Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Random thoughts: Midlife crisis part 2

This post is kind of triggered by B post and also Rolf about success.

While many congratulate him for able to resign, I think he is venturing out with something in a mind and is not exactly on FIRE.

I have been contemplating and researching on a possible plan where I strike it out on my own. I dropped hints to my wife and told her my intentions. While she has her reservations, she supported me if I do take the plunge. I really appreciate it.

We have convsersations, and she offer many other options and advices. I told her my plan is not so.much to escape and make a living and I agreed that there are much safer and less risky options (financially), rather I would like to build something.

Jack ma mention in one of his speeches that we should take risks when we are in the 30s, when we are in the 40s, do what we are good at.

I have calculatEd that I might have to eat grass for 2 years,and if things eventually dun work out, I would have wipe out my savings. I intend to use my investment portfolio for my undertaking.

SMOL poked we want out because we are losing the office politics. While I might not be winning, I hardly think surviving well will be a problem for me, especially after I make some plans to move aside.

It is really the crisis of seeing purpose in the work we do. I am rather delusioned with a lot of things the way they are.

I know I need to learn on the go and be willing to accept possible consequences from failures of my ventures.

However, there is still a part of teaching that I really enjoyed. The interaction with pupils, the bonds and relationships. Of course they are pupils I couldn't reach or couldn't stand me, but I overall, it is really fun.

At 40, I really appreciate every game of sport I still do with kids. I couldn't find adults to play with me, or maybe I didn't lIke playing with adults?

At the back of my mind, I have this thought, this could well be my last time I do this. I did some crazy things that I thought I would not do yeaes ago. Such as accepting invivtation to whatsapp groups and basketball game etc.

My conversation with them have also shifted from giving advices to bordering of talking nonsense.

Make me wondered one early morning, should I just shut up (Not just verbally but also cognitively) and just take my good pay (by my own standard) and just work with the kids and forget about the meaningfulness of othee part of my work.

From my investing style, I know I am a rather risk adverse investor anyway.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Random thoughts: The 3 little joys from teaching

Let me start by being me, cynical. I don't change lives, kids change lives on their own,because of circumstances or will. I just hope I am part of the positive influence in those circumstances.
So the joys I derived are from the small stuff. I however know of real flesh and blood people who stories are like those u see on advertisement.
So here goes.
1) when pupils understand the lesson and overcome a particular fear of learning.
When pupils finally understood the thinking process behind a language task, be it reading comprehension, or writing, they no longer need answers. They know how to get answers, nevermind that the answers may not be perfect. When they know they can apply it across different exercises, confidence is built.
The lesson where there is sparkle in the eyes, is just the begining. The famous 10K hours of practice for mastery hold true. Depending on the pupils competence, no one need 10K and no one has 10k hours, but if someone tell u there is no need for drill and practice, tell him to invest successfully after reading 2 books.
I remembered vividly that pupil who could not speak. She could memorise and prepare the work in advance. When ask to answer inprompt questions, she will panic.
I remember drilling her word by word, day after day, everyday. Advising her what could be said, how to say it, what are the common topics.
When she came up excitedly after her PSLE paper, telling me she could manage the questions, I knew she has a high chance of passing. I almost gave up. A year has passed when she wouldn't even open her mouth to utter a full sentence.
I knew she wanted to do well very badly and is trying very hard, so we all buckle down and do it, literally word by word, sentence by sentence.
That was last year batch. I think it also brought out the fighter in me. I remember going to my pupils word by word, having them do spelling by the strokes of their fingers 3 times a day. Going through the common words required for writing.
Words like ”thank you", "should", they couldn't write, but we just keep practising. In the morning before school starts, during recess, after school. Walking along the corridor and practising, countless make up lessons, just so that I can reach as many as possible my 10 weakest pupils.
I know many still frown on such drill and practices. I just have this to say. They are under my care to learn, and I teach. They need a score to go secondary and I make sure they work hard to get it, I am not dogmatic about ideals and is unapogetic about drilling.
Perhaps over drilling kill the joy of learNing for high achievers. But when u teach the weaker pupils, u are telling them u have not given up on them

2) When pupils enjoy learning.
I hope pupils enjoy coming to my class. But if I have to do 1) at the expense of 2) and will do it.
I like my class to be filled with laughters.
Problem is, I just have that much tricks, old tricks no longer funny.
But the younger ones usually more easily entertained.
3) When pupils share with me their personal problems
It is only this year, that pupils share with me their problems. Their social problems with friends (although the underlying cause is more than that hahahaha)
How their friends are talking behind their backs, spreading rumors and how they felt affected.
They say they want me to help or advice. But They dun want me to punish or scold their friends.
I am not too sure I am doing a great job advising. Hahahah. But when pupils came over and asked "Mr Ng, can I talk to u for a while", I felt trusted.
And wow, after listening to them, the kids' world are so happening! I can write a Korean drama with jealousy, betrayal, threats, spying, social traps... with adaptation.
My world even as as lower secondary teenager wasn't so happening.
Thinking back, after 13 years of teaching, that I have pupils willing to tell me their problem or sharing their frustration, I am not too sure if I have been missing something in the last 13 years.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Random thoughts: Just some musings

Caught myself ...

