Sunday, March 24, 2024

Random thoughts: Looking back my bucket list of 10 years ago

The nice thing about having a blog is, you can look back at your past, and be amused or touched by what you had been through. 

Slighly more than 10 years ago, my bucket list is something like this:

1)  I would like to start a social enterprise

2) Do something about proverty overseas

3) Teach in a school with the highest FA pupils 

4) Tour Europe 

I have reached the "不惑之年",不惑can be loosely translated as "not easily tempted or confused", I feel that is a nice word of saying "losing your dreams"

Nonetheless, I have decided that helping my pupils as much as I can, is a social enterprise, and in 3) instead of going to a school with highest FA, I would like to go to a school with many high needs pupils. It is a good reminder, and I think I  might just cross this off my bucket list. I almost wanted to move on to another school, but I felt I am not ready to leave my players who have been with me with the past 3 years. Unlike teaching, where pupils have different teachers every 1 - 2 years, my CCA pupils are with me since P3 or for some, since P2. I just can't bring myself to leave them to fend for themselves without morning training just before their NSG. Maybe I am just egolistic, but I really took a long time pondering about this. My ex-principal has expressed a willingness to accept me in her new school, so it is a case where I should easily move on to another school, if I so wishes. However, I told her I could not bring myself to do it in the end, and she wishes me all the best. 

I don't think I can do anything about proverty in Singapore or Overseas now. I think it is about how well the economy is, and it is really the job of the country leaders. I perhaps is doing something to help prepare my pupils to prepare for  the future work. (Perhaps being egolistic here again)

4) Is not really something that unreachable. Although I no longer feel any need to do it. 

There is this part in my blog post of 10 years ago, talking about FIRE too. 

I do not have FI, but i had already RE. I look forward going to work almost everyday, and wish to die at work, if possible. (Of course, not anytime soon, but when all my dependents are independent, and the elderly all taken care of. )

What a weird post, but I shall just keep the post, and see how much has changed in 10 years. 

If I need to add one more item to my bucket list, it will be 

1) To caregive for all my loved ones and send them off before I go myself. 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Random thought: Losing and coping with the disappointment

 Not talking about losing money in investment here.

Is about my kids losing a competition.

Regular readers would know I coach volleyball in my school, and I enjoyed it a lot. The kids give it their best too. They came for morning trainings, some reaching school as early as 6.30 a.m. They asked for recess practice and came 15 min before CCA starts. 

I have a group of committed and passionate pupils. 

Hence the disappointment when they cannot reach the top 4.

The format of NSG has changed, such that last year top 8 schools will start playing each other from the start, called the pool stage. Group A, which makes up the top 8 teams will have 2 teams Deleagued, and then the remainding 6 will reshuffled and play against the top 2 teams from Group B. This round of game is called League 1.

There are several advantages of this format, as compared to the past Zonal and National Competitions. One, the recreational players will unlikely meet the powerhouse and get crushed. The power house gain more experince playing with teams around the same standard. 

My kids just scrapped past being deleagued but have lost 2 games in League 1 and hence will not be able to play in the top 4 games. 

My disappointment:

1) If the kids train hard, and do what I told them. I share the resposibility. For the boys' team, I think I underestimate the level of game. I think the level of play has improved the last year, the top 8 teams in my humble opinon are playing like the top 4 teams of last year.

My boys are already better all rounded and more prepared as compared to last year team, yet they still lost, and I feel, fair and square to a better or equal team.

2) The girls team are Okies. We managed to beat the second team in Round 1. However, the form is very inconsistent, and when they don't play well, the whole team don't play well, and they are like playing at 30% of their training standard. I am not sure how to improve this part.

My resolution:

After reviewing the games with the coaches, we do have some ideas how to improve our training goin forward. Like the boys need to learn to block, and aim during service and spiking. 

Girls need to work on stress management every training session etc.

My pain:

As I said, they have around every morning, recess, and with me since Primary 3. They did well when they are in junior team, being the first and second in the competition. Although it is no one's fault, I can't help but feel that I fail them and perhaps also their parents, who indulge me with their support for their children to stay back after CCA, come early in the morning etc. 

While, I am not as emotionally affected as compared to the day of loss, I still feel the heartache now and then... I wonder when will it go away.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Random thoughts: Are u caregiving or care "showing"

This not really a rattle, but rather some uncomfortable observation.

When someone is hospitalised, it is important to show care and concern, but if the patient is weak, the hardwork comes after the patient is discharged, and caregiving kicks in.

Everyone want to rush to the hospital at the first timing, to show concern, family members sit in the ward for hours doing nothing except wear themselves tired. When the nurses and doctors are around, and conditions are stable, "showing" continue to seem to take more importance than "giving"

Care showing can do a lot more harm, if u shoot off your mouth, the advices or actions the patient or patient families should take. 

