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Monday, 26 September 2011

I taking a rest in order to walk further

Dear readers,

I will be taking a 3 weeks vacation - my last hoorah in Greece - before I return to Singapore this end Dec 2011.

I did thought of bringing along my notebook and keep up my postings during this break - but what sort of vacation is that!?

I notice that I've increased by posting frequency recently. I am loving this hobby more and more! However, there lie the early danger signs of obsession... It's almost like my near addiction to computer gaming during my early 30s...

I need to re-calibrate and pace myself. Hence the decision to take a well deserved break from blogging. Hope to come back refreshed with lots of inspirations for more interesting stories and satires!

See you all in 3 weeks' time! I'll be back on 17 Oct 2011 Monday.

Newer readers, may I suggest you explore some of my earlier posts? You may get a good laugh to see how "raw" my early posts are. Hey! We all have to start somewhere mah! 

Friday, 23 September 2011

中島美雪 - 口紅 and 邝美云 - 容易受伤的女人 (I wear a mask and I still feel pain...)



No, I don't wear lip-stick; but I wear a mask...

Come on comrades! For the fatherland, let's charge! Right behind you! Go go go!

Yes, I sure can hollywood...

No, I don't wear lip-stick; but I wear a mask...

What a brilliant plan boss! I feel so charged-up! I am sure your plan we help us solve the problems we are facing. Let's go for it!

Yes, I can tripod...

No, I don't wear lip-stick; but I wear a mask...

Huh? Boss, you want me to execute your plan? I would love to! But I fear my competence may not bring out the full glory of your plan. I think XXX will be a better candidate...

Yes, I can taiji and arrow too...








I am no woman; but I still feel pain easily...

A remark, a look, a gesture, and I can be hurt.

Pain is good!

It means I still remember the face behind the mask...

What my original face looked like...

3 more months...

It's time to remove the mask...

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Baz Luhrmann - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)




I remember this song is the first post I saw and commented when I visIted Patty's (or Vault Dweller's) blog for the first time.

Recently, he reminded me of this song in my "Less than Perfect" post.

I now "borrow with pride" and post this song here to share share.

For those of you who are into cooking/baking, I would recommend you visit Patty's blog.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Investing versus Trading? Nah! Ask why gurus and wizards sell seminars and courses instead!

There is an interesting discussion thread in Valuebuddies.com about Investing versus Trading:



I have no desire to engage in “academic” debates. I see it’s more a case of each side trying to fit round pegs in square holes or square pegs in round holes. Geez! We can’t we follow our NS army shooting range instruction? Own time own target, fire! Why bother the round pegs who have found their round holes? And vice versa?

There’s an interesting point that was brought up. Why traders who consistently hit 50% correct trade need to teach?

I normally don’t like to hide behind this guru says this, that wizard says that… I prefer to say what I think! But sometimes, I do refer to the source of my inspiration – not to hide behind – but to give proper accreditation. I “steal with pride”; but I don’t steal credit!

I share the reflection of the writer below. And in order not to re-invent the wheel, you may want to read why traders teach when they are already very successful in Trading (be patient and read from top to bottom for the full context and perspective):



To holier than thou “investors”, have you ever asked or questioned why successful and rock star professional investors (mutual or hedge fund managers) who are millionaires and billionaires themselves, why do they still need to manage money for others?

If you pause and think about it, it’s not so different from Trading gurus and wizards.

What? Show you proof from authoritative sources like official government sources or universities professors then you will believe? (And I thought having an education is to have independent thinking…)

OK, you got me! I bow in deference. We different wavelength. I prefer to go to the fishmonger to learn how to tell a fish is fresh or not; than to refer to an ivory tower thesis on how to tell a fish is fresh or not ;)

  


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Less than Perfect - Pink





We are all flawed individuals. It's just that some are able to hide their flaws better than others.

(OK, I am probably wrong again... Men-in-white are perfect as usual - know what's best for us!)

This heartfelt song by Pink strikes a chord with me. We are no "less perfect" if we don't get the same grades as others, go to the "right" schools, get the "perfect" job, still single, don't have children, or just is "different" from everyone else... 

