Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Random thoughts: Serenity Prayer

I am a free-thinker, but there is one particular quote which I liked since I am JC boy.

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference."

These words keep ringing in my mind in recent days.

In work, my pupils are going for their PSLE, I believed I have done all that I could. Will all of them pass? Seriously, no. Do some of them deserve to fail? Yes. Are there pupils who didn't deserve to do badly, but weirdly, have their confidence and will broken towards the last stretch of marathon? Yes. I wondered what break her? I saw her in tears several times, I saw her tried, but to no results, when her friends are all progressing in one way or another. I saw how her momentarily joy of improvement turn to anguish when another test came.

We always say:" Try harder!" The saddest thing in my line is to see a pupil beaten, by herself. I offer the weakest pupils in my class another session of revision, where we spend some time together to go through the vocabulary, I told them it is not compulsory and they must be willing to come and learn, otherwise it will be a waste of time, she simply refused. Even my "lazy" pupils say "ok."

The courage to put in the extra mile of efforts, the serenity to accept what happens might not be according to our wishes. Results, especially short term results, are things I should learn to let go. Looking back, I wondered if things could have been different.

Although results might be beyond us, it could well break the "courage" to change things.

In my life, it seems my mum cancer cells have spread to the lungs. All her doctors were surprised, since she is lively and positive after her chemo and doctors expect a clean bill of health to go to the next stage of radiotherapy.

She didn't know. I told my sister to let her know only when the pain and effects start to appear. Let her be happy. My sister agreed. There are things, we mortals cannot change. I am rather zen about this. Maybe I am mentally preparing myself for too long already.

Wisdom to know the difference.

That is the part which I think is the toughest 15-17 years ago. I wondered how to tell the difference.

Now, I felt serenity, and courage is the tough part.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Random story: The farmer and the prospector

The farmer was having a meal with the prospector. The prospector was relating how much fun he had walking through the jungle and mountain, spotting precious herbs and rare gems to sell.

The farmer smiled and said" I had no such fun, I toil the farm everyday, but only get a harvest twice a year"

The prospector asked the farmer friend to join him. "Rewards come quick, and fast, there is no need to wait 12 months for rewards" 

The farmer politely declined. He didn't want to face the vugalrities of beasts and traps of the jungle, he also did not like the feast and famine type of harvest. He didn't say much.

His friend sense what his was thinking and said"you do not have to give up on your farm. Imagine with the money you get from doing my work for a few years. You can buy a bigger plot of farm later. I also wanted a plot of farm when I am older and less agile. I will buy the most fertile farm with the best equipment. "

The farmer wasn't interested, but asked" where do you usually do your prospecting?" The prospector said "oh I go to all places", but waterfalls are places  where there is a rich diversity of plants and minerals at the bottom. The deeper the waterfall, the higher the probability of finding something good. I recently found  a 10 m high waterfall in the next county, although it is many days of walk and sailing from here, I believed I might just find some gems! Haha"

The farmer is surprised! "But there is a 20m waterfall at the back of my farm."

The prospector said" is it? Naa... The undercurrent is not fluid enough" 

That night, the farmer wondered if he should advice him to stop prospecting. He didn't seem like an expert in prospecting, and is concerned that he might get hurt rather than rich. He brushed it aside, thinking he is most probably jealous of his rich friend.

The next morning, as he toiled his farm, he thought about his friend again. He got worried again. He suddenly recalled the various prospectors that came this way to the waterfall at the back of the farm. Most have very sophiscated equipments but they always lament prospecting is a tough craft. He serious doubt his friend can do well over the longer term. He thought" maybe I should find a time to talk to him"
That night, the farmer had second thoughts again. Maybe he should just let the friend be. They aren't that close anyway. Also, the farmer believe he still has much to learn about farming to convince his friend to give up prospecting to go into farming.  

He believed anyone needs at least 3 out of the 4 things to be a successful farmer or prospector. 

