Friday, November 30, 2007

One Night at A & E

Recently, I have a constant chest pain. It has this cramping feel, and my left arm becomes weak, sometimes even numb. I got a bit scared so I visited the company doctor on Monday. She then referred me to A & E. At the nurse's recommendation, I went to Tan Tock Seng Hospital's A & E.

I arrived at around 5.30pm. The A & E was relative quiet and not that many people. Quickly I registered. Then proceed to the screening station, where the nurse checked my temperature. This is a legacy from SARS days. Funny the Filipino nurse can actually speak some Chinese, but subsequently she asked a paramedic to translate for her from English to Chinese. Thinking it a bit too troublesome, I just replied in English.

After the screening station, another Filipino nurse did an ECG for me, then again another Filipino nurse measured my blood pressure. Everything was fast and efficient, and then I just sat there and waited.

Around 6.40pm, it was finally my turn to see a doctor. Dr. Lee Ching Ching asked me some questions. She said most probably my chest pain was not heart-related, but just to play safe, she would keep me in observation for 6 hours. She took my blood sample at 7.00pm, a 2nd blood sample would be taken 4 hours late, then if everything was fine, I then could go home at 1.00am the next day.

Oh my, that started my one night experience at the A & E. I could walk on my own, but they insisted I should lie in a bed, and the nurses would push me, wheeled me around from this place to that place.

I did 3 x-rays. One for my neck, one for my chest, one for my back. Dr Lee suspected I had a neck pain. Frankly speaking, I was not very sure whether I had or had not a neck pain myself. Is stiff neck considered as neck pain?

Up to the x-ray part, it was still ok, but after that, the experience was a bit dreadful. They placed an Indian worker next to my bed. The Indian worker probably was injured at work, a fall or something. He vomiting violently for a while, what came out was blood! His pillow and bed sheet were stained with blood.

Then came a man in his 30s. He is very tall, at least 1.80-1.90m in height, but he is also very skinny. Chinese always say "skin wrapping the bones" (皮包骨), that describes him perfectly. His face was pale without any blood. I don't know what his illness is, but it looks like cancer. What other illness can rib someone of his life this much? Soon he was admitted.

Looking around the whole observation room, I was one of the 'healthy' guys, there was a 17-year teen too. He had a cut on his toe, and he couldn't extend his toe. How did I know this? His doctor was not sure whether he should admit the teen, so he asked my doctor, Dr. Lee Ching Ching, so I know :)

There was an old uncle in the room too. His head was bandaged. Around 9-10pm, a police officer came in to ask the old uncle questions. Very funny scene. The old uncle could speak good Cantonese to his sons, but when the police officer talked to him in Cantonese, he couldn't understand that guy's Cantonese. The old uncle's son wanted to help, but the police officer said no third party should be there while the questioning was taking place. According to the uncle, he was at the void deck of his block, and somebody hit him from behind and robbed him of his wallet. He was sent to TTSH by police.

At around 9pm, there was a change of staff. All those non-patients were asked to leave. The doctors and nurses handed over the shift. Some senior doctor came for his rounds. He went through each individual patient's record and plan. The junior doctors then would report.

The observation room is constantly in some kind of chaos. The drifts finished without being replaced. The oxygen tube removed and forgotten to be placed back. If you want something, the nurses will always let you wait, so you must be very patient, anyway, you are patient. I wonder, luckily I was not really in A or E conditions; if I were, I don't know how much my chances would be to survive. The staff were simply overwhelmed by the number of patients.

The last two hours were the most difficult times. The uncle beside me couldn't walk to the toilet, so he pee'ed in his bed with a bottle. I was like sleeping right next to a urinal! Around mid-night, a Cantonese lady was wheeled in. She was really energetic.

In her bed, she kept saying loudly her son didn't want her, her daughter didn't want her, her daughter-in-law didn't want her. She felt very terrible, hoping a good doctor would come and save her. She also said she had found a very good doctor, but that doctor's medical license had been revoked. She pleaded for that doctor, but didn't mention the name. She repeated that again and again and again, so much so that I could almost recite what she said that night word by word.