Whenever I hear people telling me "I just don't get it", and how I should do this or that, my mind just switches off. No way I would let these "well-intentioned" advice corrupt my mind! Lucky now I have this song from Pink to play in my heart as I let these "perfect" individuals go blah-blah-blah over my ears - not once have they asked whether I am willing to take their advice... Talk about hard sell!

Be yourself. Love yourself more. Be a little bit more selfish. Smile! Laugh! Be a little silly! Don't wait for a "perfect" age or financial goal to be reached to start being yourself. Start young! Tomorrow may never come...

For mature and young adults above 18, you may want to listen and watch the more hard-core version of this song below. 

For those who are 18 and below that ignored my "instruction" above, good for you! I wish you will remember it when you become like other adults one day... Will you one day also "over-protect" your next generation, or "burden" them with more "well-intentioned" advice and expectations...  








Friday, 16 September 2011

Are you a speculator?

Although I hate “labeling”, I am cognizant that to “fit in”, I have to “label” myself in a language that others understand.

In investing circles (blogs/forums), I will call myself a growth and income investor. In trading circles (war-rooms/arcades), I will call myself a swing trader.

It’s like how ants or hyenas smell their own kind. If I don’t smell “right”, I will be excluded. So just like the Arabian caravan trader of the old silk route, I antenna ant here, laugh hyena there; I am citizen of the world!

But in my hearts of hearts, I know what I am. I am a speculator.

It’s both to pay homage to Jessie Livermore and a better reflection of how I trade/invest.

Let’s take an example.

If I buy an Ipad today, and flip it to someone at a slightly higher price the next day/weeks/months, I am a trader?

But if I store this Ipad for 30 years and sell it as an antique or collector’s item, I am an investor?

Is there a difference? Only the time horizon?

I like the distribution bell curve. A small minority will make money big time, the big majority just break-even, and another small minority will lose money big time.

I don’t have scientific proof, but I personally think the distribution bell curve applies to both investors and traders! Just look around us ;)

Calling active trading a fool’s game and calling oneself an investor does not make the odds of financial gains better – at least for my case.

I don’t want to rub it in, so I won’t ask for your XIRR if you call yourself an investor. Cannot beat inflation rate of 5% (mid-point), you know where you fit in the bell curve…

I prefer to use money earned and hours invested:

a) I made $10,000 in a year and I spent 52 hours (I hour a week)

b) I made $10,000 in a year and I spend 2,920 hours (8 hours a day)

Which do you prefer?

I’ve realized that the more hours I spent, the more money I lose! After lots of reflection and “expensive” school fees (I went to the best school – it’s called the market), I’ve found my optimum mix. My speculation time horizon is between 6 to 18 months. Whether it’s a trade or investment I’ve no clue!

What counts – as with all endeavors – is the grey matter between our ears, and the pump in our chest! Got brains no baxxs, dare not pull the trigger. Got baxxs no brain, die male chicken standing. (I really pray no readers are below 18! Female readers, I really can’t find a good metaphor for heart… Sompa!)

Why homage to Jessie Livermore? It’s because he has won and lost big time. Each time Jessie went bust, he can pick himself up! I have to believe if he can do it, so can I.

However, the more poignant reminder to me - in the end, Jessie Livermore blew his brains out… If Jessie can, so can I…

I too have blown my account out before. Although I have picked myself up and recovered and thrived again, I am aware the seeds of self-destruction still lie within me. They are merely suppressed; not removed.

That’s why I am focusing so much on the “mind”. It’s the “mind” that wags the tail of money management and method. Or is it the other way round?

It’s Friday! Enough philosophical “koyok” from me.

Have a super weekend everyone!


  

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Marianne Faithfull - As Tears Go By (1965) - Is Banking still a "safe" career?





For those who don't know this young singer, what is your first impression when you see her in this video? She is around 18 in this video. Such a sweet, innocent, and angelic face!

The song is a bit prophetic. Who would have known years later, she would marry, have a child, divorce, and sleep her way through 3 band members of the Rolling Stones... Until she became the girlfriend of Mike Jagger?

