Sunday, November 29, 2009

Competitions & Awards

I am not a very competitive person, so I seldom get myself involved in any competitions, and I have never won any awards, either.  Some recent events make me ponder whether I should become more competitive and put in some efforts to win some awards in any competition that is possible.

As I search around, there are numerous competitions, photography competitions I mean.  One interesting thing I noticed is many of the competitions actually charge an entry fee.  The amount varies, but then I saw one competition, the KL PHOTOAWARDS 2010, the entry fee is US$10 per entry for the individual group.  I am wondering, why don't I organize a competition then?  If I can get 1000 entries, then I will get US$10,000 in revenue.  Then I pay out US$3000 for prizes, then I can still have US$7000.  Minus another US$3000 for logistics and other expenses, then I still have a profit of US$4000.  This business is low capital, but not-too-bad profit. 

Again, it makes me wonder the meaningfulness of competitions...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dubai World

The hottest topic in town now is all about Dubai World and their request to halt all their debt repayments.  Once the news came out, it sent shock waves around the world markets (for those that are still open).  For markets that are closed for Thanksgiving and the Muslim new year, hmmm, the next market opening will be very interesting to watch.

Last year's credit crunch saw many US  and UK banks go underwater, with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the entire world was sent into turmoil.  This time round, would Dubai World triggered another round of credit crunch?  Probably not, at least we are not seeing debts amounting to 3-digital billions.  The total debt is said to be only around 59 billion.  Some big mouth then said the biggest impacted banks are HSBC and Standard Chartered.  That sent Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dived almost 5%.  We didn't see such big drops in HSI for a while.

We can expect STI will be impacted next Monday, and the most impact might be on the banking sector.  Hmm, not very good.  I suppose all the 3 local banks will have to come out to clarify how much exposure they have to their Middle East investments.  Hopefully not much. 

Gold price is down, finally.  Hard to tell whether it is just a healthy pull-back or a major correction.  If it is a major correction, some analysts say the price may go down to US$900-1000/oz.  That's good news for those who had been left out.  I don't know about Gold, I can only hear what the analysts say.  For Silver, probably the spot price will go back down to US$16-17/oz before it resumes its up trend.  Probably means no guarantee lah, act on your own risk.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Go Karting

Wow, today for the very first time I tried my hand on go karting. Once when I was in Bangkok, my friends tried it, but I didn't. I was too scared and had no idea how to operate whatever that distantly looked like a car.

Today at least I had the guts to try and I actually did some homework before hand by watching some YouTube videos on how to do corners, etc. It is quite interesting, although I find that it is a matter of how daring you are. If you keep stepping on the accelerator, you should go pretty fast, but if you are like me, a more conservative guy, who will accelerate and then release to let it decelerate on its own, you are not going to be very fast or furious.

Go karting is fun, but a bit too expensive. $30 for 10 minutes! What a precious 10 minutes.

Anyway, I enjoyed the game very much today, although my speed was really low :P

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Buying from eBay - My Experience

I recently made two purchases from eBay USA, and the experience is quite different.

For the first case, the seller dropped me an email to say the item had been shipped. I waited for 2 weeks, nothing arrived. I emailed the seller, he asked me to wait for another week, if I still didn't get the item, let him know. The very next day, the item arrived in perfect condition. I was very satisfied, I was a happy customer.

With this pleasant experience, I happily went on for my second purchase. The seller also emailed me once the item was shipped. Great! And to my surprise, only after one week, the item arrived. I was very happy. However, when I open the package, I became unhappy. The item is a Canadian silver maple leaf bullion. It is supposed to be in its mint condition, or at least no scratches, etc. The one I received has 3 small dent marks on the chin of QEII, and there is a long scratch line across her face. I was like, what the hell?! I emailed the seller on the same day, and showed her a picture of the bullion. The next morning, I got a reply. Guess what she said? She said she shipped a bullion in its perfect condition to me, the scratches must be a result from the custom's inspection which she has no control of. Based on my experience from the first purchase, I know if the item is packaged properly, there won't be any such scratches! And the seller's none of my business attitude really disappoints me, and she is a top-rated seller in eBay. Her top-rated seller icon is one of the reasons why I bought from her. This is disappointing. I left her a 'Neutral' feedback as giving her the benefit of doubt. One additional point, when I checked her listing of the item again, then I noticed she didn't actually show the head-side of the bullion, only the tail-side. The head-side is exactly the side where the dents and scratches are.