At 11pm, my doctor, Dr Lee Ching Ching came to take my blood sample again. She also told me my x-ray and blood test results so far were good. Then again, another ECG. At around 1am, a doctor came to me to say I could go home, but he also handed me a referral letter to see a specialist at TTSH.

Wah, I was so happy that finally I could go home and sleep. On my way out, at the screening station there, I saw a half naked tatoo'ed guy, with blood stains on his hands and forehead. Just wondering, victim of a gang fight?

An exciting night, but I wish never do I need to experience it again.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Dragon Boat Race turned Tragic

It was supposed to be a joyful event of Dragon Boat racing on the Tonle Sap River in front of the royal palace of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, together with other teams from various ASEAN countries. The Singapore team finished their race, on the way back to the starting line, just about to disembark their boat. All of a sudden, their dragon boat capsized, all 22 members fell into the river. 17 of them were rescued, while 5 of them drown. Their bodies were found after a 30-hour search by 200 fishermen, soldiers and a team from Singapore.

It was such a sad event. There are many sad things in the world, but nothing has been so close. One of the 5 deceased, Poh Boon San, 27, was my colleague's younger brother! This news was so shocking. In addition, ReuBen Kee, 23, was Mr World Singapore 2007.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Two Seven

The 2 Investing Rules of Warren Buffett:

Rule #1: Never lose money
Rule #2: Never forget Rule #1

The seven deadly sins of investing:

1. Believing that you have to predict the market's next move to make big returns
2. The "Guru" belief: if I can't predict the market, there's someone somewhere who can - and all I need to do is find him
3. Believing that "Inside Information" is the way to make really big money
4. Diversifying
5. Believing that you have to take big risks to make big profits
6. The "System" belief: sombody, somewhere has developed a system - some arcane refinement of technical analysis, fundamental analysis, computerized trading, Gann triangles, or even astrology - that will guarantee investment profits
7. Believing that you know what the future will bring - and being certain that the market must "inevitably" prove you right

These are from this book:

The Winning Investment Habits of Warren Buffett & George Soros
Mark Tier
Inverse Books, a division of Praxis Ltd, Hong Kong

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Day in Batu Pahat

Last Saturday's visit to Batu Pahat was refreshing. Didn't go to Malaysia for more than a year! The rustic look of Malaysian towns make you feel relaxed, the pace of life was a lot slower, and less stressful.

We arrived at Batu Pahat late, close to 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Everybody was hungry so we 'stormed' into a Nonya restaurant for lunch. KA recommended the 'hor fun', a Cantonese style of noodle. The taste was not bad, but the portion was very small. That explains why Malaysians are, in general, slimmer & leaner than their Singaporean brothers.

Alex's chicken goreng looked not bad, too.

Newly opened Batu Pahat mall is modern shopping mall in the making :) In the making means it is still very empty with many shop space yet to be lent out. Bowling in Batu Pahat Mall is reasonably priced. RM4.80 per game, and RM1.50 for rental of shoes. P, WJ, APJ Tan, PY & I enjoyed a bowling game. WJ was the champion with 102 points, followed by me, only 94 points. That was a 10 point improvement from my 1st bowling game, which was back in 1996, in Klang, Malaysia. And this was my 2nd time playing bowling....

EY arranged a room in Hotel Katherina for us to rest before proceeding to his wedding banquet. Being one of the few high rise buildings in a small town, the rooms have very nice views of the town, and the neighbouring hills/mountains. The sunset was magnificent.

Oh, I must mention another shopping centre in town - Summit. KA likes to go there for cheap stuff. Summit is a much older shopping mall than BP Mall, old ventilation system, which makes it less than pleasant to remain inside. Smoking in the building gets the air quality even worse. In addition, I got cheated there. I paid RM16.00 that I thought for a genuine book published by a Taiwanese publisher, only discovered it was a pirated copy. That was bad!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An EL Sale

After many long months, finally I got another extended license sale for one of my photos at iStockPhoto. More, more, more......

Here is the photo...