Drugs and alcohol abuse, plus sexual liberation, made more headlines than her singing. At the lowest point, she was reduced to sleeping in the streets... before making a comeback in the 80s.

When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, a banking job or career was considered as "safe" as working in the civil service - with the added bonus of better benefits and pay! When parents introduced their children as working in the banking industry - "My son/daughter works in a bank you know!? - you can see and feel the pride in their voice and eyes!

Fast forward to today... I hear so many big international banks slashing their head-counts to maintain profitability and competitiveness. What? You say Singapore banks not affected? Our banks very solid - well managed?

I guess you were not around when OUB and UOB merged... I still feel a tinge of sadness that our only Teochew bank is now part of history. Silly thought, I was never a shareholder of OUB or had an account there. But still...

Any way, some analysts are musing that a DBS and OCBC merger will bring synergies and benefits to shareholders. I guess as a shareholder, it's not a bad idea if the share price goes up! But if you are now working in DBS or UOB... You don't need 2 Accountants, 2 HR managers, 2 IT managers...

Hey! How did I move from a song to the banking industry? My mind wanders...

Things are not always what it seems on the surface. I need to be vigilant so that I don't experience "as tears go by"...


P.S. My using of the banking industry is just a metaphor.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Mother or wife – who would you save?

Last week, I shared my sales experience and got some interesting feedback from you all. This week, I just thought it would be fun to share more on why we are all salespersons – never mind if we are working in sales or not.

Part of the trick of closing a sale is to get our customer to get into the habit of saying yes.

And one popular technique is the either, or questioning jedi mind trick – Would it be cash or credit? Do you want me to deliver on weekdays or weekend?

Men use this tactic a lot on unsuspecting girls – Do you prefer Japanese or Italian food? Is Friday or Saturday night good for you?

Never ask a question where the girl can say no. Do you want to have dinner? No. Ouch! Game over… (Well not exactly, but that’s another post for another day… No does not always mean no. LOL!)

But compared to women, men are babies in the art of getting others to do what you want to do without them realizing. Huh?

My ex in Shanghai is the best! And she never had a sales job in her life! She will wait till I am in a distracted mood – like watching TV or reading the papers – and spring a surprise on me…

“Dear, which do you prefer on me? Would it be the shoes or handbag that we saw last weekend?”

Without thinking, I would mumble something like – “Er… The shoes look nice.” Arghhh!!! The moment those unsuspecting words came out, I knew money will fly out of my wallet.

Yup, we will get the shoes (I recommended to her didn’t I?) the next weekend. And once the shoes came, the matching handbag will come, and the matching belt, with the matching costume earrings (phew, not real jewellery! OK, call me cheap!) and the matching dress she was eyeing all along!

So men, never say nothing when we are distracted. Remember! We are only Pentium single core – cannot multitask. And forget the bull-shit about “hyer-threading”; it ain’t gonna work on us!

Women are quad-core i7 2nd generation processors with hyper-threading capability - that’s 8 virtual processors! If she talks, stop everything you are doing and LISTEN to her. Ignore this warning at your peril… (Hey women, I am on your side. I am telling men to LISTEN to you. No?)  

Now that you know the power of this either, or technique, how do we counteract it? Just give any answer but answer the question directly. That’s all!

Do you like Japanese or Italian food? I not hungry.

Cash or credit? Free I take!

If I not distracted, I would answer my ex – What’s for dinner?

Only if pressed to a corner I’ll say - Honey, you look perfect already. You don’t need any accessories to bring out your beauty. And quickly change the subject! (But that’s all in vain. I never win any debates or arguments with my ex though… She says she got headache tonight and I will give in! What to do? I am only a man.)

But there’s one either, or question that strikes fear to all men. And near impossible to wriggle out from. Whatever you say, it will come back to haunt you!

Yes! It’s the infamous question that your feuding Mother and Wife will ask you : “If we both fell into the river, and you can only save one, who would you save?” (Ever wonder why women like to ask such (wu liao) questions?)

Pause! How would you answer?

Now compare to mine below:

I would hold the hands of my Mother and look her in the eyes.

“Mom, of course I would save you! You gave me life and there’s no woman more important than you in my life. Without you, there will be no me. And I know you will always love me no matter what wrongs I’ve done.”

