Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bought the iPad

Bought the 32 GB wifi iPad at wifey's persuasion. She looks forward to sending many of our photos into this device. I am not conditioning the battery with an eight hour charge. Meanwhile she is selecting the photos to go in.

Cost of iPad: $878
Cost of case: $26.70 (10% discount)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Calling dad

Just received an email from my sis that she has arrived safely in Africa and having lots of fun at the safari. Usually I would pick up the phone to tell my dad that all is OK. Not any more, since he is gone. This is the first trip one of us made which we can't call him to let him know all is well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Water Heater

Our about decade old water heater kaput today. Not that is it no longer working. It is just leaking water like a tap that wasn't tightened properly. I wasn't around to hear or see it happen. I was away fetching the kids to school. Wifey heard loud and unfamiliar noises coming from the bathroom. That must be the signal of the breach.

This will be the third time we are using Ariston. The old model, the P5SIN is out of production. A newer one but have exactly the same dimensions as the old one will be delivered sometime in the late morning or afternoon tomorrow. It cost $299 excluding the installation fee of $85.6.

I searched the web to check if the leaking heater is still safe to us. Glad to find out that it still is. Nevertheless I am using cold water at the moment. Honestly hot water is a luxury here because this is the tropics after all.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Arc Keyboard

Got the Microsoft Arc Keyboard today at Challenger. Badly need more real estate on my desk. Now I have the complete set with the Arc Mouse (purple) to complement it.

The Arc Mouse price has fallen to $65, but this Arc Keyboard is still pricey at $86.

Friday, October 22, 2010

US mid-term elections

It is the mid-term elections in the US. Here is one interesting campaign ad. Naturally such presentations oversimplify the issues. Fact is both powers  have very serious problems. The one with the will and stamina will stand. I hope both of them in year 2030 would.

The truth of the hot water bottle miracle

Boyd posted this story to his Facebook page. It is a very familiar story which I have received as an email countless times but never knew if it was true. In fact just this week, I got it again. I am glad to know that this is not fiction like many too good to be true stories that came my way. However, all these years of getting to know the Lord also caused me to take advantage of the occasion to share this comment at Boyd's page.

Praise the Lord always! And there are many such and greater stories in the making especially those prayers he disappoints for now. Before Christ, we needed the signs and wonders. After Christ, and he is all sufficient, the Nos from God strengthen our faith because things more wonderful than we can imagine are in the works. That is why we have Rev 22:20. Our "disappointed" faith will bear fruit.

Truth or Fcition: Get it at

Here is the story as often passed around. Some editions mentioned that it occurred in South Africa, which is of course mistaken and led them to disbelieve the story.

THE HOT WATER BOTTLE - A True Story By Helen Roseveare, Missionary to Africa

One night, in Central Africa, I had worked hard to help a mother in the
labor ward; but in spite of all that we could do, she died leaving us
with a tiny, premature baby and a crying, two-year-old daughter.

We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive. We had no incubator.
We had no electricity to run an incubator, and no special feeding
facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly
with treacherous drafts.

A student-midwife went for the box we had for such babies and for the
cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up
the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly, in
distress, to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber
perishes easily in tropical climates. "...and it is our last hot water
bottle!" she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over
spilled milk; so, in Central Africa it might be considered no good
crying over a burst water bottle. They do not grow on trees, and there
are no drugstores down forest pathways. All right," I said, "Put the
baby as near the fire as you safely can; sleep between the baby and the
door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm."

The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with
many of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the
youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them
about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm
enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so easily die
if it got chilled. I also told them about the two-year-old sister,
crying because her mother had died. During the prayer time, one
ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt consciousness of
our African children. "Please, God," she prayed, "send us a water
bottle. It'll be no good tomorrow, God, the baby'll be dead; so, please
send it this afternoon." While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the
prayer, she added by way of corollary, " ...And while You are about it,
would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You
really love her?" As often with children's prayers, I was put on the
spot. Could I honestly say, "Amen?" I just did not believe that God
could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything: The Bible says
so, but there are limits, aren't there? The only way God could answer
this particular prayer would be by sending a parcel from the homeland. I
had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never,
ever received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send a parcel,
who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!

Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses'
training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front
door. By the time that I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on
the veranda, was a large twenty-two pound parcel! I felt tears pricking
my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone; so, I sent for the orphanage
children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each
knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement
was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the
large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly colored,
knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then, there were the
knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children began to
look a little bored. Next, came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas - -
that would make a nice batch of buns for the weekend. As I put my hand
in again, I felt the...could it really be? I grasped it, and pulled it
out. Yes, "A brand-new rubber, hot water bottle!" I cried. I had not
asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could. Ruth was
in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, "If
God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!" Rummaging
down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully
dressed dolly. Her eyes shone: She had never doubted! Looking up at me,
she asked, "Can I go over with you, Mummy, and give this dolly to that
little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her?"

