Monday, February 28, 2011

Our Mobile Broadband usage

My monthly entitlement is 1000MB of total traffic, but it appears that I will never ever get to even a tenth of that. My daughter's has used up about 17MB so far. Well it is only $8.37/month.

Lunch with ex Shell buddies (Reminiscing Patience)

Had lunch at the NUSS Guild House @ Kent Ridge this afternoon with two old pals from Shell. As usual one of them was late - very late! Almost an hour. The last time I met him a few years ago at Vivocity,  he had kept me waiting for an hour too.

I am always the one waiting for people because I am usually early. It is a trait I picked up from my mom. As for patience, I had intensive training as a teenager. Sunday school and the Pulpit often had messages on the fruit of the Spirit. There was this girl who had asked my help to tutor her in math and often didn't show up. If the church office happened to be open, I called her from there. Mostly, I had to call her from home after I had given up in frustration. There were no mobile phones unless you have walkie talkies. I used to stand at the church's porch wondering when she would make a sudden appearance out of the apartment block and onto the pedestrian crossing. Years afterward, each time I drive past that crossing, I never fail to be reminded of all these. I even remember the meeting time: 7.30pm. Almost twenty five years later, she couldn't remember that she had regularly stood me up. What did she remember? The walks with her back to Forfar House afterward for those times she turned up.

And there was this school mate a year my junior. I had brought him to Christ and lost contact with with him after I went on to JC. Almost thirty years later, we reconnected through a mutual friend. We have tried countless times to arrange a makan or tea but never succeeded. Twice I waited for him for more than two hours. The first time we couldn't find each other at Tiong Bahru Plaza and I couldn't reach him as he had forgotten to take his mobile with him. The next time, also at Tiong Bahru Plaza he kept messaging me that he would be delayed. After two hours, I gave up.

I am fortunate that wifey is almost always punctual but I often get impatient when she is late even by a little bit because you can't stop and wait even for a few minutes on some of the busy streets at Raffles Place.

Why am I blogging about these? It is a time marker for the next time three of us meet up for lunch again. I wonder if we would again have finished lunch and still he hasn't shown up. I hopeful for a better outcome. I badgered him hard this afternoon. I had to; he had no recollection that he kept me waiting at Vivocity the last time.

I have matured from passive to active patience. I need it to cope with our schools and my children.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Reminiscing Chaos and Complexity Theories

Just done reading this book, "Introducing Chaos". Caused me to feel transported back fifteen years ago when I first begun investigation this and related subjects, i.e., Complexity. How they all eventually turn into NaviMaps for me.

I think quite a bit of our findings in Chaos would just remain as interesting without practical value even if they are insightful. The real value is qualitative rather than quantitative. Unfortunately like in Economics, the researchers want to possess a lofty status by forcing mathematics on it. I think it is a very bad idea. Maths might have a large role later, but not now.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The problem with Singapore government departments and linked companies

Quoting from Robert Gates speech at West Point.

He said Iraq and Afghanistan had become known as “the captains’ wars” because “officers of lower and lower rank were put in the position of making decisions of higher and higher degrees of consequence and complexity.”

The Americans were forced to act this way given the clear and immediate life and death consequences in battles. This isn't happening here because it wasn't an immediate and clear life and death situation and we are quite poor at identifying people we can trust and cheated ourselves by passing many people off as not the right talent.

After they have quickly plucked the low hanging fruits for productivity, this is what they must do. I am not encouraged that they would. As always slowly warming water is more dangerous that a hot fire.

Blue Screen of Death

Another blue screen of death this afternoon. How many more times must I record it here before it is no longer intermittent. Warranty cover will expire sometime in May I think. Gotta get this resolved by then.

A spoof on Benny Hinn (Dark Lord of the Sith)

I debated within myself if I should put this up here. No disrespect intended to the preacher but as a fan of Star Trek and Star Wars this was just hilarious! Well, I admit I am also somewhat skeptical of Benny Hinn's messages. Is he another tele-evangelist con? Time will tell but some have already made up their minds a while ago.