Some may say I am very 'hao lian', a Hokkien expression for 'self boasting', as I will show-off whatever small little 'achievement' that I have. Hehe... I just want to share the joy. If you don't like it, "that's the problem of others", to quote a former US treasury secretary ;) And you are encouraged to read this.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Good Books

1. Trend Trading
Daryl Guppy
Wrightbooks 2004

2. Chart Trading
Daryl Guppy

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Wedding in Batu Pahat

EY held his wedding in Batu Pahat yesterday. A group of us from the office went down to attend his wedding banquet hosted at Grand Seaview Restaurant in Batu Pahat.

I was positively surprised by the grandness of the banquet hall. It is elegantly decorated, with a sense of classic Chinese halls. The food was delicious too.

The day's menu:

1. Cold dish of yam, siew mai, etc

2. Shark's fin with crab meat

3. Roast pig
4. fish
5. prawns
6. mixed vegetable
7. Braised pork with Man-tou
8. Desert - Ice cream

The shark's fin with crab meat is worth a special mention. It really had shark's fin and easily visible crab meat. Many Singapore restaurants replace crab meat with the cheap egg white. Maybe not 100%, but the crab meat is hardly visible, nor detectable by our palates. In addition, for an 80-table banquet, it is quite challenging to have all the food served hot, which was the case yesterday. Comparing with our company's 20th anniversary dinner held at Suntec city a couple of weeks ago, in which the food was served mostly cold, it is quite a contrast.

Instead of just eating and eating, the host invited a Chinese orchestra to entertain the guests with traditional Chinese music. Some harmless teasing games for the bride and groom.

The whole event was well-organized, and kept everybody happy and satisfied.

Wishing the EY and his wife live happily together ever after...

Friday, November 16, 2007


The haze has come back. The pollution index went up to 83 yesterday. Hazy days ahead.... I couldn't see the near future clearly, it feels very much like standing in a thick fog, you can't even see your own fingers if you stretch your hand. It feels bad, I am confused, puzzled. The signals are mixed, charts are noisy, information has been encrypted, whilst I have not the proper decoder.

If DJIA closes up with a good few hundred points tonight, then it may set the stage for next week's rebound; if DJIA closes down, then what will happen? STI had been down for the past few days, but there is also an invisible force supporting the critical levels. What is that invisible force? Is it a super-hero or a dark lord?

There are many things in life that I don't understand. Saizen Reits was bashed on its debut. Its price nosedived from its listed price of S$1.00 all the way down to S$0.83 on the very first day, then finally recovered to S$0.86 at the 1st day closing. What makes it such an unattractive stock? Reading the prospectus, the first year return is 6.5%, whilst subsequent years is around 6% (if I didn't interpret wrongly). The investment is on Japanese residential property catering to the rental market. It is quite different in Japan. Property prices are very high, not any average person on the street can afford a house to call his own. Renting is not uncommon. Unlike Singapore, the Japanese rental market does not rely on foreigner working in the country. So why the bash? Something fishy that I do not know of? Mmmmh..... Then today, just as it was bashed down for no good reason, the price went up to S$0.885 for no particular good reason either. People betting on the appreciation of the Japanese yen?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Punishing Ourselves with Other's Faults

A friend of mine sent me this some time ago. Words of wisdom to share with everybody.

否着就埋怨, 气愤,


People usually expect others to be kind to them,
do as they wish;
otherwise, people will complain, become angry,
punishing themselves for other's faults,
that is the source of all worries.
---- Ven. Zheng Yan

Monday, November 12, 2007

Currency Speculation

It is said that Chinese have more than a trilion US dollars in its foreign currency reserve. With the recent depreciation of the dollar, the Chinese reserve just goes down together with the dollar. Although there are calls for the Chinese central bank to reduce its US dollar holding, many analysts speculate that China won't do that, as that will make China's reserve go down significantly in value, wiping out all the paper wealth it had accumulated over the years, with hard-earned money.

