Monday 28 March 2011

Spring time in Athens.

On Sunday morning, I brought forward my clocks and watches by 1 hour due to day-light saving time practiced in Europe. Now Singapore is ahead by Athens by 5 hours.

Ah! That also means it is spring time now in Athens!

The flowers are blooming in the trees and shrubs, blue skies, and bright sun with “air-con” temperature outside – no wonder more people are starting to spend more time outdoors in the coffee shops.

In Athens, you can see many with their Frappe – the equivalent of our kopi peng!

As I struggled to work today, I can’t help but feel I should be outside in the parks having my Frappe and reading a book.

I’ve always had a lazy streak in me. I’ve never liked work. OK, work is fun when I am chatting up the pretty accounts girls (skiving!), or doing a project that interests me.

Yes, there were highs when I am recognized for my efforts, but I can’t always cherry pick and choose the projects all the time – sometimes I have to play fireman or nanny to ass-wipe the mess others have made.

But truth be told, I’ve created my fair share of mess and started more fires than I care to admit!!!  

I guess I’ve always counted on my “luck” and what I call “sparks of brilliance”.  It’s another way of saying I leverage on my past glories, and just before the mileage of the “halo effect” has petered out, I must sweat like a donkey to hit another “life-extension pass”.

It’s a bit like playing RPG games – before your life force or mana runs out, find a paladin or potion to heal quick quick!

When it comes to Paladin, it’s a mentor/master/boss/saviour who somehow takes an interest in me and my development. Never knew why. Maybe it’s due to my hair…. You know what they say about bald men… wink wink.

Sometimes I wonder whether it’s what I know or who I know that makes the difference!

With that, I will take this opportunity to thank once again my new found cyber friends who do make a difference to my journey. Perhaps it’s not so much the words you have written (criticism or compliment); but the act of showing you care ;)

Thank you bros!  (Now where are the sisters?)

Ah! Spring time in Athens….. Life is good!

Friday 25 March 2011

Men and our irrational behaviour

In my daily life, I often catch myself saying one thing and doing another thing. I guess I am not alone. So let’s start making fun of our irrational behaviour!

I have an ex-colleague who gives me lots of grief for not bringing my own “bag” to the supermarkets when I do my groceries……… But this lady tells me that she full blasts her air-con all night long and drives to work alone in her sedan.  OK…..

I have a friend who tells me cannot eat tuna – cute and lovable dolphins are killed in tuna’s fishing nets. Cannot! But this same person has no problem slurping down shark-fin soups during Chinese weddings.  OK…….

Song bo? OK, enough foreplay! Now let’s get to the naughty part.

I’ve met “investor/guru” selling that active trading is for “suckers”.  As if trading is “beneath” him. But in the same breath, this “investor/guru” also does not believe in “buy and hold”. OK…… So buying a property or stock and selling it 18 months later is not considered a “trade”?  Hmm…..

I’ve also have “trader” friends who love the rough and tumble of high leverage active trading – nothing beats going to the financial casinos every trading day! Dividend investing is for widows and retirees, they sneer.

Hey! Whatever makes you happy. You’re the man! I’ve learnt never stand in the way of high testosterone men. But if you look at their portfolio, you may find some “dead” stocks they’ve held for ages……… A short term trade turned long term holding?

We have also people that will avoid debt like the plague in their personal life – be 100% debt free they preach. You would assume they will apply it to the stocks they invest in. But the stocks they own are mostly companies that have quite some debt on their books. Interesting…. Talk about cognitive dissonance! But debt boost ROI mah, they say sheepishly….

Oooooh baby. You want more? OK, one more for the road.

Have you wondered why those people who want their course money back just because their “guru/trainer” has a fake degree? You mean if his “academic” qualification is real then everything is OK? Never mind if he can’t or is unwilling to reveal ALL his trades? If it’s just cherry-picking, I think all of us can show our best winning trades and look pretty invincible too.

If I want to learn how to swim, I think I would want a swimming coach who can swim and is in water with me showing me how. I don’t really care if he has any “approved” master of the universe certification on swimming. Or?

Hope you all have a good time reading. Now I need to rollover and sleep.

Till the next time, bye!

Wednesday 23 March 2011

(Everything I do) I do it for you

This is a song dedication to CH.

A great song for anniversary and valentine day to croon to our significant others. (Opps! Should not be plural.... A Freudian slip....)

Ever brought your significant other to a rock concert and she screams her lungs out that she loves the singer? Dang, we all should be rock stars!

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Heaven is a place on earth

I need some cheering up to the events of recent weeks. I like this song from  Belinda Carlisle  - Heaven is a place on earth.

We just need Faith, Belief, and Hope. And time will heal all pains and sufferings.

Friday 18 March 2011

If I have one wish

That's me trying to soar in the padi fields of Guilin, China. Sept 2008

If we have one wish, what would you wish for?

