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Friday, 28 March 2014

How To Catch Stardust?





Spread out your hands as wide as you can!

With palms facing up.



If you need visual aid, just scroll all the way down to my profile pic at the bottom of this blog.







Tip: This post is "labelled" under Metaphysics.









Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Big Test Of Our Beliefs And Convictions

You just got the biggest shock of your life...

The doctor just told you you have at most 6 more months to live.


The next day, a visitor whom you never met before approached you and made this offer - give him 80% of your net wealth, and he will extend your life for another 10 years.

a)  Would you immediately grab the "offer" as there are so many things yet to be experienced by you; and 10 years is long enough time to accomplish them. There and then you realise pursuing more money is not as prioritised as you thought before... You know, X amount by Y years that sort of thing.

b)  Or would you start "bargaining" with this visitor to lower the 80% net wealth demand to maybe 50% instead? Even in the face of impending death, you still super alert that 10 extended years with 20% wealth remaining is not the same as having 50% of your wealth intact. If we are only down by 50%, its achievable to double our money in 10 years. That means your extended 10 years will be for free!!! Coming back from 80% down is so much harder. You don't change. You still see the world in dollars and cents; not in colours of the rainbow...


Atheist

I guess you would be burying your face in your palms in utter shame just by entertaining any of the thoughts above...

Everything you have stood for and believed have just crumbled before you. 

If you do not believe in heaven and hell, life after death, reincarnations, fairies and demons those sort of things; why didn't you dismiss this visitor as a charlatan and con artist immediately?


Religious

After you have done the deal with the visitor and realised what you have committed into, no amount of wailing or remorse can undo what your faith has warned you against all this time...

10 years of extended life in exchange for eternity at a place in direct opposite to where you hope to be after death...    

Now you hope the visitor is a con artist! 

Even if proven so, you know fully well on the day of judgement, there will be considerable brownie points deducted for your lack of faith; never mind to your relief the visitor is not the devil himself...

 

This post is not about spirituality or the lack of it.

It's a metaphor to remind myself that some of my strong convictions and beliefs have yet to be tested by my actions. Don't be too quick to tell others what to do; nor too hasty to dismiss the beliefs of others.

In the words of our Hokkien street wisdom: 

Words don't speak too early.

 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Can you teach me how to fish?

James is in his 60s. He owns a fishing tackle shop at the Beach Road area. Has been in this business for 30 over years now.

A friendly face pops into the tackle shop as we speak. Peter, in his 30s and works in a bank as loans officer.

"Can you teach me how to fish?" Peter bellowed out as he plonked himself on the stool in front of the counter.

James looked up from his morning papers and mumbled, "Which kind of fishing rod you have in mind?"

"No, I don't need a fishing rod." Peter shaking his head.

"How about a fishing line then?" James raising his eyebrows.

"No, no. I don't need equipment. I want to learn how to fish!" says Peter. His voice betraying a hint of impatience.

"Oh!" James exclaimed with a smile, "I have a DVD set that shows and explain all there is to fishing. You want?"

"Not what I had in mind." Peter now looking at James with a suspicious face.

"A fishing book?" James tries again.

"Hello!" Peter now getting very exasperated.

"Tell you what. I have a workshop on how to fish next Sunday at the community centre. You can join me there." James replied nonchalantly.

"Dad! Stop selling me stuffs on how to fish!" Peter is really fired up now. "I want to learn how to fish!"

"I just showed you." James beaming. "Now get off that stool and put on your apron and go replenish the merchandise on the shelves!"


James is happy Peter is willing to take over the fishing tackle shop after James retires next year. Peter and is now learning the ropes by working in the store every weekend.





 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Message To Garcia

I first came across this article "A Message To Garcia" in one of Dale Carnegie's book "Public Speaking For Success" during my secondary school days. 

Must say it has helped me understand what is expected of me during my man-whoring days as a hired gun.

Just this once we pause from our whining and complaining ways and see things from our long suffering employer's side?

For those entering the workforce soon, see if you can grasp it. 

And for those who have read it before, see? It's either preaching to the choir boys or we don't really learn much from other people's experiences, do we?