Why do the analysts think so? Who says if China reduces her US dollar positions, it will be a shot on her own foot? Do you still remember what George Soros did during the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis? They just sold down on a country's currency on the one hand, on the other hand, they bought futures on the devaluation of those currencies. You can't do it to a single stock counter, but you can do it to a country! Dumping a trilion dollars into the market will sure send the dollar down to hell, while the Chinese can still make some handsome profit.

Well, but there is a slight catch here. US dollar is still THE reserve currency. The Americans enjoy a special previllege as the legal owner of that reserve currency. They can just keep printing. No gold standard anyway, it is just good old faith.

Nah, whatever it is, it seems to me the current events have more and more similarities to what happened 10 years ago. Everything that has a beginning, has an end. While an end, is always the beginning of the next ending :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Asia Meltdown

Reading this book Asia Meltdown - The End of the Miracle? by Leo Gough, published in 1998. This book chronicles the sequence of events of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, the crisis I personally experienced 10 years ago. The memory is still vivid, just as if it happened yesterday.

The book puts the blame on the unsound banking systems in the South-East Asian countries, especially Thailand, the country that triggered the collapse. First, it was a property boom. Then Thai banks borrowed from foreign lenders loans in dollars terms, then lent to domestic borrowers in baht. High-rise buildings mushroomed in Bangkok, without knowing who would buy those buildings, until one day, they find the buildings are there standing empty, no tenant, no buyer. The companies that built them became insolvent. Borrowers defaulted on their loans, banks accumulated mounting 'non-performing' loans. When the news spread to the outside world, foreign investors lost their faith in the Thai financial system, lost faith in Thai baht. Nobody wanted to be the last person holding the Thai baht, which triggered the heavy devaluation of the Thai currency in a couple of months. Easy credit vanished over night. Even the 'lender of last resort', the Thai central bank, ran out of US dollars. Following Thailand's footstep, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea & Japan fell one by one. The mighty tigers, dragons lost their financial power, the wealth accumulated over the past 10-20 years evaporated. Money just disappeared.

Does that sound very familiar? Change the name of the country from Thailand to the United States of America. First that was a property boom, easy credit was available to people who previously was not qualified for any mortgage loans. Then suddenly there is an increase in 'non-performing' loans, a credit crunch ensued. Well, the Americans are a lot smarter, they packaged the 'non-performing' loans to be CDOs and sold them to the unsuspecting investors, who naively thought those were AAA rating investment grade debts. The US dollar is very much like the Thai baht 10 years ago, people avoid it like a plague. When the Asian Financial Crisis happened, IMF was called in to bailout the nations. If a financial crisis of the same scale, of the same nature happens to the Americans, will IMF be able to bail it out? Or would America be willing to let IMF bail itself out?

If the US does not want to take the bitter pill to clean up the mortgage industry, as well as the banking industry, the problem will continue. The burst of the bubble will not be avoided, it is only delayed. The pain will be more unbearable for a delayed burst.

Events unfolding in the next couple of months will be very interesting to watch. I bet a 75% chance of a crisis or a recession in the US by the end of 2008. Ah Ben is now between a rock and a hard place. No matter what policy he implements he will 'die', it is just a matter of whether he puts the national interest above the Wall Street interest or vice versa.

Now I am more interested to know what would happen to Asia if there is a financial crisis in the US. Would Asia fall together with the US? or ???

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Korean King's Treat in Red-Hot Singapore

PurpleRain brought me to this Korean restaurant on the basement level of Far East Plaza. They are offering a menu very similar to what Crystal Jade's Korean Restaurant offers in Centre point, but the price is lower.

We ordered a set menu for two, which includes 6 Korean side dishes, BBQ chicken, BBQ pork collar, Ginseng chicken soup, & bimbimbah, plus complementary fruits.

You have a choice to ask the kitchen to BBQ the chicken and pork collar for you, or you can do it yourself on the dining table. I am never a fan of doing BBQ myself, but purple likes doing it, so I let her do all the BBQ work, while I enjoyed the food:)

The pork collar is worth a special mention. Never had I tasted something so tender but chewy before. That 'feel' is really good and it lingers in mind even after weeks.

The BBQ set is more properly designed, which somehow manages to get rid of the smoky effect which I often experience in other Korean BBQ outlets.

