does not work for you? You saw the title and stopped reading?

3) Was it too simple or cryptic?

4) Any other feedback you would like to share.

You can be brutally frank. Don't worrry. I am an optimist as my cup is always half-full.

I see this as something positive. That means the low hanging fruits have been plucked, and I can't coast along anymore.

Hence I am asking for support to help sharpen my saw (or pencil).

Thanks!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Bird watching in Athens







I made a promise to a young friend in cbox that I will take pictures of "birds" (that's what the brits call them) in Athens. There! Now I can be released and rest in peace like the green undead warriors in Lord of the Rings 3 ;)

Must say I was very nervous and timid last Saturday... Half the time I was worried a policeman will haul me up to jail for voyeurism!

Ah summer time!

Caasi, do come to Greece during your summer breaks! If you are "adventurous", go to Mykonos island. There are topless and nudist beaches there. And I've heard about the wild parties there...

I've not been to Mykonos though - I am shy and self-conscious of my body (but not my bald head!)...

I know, I know. I lame :(

Friday, 15 July 2011

The man who wants to buy new shoes (a soft satire)

Long ago, no, longer than when policemen wear shorts… Go back longer. When Chinese men still wear pigtails? Yes, that’s about right!

There lived a man in a Chinese village (why most stories happen in villages?) who wanted to buy a pair of new shoes in town.

He is a “precision” kind of guy. Everything has to be “exact” and “precise”. He loves to measure everything!

True to his nature, he took 2 strings and measured them against his feet. Cut away the ends, and presto! He got 2 strings that have exactly the same length as his feet. Confidently, he put them on his nightstand and went to bed.

The next morning, he walked to town with a spring in his stride. He’s gonna have new shoes!

On arriving at the shoe shop, he slipped his hands into his pocket and to his horror… He has forgotten to bring the strings with him!

Disappointed, he walked back home empty-handed.

Hello!?


Before you laugh at the man, how do you buy stocks?


At the very least, the man used the strings he measured himself…


(I am putting my magi-mee pot over my head now.)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Should I DIY or outsource to professionals?

On Monday night, my Dell desktop PC crashed and can no longer boot up with Windows XP. All I got is a strange looking error message:

“Ntfs.sys file missing or corrupted”

The next day, I googled the internet and found many solutions how to fix this problem – even found one You-tube video with step by step instructions!!! (This internet thing is great!)

However, I soon found out it’s not that easy… I spent the whole Tuesday evening sweating profusely. (Air-con full blast still I sweat? I stressed or what!?) And being very frustrated with myself and the 6.5 years old Dell desktop PC.

The solution was easy enough: just boot up from CD-ROM the original Windows re-installation CD, and press R for repair at the Window setup menu. Ha!

Below is what I’ve learnt from this experience:

1)   I discovered what is BIOS. And how to change the boot sequence to first boot from CD-ROM. Took me ages to figure out why I can’t boot from the Windows re-installation CD… If I had hair, I would have pulled out lots of it by now! All this time, I kept screaming: “Why don’t you freaking boot up!?”

2)   Later on, I finally discovered from trial and error how to remove in BIOS my defective DVD-ROM in BIOS so that it will boot up from the remaining working CD-ROM. Finally some light in the tunnel!

3)   Guess what? It finally boot up from my Window re-installation CD. But when it tried to load the Windows setup menu, ¾ into setup installation process, it got stuck with the same bloody “Ntfs.sys file missing or corrupted” message!!!

Hello, I know! But how come even the Windows re-installation CD’s Ntfs.sys file also corrupted? I am supposed to copy this file from this CD to my hard-disk!!!

4)   I gave up! Took a shower and watched some TV. Very angry with myself for wasting my time. Should have either junk this PC (I am planning to buy a notebook when I return to Singapore) or simply have taken this PC to a PC repair shop. I should have known better than to try DIY when I’ve never been much of a DIY person... Feeling very defeated…

5)   Then near mid-night, I couldn’t sleep. I decided to give it one last try. I discovered that when you start the PC, there is this F2 and F12 buttons. Played around with it and found that under F12, there is a utility diagnostic function. Ran the tests and found that it always got stuck at the memory testing stage.

6)   Since this is an old PC, no harm in removing the memory cards and test them one by one. If I mess up, the most is to junk this PC – “treat sick horse like dead horse”.