Yes, advices are free. Most mature adults listen to advices and smiled and make their decision. But there are no lack of fearmongers, kan Chong spiders within the immediate families, who became flustered and cause plenty of negative vibes. 

I wonder if showing care, has become a "show-off" of care nowadays? 

Or, has it become a "show"

A show with the main characters, the injured or sick taking a backseat and the care show men/ women beating their chest, crying over misfortune, seeking divine explanations etc. well, I might have exaggerated a bit, but the shows will give MediaCorp a run for their money.

The best care in my stupid eyes, is to shut up when unnecessary and start giving. Buying a nice hot meal, sending the patients' kids to school, massaging the patients etc. Do more, talk less.

And please, rest as much as possible. Caregiving is hard work.  

Friday, November 10, 2023



Friday, October 6, 2023

Random thoughts: Yield and returns

Random Babbling Again: An Update

Exiting Equity for Private Property

I finally took the plunge. I believe I can get a better yield with my cash in equity. The last time I calculated, my average portfolio yield was around 4-5%. Not fantastic, considering the high interest rates on various fixed income instruments, but that's the yield I've been getting for the past 6-7 years, not just the recent 2 years.

With Hong Kong in a bear market, I believe there are plenty of opportunities for trading gains too.

However, I decided to go with my spouse's desire to leave behind a private property for our child. While she never pressured me for it, I believe it leaves a void in her heart, since all her siblings and relatives stay in one, and their common topic is property. Frankly, I find their conversation rather uninteresting. I do think I am more in tune with the property market, although I don't actively participate in it. Maybe it's a case of sour grapes mentality, but I am not terribly excited to join the conversation now either.

In terms of yield, HDB rental yield is the best. We are getting close to 10% yearly, and now it's almost 15%. No private property rental yield can come close.

Yet, life is not only about yield. The total returns of filling a loved one's heart are perhaps more important.

Talent Spotting and Development

Regular readers will know that I am in charge of the volleyball CCA. In my school, both basketball and volleyball CCAs perform well and are highly competitive. However, I feel that my training philosophy differs. We offer optional morning training sessions daily, allowing kids to build muscle memory. I welcome anyone willing to come and commit to training hard. Even if a short kid with poor psychomotor skills joins, I allow it. However, they have to endure the initial boring sessions of digging against the wall before moving on to other drills. If they decide to quit or stop coming, I don't stop them either. For those who perform well but don't come regularly, I try to encourage them, but ultimately, it's up to the players themselves. My management style is quite different from my predecessors'.

By 7 a.m. every morning, I usually have around 40 kids training. With such a diverse group of children with varying skill levels, I no longer get to "play with the kids." Instead, I walk around, giving different instructions to different groups and observing their postures, etc. I'm no longer "exercising" at the same time.

Compared to the basketball CCA, which has a selected talent pool of around 12-15 players to be trained, I know the yield will be higher for them. It's no secret that focusing on a few talented athletic players yields much better results than focusing on everybody.

However, the "returns" of appreciation from students, who know that they "suck" (their own words in their thank-you cards during Teacher's Day), and yet are given an opportunity to train and play for the school team, are truly immeasurable. Some of them really seize the opportunity and train very hard.

I've seen a P3 girl who couldn't dig against the wall for almost a year. She seemed unable to control her strength and posture, regardless of the number of sessions we practiced. She even practiced during recess when I could spare the time to bring out the balls. She seemed to have difficulty judging the distance of the ball from her hand and keeping her hands straight. I did vent my frustration once and said, "Why can't you just do it? It's been so long!" I felt very bad after that, and I thought she might not show up anymore. But she still came. I remember one of those sessions when I facepalmed seeing how she did her drills. However, I said this to her: "Just keep doing it. As long as you don't give up, I won't give up. To be honest, you might not make it to the first 8 main players of the team, but I will leave you a spot. I think you've shown resilience in the face of challenge."

Today, I think she can finally play, serve, and dig. In terms of yield, I think I could find a handful of players who could reach her level in perhaps half or even less of the time spent, but that's okay.

Then there are the talented and athletic ones who learn everything very quickly. Usually, there are only fewer than a dozen in a cohort. There have been several times when people asked me to quickly "capture/grab" these students before they join another CCA or are "snatched" by another. While I understand the joy of finding such gems (I have a P3 boy spiking as well as a P5), I sincerely said to my teacher-in-charge, let them choose, and if they accept an invitation from basketball, I am happy for them, as I know the basketball teacher will develop them well too. In secondary school, many CCAs have prerequisites for joining, and only those good enough to give the school a chance to bring back a medal can join. At least in primary school, I hope to give them a sky to fly. I am short too, but I'm glad my secondary school coach still allows me to play.