Not a short article so read it only if you have the time and your mind conducive to receive:



A MESSAGE TO GARCIA

In all this Cuban business there is one man stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at perihelion.

When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountain fastnesses of Cuba--no one knew where. No mail or telegraph message could reach him. The President must secure his co-operation, and quickly. What to do!

Some one said to the President, "There is a fellow by the name of Rowan will find Garcia for you, if anybody can."

Rowan was sent for and was given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. How "the fellow by the name of Rowan" took the letter, sealed it up in an oilskin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia--are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail. The point that I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, "Where is he at?" By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing--"Carry a message to Garcia." General Garcia is dead now, but there are other Garcias.

No man who has endeavored to carry out an enterprise where many hands were needed, but has been well-nigh appalled at times by the imbecility of the average man--the inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it.

Slipshod assistance, foolish inattention, dowdy indifference, and half-hearted work seem the rule; and no man succeeds, unless by hook or crook or threat he forces or bribes other men to assist him; or mayhap, God in His goodness performs a miracle, and sends him an Angel of Light for an assistant. You, reader, put this matter to a test: You are sitting now in your office--six clerks are within call. Summon any one and make this request: "Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio."

Will the clerk quietly say, "Yes, sir," and go do the task?

On your life he will not. He will look at you out of a fishy eye andask one or more of the following questions:

Who was he?
Which encyclopedia?
Where is the encyclopedia?
Was I hired for that?
Don't you mean Bismarck?
What's the matter with Charlie doing it?
Is he dead?
Is there any hurry?
Shall I bring you the book and let you look it up yourself?
What do you want to know for?


I wasn't hired for that anyway!

And I will lay you ten to one that after you have answered the questions, and explained how to find the information, and why you want it, the clerk will go off and get one of the other clerks to help him try to find Garcia--and then come back and tell you there is no such man. Of course I may lose my bet, but according to the Law of Average I will not.

Now, if you are wise, you will not bother to explain to your "assistant" that Correggio is indexed under the C's, not in the K's, but you will smile very sweetly and say, "Never mind," and go look it up yourself.

And this incapacity for independent action, this moral stupidity, this infirmity of the will, this unwillingness to cheerfully catch hold and lift--these are the things that put pure Socialism so far into the future. If men will not act for themselves, what will they do when the benefit of their effort is for all? A first mate with knotted club seems necessary; and the dread of getting "the bounce" Saturday night holds many a worker to his place.

Advertise for a stenographer, and nine out of ten who apply can neither spell nor punctuate--and do not think it necessary to.

Can such a one write a letter to Garcia?

"You see that bookkeeper," said a foreman to me in a large factory.

"Yes; what about him?"

"Well, he's a fine accountant, but if I'd send him up-town on an errand, he might accomplish the errand all right, and on the other hand, might stop at four saloons on the way, and when he got to Main Street would forget what he had been sent for."

Can such a man be entrusted to carry a message to Garcia?

We have recently been hearing much maudlin sympathy expressed for the "downtrodden denizens of the sweat-shop" and the "homeless wanderer searching for honest employment," and with it all often go many hard words for the men in power.

Nothing is said about the employer who grows old before his time in a vain attempt to get frowsy ne'er-do-wells to do intelligent work; and his long, patient striving with "help" that does nothing but loaf when his back is turned. In every store and factory there is a constant weeding-out process going on. The employer is continually sending away "help" that have shown their incapacity to further the interests of the business, and others are being taken on.

No matter how good times are, this sorting continues: only if times are hard and work is scarce, the sorting is done finer--but out and forever out the incompetent and unworthy go. It is the survival of the fittest. Self-interest prompts every employer to keep the best--those who can carry a message to Garcia.

I know one man of really brilliant parts who has not the ability to manage a business of his own, and yet who is absolutely worthless to any one else, because he carries with him constantly the insane suspicion that his employer is oppressing, or intending to oppress, him. He can not give orders; and he will not receive them. Should a message be given him to take to Garcia, his answer would probably be, "Take it yourself!"