I will turn slowly to my Wife (who is probably fuming mad) and put my hands on her shoulders. It helps if I can make my eyes water on command like Xie Shao Guang (Singapore ex-actor), but cannot does not matter. Just look with lots of intensity also can.

“Honey, after saving mom, I will come back to the river. If I can’t find you, I will jump into the river after you. How can I live without you? Without you, my life has no meaning… Wherever you go, I will follow.”

I will then hug my Wife tightly. And whisper softly in her ear.

“I love you. Promise me you will never leave me?”

And if I can get both women to cry now, it is group hug time! And that’s how I would attempt to thaw the cold war between Mother and Wife!


Disclaimer: I am so full of it… Don’t take me seriously. I am single. LOL!





Friday, 9 September 2011

Pavlov's dog and Mechanical Trading Systems

I remember in the 80s there is a HK comedy spoof of the 50s Black Rose (黑玫瑰) heroine genre movies...

In the 80s comedy, a grown up Feng Bo Bo plays the role of a modern martial arts exponent  (I think she suffers from amnesia or delusion) who have a senior (师姐) who is even more skilled in martial arts than her. Their teacher gave Feng Bo Bo a bell to "control" this senior. Whenever the bell is rung, this senior must do a martial arts display or warm-up routine. It cracks me up! Can anyone remember this comedy?

Anyway, just thought the bell will come in handy to make fun of somebody in my ending...

OK, back to posting!

Pavlov's dog shows us how reflex conditioning can affect our behaviours (OK, OK. On the dog, not us! So sensitive!) 

Mechanical Trading Systems aim to take the human emotions out of our buy and sell decisions. We follow the pre-determined buy and sell rules to a tee. No ifs or buts.

A true Mechanical Trading System means you have to turn left as suggested by the "GPS" - even if there is no left turn on the road! I got this inspiration from CW8888's GPS Navigator.

If you "argue" with your Mechanical Trading System, you are a Discretionary Trader (or very confused like the Feng Bo Bo character above. LOL!) There are no shades of grey here. It's either, or.

The roller-coaster events of these few weeks are very interesting. DOW goes up 500 points one day, next day down 500 points. Mechanical traders out there. What did you do? Did you follow your Mechanical Trading Systems?

Or are you now in hospital with whiplash injury? Hey! Switching off your system is a "discretionary" decision! Cannot cheat!

Me? I am like the Tao I-Ching. I am more a Discretionary Trader with a dot of Mechanical Trading (I use automatic stop loss). What? I say just now it's either, or? No shades of grey? Yahor... Hey! It's my post and I can make up the rules as I go along. Lao kui (漏气) also must put on a straight face!

To me, following rules without question all the time is like listening to the bell and react. I would like to think I am "smarter" than Pavlov's dog. No food ring the bell I salivate for what!? Show me the money than I salivate! 

Now to my qian bei (前辈) friend Coconut. Ring-a-ling-de-ling! Ring-a-ling-de-ling!

Don't hit the face! I need it for tan chiah (探吃) one!


P.S. Young readers out there, cannot be disrespectful to seniors! Coconut and I are different. I got one screw loose in my head. I not sure Coconut got any screws in the first place... LOL!

Ling, ling, ling! Ice-cream!

Eh? I infected too... (Eggs on my face)



Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Whip-cream or leather whip? (Average up or down?)


There are both technical and fundamental merits in averaging down or up into our equity positions. I would not dare venture into this arena as there are more skilled and competent writers who have thrown down their gauntlets and have dug into their entrenched positions.

Instead, I would like to contribute an erotic view of this discussion. (Hey you Sir, please put your pants back on. Stripping is not necessary.)

Let’s start from our childhood.

Can you remember what motivates you more? The pain or fear of getting whacked or caned for making “mistakes”; or the pleasure or joy of receiving compliments and encouragements for doing the “right” thing?

We are all different. Some of us prefer or react better to negative reinforcements; while some prefer or react better to positive reinforcements.