Two purchases, two different experiences. Buying through the internet sometimes really is a matter of luck. You will never know what you will get actually.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

$1.50 Chicken Rice

I walked pass Sembawang MRT station this evening and found this chicken rice stall selling at S$1.50 a plate of chicken rice. Out of curiosity, I ordered a plate.

S$1.50 a plate of chicken rice, it is like only in 1990s then you could have this kind of price. Even then, S$2.00 is more like the 'normal' price, and S$1.50 was where you could find in some older estates or markets.

The taste of the S$1.50 is not much different from those S$3.00-3.50 a plate ones in the food courts. Heavy use of MSG seems to be norm with any chicken rice in Singapore, and the after effect is you feel thirsty. The rice itself is typical of the hard to chew, can't tell whether it is fully cooked or half cooked style.

Somehow I still feel good about the S$1.50 chicken rice, maybe it is because it brings back the memory of the happier, younger days, and more hardworking days :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Clear Shampoo

I don't know whether just me or it is common to many of its users, I recently use the Clear shampoo, the one that you see Korean star Rain in the ads, yes, that one.

After I used the shampoo, my brain feels bad. The smell makes me feel headache, and for the whole day, I feel something is attacking my scalp. It simply feels terrible.

I bought the shampoo last year, and only used it when I went swimming. Nothing wrong at that time. Then I left it in my bathroom, and then only recently I took it out and use it again. Then every time I use it, I feel terrible with my head. I couldn't think properly with that smell. It feels like I am suffocating.

No choice, I can't bear with it anymore. At the end, I decided to throw it away. I can't let my head suffer anymore. And I am disappointed with this brand of shampoo, unlikely I will ever buy that brand of shampoo anymore.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Singapore True Ghost Stories

Singaporeans somewhat love ghost stories, and so I will share with you here two of my recent encounters, the true Singapore ghost stories.

The first one happened at home. I was in my study, and there was this strange sound. Sounded like the voice a human, or humans, very coarse, like with lots of noise in the background. At first I thought it was my neighbour's radio or TV, but then when I listened carefully, no, the noise is not from my neighbour next door, or above, or below. Scary, isn't it?

The second incident happened at Causeway point. I was riding the escalator up from ground floor to 1st floor. This escalator is a new addition, a very narrow one, wide enough only for one person. As I was riding up, I heard very loud foot steps behind, as if someone was rushing up the escalator. Our of curiosity, I turned my head and looked back, nobody was there! Very scary, isn't it?

Maybe there are true ghost stories out there, but more often than not, it is because people are a bit ignorant. For the first encounter, I later discovered that I forgot I was streaming a TV drama in the background, and I forgot I plugged the earphone in my computer. The sound is coming from my earphone, and that sound was from the TV drama conversation lah.

For the 2nd encounter, I only found out when I reached the end of the escalator, and a young boy rushed past me. He is so short, no wonder I didn't see him.

Haha... Did you get scared by my stories? :P

You're the Power

Title: You're the Power 自己就是力量
Author: Chen Xian-ming 陈显明
Call #: 158CXM

This book is another book that may change your life, or at least your view on life. It tackles the problem of low self-esteem.

We have been taught in school, at home some 'noble' virtues such as putting society before self, family before self, others before self. These are all noble virtues, and there is no question about their correctness and nobleness. However, such noble ideas, more often than not, will subsequently lead to low self-esteem. We surpess our own feelings. We dare not to speak out. Why? Because we are afraid other people will be unhappy, have bad impressions on us, etc, etc. Over time, we get more and more timid. We lose ourselves to become one total uncharacteristic Dick, Joe & Henry. This book teaches us to live your life your own way, the way you want it to be, the way you like, the way you feel happy. There is no contradiction between living our life our way and putting society before self.

The second point this book advocates is we are the source of own happiness, nobody but ourselves. Our mentality determines whether we are happy, we are sad, we are successful, we are victimized. Lord Buddha said everything is made up by your heart. (万法唯心造). The author's advocate basically is the real life application of Lord Buddha's teaching.

The third point is to get closer to mother nature to purify yourself, to seek your true self. Nature's many great and little wonders will become your inspiration, your motivation.

This book is definitely worth reading, many many times.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Precious Metal Investment in Singapore

Gold has just reached a record high of the year, and historical record high ever. People may start looking around for ways to invest in precious metals such as gold and silver in Singapore. Such investors may be disappointed. There are, frankly speaking, very limited options in investing in physical precious metals here.