Tonight this man walks the streets looking for work, the wind whistling through his threadbare coat. No one who knows him dare employ him, for he is a regular firebrand of discontent. He is impervious to reason, and the only thing that can impress him is the toe of a thick-soled Number Nine boot.

Of course I know that one so morally deformed is no less to be pitied than a physical cripple; but in our pitying let us drop a tear, too, for the men who are striving to carry on a great enterprise, whose working hours are not limited by the whistle, and whose hair is fast turning white through the struggle to hold in line dowdy indifference, slipshod imbecility, and the heartless ingratitude which, but for their enterprise, would be both hungry and homeless.

Have I put the matter too strongly? Possibly I have; but when all the world has gone a-slumming I wish to speak a word of sympathy for the man who succeeds--the man who, against great odds, has directed the efforts of others, and having succeeded, finds there's nothing in it: nothing but bare board and clothes. I have carried a dinner-pail and worked for day's wages, and I have also been an employer of labor, and I know there is something to be said on both sides. There is no excellence, per se, in poverty; rags are no recommendation; and all employers are not rapacious and high-handed, any more than all poor men are virtuous.

My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the "boss" is away, as well as when he is at home. And the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly takes the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets "laid off," nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long, anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted. His kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town and village--in every office, shop, store and factory.

The world cries out for such: he is needed, and needed badly--the man who can carry A MESSAGE TO GARCIA.


To act in absolute freedom and at the same time know that responsibility is the price of freedom is salvation.


(Just Google under "A Message To Garcia" if you interested to know the background how this article came about)



Thursday, 13 March 2014

Travel when young

There's a Chinese saying that travelling 10,000 miles can be more illuminating than reading 10,000 books.

Do it when you are young. 

School vacations or after graduation are the best times to do so.

If you do not have time at this age, pray tell when you will have time when you are running on the treadmill? After marriage with kids?


Even better if you don't have much money! You will discover how resourceful you are when it comes to raising funds (this skill-set may come useful in later life).

Do it the back-backer way - not package tours. The kind where you arrange your own tickets and hostel bookings, use public transport, eat out at road side stalls or cheap cafes.

If you have a silver spoon in your mouth, try it see to how long you can survive on your own for the fun of it! Nothing wrong in discovering you are your daddy's boy or girl forever... And banish the thought of being your own man or woman for you are not.


I should be talking. Did I travel when I were young?

No.

And I wasn't thinking about retirement when I started work at 16. People like us with no silver spoons in our mouths were too busy making a living to worry about retirement!

It's good to start early when it comes to financial planning; but not at the expense of youth!

Money lost can be re-earned. Youth lost is forever gone.


I am now making up for lost time. But somethings are not the same when it's done at 18 and at 40. Trust me. 

OK, maybe don't. Go ask your parents or other elderly relatives.


I was so proud of myself when I took public transport as in bus from the airport to my hostel at Romania, Bucharest. That experience encouraged me to do the same at Bulgaria, Sofia.

Remember, can't read a single word, and the drivers don't speak English. I was in my early 40s and was in my 2nd tour of duty working overseas, so nothing much to celebrate here. But as a sheltered (big daddy takes care of everything) Singaporean? Woo hoo!

So imagine how impressed I was with those 18 year old vacationing students I met in Bucharest and Sofia! 

There's something to be said about young French girls... Ah, how I wished I were young again. So fun to see the Italian and American boys trying to chat up the two French girls staying at the same dorm with me. I should be so lucky!


What's the point of travelling young again?

If travelling alone, you may discover whether you can function without rules and order. If you can't, you may want to work for big daddy or MNCs where there are protocols, standard operational procedures and guidelines and all. Start-ups and SMEs are not for you.

If travelling in a group, you may discover whether you are more of a leader or follower. Good at working in a group or better doing it alone. Whether you are a contributing group member or just a free-loader. Again, this helps in your choice of job speciality? No?

If travelling with boyfriend or girlfriend, you may discover what traits you definitely not want in your future husband or wife. When it's better to remain as lovers, and when to put a ring on her.
You interested in a whining boyfriend? How about that girlfriend who die die must visit Disneyland never mind you are running a high fever?


Travelling is self-discovery.