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my
former Sunday School class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's
prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. One of the
girls had put in a dolly for an African child -- five months earlier in
answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it "That
afternoon!" "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will
answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." Isaiah 65:24

Helen Roseveare a doctor missionary from England to Zaire, Africa, told
this as it had happened to her in Africa. She shared it in her
testimony on a Wednesday night at Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Business political influence

As a young fellow in the 90s and a newbie to the world of jobs, I realized that we might have the power of the vote but we are prisoners to the companies that employ us. Political freedom is nought then. Eventually business will find their way into government power and I discover that indeed it was so, but that corrupting adventure might be coming to an end.

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Thu, October 21, 2010 -- 5:53 PM ET

Top Corporations Helping U.S. Chamber of Commerce Influence Campaigns

Prudential Financial sent in a $2 million donation last year
as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a national
advertising campaign to weaken the historic rewrite of the
nation's financial regulations.

Dow Chemical delivered $1.7 million to the chamber last year
as the group took a leading role in aggressively fighting
proposed new rules to tighten security requirements on
chemical facilities.

And Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and Aegon, a multinational
insurance company based in the Netherlands, donated more than
$8 million in recent years to a chamber foundation seeking to
limit the ability of trial lawyers to sue businesses.

These large donations -- none of which were publicly
disclosed by the chamber -- offer a glimpse of the chamber's
money-raising efforts, which it has ramped up recently in an
orchestrated campaign to become one of the most well-financed
critics of the Obama administration and an influential player
in this fall's Congressional elections.

Read More:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kindle 3 cover

Just ordered this from HK via Ebay. I am also getting a 20% discount because that can't begin to fulfill it until next Tuesday. It has been very popular. So it is 20% less from USD 15.99 and it included shipping too.

I wonder how they make money from such low prices. But that is the mystery of things made in China isn't it? It scares competitors to the point that they do not want to compete.

Well in about 14 days time I shall find out if this was worth it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From "slow" to "fast" learner

We have often seen how slow learners suddenly click and quickly come from behind and pass everyone to go far ahead. Here is a real life record of a teacher using the resources at Khan Academy to make it happen. See it from between 9 to 14 minutes.

Today these sort of positive surprises come about randomly. If you are unlucky you missed the opportunity or even serially missed most of them. We now have the technology to make new approaches possible. Think mass customization.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Killed one a few days ago and had the misfortune of having to destroy another just now. Roaches are rare here and I wonder why we have two recently. Good thing this one was in the toilet, which increased my options of dealing with it. They are too fast for us humans and we are forced to slow them down with some insecticide sprays.

It is also easier to dispose of them if spotted and killed in the loo. Dump it into the WC. Throw some toilet paper in and flush. If you missed the paper the damn roach will not go down. I am quite experienced.

Capital Controls for Singapore

Our leaders surely hope that day never comes when we have to implement capital controls for our financial security as the tsunamis of liquidity washes ashore Asian markets. We wouldn't be the last to raise capital barriers. Many Asian economies might have to do it to protect the massive money printing by the Fed. Most likely the Latin Americans would lead the way.

If China raises capital barriers, the rest of Asia would move quickly to do the same, including Singapore. A long time from that moment, historians might look back and identify it as the turning point leading to a major or may be global war :-(

Monday, October 18, 2010

China is ageing

Extracted from the NYT and putting it here to remind myself. Projections of China's future often ignore this inevitability of demographics.

The problem for China is that it is rapidly approaching the point after which it will no longer be the relatively young country we see today. In 2015, China’s working population below the age of 65 will begin to shrink. Meanwhile, the number of people over 65 will be rising to 300 million by 2050, a threefold increase. Richard Jackson, the director of the Global Aging Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, notes that China will be older than the United States within a generation, making it the first big national population to age before it joins the ranks of developed countries. One of China’s biggest fears, expressed repeatedly in public pronouncements, is that it will grow old before it grows rich.

Asset Values

With the USD the way it has come under pressure, assets are now all mispriced and good currencies could face undeserved punishment by association. Investors and savers run to non-currency assets which will become bubbles. There will not be salvation for the majority in them. They will get killed. Uncle Sam is determined to get the world to pay its debts. Soon it could be America versus the world because they have no stomach for painful adjustments.

Prior to this, governments especially the US steal from us via the Inflation window. Then they needed the money to trickle in slowly. Now they need them in a hurry. It becomes less obvious and alarming. The instrument they are using is Quantitative Easing. Nothing new here, just copying the Japanese.

It is useless, they are going to fall into a liquidity trap, if they have not already.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Financial reps no longer need licences

Depending on how the players perceive themselves to be winners or losers they welcome or hate it. I think the consumer is at greater risk now. We are all doing national economic service again. This is the fastest way to get more people into the industry. Caveat Emptor. 

