Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chinese Eye Test

I'm supposed to be doing some work now (a report actually) which needs to be submitted early next week on Monday. However, I'm not being very efficient at the moment because I'm suffering symptoms of brain slowing down to a crawl. All I feel like doing is to go to bed early but I can't because I haven't finished my work.

Next Tuesday I'll be heading back to Taipei *boohoo*. Not that I don't like Taipei but it just seems that this 2 weeks back in Singapore has gone by so quickly. Despite all my efforts, I still did not get a chance to meet up with all the people that I've been meaning to meet.... Simply ran out of time and energy. Bahhhh!!!

On a lighter note, I thought this "Chinese Eye Test" was too brilliant not to share....

Hint: If you can't make out the words, try pulling the corner of your eyes outwards so it becomes all squinty. :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A successful drive down to Kuala Lumpur. :)

Took a 3 day trip down to Kuala Lumpur as I needed to close the bank account for the Damansara apartment. Went down with 3 friends in my Honda Edix. It was my first trip (and my car too) driving down to KL, and as you can imagine, I was pretty excited and after hearing so many horror stories about robberies in JB, frankly a little apprehensive about it too!

I picked up my friends on Monday morning and we headed down to the Tuas Second Link. Although it was Vesak Day, the traffic was relatively smooth and customs at both the Singapore and Malaysia side had several counters opened to meet the needs of the SIN- MALAYSIA travellers. It was basically a drive-through affair although we had to come out of the car once at the Tuas Checkpoint to get a thumb scan. For the higher purpose of tighter security, I thought it was quite understandable and hardly an inconvenience as it was so efficiently carried out. :)

In particular, I noted that Malaysia has done away with that annoying white immigration card that we had to fill in the past. Kudos to that!! I thought the white card was quite a pain especially since we had to keep one small part to show when we leave the country. As it was a loose piece of paper and thus relatively easy to lose, I’ve had a bad experience once of losing it (careless me) and was not-so-gently prompted by the custom officer in Malaysia to “help him out” so that he can “help me out”. Being a poor student at that time, I had to part with RM 50 dollars and would have parted with more (as I was pretty much scared shitless at that time) except that I did not have that much money with me at that time. Grrr!!! Try to make me part with my money like that again……just TRY ME!!! *takes out the punching gloves*

Anyway, I found the North South Expressway in Malaysia of good quality and well labeled. In fact, it was such a straight-forward drive, I didn’t even have to refer to the map once. The speed limit on the highway was 110km per hour and K.Ling told me that if I stick below 123km per hour, I would be OK. There were the occassional cars that were speeding around the vicinity of 140-160 km per hour and I found that if you kept out of their way, it was a basically a pleasant drive.

There were 3 toll stations along the highway and they had 3 different types of lanes depending on the payment mode: Lorong Tunai (for cash), Touch and Go(pre-paid card) and Smart Tag (that works like our erp service in Singapore with cash card services and machine and all). We spent approximately RM 70 on a one way trip. Along a stretch of 330km (between Singapore and KL), I found that pretty acceptable.

We took a break for lunch at Malacca at a famous chicken rice restaurant which was famous for their rice BALLS. (literally rice that were rolled up in small balls). It was interesting but I preferred the traditional pandan flavored chicken rice though.

Anyway, a typically 4-5 hours drive was covered in about 3 hours 30 minutes (it was easy to exceed the speed limit as the roads were clear and the roads in good repair) and with such a successful trip, I’m looking forward to another trip to Malaysia soon!

Note: The visit to the bank and developer went smoothly. It was a nice surprise since we had quite a lot of problems with them in the past but I guess after months of harassing them, they probably decided that they had enough of me and ensured everything would be sorted out before my trip down. Hooray!! A weight off my chest. :) *clap clap clap*

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Home Sweet Home.......Bliss

YOOOHOOO...............I'M HOME!!!

I've only been away for 3 months but I admit its nice to be back home. Back in my own room, in my own bed, familiar surroundings and among people that I love and adore. Not to mention the "royal" treatment I get from my mom with home cooked food, ginseng soup, liang-cha and the list goes on. :)

It was real nice to wake up this morning to my mum nagging at me to come down for breakfast and having a sumptious spread on the table when I finally did. All this as compared to starving in Taipei on the weekends because I'm just too lazy to get up and cook and clean. I probably gained 2 kg in my first day home. Hehe.

This trip home is part work part leisure. Although I've got tons of things to do in the office but I've decided to let myself totally relax this weekend. For starters, I'm catching up on my comic book reading. Thank god for a brother to provide an ongoing supply......

I'm re-reading The league of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume I. Its such a great read! Volume II is also sitting on my table.