Just a word of caution though. The food of the set meal for 2 is a bit too much for two, especially ladies. The amount I think is enough for two adults (one man, one lady) plus a kid maybe.

Oh, please forgive me for my poorly taken photos. You can't expect much from a handphone camera not even into the megapixel range ;P

Su Korean Cuisine Pte Ltd
14 Scotts Road #01-21
Far East Plaza
Tel: 62350420
Fax: 62350429

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Roller-Coaster Ride

So far I have never ever taken a roller-coaster ride in my life. Some say they like the thrill of it, but I don't, and I am honest about it. But think about it, it is not really that dangerous as I thought before. There are a lot more dangerous things/events than a harmless roller-coaster ride.

The Dow Jones Industry Average fell 360 points last night, followed by a sharp drop in Asian bourses as well. Will it bounce back sharply today or tomorrow? I don't know. Your guess will be just as good as mine. Looking at the curves, don't you think they look very like a roller-coaster ride?

Life is full of risks, risk is everywhere, in every aspect of our life. Even eating your lunch or dinner, drinking a glass of water will be a life-threatening risk if not done properly. Risk avoidance will never work, what we can do is risk management. Know the risk, and manage it and enjoy the roller-coaster ride :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Voice of Knowledge

"All humans create their story with their own unique point of view. Why try to impose your story on other people when for them your story is not true? When you understand that, you no longer have the need to defend what you believe. It's not important to be right or to make others wrong. Instead, you see everybody as an artist, a storyteller. You know that whatever they believe is just their point of view. It has nothing to do with you."

----From the Voice of Knowledge, by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Something I read about from Nat Ho's blog. How true it is!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ahead of the Curve - A Commonsense Guide to Forecasting Business and Market Cycles

Ahead of the Curve - A Commonsense Guide to Forecasting Business and Market Cycles
Joseph H. Ellis
Harvard Business School Press, 2005
HB3730.E55 2005

Key Notes:
1. Four stages of economic downturns:

Stage 1: The peak
Stage 2: A modest slowing
Stage 3: Intensifying worry
Stage 4: The advent of recession

2. The leading indicators

Consumer spending -> Capital spending -> Employment

3. Factors affecting consumer spending:

a) Personal Income
b) Personal wealth, or non-income spending power.

c) Consumer Confidence Index (published by The Conference Board) & the Index of Consumer Sentiment (compiled by the University of Michigan Survey Research Center) may not predict real consumer spending. Past records have not shown any evidence that the two do.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

It is crab time...

It is Autumn in China now, time when the crabs are at their best. The most famous of all the different types is the hairy crab (大闸蟹) from Yang Cheng Lake (阳澄湖). The food gurus say the hairy crab is one of the most delicious dish on earth. Hong Kong TV artiste Lydia Sim (沈殿霞) obviously has a special liking of the hairy crab. She risked her own life, but still she wanted to eat the hairy crab. Typical Cantonese :=)

Went down to Yue Hwa at Chinatown this afternoon to take a look at the hairy crabs. They are selling female hairy crabs S$128/kg, male big ones S$158/kg, male small ones S$98/kg. I don't really know why they distinguish the different types of crabs. Is there a difference? Each crab is about 250g, according to the lady manning the counter.

I wanted to try this famous hairy crab, but I could not make up my mind. It sounds very pricy, considering a normal Sri Lankan crab is around S$33/kg. What puts me off is how I am going to cook it.

I found 3 recipes from the internet. Mmmmh....



这是最好的吃法。挑选个大、肢体全、活力强的阳澄湖大闸蟹,放在清水里洗净,用绳或草把大闸蟹的两个夹子和八条腿扎紧成团状,入锅隔水蒸熟。也可以放在水里煮熟。下锅时可放一些生、紫苏、黄酒、食盐与之同煮,可以避寒去腥。食用时配上自己精心调制的酱汁和黄酒,既能调味驱腥,又能完全吊出阳澄湖大闸蟹的美味。 蒸煮螃蟹时要注意:在水开后至少还要再煮20分钟。


过程:选熟透且带有两片叶子的大橙子,把顶部切下去瓤,留下少许橙汁,把 大闸蟹的黄、肉塞入其中,再以切下的顶部封口放入蒸锅中,加酒、醋、水蒸熟。吃大闸蟹时蘸醋、盐,滋味清香,令人悠然而生雅趣...