Ta dah! It’s a hardware problem! 2 of my original memory cards have died on me. Hmm, it’s a Samsung again. My Samsung DVD-ROM died on me after 5 years, now the same for the memory cards after 6.5 years. Lucky I bought extra RAM last year in Singapore so now everything is fixed J

What appears to be a software problem turned out to be a hardware problem!

I slept with a victory smile last night.


If you are still with me, you must be bored stiffed! The reason I used the “technical jargon” is to simulate the financial jargon a newbie will face when first trying their hand in investing or trading.

The advice on intranet sounds all so easy. Do this, do that, and presto! Financial freedom!

We forget the “context”. The advice is not wrong. But my PC gave the “wrong” symptom… so the solution for me is ultimately what I have to figure out for myself. But without the internet advice, I would not have started my journey. So I must still give credit to the advice from the internet for bringing me to the doorstep. The rest is up to me.

Will I attempt to DIY when it’s a new and expensive notebook? I would most probably send it to the IT professionals! I only attempted this DIY exercise since it’s an old PC. The risk of failure is minimal.

I guess it applies to investing/trading. With smaller capital, we tend to take more risks (using leverage) and have greater tendencies to DIY. But if we have 2 million and more and qualify to be a high net worth investor, would we take advantage of private banking services instead? Outsource it to the professionals?

One thing I discovered from last night’s experience. The priceless sense of accomplishment I got is not something that can't be replaced by money.

The greater the personal effort and sacrifice invested, the sweeter the taste of success. Victories without much effort is something else…


P.S.

The emotional lows and highs last night were similar to my investing/trading experience. Especially the capitulation stage and the desire to try again one last time ;)


Monday, 11 July 2011

The father and son and their mule – the next generation

You may have heard of this story about the man and his son with their mule. If you have not, you may want to read about it here from La Papillion’s blog:father-son-and-donkey



Well, the little boy grew up and became a father himself to a bright young boy of ten.

One Saturday morning, father and son decided to sell one of their mules to the weekend market inside of town.

Before they sat off from their farm, the father recalled the lessons he had learned when he was young and hoped to pass it on to his son.

“Son, why are we going to the market?” asked the father as they started their journey.

“To sell our mule!” answered the little boy with glee. He is happy to go to town once again and visit the shops with all the candies and chocolates! Especially the chocolates, he simply loves them!

The father looked at his son with pride and tapped his finger on his son’s nose.

“Don’t you forget now.”

And off they went on their hour long journey to town. Father and son walked side-by-side, while father was pulling the mule behind him.

A while later, the boy’s little feet started to ache and he jumped onto the mule to rest his feet. Not long after, they met two old men walking in the opposite direct towards them.

On passing these two old men, father and son could hear one of the old men grumbling to his companion.

“Young kids these days have no respect for their elders. The poor father walks while he enjoys the ride.”

Upon hearing it, the little boy turned to his father with shame in his eyes.

“Father, you want to ride?”

The father looked at his precocious son and smiled.

“Why did you ride the mule in the first place?” asked the father.

“My feet hurt,” answered the boy sheepishly.

“Does it still hurt?”

“Yes... Oh! I understand now. Thanks father!”

The father smiles as he walked along, pulling his mule while his son sits on top.

But oh folly! Midway through the journey, the father stepped on a stone and sprained his ankle. Now father has to ride the mule while his little son pulls the mule at the front.

A group of farmer’s wives approaches as they are returning from their weekend marketing.

“Insect!” shouted one woman, “a full grown man like you enjoying your ride while you son walks?” pointing her finger angrily at the father.

The little boy was startled, but he gave the women folks a greeting and kept on walking. The father was now beaming with pride at his son’s lack of explanation to the women folks. The boy is smarter than his age.

Before long, they reached town. While walking towards the weekend market, they came before the little boy’s favourite chocolate shop.

“Father, please?” pleaded the little boy.

“You remember why we came to town this morning?” asked the father.

“But it’s only for a short while. Please, please?” beaming his most innocent face to his father.

How could the father say no to that? They tied the mule to a pole and went into the chocolate shop.

After 10 minutes, father and son came out of the chocolate shop, but they found their mule missing!? Despite frantically searching nearby, there’s no sign of the mule anywhere…

Before the father could let out his frustration, he stopped when he saw the tearing red eyes of his son. The little boy was full of regret.

“Father, it’s my fault! I should not have asked for chocolates…I am sorry.”