Derivatives Assets contributing to too big to fail

This is scary. This is gunpowder that regulators and governments are kept awake at night wondering how to keep it wet.

From the WSJ Feb 26, 2010

In a recent report, Credit Suisse analyst David Zion estimated S&P 500 companies would show $7.5 trillion in derivative assets, if they weren't netted off against liabilities. Of these assets, about 98%, or about $7.37 trillion, are held by financial firms. The biggest nonfinancial holders, by comparison, are utilities with $52 billion in gross derivative assets, energy companies with $31 billion and industrial concerns with $18 billion.

 J.P. Morgan ChaseBank of AmericaCitigroup, Goldman Sachs Group and Morgan Stanley account for about 95% of the derivatives total, in line with data from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Mr. Zion wrote: "With the financial sector having so much more exposure to derivatives than all of the other sectors combined, it makes you wonder: Who is on the other side of all those derivative contracts? If it's not primarily with corporate America, could it be with hedge funds, individuals, pension plans, governments etc.? Or are the companies in the financial sector simply entering into derivative transactions amongst themselves."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Future: A Day Made of Glass

Would you fancy being surrounded by technology as per this video. Not all of it for me, but the work and in the car bit yes. I wouldn't care for video talk. Good old fashion voice only is sufficient for me.

Got this in the mail from a friend we made in Dubai.

Carrot Cake

The inflation bug has finally infected the carrot stall here: starting price has jumped 50 cents to $2.50. To be fair the portion is bigger, but for my needs, it is too big. 

Longan drink as I wrote earlier has gone up. Now I wonder what's next. My fat wish is for pay to go up! Wait long long they say. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A New Commandment I give you...

I was listening to my car MP3 tunes this morning, and this came on. "A New Commandment I give you; Love one another as I have loved you..." I have heard this countless times but this time something in me clicked which helped me understand my experience in the last few years: People don't want to be loved. They want you to be useful to them. When you are no longer useful to most people you will have few or no friends. At that time those who remain will truly be your friends.

If you are a true to Christ Christian, and you try to, grow to, love others as Christ loves you this truth will hit home not academically but with life. Perhaps God will drive you to seek and love those who feel they do not deserved to be loved. One of those places is where Mother Teresa had been.

So do people want to be loved? Yes, but only from the few that matter to them. This is usually the family and very few close friends. Many people if they lose their loved ones, they count on God to be reunited to their loss some day. That desire is much stronger than their yearning for God. As for loving God, he is THE ULTIMATE Santa Claus. Their spoken wishes disappear faster than evaporating vapours, but on Facebook and blogs, they are carved on servers and indexed by search engines forever. We have deviously developed ways to hide Santa God from ourselves. To compound the sin, we have too many people to affirm that we are OK. Meanwhile God is just tolerating us, giving us plenty of time to repent. Mysteriously in this way, he is more glorified. It is the shame of the Cross that eventually brings the glory. Indeed, "Forgive them Father for they do not know what they are doing".

"Do not know what they are doing" does not mean "Is not responsible" though.

Trusty Clarks

I knew I needed to get a new pair of shoes soon. I loved this old pair by Clarks. I have had it since end of 2006. I can remember it clearly because of a silly episode where I tried to show it off to a friend.

This trusty shoes had gone with me to the Great Wall and sadly worse of wear afterward. Still it served me well from our 2008 visit to Beijing. I had also used it every day when we were living in Dubai.

Another pair of Clarks I bought last night has taken their place. I wish they were as nice as these old pair. Guess I will just have to grow to like the new ones.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blue Screen of Death :-(

Computer, if you want to have this BSD, please do not be intermittent about it. It is very hard for me to get Acer support to fix it.

"Unwrap" on the Food Channel

"Unwrap" is one of my favorite TV programs. How surprising. It is about food which is not a high priority for me.

I think the cheerful liveliness of the host scores with me. The countless examples of Yankee optimism and can-do excite me to entrepreneurial opportunities in America. And food is food is just wholesome goodness.