Some quotes I enjoy from LTEG: -

Quote from the Editor: "..let us not forget the many serious, morally instructive points there are within this narrative: firstly, women are always going on and making a fuss. Secondly, the Chinese are brilliant, but evil. Lastly, laudanum, taken in moderation is good for the eyesight and prevents kidney stones...."

Quote from Campion:" We live in troubled times where fretful dreams settle upon the empire's brow. If England is to survive them, then your work is vital. Be about it vigorously and without delay, for the shadows of the century grow long...."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Overcoming my fear on the topic of Investing and the exam screw up

For the past few weekends, I have been locked up in my apartment cramming for my next 2 LOMA papers related to Investing. Four textbooks “impressively” covering various aspects of:
1) Investment for the Individual
2) Investment for Organization
3) Financial Institution & Financial Markets
4) Economics.

This time round I admit that I’ve left my studying to the last possible minute. Each time I tried to open my books, I always found something else much more interesting or important to do. :) By the time I decided that it was time to get SERIOUS, I was nearing a state of panic, constantly checking the calender and counting down to what I would affectionately know as “doomsday”.

I’ve never been knowledgeable about the variety of financial instruments or markets out there. And I totally admit that when it comes to Investing, I can be quite the ranking idiot. The first few chapters was an uncomfortable start for me.

Fortunately, after “hanging in there for a while longer”, I soon found myself getting to know and making fast friends with my 3 buddies: DJIA, S&P 500, Wilshire 5000. Of course, I admit that before you can get to the really fun part of investing, you need to slog through the hours of calculating Present Value versus Future Value, Compounding on Annual or Semi Annual Basis, Yield to Call or Yield to Maturity for Bonds, Leverage/Activity Ratios, Profitability Ratios and so on. Using Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) to determine the risk and expected return for stocks can also take its toil on you. But trust me, once you get over the tough part, it slowly gets more interesting.

Today, indexes/market averages no longer scare me as much as they used to. Also, you won’t find my eyes glaze over during the investment meetings discussing stock splits, NAV, ETFs, Money Market Funds, Closed/Open Funds and so on. Another plus point is that I can also better understand the Financial Section of the newspapers and headlines such as “Bonds Rally After 3 Days Slump” no longer baffles me.

To be honest, after having put in time and effort to finish the textbooks, I’ve been kinda looking forward to taking the papers and getting over and done with it. My first paper was set for today and the night before, I had survived only 2 hours of sleep trying to juggle between work and last minute revisions. The good news is that I finished my revision as I watched the sun rise on another beautiful day, the bad news is that I won’t be taking my papers this week after all.

Just minutes before the scheduled time for the paper, I was "cordially" informed that there had been a screw up and my name were not registered for both papers. *Dumbfounded* My colleague tried to cheer me up by saying:" Look at the bright side, you'll have more time to work on getting a better grade".

Erm...Thanks but no thanks! W@#$!#$%@# :(

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What about that..............*Grumbles*

For the past few weeks, I have been locked up in my apartment cramming. 2 papers...4 textbooks: Investing for the Individual, Investing for Organizations, Financial Institution & Financial Markets, Economics. That's just me.....always leaving it to the very last minute until panic sets in before I sit myself at the desk to hit the books for some serious intense cramming.

Lost in a world of financial instruments, market averages and indexes became my best friends: Hello Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, Wilshire 5000 - How are you doing today?! Feeling bearish...feeling bullish? When I was finally done with my reading, I was introduced to a whole new world of Present Value Future Value, Compounding, Bond Yield, Leverage/Activity Ratios, Profitabiliy, Capital Asset Pricing Model and the list goes on.

Finally the big week arrives. My first paper is on the 13th. I can't wait to get it over and done with!!

Yesterday night, I finally finshed up on work at 1am before I could start with my final round of revision. After bars of chocolate and cups of coffee (plus ice cream and an apple), I finally closed my textbook as I watched the sun rise at 5am. Well, that's all I could have done...I'm all ready to take my exams, come what may....

After 2 hours of sleep, I woke up and almost drowned myself in the shower before I could get out of a zombie state and decent enough to go to work. I still had 2 conference calls to get through before my paper at 1pm and my "moment of truth".

In the midst of the morning, I innocently asked my colleague "Hey...where is the exam held later on?" She takes a look at me and replied "In the training center" and then hurries off. Hmm...did I see her shoot me a funny look? Nah..I just shrugged it off.

A while later she comes up to me and she cautiously starts with: "Jamie, I've got something that I want to tell you." She still has that look on her face and by now I'm sure that I don't like it. She explains that there has been some screw up and that one of our colleagues had not registered me for the paper!!!!