I realise I need a lot of affirmations in my work. Pupils' feedback, parents' appreciation, peers or bosses' praises.

In the earlier part of my career, I had a very nuturing boss, I was the golden boy at work, I had all of them above in abundance. Looking back objectively, I am sure I dun really deserve all those.

Perhaps, I am used to it. So when I am transferred to another school, the sudden cold turkey treatment gave me a shock.

Today, I realise all these affirmations depend a lot on the giver as much as the receivers.

Its not rocket science, but looking back, I receive affirmations and appreciations from parents who are generous with them, and are not struggling with work. I mean everyone struggle at work, but I meant those who literally faced some hardship. They already struggle to care for themselves and their charge, how can I expect affirmation from them. It should be the other way round, Me assuring them that their child will progress fine.

How about kids. In my previous school, due to their upbringing, kids are a lot more articulate.

I realISE as a child, I do appreciate a lot of teachers but I never show it.

Work, I have a quiet confidence of where I stand now. I know I am somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Peers and boss recognition are no longer that important. Just likeminded workerS are all that is needed.

This article, is a reminder for myself, to stop looking for affirmation, although I realise I crave a lot for it. LOL.

For those who are helping others and dun feel appreciated. They know, u know, god knows, words are cheap, continue with your good deeds.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Random Story: Renewable Kinetic Energy

Has been a while... since I write a story, here goes...


In the year 4023, Earth is obsessed with Green Energy, and all its citizens globally are ruled with Iron hand. Not much is left, and hence the recovery process of earth start in Ernest in about 200 years ago. No one really remembered how life is like without the computerized instructions that are downloaded to our brains and humans simply obey for the greater good of Earth.

All humans aged 6 to 60 are required to run at least 40 kilometers a day, before they can get on to their daily routine. The running on the surf board create the clean kinetic energy needed to run the system. It is the closest thing to 100% zero carbon footprint energy.

When this programme started, of course, not many can run 40 km. Many refused to run, some tried their best and dropout. For those who could, they are not running as fast as they should. The energy generated is sub-optimal, and injury cases are common. Motivation is low, and the programme almost get scrapped because human resistance to this programmed instructions is high and many, regardless whether they are able to complete the race or not.

Hence, the programme start giving incentives to those who can run faster. Those who could not run, but walk the whole distance are also given some credits. Energy harvest improved. To improved the programme, all humans are classified as "Sprinters", "Runners" and "Walkers". Dropout almost become unheard of.

The programme was a great success. Sprinters not only run to complete the distance, they typically all tried to go for the finishing line fast, with 3-4 folds amount of kinetic energy produced that it otherwise would be. The top 1% pupils were given even more incentives and training were provided so that they can even run faster.

The runners also show 100% increased in productivity at least. Strangely, most injury cases now seem to stem from the runners and sprinters group instead of walkers.

To further increase the collective energy generated by all 3 groups. Sprinters are given the best time slot to run, and the most efficient surf boards to tap their energy. They will be the first to run, and only when they have almost complete their race will the runners start, followed by the walkers.

Over time, Walkers are call Slackers. Slackers also felt that they could never be runners.

There are opportunities for Walkers to be promoted to the tier of Runners or even Sprinters, by such cases are few, and they usually take place at a much older age.       

Energy harvest was at its peak.

Until one day...

The energy harvest seem to repel each other. The bulk of energy harvest from walkers seem to repel the energy from sprinters. While sprinters produced plenty of energy, the bulk of the human populace are walkers, and their energy output is not to be scoff at. The "pure" energy of  Sprinters could not blend well with the energy of walkers.

Efficiency worsen and the blame game start.

It took 10 years before research show that the brains perception and thoughts during the run affect the nature of the energy produced.

So now, there is no more sprinters, runners and walkers. All of them run together, and there are different group in different permutations. Some times, all sprinters are still group together, but most groups would consist at least of runners. Walkers now start the journey together with runners and sprinters. It is hoped that there is more positive energy generated net, and walkers will have more motivations and opportunities to increase speed of running. Sprinters will have less injury cases and will slow down when necessary. There are still explorations of the right permutation to generate maximum harmonious energy


Ok... Its not a story actually... Hahaha

Monday, February 25, 2019

Random thoughts: 5 years after I thought I begin my journey to Rome

This post is a review of a post of investment principles I had 5 years ago in 2014.