So it isn't food but what it symbolizes that make this program attractive to me. Somehow I conflate these moving images with myself standing among the vines of Napa Valley because we have been there twice before.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ikea Restaurant

Standards have gone down and prices up. Standards were for a while still good even if prices have gone north. Sadly, the next change was to keep prices and cut corners with food quality.

Last night we were at Ikea restaurant after swearing it off the last time because the meat balls were terrible. I think that was shortly before CNY. On offer yesterday, laksa for $3.80 instead of its regular price of $5.50. We were so skeptical that we bought the children favorite Diam Cake and Chicken Wings only. We had them packed for take away but not without the insult of paying twenty cents for the box to go with the cakes. The counter staff were almost apologetic. Perhaps other patrons were less kind and far more grudging.

Give it a couple of months and let's see what happened. Would they have gone further down or pump themselves as they ought by their bootstraps.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Odd weather map

Quite unusual to get a weather map looking like this. Normally you have one icon suggesting a singular weather type predominating the island. Today we have a combi of fair with windy. Of course fair is our silly adjective for very hot weather.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NaviMapping and Asperger's

I think I am going to get this book. Here is what one of the reviewer wrote about the book (silly, what else does a reviewer do?)

In the six or seven years since he received Fasanella's e-mail, the world has been transformed into a universe of information, overwhelming many of us, but not autistics, Cowen writes: "Autistics are the true infovores, as I will call them. They have the tendency to impose additional structure on information by the acts of arranging, organizing, classifying, collecting, memorizing, categorizing, and listing." 

Describes me quite well. I have been doing this sort of thing for as long as I could remember, culminating in NaviMapping. And here is my latest NaviMap on the SWOT method

Visit to a cancer sufferer

On the way to visiting Lynda on Friday, I took the wrong turn and passed this brick house which I found quite beautiful and couldn't resist taking a picture of it. I recalled that was the texture of Braddell View when I first moved in. Inside each apartment there was also a brick wall in the dinning area.

Lynda is now able to walk with a walking frame but her prayer and ours too is to be able to walk freely. She is such a cheerful spirit despite her illness. I left a copy of Yancey's book with her. Also bought her rice dumplings and red bean paste pancakes. Spent about two hours chatting with her.

Hope to visit her again when the effects of chemo has worn off.

Secondary school days

Places I will not fail to visit practically every day in my secondary school days. They are all gone now. Completely torn down, move to a new place and that was also demolished and now they are in an even newer building. This is history.

These pics taken from someone contribution on Facebook.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Modern Chinese Railways Again

More than a month ago I embedded a video of China's railway systems and said the Chinese never fail to awe. Tonight in read in the WSJ the price that had paid to make it awesome. Before I get to the numbers, the chief of the railways has been fired. I thought the minister (are they the same) had also been given the boot.

The railway system chalked up US$303 billions in debt! It is so bad, the Chinese government is going to have problems servicing the interest on those loans and much of it is short term. Of course a big chunk of must have been used to satisfied corrupt desires. Still the number is mind boggling and I am still doubtful. Whatever it is, it is huge!

Investing in commodities

Invest in commodities, especially agricultural commodities. I think better do your homework, be careful and know well enough what is happening. Buying it when few people are and when everyone is are very different things.

Don't be the market if you are a value investor. You have got it totally wrong. But if you are not a full time pro, you have got to be a value investor! You have to be very late (surprise!) or very early (obvious)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Angelic apparitions

What do you make to this? It was sent to me on Valentine's Day by an old friend from primary school days. In the first attempt I received a corrupted file. The second attempt tonight, I now get to see it as it was.

This picture was purportedly taken at Paya Lebar Methodist Church during church service. They recognized it as a picture of angels. It is so natural for us to see things this way and get excited too. I don't think it will ever change. This sort of thing is not for me. Angels or not, it doesn't matter to me. I only hope that much of humanity do not stop here but go on to know the personal Christ. Well most people are just not like that. It is especially obvious among the Catholics. And in Islam, they have long evolved Sufism. It cannot be helped.

元宵 moon

Tonight is 元宵. See how full the moon is. It is not a very happy night because on this day in the lunar calendar last year was when my late dad's troubles with PAD started. About two months later he was dead.