For gold investment, other than buying gold jewellery from your friendly goldsmith, the only other way is to buy from the Gold Department of UOB. You have choices of buying American Eagle, Canadian maple leaf, and 3 other less common choices. Even that will not guarantee you will get what you want. Since the gold price skyrocketed, there has been reports saying UOB is constantly out of stock of certain types of gold bullions that they sell. The 1 oz version was even sold out for some time.

For silver, the choices is even more limited if you want to buy from a 'reputable' institution such as a bank. UOB only offers silver certificates, but not physical silver. To get physical silver such as Canadian silver maple leaf, or American silver eagle, you may have to buy from overseas, such as eBay, or Kitco, and a pay the cost of shipping. There is one private company in Singapore selling those silver bullions and bars too, but I have not purchased from them before, so I am not sure about them. Ok, that's about all the options you have in Singapore to invest in physical precious metals.

Other means of investing precious metals will involves financial instruments such as options, futures, which are all paper.

Precious metal investment vehicles may be one of the many areas that the Singapore government can look into for opportunities. I am sure many from our neighbours would like to have their golds and silvers in Singapore for safe keeping.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Close Shop for the Year

Yesterday I sold off my last significant open position and come to an end of trading for this year. I have missed 3 recessions and the subsequent exponential recovery, this time I must keep studying and keep an eye on the market. I must not miss the 4th one. When will the 4th one come? Nobody knows.

Anyway, ending the year with a tiny profit. Tiny it is, at least I spent time and effort to improve myself. Most importantly, I finally realised the reason why I had kept losing. I am working on my psychology and improving. Bright future ahead...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Guardians 20% Discount

Walked past the Guardian store in Funan yesterday, noticed there is a 20% storewide discount on-going. Out of curiosity, I went to the Guardian store near my place to take a look. So it is a 20% discount storewide for purchases S$30 and above, except those items for babies.

Hohoho...I had wanted to buy some stuff from Guardians for my Nepal trip for quite some time. I kept pushing the purchase back because I don't want to buy unnecessary stuff and stock them up in my home. They take up space and collect lots of dust :P And I was thinking whether I should buy those items from Watson's as there is a 3% rebate if you pay by POSB Everyday Card.

Anyway, today is a good time then. I quickly snapped up all those 'essential' items I will need, including 3 packets of medical paste just in case my back makes noise during the trip.

The 20% discount ends tonight, so you still have a few hours to make your last minute purchase :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

BP511A: Original vs 3rd Party

I got myself a third party BP511 camera battery from Cathay Photos. This is the first time I realised how big the difference in price is between the original Canon battery and the 3rd party battery.

A 3rd party BP511 is S$28, an original Canon BP511A is is S$138!!! With the price of 1 original battery, you can get almost 10 3rd party batteries!!! OMG! In terms of quality, 3rd party batteries are about the same as the original. In the past, I bought a 3rd party battery, and it works just fine, the cost was only S$30. The new 3rd party battery has a capacity of 2800mAh, while the old one has a capacity of 1800mAh.


作者: Lynda Field
译者: 田婉芹
Search Number: 158.1

This is a book about how to build up your self-esteem. In this book, a lot of the past concepts/beliefs we learnt in the family, in school are all wrong. We learnt to supress our own feeling, put others first, self behind. All these 'noble' virtues are nontheless causing all our grieves. Another world view changing book.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I don't know what is the difference between Pilate & Yoga. The two of them look like the same to me. They both do some strange funny poses and supposed to train your flexibility.

Out of curiousity, I started my 1st Pilate lesson today. The poses are simple and easy to understand, but not easy to do! It is the very first lesson, and my hands, arms, legs, everything is already trembling like some resonance. The simple and slow movements are pushing me. OMG, it is kind of torture.

Luckily the lesson is only one hour, and that is before lunch. If I do it after lunch, I think whatever I eat during lunch will all come out :P

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Length & Width

My friend told me today she has no control of the length of her life, so she can only try her best to increase the width of life. It reminds me of this song the long distance run of life. I only found the Mandarin Chinese version in YouTube, but I know there is a Cantonese version too. The video quality is not very good because it is a really old song. Easily more than 20 years old. Anyway, I would like to share it here with you.

The lyric says everybody has the same starting point. When you were born, you are at your starting point, no matter whether you like it or not, no matter how difficult life and situations are, you have to start your journey of life. Everybody has the same ending point too. When you come to the end of your life, you have to stop, no matter how beautiful the scenary is, no matter how attached you are to this material world.

Our life is limited, but our capability is unlimited. Time has been wasted in self doubt, hesitation, worries, and fear. It is high time I gone out to experience to the full of life.