All of sudden, the anger and pain of losing the mule is lost. The father’s heart is now filled with love for his son.

“Don’t worry. We can come next Saturday to sell another mule,” the father tried to console his son.

“Come, let’s go home.”

As father and son returned to their journey back home, the little boy reached out and grab the hand of the father.


Thursday, 7 July 2011

江惠-半醉半清醒





I prefer to be a bit blur, less awake at times.

To be less sure about things that I think I know.

To see things in shades of grey, not always black and white.

To use fuzzy logic, not binary logic when it comes to human interactions.

And most of all, be more selfish, more narcissistic, more self-centred.

Yes! More about me, me, me!



Monday, 4 July 2011

I am an equities man-whore

Yes, I am an equities man-whore and proud of it! I make no apologies as I am what I am.

I flirt from stocks to stocks, always on the lookout for sugar mummies who can provide me the sugar rush I crave.

There are 2 kinds of sugar mummies:

1)     Those who promise to give me part of their estate (capital gains).

2)     And those who buy me smart clothes and blinks blinks (dividends).


Of course the best would be to find one that can provide me both! And I should be so lucky! (Concentrated position)  

Even if I am with a sugar mummy today, whenever a bigger catch comes along, I’ve no problem dropping my bird in hand to catch the phoenix in the bush. Must always climb to the top – each encounter is merely a stepping stone (portfolio re-balancing).

I’ve also been known string a few sugar mummies along at the same time (diversification).

But man! You should see the numbers of red-bulls I’ve to drink! Whatever to pick me up! And there are times I have to depend on the little blue pills (leverage)…

If a sugar mummy has fallen on hard times, I will drop her like a bad habit (cut-loss).

There’s no loyalty or gratefulness in my books; no money no honey! (When the reasons I bought are no longer valid, I’m out!)

Yes, I am cold like the hard cash in my bank account (no emotions).

There! Now that I’ve introduced myself, tell me something about yourself.

“Pretty woman, are you married?” (Are you married to your stock?)


Friday, 1 July 2011

6 months' milestone in blogging

It's been 6 months since I've started blogging on Dec 23, 2010. How time flies!

Looking back, I cringe when I re-read my early posts... Almost to the extent of deleting them - they are so full of self-indulgent crap! But I will leave them as a testimony of how I started lost, and slowly found my way around - thanks to the guidance and support from you readers.

I've also document this constant question of mine on what to blog at the "Why I blog" page. I will keep it updated on new ideas that pop up. Quite a few of my "interests" were inspired by comments by more senior bloggers who visited and gave their encouragement:

1) "Songs that inspire me" came about from comments by Musicwhiz and La Papillion.

2) My series of bite-sized stories was the result from encouragement from La Papillion.

3) "Roar of the heart" is inspiration from reading posts at valuebuddies.com and bully the bear cbox. I find these two "taverns" a fun and intellectually stimulating place where we can engage in mature adult dialogue and discussions (not x-rated kind lah!).

I am especially glad that recently, more readers are offering alternative and/or different views on my posts. That means we are pass the "friendly friendly nice nice" stage. Please continue to do so! Many times, I find myself saying: "Eh? I didn't see it from that viewpoint. Interesting!" or "I don't share that position; but what makes him say that? Is he speaking from past experience or is he just trying to score points with book knowledge?"

Words of encouragement I appreciate a lot. Constructive criticisms I will value too. Rest assured I am only interested in the dialogue - not to engage you in debate. I am a big fan of different strokes for different folks!

By the way, I've also opened up the comments function on "My story" page. I closed the comments in the beginning as I was afraid people may laugh at me or put snide remarks to put me down... Hope for your understanding that I am testing the waters as I go along... If you have questions or want to know more on specific period of my story, you now can do so.

For those kind souls who do not wish to embarass or criticise me in public, you can write to my email: jared.seah@gmail.com

Why I blog? I guess it my way to prepare for my next step in 6 more months. Men tend to associate ourselves a lot with our job (or job titles to be precise). After leaving work, I still need to engage society in some way (can't always ask ex-colleagues for lunch right?). By blogging, I can make new friends and develop new hobbies to keep me occupied; and will piss-off my family less. I've read that after some men retired, they drive their families mad by constantly being around doing nothing!?

Spin a few songs, write a few bite-sized stories, this I can do!
  
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