1) luck
2) capital 
3) guts 
4) knowledge

While he believed his friend might lack some knowledge as compared to other prospectors, who is to judge if he doesn't have the other 3 to make up for it? He knows his friend has capital a plenty with strong backing from parents. 

The farmer think about himself, he belived his knowledge on farming is not actually very good, and is still learning. He has very little capital and basically no luck at all. It is weird for him to advise.

Well, for the farmer, the field and the weathers are the best teachers, he reckons his advices will be ill-received anyway, and may the jungles and mountains be his friend best teacher. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015







Friday, September 18, 2015

Random thoughts: differences

How different are we ?

When measured in the lens of time. 

We all go to dust.

When measure in terms of size, we are dust of dust.

When measured by impact on others, it survived time, and fill the heart of people.

Greatness, they say. 

Difference, by the choices we make?

Do our choices make a difference? 

Or is it the difference in action we take when we have no choice is the biggest difference? 

You survived your age, your name go into history. Time, but would we attach so much emotions to dinosaurs? 

You are the world to him, what is him to the world? 

Difference? There is differences yet there are none. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Random thoughts: Keeping anxiety at bay

I am not sure why I was so "kan chong" when school restarted.

I can't seem to keep my mind intact, with my mind drifting to multiple issues concurrently and then feeling very anxious about the amount of things I have on my hand. It is rather scary.

I did 2 mental exercises and I no longer feel chest tightness. It could also well be because this term is actually not as hectic, but nonetheless, I think these 2 methods work.

Every morning, before I start my day, I would write down a list of things I need to complete and those that I want to complete.

Then I will write a personal note to myself documenting how I feel about the day, it could be I am feeling jealous of my colleague who got a teacher's day gift from my favorite pupil, but I got nothing from her (LOL). I can laugh it off now, but I was feeling rather lousy before I pen down my thoughts.
It is also this process of penning down my personal thoughts before I start the day that I wrote that I have problem keeping my mind focus when I seem to need handle multiple issues at the same time.

So, thereafter, I did 2 things.

I allocate work to my staff (LOL)
I allocate time for specific duties.

But there are also many issues that will prop up the mind as and when it comes, like a teaching idea, or there might be sudden issues that need my attention immediately. It is still happening, but I no longer have serious anxiety attack.

When something props up in my mind. I ask if it is related to what I am doing, and if it goes with the flow, I will stop my work and do it. I realized trying to compartmentalizing something for another time is worse, and usually becomes less productivity. For example, although I have planned to do administrative work for project A in the afternoon, but after my lesson, I thought of doing a follow up with another teaching idea, it is better to follow through and carried out what I want to do than leave that idea later and finish the project. The mind could not focus anyway.

However, there are also time when I remembered I need to handle A, B, and C. as I am doing D. What I usually do is insist on finishing C first. Now, if I need to handle A, I will handle A. It is more relaxing to be moving on than trying to leave A for later.

However, if it just an emotional attack of feeling kanchong. I will say this to myself:

1) I -- Zai, just finish this first.
2) If B is cannot be worked because I  am doing A, than B is not meant to be, there is no need to "强求"
3) If I want to cover 4 items in one lesson, I will need to consider the trade-offs, if I can cover only 2, so be it. 3 and 4 are not meant to be even if I am super "kanchong". "Kanchongness" will affect  my 1 and 2 too.
4) What is the worst that can happen? Most probably feeling lousy... Now, I have my morning therapy, it is one thing down.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Living the moments, so what is it?

The funny moment. 
Ask my son:" who are you?"
He will mimick: because I am batman!

The touching moment 

The relaxed moment
Chit chatting moment with the gang at handle bar, while facing the sea, and waiting for the election results.

Talking c** with fellow bloggers 

The moment of jealousy
When distant relatives recount how they make a quick bucks recently by selling their property

The moment of fear
When my eyes twitched and work will start in another day

The moment of love
When my son jumped at me twice for a good night hug and my wife came alone for a big family hug

The moment of irritation
When my MIL complain about the maid again

The moment of escape cum reflection
When I turn to my smartphone and "chat" with fellow bloggers or do a draft about teaching.