2014 One paradigm shift:
Stop worrying about the value of my portfolio. Not that it is not important, but the cashflow of dividends and the robustness of underlying business is more important

Portfolio value is important. Returns is not as important robustness of portfolio. Keep a decent amount of cash in portfolio. Recent correction with counters in radar falling 50% to 80percent from their historical or recent peak, made me take out my gun and statt firing. The lowest cash went was 40 percent. It is back to 50 percent now with some triming of loses and taking of profits.

Second shift:
Only look at companies with yield of at least 4%. If u expect growth, 4-5% is ok, if u expect flat or zero growth, at least 6% will be appropriate.

NOW: More or less intact the view

Third shift:
Only buy companies that will survive the next downturn and emerge stronger. Trading of companies that are mispriced is permissible with 2 years horizon. Expect such counters to never recover, and be ready to take the risk, and be nimble. Such counters should yield more than 8% to justify the risk. 

Trading of mispriced counters are about turnaround play. Dividend yield is a redundant marker. The risk reward compensation should be in the form of capital gain and the high yield.that should come only after u are right about the turnaround and dividend Increase to justify the high yield due to the low cost of purchase.

If Its 50_50 kind of turnaround, punt small run fast and accumulate only once.

4th shift: 
Do yearly reinvestment of dividends, there is no need to time the market for correction or bear. 

NOW: Hahahha, why am I keeping cash if I am not timing the market

5th shift:
Other savings go into cash. Only invest further with new capital injections when cash form more than 40% of portfolio, or 
When market correct 10-15 % ( 30% of cash can be a activated )
When market correct 15 - 25% ( up to 60% of cash can be used)
when market correct 30% - 40% ( Up to 100% of cash can be used)
When market correct 40-50% ( cash backs savings from 2 of my endowments plans can be used)
More than 50% ( CPF money can be used )

Keep expanding radar...

I go for counter correction too. Of course low tide all boats sink. But if its a industry or company specific correction, I still fire off.

Beside CPF, I have start my maiden investment in SRS. Nope, I am not going to exhuast all cash before using CPF. What good is that.

I will stagger cash and CPF and SRS. So my cash will also get some low prices that to liquidated at a earlier possible time and not until the next decade.

Radar expanding... but more for interest on business than possible winners.

Random thoughts: What is Real?

The passing by in my life,
Are u real?
I give my best to u, enjoyed your company,
Are we real?
You will be gone in a year or two,
Bringing our laughters, my scolding into memory lanes.

Family ties are real instead, u say.
They are with u all the time.
If time is the test of real,
Then relatively, we are all fake as compared to something more permanent.

An half_life is real,
A winkling flower is real?

We feel it, its real.
Remember that fleeting motivation from that sale talk.
I knew that is not real.

Perhaps, nothing is real.
Is a footprint real?

The footprint seen, felt.
The wish to remember the peeson that man who left behind the footprint.

Long after the wind blow the dusk away,
Is real

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Random thoughts: How rich am I?

This not a post about net worth, but rather, a compilation of real people I met, and my observations here. I am being judgmental here, so be warned. Names are not real

1) David has a view on how others should leave their lives. Why is the wife Not working, why work as a Expat overseas when the pay is not much higher. Why Not sack the relative at work who is not contributing. Why not looking to buy property.

It will be too late if we dun buy something to leave for our child. We are being passive if we are not striving to grow our wealth actively.

2) Wilson gambles and is in debts. Mountain high of debt. His mum pays off his debt. He ask mum for money evertimes he needs money. Mum sold off property, to stayed with another son while he continue to stay in condo, keep a pet and ask mum for money to pump petrol, and pay for mortages.

Mum in turns ask all her relatives for money. Beg, scold and hoot big big on toto and 4D. She always claim no one care about her. She blows her Hongbao money given as gifts on a single genting trip. Like mother like son. Both are in debts and Wilson is getting marriEd soon with girlfriend already pregnant.

3) Samuel is single. Spend a lot of time giving weekend tuition. Save enough money to buy an investment property. Became interested in stocks. Ask his friend to teach him. His friend who is yours truly silly investor ask how much money can he lose.

Samuel Says 150K. Silly tease him that he is rich as 150K is silly total assets.

Samuel reply is classic:

You have a child that looks like u
You have a wonderful family living together.
You doing well in your career.
You are nice to your family.
You know how to invest.

You are much richer than me.

Silly being silly and failing Maths Agree with Samuel. Although he is no longer doing as well in his career than what Samuel knows, silly never really feel poor.

He knows he might not be as comfortable as others financially, but he doesn't need advice on how to get rich.

He tried to stay away from Wilson and David, and advise others not to be burden by them.

I think I am rich. I think I am happy. U are richer, god bless u. U are happier, cheers. I need no help or words of encouragement or advice from u, Thank you very much