Average down

If we buy a stock at $10 and the market sends us a negative reinforcement by pushing the price down to $8 – what do you do? Buy more of course! Oooohhh baby… Whip me one more time! Lash! More! Do the deed, do the deed!

As you wish my Master! Market pushes the price down further to $6, and in a climatic rapture, you buy more! Pain is pleasure!

The lower the price come crashing down, the more excited you become.

Hey! You have a masochistic bent. Cut the crap about the technical or fundamental merits of averaging down, we both know what you really want – and it’s not about making money. You like the leather whip!


Average up

If we buy a stock at $10 and the market sends us a positive reinforcement by pushing the price up to $12 – what do you do? Buy more, silly! Honey, more whip-cream please? Slurp! Sweet! Can I have more?

As you wish my Highness! Market pushes up the price further to $14. In an orgy induced state of intoxication, you dived into the pool of whip-cream – you buy more! The joy of being proved right!

The higher the price escalates up, the more intoxicated you become.

Hey! You have a hedonistic bent. Cut the bull-shit about the advantages and logical merits of averaging up, we both know what you really want – and money is just a way to keep score. You like whip-cream!


P.S.  My inspiration for this post came about from commenting at Musicwhiz's blog. I was in my usual flippant mood. It just dawned on me that my comment can be a stand alone post itself!


          

Monday, 5 September 2011

Forget about trading simulations – put skin into the game!

When I was a sofa salesman working in Melandas Casa Mobili at IMM, one way to tell whether a couple is serious in looking for a sofa is by asking them to sit in the sofas.

If they don’t want to sit down in any sofas, it’s a tell-tale sign they are just “strolling the garden”. I would move on to other “prospects”. I am working on commissions OK?

The longer I can keep a couple sitting in one of our sofas, the odds will be better for a sale. That is why when you enter into a furniture salesroom, the sales staff always invite you to sit. And if you walk into a mattress showroom, they will ask you to lie down! (No not together! No when your missus is around!)

The same technique is used in car showrooms. If you don’t even want to go inside the car to feel the steering wheel, you will get ignored pretty soon. And if you go for a test drive, its kaching $$!

That is also why when your missus drop into jewellery shop, the smart sales person will pile pieces of jewellery on her finger, neck, and wrist! You don’t let glass come between a girl and her jewellery.

You let her feel, touch, and possess it! And when you see the longing look when the sales person put back the jewellery back into the glass cabinet, you relent and say: “OK, whatever makes you happy dear. Just choose one.” Ouch!

Now, how would a broker promote something “intangible” like financial derivatives? Something that most people “fear” is complicated and dangerous?

Yes! You introduce fake trading simulation accounts that create the “illusion” that it’s a risk free environment for you to test out your strategies before you get your feet wet…

Why? Simple – it’s an understanding of human emotions:

1)   Over-confidence – It’s a lot “easier” to make money using fake money as the emotional turmoil is taken out. It’s all fun and games!

2)   Denial – You can bust out your fake trading account 9 times out of 10, and on the 10th try you make money, you tell yourself that you have found your “method”! 

3)   Familiarity – The more we get used to something, the more we let our guards down. So instead of opening with a “hesitant” small $5,000 or $10,000 account if you had not traded with simulation, you now will open a much bigger starting account. You are now energy charged!

And what happens the moment you trade with real money?


I have a simple test. If you now have $50,000 to hand over to a fund manager, would you hand-over your money to:

a)     A “world champion” in a trading simulation competition, or

b)     a fund manager with real investment track record that beat 80% of his peers?


Skip the trading simulations. Most newbie today have lots of knowledge – be it through books, internet or seminars attended. It’s not lack of brain-power; it’s more about emotions.

And the quicker we discover our personality flaws, the quicker we can decide to stay in the game (reflect and adjust) or get out (out-source).

May the force be with you!



Friday, 2 September 2011

Space Marines versus Tyranids (Discretionary versus Automated Trading Systems)

The last 88 survivors of Bravo Company from the 101st Space Marine Regiment huddled up together in a defensive circle formation around the communications tower. Ammo is low and the nearest space shuttle air- support can only reach them in 8 hours. Too little too late…

The last order from Headquarters was to hold this Imperial Army outpost at all costs. Evacuation is out of the equation. So is retreat as the outpost is now surrounded by the advancing Tyranids.