Precious moments!
All of them, because I am aware. I am sure many more moments come and go because we are insensitive to ourselves and others around us.

What are you waiting for?
"Because I am Bad Man!"

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Parkson Retail Asia - Update

I have not vested interest, and I have explained why I sold here

Some of the reasons and assumptions I had are now clarified. Since I blogged about this before, I feel responsible to give an update and my view.

Reasons to sell had become reality.

1) Ringgit did depreciate quite badly
2) While credit rating did not take a hit, 1 MDB did turn for the worse

As for the Hanoi Mall, some of the assumptions turn out to be too pessimistic. See here

I assume 27 mio of rental compensation for a year, and perhaps 3 years of compensation to be given to landlord. In the Q4 results, the set aside 64 mio for the remaining 7 years lease, but claim that they will contest the claim for compensation if any. They also did a 8 mio impairment for Vietnam operations. Take out these impairment, PRA would almost break even.

Operation wise, business is still generating steady FCF (Not taking into accounts the impairment)

As we know, all business are good at a certain price, and this is not a business going to the dogs, but many assumptions I had for the business, no longer hold true except that it is quite a cash generating business.

One assumption I had was Gestation period of new stores to break even is 1 year.

This is not true. Myanmar's stores reported ramped up sales and it is coming to 2 years of operation, but it is still loss making,

Indonesia new stores' losses is volatile. Q4 Indonesia new stores losses actually increase from Q3 but there are no new stores opening for 3 quarters in Indonesia already. I find it hard to comprehend their quarter reports effectively.

Next, I assume they will slow down their expansion. There is no such announcements yet.

Another announcement that I frown on is the appointment of a 26 years old daughter of chairman as the CEO. I have nothing against family business, but according to the announcements, she joined the company about 3 years ago, and at the age of 23, I assumed she just graduated, I thought there should be some trial of her competency as senior staff of some market or branch first.

Compare this with Wee Ee Cheong, son of Wee CHo Yaw (FOunder of UOB)

"Mr Wee, 62, was appointed to the Board on 3 January 1990 and last re-elected as Director on 24 April 2015. Mr Wee joined UOB in 1979 and served as Deputy Chairman and President of the Bank from 2000 to 2007. On 27 April 2007, he assumed the position of Chief Executive Officer. A non-independent and executive director, he is a member of the Executive and Board Risk Management Committees."

He also joined UOB at a young age of 26 but only as a credit officer.He was made deputy Chairman only on 2000, 21 years later. As for CEO who runs the company on a day to day basis, he only assumed the post of 2007. His earliest appointment I could find was in 1988, where "he served as an Executive Director of United International Securities Ltd." That was already 10 years of slog, even with his vantage background. 

Its off my radar now. Not going to look at it unless it is closer to 20 cents.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Random teaching idea: remembering what to write for compo

I use a very simple strategy for compo writing when teaching the struggling pupils.

Write short simple sentence using the helping words. Memorized good phrases and sentences describing emotions and apply them.

Mermorised simple sentence structures in common dialogues like "scolding, apologizing, encouraging and etc" 

Combine the 2 with a few prepared endings. 

Learn a simple "回忆开头法”

They really have problems remembering the lines and also applying them. 

2 days ago, I tried this and while the weaker pupils still can't remember the exact words perfectly, many show a big improvement.

When I ask previously: what are the lines describing emotions, how many emotions can we talk about. Less than 2 pupils can recall more than half of the sentences although we have spend the whole year learning and applying them.

Now I tell them, whatever u need to say is like abc and how you feel is like getting  married 


M- mad
A- anxious 
R- regret
R- relieved 
I- ignorance
E- embarrassed or elated 
D- Devastated 

A girl ask, why married so many negative feelings! I said some feel relieved and elated too. Inside my heart, I tell myself: now u know LOL

DIALOUGE is as easy as ABC

A- apologize 
B- Boast
C - console
D - dilemma ( talking to oneself)
E- encourage
F- freck out
G- grumble
H- hostile scolding

Some of it does not make perfect sense, but the kids get it. 