Total returns and yield—I don't regret my decisions. I might lose a game or two, but I think at the end of the day, if more children get developed, I am satisfied. Looking back, those P3 kids of 2 years ago, who look like kindergarden kids when standing beside the basketball players, are also alethics now. I believe the returns is worth beside the low yield. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Random thoughts: Flashbacks

Flash back 1

When I was perhaps 6? My elder brother had a high fever in the night. My mum brought him and I to the 24 hour private hospital at balestier. When told it will cost $60 to see the doctor, not including cost of medicine, my mother just left. On our way back, my mother keep scolding my elder brother. I thought to myself then: why wasn't my brother health more important than money?

I figured out perhaps, she didn't have more than $50 with her then, she must be also very frustrated. 

Flash back 2

Since I was in my lower primary school days, my dad has been in and out of hospital. He had his first heart operation when he is just over 40 years old. I remember the rather solemn and sometimes worrying atmostphere at home. 

The second time he did a bypass, is when I am in my university days. He had hold off the second surgery for as long as possible. He was smiling when he push to the operating theatre. He was joking and laughing heartily, the night before. A ward mate saw him and remarked that he had never seen anyone so carefree before a major operation

I thought most people would be like that, pretending to be strong, to put those loved ones around at ease. Only recently, did I realise, this is not the case, or not the default case for most people.

I also had a speculation, which I believe might be going on in my father's head. 

He might be feel that everyone of us has grown up, and that he was ready to go. 

Monday, June 5, 2023

Random thoughts: The best "thank you" gift received

I recently received a "thank you" card that I think I will never forget. It was given to me by the P6 senior boys and girls team. After their NSG competition, they did not need to and should not have turned up for CCA sessions. They should have focused on their preparation for the final exam.

During one such session, I was shocked when they turned up in full force. I chased them away, but one of the pupils passed me the card.

It consists of 2 pieces of A3 paper folded together. Some of the messages are what a teacher would "die to hear," and I can only dream of pupils saying those things to me.

This batch of pupils did surprise me. I wasn't particularly close to them compared to other batches. I asked another pupil why they had gathered together. Did they have a program to express thanks to their teachers? She told me that it was just something they had been planning for a long time.

I am very surprised by how CCA can shape a person's attitude. When I called a parent to remind them to apply for DSA, if they wished, they mentioned how much they had seen their son change after he went for training. They sounded sincere enough to make me feel appreciated.

This batch of pupils worried me a lot when they went for competition. Their progress in the game was rather slow. In fact, I questioned myself why there was a need to work so hard every morning and recess, practicing with them. I even sent a message to myself on WhatsApp to cheer myself up:

如果没有四强,要记得,我的耕耘,不是完全没意义的。当年我中学,打了一半就放弃,现在还这么喜欢,并1学以致用 继续加油
"If there is no top four, I must remember that my hard work is not entirely meaningless. I used to give up halfway during my secondary school days, but now I still enjoy it and apply what I've learned. Keep going."

Over the last 3 years, my mindset regarding training the pupils hard has changed. Initially, I wanted to be the champion. After being defeated, I told myself that it was still worth it because the skills and values acquired would help them in the DSA application. But I still quietly hoped for a minimum top four. (Hence the "四强" in the previous message.)

After I wrote that message to myself, I found another reason. Many of these players are hardly athletic. They joined just because of passion and interest. In fact, many of them are shy.

We do not talent scout for our CCA. As long as you are committed to coming for extra training, you will improve and do better, albeit at a slow pace. They might not have had a chance to be in the school team if they went to another powerhouse school.

Coincidentally, that's what one pupil wrote in the thank you card. While it hardly reflects reality, it is a teacher's dream for pupils to work hard and believe that effort can produce results.

There is this player who joined late, towards the end of P5, and she learns very slowly. But she comes for every recess training. I told her that I am impressed by her passion, and while she may not have a chance to be one of the main players, she can still contribute to the training. I told her that her starting line is just too far away, but the route is long. As long as she is willing, she is always welcome to train with us, although I might not be able to give her much attention. She needs to understand the reality of the circumstances.

I thought she might be offended or disheartened, but nope, she continues and told me she is very grateful that I didn't give up on her.

This year, the situation has reversed. Instead of 6 players, I have 8 or 9 ready players, and perhaps another 3 weaker but still deployable players

One year after COVID, the opposing teams have become stronger as schools have intensified or normalized their training. It is beneficial for the sport. While I still yearn for a top-four result, I am equally thrilled about a closely fought match. There are many lessons to be learned from it.

The previous batch had confidence issues. Many of them did not believe in themselves. In contrast, this group has an issue with overconfidence, as they topped their group in the junior league (we got lucky with the draw).