Competition in the weightless economy

Price wars looming for goods that can be reproduced at zero costs. Not so lucky for food, energy, housing and transport thought.

Now wondering how Amazon would be responding. A lot of respect for those guys in this space. Apple as usual is greedy.

Google woos publishers with One Pass
Google has launched a new online payments system for publishers, with more generous revenue sharing than rival Apple’s recently launched alternative.

The “One Pass” service was launched by Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive at a conference in Berlin on Wednesday to provide a single point of payment for content across a variety of websites.

One Pass will allow consumers to buy individual articles or subscriptions to online newspapers and other sites, across all platforms, including mobile and tablet apps. Google will take a 10 per cent cut of any revenues, compared with Apple’s 30 per cent share for all content sold directly through iPad and iPhone apps
Google woos publishers with One Pass 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mini Steamboat in Queenstown

The mini steamboat at Parkway Parade (we used to patronize almost every Friday evening when we bought our first car) has opened a branch in Queenstown.

Longan Drink: $1.20 to $1.30

I gave the stall keeper $1.20 and she asked for ten cents more. So this is the planned post CNY price increase! The very popular nasi lemak hasn't changed (read raise) prices for a long time.

Which is better value? Nasi Lemak only $2 with a chicken wing, fried eggs, ikan bilis, peanuts and super chilli versus a longan drink that came right out of some can?

I don't think I would buy this drink very often any more. I just don't feel that the price should have gone up. Has coffee and tea also gone up? I don't know as I don't drink them.

30,000 km car service

What was supposed to be a $300 bill was inflated to almost $600 because I had to add grooming service and replace something not negotiable: the battery. Why do they give us such lousy batteries these days. The car is only one and a half years old. I had the same problem with the previous car too.

Well the grooming was very well done. The car is shiny and smooth now. What to do, leaving it at our MSCP is a hazardous choice. So much traffic here and its more than fair share of inconsiderate drivers had left many scuff marks and a few small dents. This was never an issue when we were in Pine Grove.

Queue number 001. The sky was still quite dark. I was a Kah Motors at about quarter after seven.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shunfu Char Kway Teow

The char kway teow stall from Lake View, which was extremely popular at moved to this Shunfu food centre for many years now. We had dinner here before going on to Mount Vernon to attend a friend's mother wake. The last time I was there was my mom's cremation. They have since converted it into a beautiful funeral parlor.

Blue Screen of Death

Blue screen of death from my PC after I came home from Mt Vernon.

Forced hard reboot and was presented with another BSOD. I gave up and switched off the machine for the night. I used the iPad instead.

Reading light gets better

It has been more than a month since I found a solution for reading in the dark with my kindle, but it was inconvenient.

Made by Energizer, it has been around for years. Runs on two CR 2032 batteries which is good for 50 hours. They cost about $4.50.

Overall I think it is better for the Kindle than paperbacks. It should work better for hardcovers.

Of course this cannot be covered to the much pricier custom cover and light for the Kindle 3. It is about US$10 cheaper if bought off ebay but overall still expensive.

Monday, February 14, 2011

People passing on

Valentine's Day has been capped by a sad email from an old friend that his mom passed away today. Over the last few days there were two deaths; both from the families of my primary school classmates: a mother and a granny.

Are these life stage signs I wonder.

Mom's niche

Just took this off the email my sis sent me. She went by during lunch today to change the flowers. I noticed that something else had now taken the place of the stolen angel. Incredible that someone would want to steal it.

Eighth Anniversary

Eight years today mom passed away at 8am on Valentine's Day. All the hassle, stress and money spent to take her to Floriade was worth it.. You could see her face light up so often among the beautiful blooms.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Done with "Daring to Draw Near"

We discussed the last prayer from this book this evening. I told the kids that they read and hear about the prayers in this book but many of them are just inaccessible or unreachable. They are simply not ready and it cannot be forced. The timing belongs to the Lord.

I am not yet sure what to move on. We had walked through John and his letters, Romans and Philippians.

"Daring to Draw Near" had been a special book to me for many years. I first read it, I think in 1982. I was surprised what prayer is. Many years later, in 2007 I found Yancey's book on the same subject to be helpful too.