For a market of well informed consumers, the small financial firms will suffer. But in a market of ignoramuses and vulnerable to the animal spirits, many consumers are like idiots who cannot tell the difference between a good girl for marrying and a prostitute. 

The government wants to grow this sector in a hurry. These days nothing happen at the proper pace. Everything is in a hurry. People get "killed" all the time now.

This way, people get hurt first than they act. It is not preventive, and it is up to consumers to be clever to protect themselves. There are always enough suckers out there who will fall prey to all these. Unscrupulous people will always find loop holes with such regulatory approaches. This government always help the big and rich gets bigger and richer. Do they know that they are copying the discredited USA?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What is a Taleb's Black Swan

An excellent way to explain the creation and occurrence of Nassim Taleb's Black Swans

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered - he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning. There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow and said "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose." So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient.

But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral; the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Robert Reich latest book

Always respected this guy for his views. Just got to only Chapter 2 of this book after I bought the Kindle version last night. Appreciate his insight on the consequences of the wealth gap, which many of us instinctively already felt. No wonder its sales rank on Amazon is climbing.

In many ways, Singapore economically is a mirror of the USA. The insights herein are directly relevant to us.

Career opportunities

Energy would be a huge growth industry when my kids are age ready for work in a few years time.

GE warns of big switch to energy efficiency
General Electric, the company that was a pioneer of the electric light bulb, has warned that the industry is facing “dramatic change” that threatens the position of long-established market leaders as energy efficiency standards drive the adoption of new technologies. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When you are the exception.

When you are the exception, they sometime forget about you.

Daughter returned to school this morning after her Add Math paper on Monday only to read with dismay what he had missed during the paper. She had found that question odd and thought that it was done on purpose to make it difficult. She missed this amendment as she had to take her papers separately from her classmates.

I have written to the VP about this. I hope there aren't amendments to other papers that she had missed. More important, I hope and when the time comes for the O levels, this mistake is not repeated


Wonder why it didn't occur to me to do this sooner: Install skype on my Symbian phone. Will encourage the rest of the family to do the same, i.e., if their phones can accept it.

Posting this later:

The skype on the Symbian E63 is very inconvenient to use. Horrible UI. Impractical.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Windows Phone 7

How boring. Still thinking with that PC brain. Worse, Microsoft have navigated itself into a niche that no significant player wants to be. I wouldn't be surprise they end up confusing the consumer, losing their identity as they allow the handset makers to customize it beyond recognition.

See article on CNet

Sunday, October 10, 2010

PHP passing variables

Have laid off from writing PHP for so long, I have forgotten so many things. Finally I realized that by default GLOBALS are not enabled. No wonder I can't pass the values to the variables via the URL.

$var = $_GET["var"];

Problem solved.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Wifey was offered a job yesterday. The office is very near our place; just one train stop away. It is a 30% pay cut from the job she left more than two years ago but what the heck, the job search has been going on for sixteen months. We would still be able to save with this reduced pay; so this is not bad.

I should do something in the area of education when I am able to get back into the market.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Book on the rise of the business lobbies

Reading this book from the library. Good to understand the rise of the business lobbies all over the world. Suiting Themselves: How Corporations Drive the Global Agenda (9781844073313): Sharon Beder: Books

Friday, October 1, 2010

Two Health Ministers

One minister refused to take his medical leave and continue to work and serve the residents. The other took his MC. The former died and the latter is still alive. The dead minister used to work for the latter minister.

Never understood why Dr. Balaji was never made a full minister based on what was written about him upon his demise. Only difference I could pick up was Chua Lee Hoong's article that she noted Dr. Balaji was a good, sincere and honest man who lived by his convictions and had a lot of courage. Lee Hoong had interviewed many leaders and detect a self serving streak in far too many of them.

Perhaps Dr. Balaji refused to completely play ball. Perhaps he refused to live by the rules of Power. May be he was too forthright and honest, whilst many of his colleagues were politically savvy. That is just another way of saying political leaders leveraging the ignorance of the people.

I shall remember for a long time how the PM and his Education Minister were wanting of courage standing down from their position regarding MT education and testing. So disappointing. I also remember the courage Dr. Balaji had displayed when he alone stood up against gay parties because he knew they were the cause of AIDS infection. No other leader stood with him.

Children's Day

Today is Children's Day but my twelve year old has to work hard for the PSLE which will start next Wednesday. Is this unfair to her. Beyond the familiar refrain that life isn't fair, which should never stop us from trying to make it fairer, let's look at the facts. She had a good eleven years of mostly fun and play. Her parents had struck a risky balance to even let her academic performance slip and had faith that she is bright enough to pull up her socks and run the last mile of this marathon and finish adequately. She doesn't know the emotional and opportunity costs to her parents.