首先配制醉液、醉露,用精盐、葱、老姜、桂皮、八角、花椒组成“醉液”,倒入锅中用旺火烧沸,稍煮片刻,捞去葱姜桂皮等,用纱布过滤除去杂质,冷却后倒入干净的坛中,再以白糖、味精、高粱酒制成“醉露”,将醉露倒入醉液坛中搅匀。然后再处理 大闸蟹蟹,取健壮的活大闸蟹洗净后在水中暂养两到三天,并每天换水,为了排除大闸蟹体内污物。然后捞取放置让大闸蟹吐干水分,再在大闸蟹脐内放少许精盐稍候片刻。最后,就可以把 大闸蟹放入坛中且全部浸没,密封保存10天就可以食用了。



1.死阳澄湖大闸蟹不能吃 因为大闸蟹死后其体内丰富的蛋白质和脂肪会变质而致人食物中毒。

2.生阳澄湖大闸蟹不能吃 因为其身上有寄生着肺吸虫及其他病菌。

3.阳澄湖大闸蟹的胃、肠、 鳃、心不能吃 大闸蟹的胃俗称“蟹和尚”为三角形囊状物,在头胸部前端;大闸蟹的肠子为一条黑色条状物,装着消化食物和粪便 ;大闸蟹的鳃位于头胸部两侧俗称“蟹胰”,上面常有污物和寄生虫;大闸蟹的心脏位于胸部中央,为一六角形包囊。

4.阳澄湖大闸蟹不能与柿子 、茶水同食因为柿子、茶水中所含的鞣酸跟大闸蟹的蛋白质相遇后,会凝固成不易消化的块状物,人会出现腹痛、呕吐等症状。

5.脾胃虚寒者可少吃阳澄湖大闸蟹 因为大闸蟹性寒,多食会引起腹痛、腹泻。适量吃大闸蟹时蘸姜末醋汁,可去大闸蟹的寒气,就避免了身体的不适。

6.患有高血压、冠心病、动脉硬化者尽量少吃阳澄湖大闸蟹蟹黄 因为会引起胆固醇增高。

7.患有胃病、发热、伤风、腹泻者不宜吃 阳澄湖大闸蟹 因为会加剧病情。

8. 孕妇应少吃阳澄湖大闸蟹

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Who is your most favourite radio DJ?

It is the time of the year for the annual Golden Mike Award for radio DJs. The advertisement is aired very frequently on all the mediacorp radios.

All of a sudden, I feel quite at a loss. Who is my most favourite DJ? I don't think I like any of the DJs, not much impression on any of them, as a matter of fact. DJs here in Singapore are very different from DJs elsewhere that I know of. DJs in Hong Kong, for example, will talk about interesting stuff. Anything that has any amount of 'advertisement' intend will be avoided. As a result, contents are a lot more interesting, sometimes even thought-provoking. Social ills and inequalities are exposed, good deeds are praised. For the light-hearted ones, at least you get some interesting stories, some knowledge.

Singapore DJ's are a world different from those in Hong Kong. I always wonder why do I have to tune in to endure all the advertisement talks by the DJs. Everything they talk about seems to have sponsor. And they will only talk about things that have a sponsor. DJs should be renamed to MJs - Money Jockeys, as they see nothing but $$$. Lin Linzi, who had jumped ship to 100.3, is the worst of the lot. She talks like advertising. Whenever she is on-air, I would either change to another station, or just turn off the radio.

Radio is a mass media tool, it should be a channel for the listeners to enjoy the program contents, to relax, to gain knowledge, instead of being fed advertisements. Advertisements should be strictly reserved for the air time that the various companies buy from the radio stations.

Ooops, I couldn't figure out who is my most favourite DJ, but seems like I figured out who I dislike most :)