Secondary Class CNY get together

Secondary school class reunion and CFoong's place. Signs of the times, not that we are a long way off from those times are sixteen years olds sharing a class but that too many people are unfortunate to be victims of corporate restructurings. Will there be more coming? What will they remake their lives into from here?

Photo beauty of Tiong Bahru

A beautiful shot by ST Chew Seng Kim which caught my eye in today's Sunday Times. I have taken the liberty to "immortalize" it here. Tiong Bahru is special because I came here from KK.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Replacing the Kindle

We didn't manage to get the shop to replace the Kindle because they discovered (I had missed it) a dent on the top left corner of the Kindle, which must have damage the E-ink display.

They offered to sell us a Kindle for $200 instead of $259. Sure, we can send the device to Amazon but the shipping and insurance would be exorbitant. After checking with the owner, she agreed to fork out the $200. For a student it must really have hurt the pocket to pay for another Kindle. A painful lesson to be more careful next time.

I wonder how she is going to explain to her parents in Hunan.

Lunch at Burlington Square

Lunch today at Fatty Weng Seong. They are located at Burlington Square. They used to occupy a space facing the side road at Albert Complex many years ago. We haven't been back for many years. We used to eat there almost every week when my in laws were still with us.

The children love the food, the price is reasonable.

We are only there today because we needed to return the Kindle we helped our daughter's classmate bought two weeks ago.

Nokia and Microsoft

Nokia and Microsoft trying to make a, "The two shall become one" It is a tall order achieve. Without a, "one should submit to the other, and the other should love her" this mostly unachievable.

Why didn't Nokia choose Android? The WSJ put it this way.

Admittedly, Nokia didn't have much choice. While many hoped Nokia would adopt Android, that would have been problematic. For one thing, many rival manufacturers run Android, making it hard for Nokia to distinguish itself. While some Asian handset makers support both Windows and Android, going down that route would also have made it hard for Nokia to stand out.

An oblique way to suggest that Nokia is in big big trouble. They do not have the confidence of a virus onto a bacteria strategy. Incredibly meek for a huge company spending 15% of revenue on R&D. Reads like they have made a mistake with their CEO hire, an ex Microsoftie.

Primary school class dinner

Dinner with some of my primary school classmates on the 7th floor of Iluma Bugis.

The last time we gather was in late 2007. The first gathering was in 1985. Then we had quite a big group. As the years wear on we kinda of stabilize to this tiny group. Actually three more were supposed to join us but something unfortunate kept them away.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Crowded MRT

Haven't ridden on the MRT system during rush hour for as long as I could remember. See how crowded it was. It was about 6pm, on my way to Bugis station for the once in a few years reunion with my primary school classmates.

It was actually even more crowded before I took this picture.Then  I couldn't lift my phone camera above the passengers heads.

I have been reading about overly congested trains. Now I lived it for a moment.

Fees for the O levels

Just flipped through this booklet which my elder daughter brought back yesterday. One page caught my attention. A schedule of fees, which easily exceed $400. This is more than the cost of her text books. Sure is expensive to take exams in Singapore isn't it? I can already hear the government chiding us to be grateful....They ought to be grateful for their jobs too, don't they?

HP new TouchPad

Quite promising for a first look. No mention on battery life though. A short life would be a game spoiler. Like it that they already offer Kindle out of the box. Flash is supported and MS Office documents can be edited too. I look forward to learning more about this device.

HP virus on bacteria strategy

Looks like a clever virus attacking a bacteria strategy to me when you run WebOS on top of Windows 7. Success will depend on the quality of the virus.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Renewing my WSJ subscription

I have been patiently waiting for a repeat of the good offer since my WSJ subscription lapsed. For a while, I thought it wasn't coming any more. Love to be wrong about these things. The invite just arrived. And as I buy books from Amazon regularly, this WSJ subscription is as good as nicely discounted to US$59. I am returning to them once more :-)

You know, I just searched my email archives and discovered that I would be set back US$129 had I not waited for this offer. I am getting more than 50% off.