Imperial outpost D64 is similar to any other outposts that dot the arid red planet of Sram – a planet rich in uranium deposits. It’s a war between the Imperial Army’s attempt to colonize and plunder Sram’s wealth and the Tyranid’s resistance to protect their homeland.

D64 is a circular base with 3 rings of perimeter defense. The outer most perimeter defense is a buffer zone mine field, supported with automatic Gatling machine guns that were guided by movement sensors to mow down any survivors that escape the mines.

The next defensive line was a 5 metre high fortress wall manned by Alpha, Charlie, Delta, and Support Companies. They were supported with 20mm cannons with uranium tipped rounds and 81 mm high explosive mortars.

And the last ring of defense is the communications tower which Bravo Company was tasked to defend. Failing with, it’s their duty to activate the self-destruct sequence to initiate the small nuke device that is built into the foundation of all Imperial outposts. It is to ensure that nothing of value is left to the invading hordes of Tyranids.

The Tyranids have breached the first 2 perimeter rings of defense in 5 epic waves of fearless and unrelenting attacks. Taking down all the Space Marines who manned the defenses with them. Now is the calm before the next and final Tyranids wave to end the battle.

Bravo Company’s OC (office-in-charge) is dead. The survivors of Bravo Company are now listening to the Company’s Sergeant-Major for direction. A battle-harden veteran of 5 Imperial Campaigns over 3 planetary systems. They call him “Firefox” – for his ability to fire up his men in battle and his uncanny ability to outfox his enemies and stay alive in every battle.

“Sarge, how come these overgrown insects can beat us?” cried one Space Marine. The fear is palpable in the eyes of all the survivors. Morale is at its lowest point. “For goodness sake, we have the technology and superior fire-power! They only have fangs and claws… I don’t understand…”
 
Old Firefox knew he had to calm down and fire up these young frightened warriors soon and fast!

“Son, the Tyranids’ strength is their simplicity. Each Tyranid will not question the command of their Brain Bug. If they were told to charge, they do so. No questions, no debate. They just do as their told. Even if they know they are charging towards the mine field. Or to a hail of steel from our Gatling guns. Death means nothing to them. The Hive’s survival comes first.”

Old Firefox took a deep breath and continued. “Although we tried to break you all during boot-camp and mould you into one single fighting unit, we are still a group of individuals. During battle, each individual Space Marine does what he deems to be the best for himself – not the unit. There lies our weakness. We react differently in every battle, creating uncertainties for our commanders.”

All the Space Marines listened to old Firefox without missing a beat. Somehow Sarge’s words have managed to calm their frayed nerves.

“To the Brain Bug, he does not have uncertainties over his Tyranids. He knows exactly how each Tyranid will react in battle.” Old Firefox turns in a circle and looks everyone in the eye and asked, “What’s the one thing that the Brain Bug fears the most?”

“Our unpredictable behaviour?” One Space Marine asked from the back. All other space marines nodded their heads in agreement. Another Space Marine roared, “Our biggest weakness is also our biggest strength!” Now the morale of the whole Bravo company starts to turn.

Old Firefox smiles.

“Exactly! And what’s the last thing the Tyranids expect us to do?” 

Now everyone is pumped up and yelling “We charge! We charge!”

What follow is a blur and the stuff of Space Marine folklore…

The story changes each time it was told. Each time with more hyperbole.

The tale goes that the brave 88 Space Marines at Bravo Company from the 101st Space Marine Regiment did something that no Space Marine has ever done before. They threw away their ammo packs and grenades, and made a full bayonet charge towards to last wave of Tyranids attack.

Somehow, they managed to break-out of the encirclement. Once the Tyranids have overrun the empty outpost, the surviving Space Marines detonated the self-destruct nuke device from a safe distance away and wiped out all the swarming Tyranids who blindly followed their Brain Bug’s command to overrun and gather at the outpost…

It’s a glorious tale of pitting cold steel blades against fangs and claws. Titanium armour versus chitin. The day was won when men trusted their natural instincts, not technology.

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