Would you wish for long life, good health, or more money?

I have but one simple wish.

That’s the ability to fly!

How I would like to soar up high like the eagles to the mountain peaks.

To fly across continents like the wild migrating geese.

And to hover like the humming birds amongst the flowers.

Yes, that’s what I would wish for.

Why do men have such fascination for flight? Is it because we can be closer to our creator?

Or by having a bird’s eye view of all things, our mundane day to day troubles all seem so insignificant…..

Yes, if only I have one wish.

Monday 14 March 2011

Tsunami in Japan - don't put off living today

The images of the tsunami in Japan over the weekend bring are quite shocking. It's another reminder from mother nature that even if man considers himself to "rule" this earth, we are not really in charge. At best, we have "leased" this planet - that's all! One day, man will past like the dinorsaurs before us.....

2 years ago, a smaller event took place on Jan 2009 (I just started work in Athens in Dec 2008) that helped evoke the thoughts and motivations that I needed to start living the life I wanted NOW - not later...... 

That event set off a series of reflections and actions that culminated to my current target of choosing the lifestyle I wanted by end of this year. "NOW" takes 3 years.....

It's the emergency plane landing at the Hudson river in New York.

In my job, I do travel from cities to cities by air every 2 to 3 months. What if it happens to me? Some of the plane survivors took the "miracle" as an opportunity to press the "reset" button; while some I guess went back to their old routines.

Looking at the Tsunami in Japan today brings back the same feelings.

We like to plan this plan that. We put off our dreams and desires until the "fabled" retirement date. When I'm retired, I will do this and that we "promise" ourselves. But the retirement date keeps getting pushed back..... What if our number is up before this date? Or we no longer have the health and energy to enjoy the fruits of our labour? What if our accumulated nest-egg is wiped out by a natural event?

We blame the goverment and society for the ever increasing "official" retirement date. But we forget that if we are doing the things we like NOW, there's no such things as retirement. And if we take responsibility for our own lifestyle choices and financial decisions, WHEN we can retire is not decided by government - it's us.

Start living today. Don't put it off to another day.

Friday 11 March 2011

The tortoise and the hare – to invest or save?

Whether it’s better to suffer the risks and ups and downs by investing our nest eggs, or by saving it in a savings account, we can escape the emotional roller-coaster?

The story of the tortoise and the hare is well known. The hare fell asleep, made the mistake of underestimating the tortoise, and slow and steady won at the end of the day!

Like all fairy tales, if only that’s the end of the happily ever after story…..

What if we have many more races ahead?  Not just one race?

Putting money in a savings account is “safe”.  Like a tortoise, compound interest will accumulate into a nice nest egg eventually – provided the savings interest is more than inflation, and if you have a long enough time frame.

How many years does it take for our nest egg to double if we get 1% compound savings interest?  If only we can live as long as the tortoise!!! 

Yup, safe and slow is more costly than you think…..  And “safe” does not mean a lot if the bank went bust. Never? Tell that to Iceland banks’ depositors…….  

What if the hare is able to learn from his mistakes? In the next race, surely he won’t make the same mistake twice? That he did, but the impatient hare makes other mistakes:

a)      Taking short cuts through the woods entails certain risks – foxes and wolves like to lurk in the shadows.

b)   Running in the open road will invite the attention of hawks and eagles – the hare never get any breaks!

c)      If the alternative route recommended by the snake seems too good to be true, it frequently is!

It’s all seems so unfair to the hare.  And that applies to investing. But the hare knows that what doesn’t kill it will only make it stronger. And the knowledge that if a fire breaks out in the forest, the hare will make it out alive. Not so sure about the tortoise though…. His shell can only protect against predators – not fire….

So how?

The question before we run the race is: who am I? Are we the hare or tortoise? A tortoise should be a tortoise, and a hare a hare.

The trouble starts when we try to be something we are not.

The tortoise can hide in his shell when danger comes – that the hare can’t! If a hare tries to be steady and slow, he is dead meat!!!

Imagine a tortoise ditching his shell so that he can be more nimble and quick as the hare?

Hey! This story is useless! If we can’t change what we are, then what’s the point?

Ah! But we are human beings – not hare or tortoise.

What a man thinks, he becomes.

Friday 4 March 2011


Pavillion at Hangzhou's West Lake - March 2007



Thursday 3 March 2011

We invent work to escape the strain of having to think?

Found an interesting quote below.......  OK, OK.  I get the message.  Cannot idle anymore......  :(

M. Poirot:
I am, alas, a man of leisure. . . . I have made the economies in my time and I have now the means to enjoy a life of idleness. . . . I assure you, it is not as gay as it sounds. . . . How true is the saying that man was forced to invent work in order to escape the strain of having to think.
from Death on the Nile

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