Kindle Display Problem

A Kindle with a damaged display, but this isn't mine. It belongs to my daughter's classmate. She had approached my daughter to help her buy a Kindle. We were glad to help especially when you consider that she is here on her own and away from her family in far away Hunan. We took her to Sim Lim Square to buy the Kindle 3 instead of ordering from the States. She wanted it in a hurry so that she can have it to keep her company over the CNY holidays. I also researched and show her how to convert Chinese novels to the Kindle format when Calibre didn't work. This is the first part of the story with a happy ending.

Part 2 is still looking for a happy ending. She has asked us to help her. There is nothing we an do except take it to the shop. Well, at least I am arming myself with some research to push my case. You know what some of the folks at Sim Lim Square are like. Fortunately  I have found a useful link which I am printing out just in case I need to bolster my case that it wasn't the user's fault. (

Now the thought of making a trip to Sim Lim Square just doesn't excite me one bit. The ERP, the exorbitant parking....

Update: May 20, 2011

This link should be helpful for those who want Amazon to resolve the problem

Grace for this little Red Dot

I just posted this to my FB page.

I have repeatedly underestimated the amount of grace God has given us to keep this little red dot of Singapore going. Even more grace would be needed tomorrow as we keep showing up to be more and more undeserving.

I have heard too many pessimists forecasting ill for Singapore mid to long term future. That is the time frame beyond MM Lee is confident about this place. They might turn out to be right, but that isn't the point. I am just in awe of the grace offered to us because of Christ's sacrifice. This only take you closer to his words, "Father forgive them before they do not know what they have done" before he shouted, "...why have you forsaken me".

Christians are often too judgmental or otherwise too absorbed in the Prosperity Gospel, which I cannot understand how it is able to build character.

Our GP's artwork

Accompanied wifey to the clinic this morning and saw this pasted to the wall at the clinic. They gave me permission to take a photo of it. I thought it was bought from some place. No, it was the doc's work actually. Impressive.

Doc gave her vertigon. Some Tok Kong med!

Using ETFs for insider trading

They find an ETF which the stock is included and then short the rest as necessary. All for the sake of disguising their tracks - the whole idea isn't it? This sort of thing never ends. It will accompany every innovation, and I bet this has been happening for a long time before the regulators catch up with them.

SEC probes ETF use in insider trading
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Wall Street traders are using exchange-traded funds as a means of disguising insider trading.

ETFs have emerged as a possible mechanism for maximising gains in one stock while potentially masking trading patterns, people familiar with the matter say. 

Work place

My work place in the morning this time of the year in order to avoid the sun. I could turn on the aircon but chose not to. It is my little contribution to reduce my carbon foot print. Responsibility rather than affordability is the way to go. I have faith that more people will come to think and act this way.

Later in the day, I will return to the study. I prefer my Desktop, which probably hasn't got much life remaining but it uses 500W compared to 90W for my Notebook.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

MP's visit: No Thanks

It was quite noisy outside. I heard the door bell rang. I opened to find  lots of people were outside. A Malay lady informed me that the MP is coming to visit. I replied that I do not want to see him. They left the above on my gate. They could have handed it to me, but I supposed they thought my demeanor wasn't friendly enough and did not want to risk it.

Just like the previous visit, I didn't think any of my neighbors opened their doors to him too. To be doubly sure, I went outside to have a look. All of them had the same letter stuck to their gates. Nothing has changed, we do not welcome him.

Someone told me that this is all so imperial. They sent an advance party to make you stand at your door to await the VIP arrival. I think these MPs haven't earned their spurs to be treated this way. Only Lee Kuan Yew deserved to be treated such.

Blogging about schools

I had just blogged about the monster school system (it is probably the same or worse the world over) because of two events. A few pages I read from "Lee Kuan Yew Hard Truths" about the trial of educating his Albino and Asperger's grandson, and my recent exchange of emails with a school principal. 

I left many low hanging fruits for the principal to pick up, but alas like the majority of the principals and teachers here, they were not responding to as people called to the lofty orders of the education of our youths but just a career and for too many devolved into a job. 