If you understand yourself more, a better job fit, a better relationship, who knows? Better at financial decisions tailor-made to our personality?  

If we are happier, than the journey towards financial freedom is one of achievement, and not about "escape".

Don't worry if you can't comprehend the difference between journey to achieve and journey to escape now.

All in due time.


Patience.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Fallen leaves, frostbite, and are you expendable?

The recent hot spell and "drought" in Singapore is causing our trees to shed leaves like crazy in order to minimise water loss through transpiration.

I guess our trees are hunkering down till the rain comes again.


For adventurers caught in a blizzard while mountaineering or traversing across our Arctic and Antarctic poles, our bodies do behave like trees do in a crisis.

Body heat is concentrated to our vital organs like the heart, lungs, and brains. 

Our toes being furthest from our "core", is sacrificed to frostbite...


During times of plenty, we may complain about the heat or the cold of our job.

Maybe we would like to take a step back and find out whether we are the "core", or are we the leaves and toes...

If you belong to the "core", nothing to see here. Move along now. 

If you are the leaves or toes, this is the time where you may discover the difference between knowledge and applied knowledge 


For investors who are 100% vested, it's a good exercise to identify which are the leaves or toes in your portfolio.

In a stressful market sell-off, you don't want to panic sell your "core" and keep the leaves and toes by mistake!
 

 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

A friend like wind

I hear the wind from the rustling of the leaves

I see the wind from the flying of the flag


I feel the wind as it caress my cheeks

Like the wind, a fellow traveller of the way came and went

I looked at the lotus flower in the pond and smiled












A whimsical comment I made at my trilogy post Fundamental versus Technical analysis last year.

Has anyone seen wind? Does it exist even when we can't see it?

Does it count as friendship when someone you have never met made you smile?


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Do you trust yourself?

The recent reaction from the EIC report ranking Singapore as the most expensive city for 2014 is quite interesting.

I observed 2 groups of interesting people here:


1) Read headlines and assume

The first group don't even bother to find out the methodology and target user of this report.

Imagine how sheepish this group of people must have felt on their overreaction when it's explained to them that the EIC ranking is meant for business travellers and expat relocation.

It's not a cost of living index for the HDB man on our SMRT or Comfort Delgro public transport.


2) Trust other people's measured strings than their own feet.

I've written an old post on this interesting behaviour - The man who wants to buy new shoes.

World's 10 most expensive cities to live in 2014
1. Singapore
2. Paris
3. Oslo, Norway
4. Zurich, Switzerland
5. Sydney
6. Caracas, Venezuela
7. Geneva, Switzerland
8. Melbourne
9. Tokyo
10. Copenhagen, Denmark



With the exception of Oslo, Caracas, Geneva, and Melbourne, I've been to the other 6 cities.

I know from my own experience which city is more expensive than Singapore. I stress again it's about my own perspective. Shouldn't I trust myself more?

And it's the same for you. 

If you have travelled, worked, or studied in anyone of these top 10 cities, you will also have your very own perspective which city is more expensive than Singapore.


We put our feet into the shoes we want to buy; not just relying on measured strings. Wink, wink.





Monday, 3 March 2014

Difference between men and women - Making decisons for others


Check with your own experiences and see if this is true?


Men have no problem giving advice and offering solutions for others. Even when it's impromptu or caught by surprise.

Don't even need 10 minutes to think about it. Immediately we go into the mode of "wau kali kong" or "I tell you so".

Yes, it's the same man when making a decision for himself may take hours, days, weeks, months....

That's why there are more sheep than shepherds. 

Shepherds make decisions; sheep follow the decisions of others.



Women when asked for advice, what do they do? They listen first. Then they ask boat-loads of probing questions back in my face!!!

As a man, I sometimes regret I asked and say never mind... I have enough problem with one question. I don't need more questions to drown me! Hello!

But stranger things have happened... In the still of the night, I've got my answer.

The next morning, I gave the little woman a light kiss on her forehead while she sleeps.


Ever happened to you?



What's that you say?

What about women men, and women women? 

Wait! (I now looking down my pants to check)

Confirm. I still only a man.

Only can speak from experience on men men and men women.






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