I should have known better given the trials of my girl when she was in Sec One but after a few years, it is good to check again. It is good to be wrong about such things. I always remember what the radio-oncologist told us about my late mom. He wished he was wrong about every case of GBM but he also know that nearly all the time he would be right. That is the right attitude. I can still vividly recall how empathic he had been speaking to my mom in Teochew. A rare doctor. 

We do not write off anyone. 

Meanwhile I am excited that my elder daughter have found an exceptional teacher and we are going to nominate him for the PAT award this year. I am happy I got the principal's support too. 

"I need to stay back", we work for the school system

Just got an unwelcome phone call from my younger girl. This isn't the first time I get such calls but a first for blogging about it.

As usual, the school system assume we all work for them. She told me that she would be coming home late today as she had to attend the AV training this afternoon. Our schools have always performed at an "F" level for administrative quality. They often ambush you and disrupt your plans. I wonder if there would be a revolt from parents sometime. It wouldn't happen in my generation; the next one perhaps. Now this bring to my mind a parent complaining loudly in the car park when my elder girl was in Sec One. We were in school to fetch our daughters and had waited beyond an hour. This father was really upset why the Girls's Guides is keeping them for so long. I was more patient. I know this trial will end and we wouldn't be worse for wear but it was such a waste of time.

I am still feeling the deep dismay in my girl's voice over the phone.

It is the friendships forged that is special to them. Occasionally you get a good teacher but most of the time, it just sucks.

John Piper quoting from Esther, "If I perish, I perish"

    • God, turn ten thousand women from Oprah to Esther with five magnificent words: "If I perish I perish." (Esther 4:16)

      4 hours ago via HootSuite ·  ·  · 
    How many times I have to make a decision against the better conventional wisdom, in the eyes of the world, turn on myself but in private prayed, "If I perish, I perish". So when I see John Piper put it up, it struck a chord with me and went on resonating. 

    I have some friends who are worse off than me in this world but they never lack anything. God has always provided. I am thankful to be given the opportunity to support some of them. 

    Until the end of our time here, there will always be occasions to say, "If I perish, I perish". As you grow in faith, a time might come where there will not be a trapped ram to take Isaac's place. Your "Isaac" will be sacrificed because the true sacrifice had already been offered and we are joined to him through our own sacrifice.

    The name Esther has been special to me. First as an unusual and fascinating story like Joseph was also, and sometime later I suggested it to a friend who was adamant about wanting to change her name. I prepared a list of names for her, with Esther right at the top. With the passage of time, other names have become as special as Esther. Along the way, I have linked Ruth with Esther, in fact as taking a step beyond.

    Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried

    And I have found and persuaded my daughter to read a dramatization of this story by Francine Rivers. There is a deeper one written by Walter Wangerin but for now, she has found it to difficult to handle. I pray that Walter Wangerin would successfully beat back his cancer.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

CNY: So crowded at the East Coast Park

See how crowded the East Coast Park was during CNY. This photo came from a FB friend. I was harboring thoughts of may be going there for some cycling and believing that the park would be relatively quiet. I couldn't be more wrong. Of course most of them present there are celebrating the holidays but not CNY. We weren't celebrating CNY either in view that my dad had passed away last year.

Singapore is just too crowded these days. It would take a while to get used to it.

Attacking the Keynesians

Found this at Marc Faber's blog. I suppose he agrees with the viewpoint here. The good Faber himself was quoted in this video.

Sounds like the Austrian school trying to disparage the Keynesians. Real life is both and also neither. Never take these two main school of Economics to be religion. Never be an ideologue. Real life is far richer and much more complex. It helps if you have the "Blink" ability or leverage someone who has.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Noir Bloomberg disappears

The whole day I had problem getting to Mostly I get a bad request message that I finally gave up. I just tried again and it looks like noir is in the coffin one more time or perhaps for good. Will try again in the morning.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Maiden visit to Clementi Mall

Malls in Asia, not to mention Singapore,  look like each other. We made our maiden visit to Clementi Mall this afternoon. Of course, we must pack away some groceries from the supermarket. In this instance, it was Fairprice Finest, which for the first time ever, I noticed something really interesting but thought inappropriate to snatch a photo of. A short guy was standing in from of the shelf full of boxes of condoms. He seemed to be taking down their prices on his smart phones. Either he wanted to get into to business of selling them or he just might be a pimp, I wonder. I know too little about this business to guess with any confidence.

Sunday Times on the Gillman Heights En Bloc sale

The comments of three former owners of the HUDC estate at Gillman heights caught my attention. They are all at least somewhat worse off because they sold their apartment in a rising market. They would be patting themselves in the back if it had been a falling market. The committee that led them were ignorant and Capital Land behaved astutely in a commercial fashion. Indeed what you do not know can hurt you. People are so lazy. Just because they have no more exams to take, diplomas to collect they stop educating themselves. The world moves on and their ignorance is somebody's profit opportunity. This is how the market works. It is disciplinary.

Mrs Saw Yock Kee, 57 
Insurance agency leader, married with one son, 30, and one daughter, 21
Former home: Gillman Heights, 2,000 sq ft ground-floor unit bought for about $650,000 in 2000
En bloc sale price: $870,000
Now living in: 1,600 sq ft high- floor unit at Lakeholmz condo in Jurong, bought for about $900,000


I'm not against the idea of an en bloc (sale), since I understand Singapore is a small country. But I wish that more protection was given to minority owners to ensure they don't suffer a (reduced) quality of life when they are forced to move.
I wish I had the foresight to invest in another place early. By the time we received the funds from the sale, the money was not enough for us to buy a new home in the same location.

Mr Alan Chow, 67 
Retiree, married with two children
Former home: Gillman Heights, 1,700 sq ft unit bought for about $300,000 in 1985 when it was first launched for sale.
En bloc sale price: $870,000
Now living in: 1,100 sq ft five-room HDB flat in Tiong Bahru bought for more than $600,000

Is our life better now?
I'd say we did not feel like we got a fair deal, as most of us have had to downgrade our homes. For those who are younger, they are better equipped to buy new homes with similar attributes. For people like us who have already retired, it's not really an option.
There's a group of 20 to 30 of us, old neighbours, who have dispersed all over the island in our new homes.
We do regularly meet, about once a month, for coffee. We no longer hang out at the coffee shops in the vicinity of Gillman Heights. Sometimes we meet at the McDonald's at West Coast to chat about everything, just like in the old days.'

Sale created economic value, but at what cost?

Mr Harish Pillay, 51
IT consultant, married with two sons, 11 and 13
Former home: Gillman Heights, 1,800 sq ft mid-floor unit bought for about $430,000 in 1992
En bloc sale price: $870,000
Now living in: 2,200 sq ft penthouse at Carabelle condo in West Coast, bought for more than $1 million

Sure, the en bloc created economic value, but at what cost? It destroyed perfectly good buildings. My family would have been happy to continue living at Gillman. Maybe we could have done some upgrading work to the estate.
My boys were excited to move into a new place, but they often mention that they want to return to Gillman. After all, it's a place that holds fond memories for us.'

Shoes from Nex

New shoes by JWest bought at Nex last night. First time she visited this mall. I haven't been there yet but passed by in the car on our way to dinner last evening. Can imagine the traffic when the bus interchange becomes operational.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The workings of the CCP

It took more than two months for my reserved copy to arrive. It is turning out to be a fascinating even if unsurprising read for me. I am about one third through it. This book is offering a useful education to westerners. For Chinese locals, many of them I suspect are already more of  less familiar with it. At least Wang Ping who took us around Beijing and to the Great Wall at Mutianyi was completely aware of such going ons.

A stable Singapore? Borrowing from Nassim Taleb

Here is something to carefully ponder regarding very stable Singapore. 
I posted the following to my FB page.

He is right and also wrong. No contradiction here as in the man's own words, "I don’t focus on political stability, nor do I specialise in olive groves. My specialty is risk and fragility." 

What he mostly offers you is insight. Shallow thinkers mistake them to be prescriptions to their own grief. He helps us see better but also warns us there is much that isn't visible.