I told my wife and she give me the look of the death and say: so you reget marrying me la! Me and my big mouth. Lol

Random thoughts: Holiday break...

I am still going back to work for 8-5 although it's the school holidays. But I have so much brain space now. I need not constantly think of 6-7 issues every single hour. I have a bit more breathing space to step back and just hey, think about life. 

More time to think about how to make money from stock market, how to build a more diversed portfolio. I even read a book. Lol. "Why moat matters" the morning star approach is a good read. It's did not deviate or extrapolate too much from what Pat Dorsy has written, but 2 chapters particularly caught my attention. One on valuation, I have a clearer picture on how ROIC and WACC WORK in tandem With DCF, together with the qualitative analysis of Moat sources.

Next, stewardship. Basically is a chapter on management and Coporate actions like share repurchase etc. 

This is the nitty gritty part of the Method of research.

Mind part, I have come to 2 conclusions. Losing money is inevitable when investing. When market goes down, you will lose "unrealized" money. Assuming we have the common tactic of accumulating on weakness. I think we underestimate the stress on the mind for this tactic. Assume:

You buy a $10 dollar stock/fund or basket of counters as it head south. You have 50 dollars and your plan is to go in in 5-6 tranches. 

You bought 1 lot at $10
It went to $9,  you bought one lot 
It went to $8, you bought one lot 
It went $7, you bought one lot
It went $6, you are convinced great singapore sales, u bought 2 lots

You have 4 dollars left and 6 lots of $6
Your $50 become $40

It went to $5, your $50 become $34

And u have $4 left... You need just $7.5 to almost break even. Huh the market rise for 50% and I just break even! How does this tactic sound to u now? Market goes 100 percent and recovered! Yeah! Your gain? You portfolio will be $60+$4 cash. And this of from heaven to hell and back to heaven again. 30% gain for all that roller coaster and years of youth? 

Does a 10% fall freck u out? 20% fall? 

The recent correction will give u an answer. 

Are you really nibbling? Or are u Frecking out? 

If u are not nibbling, it is scary

1 lot at $10
1 lot at $9 
2 lot at $8 ( av down) 
2 lot at $7

U expanded all your rounds at 30% correction. You left $1

It goes to $6. Your $50 become $37

It goes $5, it become $31. You need it to bounce to$8 just to almost break even. Market double and u earn 20%. Huh?

The Maths is clear, be light at the beginning for your mind to be clear. If u have a crystal ball. Wait for $5 to buy 10 lots. How's that for a strategy man! (Ok I say that in a suaning way.) 

That's the mind of investing. Go light, sleep well. Also know losses is part of the game. U decide which of the Above scenario freck u out. If none does, then Mr Zen... Dividends will tilt the Maths in your favor though. The lower the price, the stronger the yield. Doesn't matter yield hog or growth dividend stock la, must have decent yield. Pure grow plays or super miserable dividends of less than 3%? Sorry, next better player 

The money of investment.

No 2 ways about it. Frugality is the fastest way to accumulate wealth. Dividends help too. Successful switching will accelerate the process, but the heavy lifting is still how much you save. 

The 3 M. Applying in warfare analogy like SMOL, money is Ammo, method is tactics and strategies, mind is the commander. 

Well, if the going gets tough. Suck it. Talk to people. When u see the real issue, u will be more "at peace"

Also, live the moment. Investing is really more of a interešt than tool for finacial greatness/ freedom now. 

6 -12 months ago, I am upset that my investible fund is small and not growing and I have the cheek to blog about investing. I thought about stopping to blog. To the hell man, I enjoy the genre of investing, call me shameless, I am poor but I still want to invest, I am not frugal but I still want to talk about money matters, I happy, cannot meh... 

I know, as long as I continue my work, my CPF would really take care of things. Assume the CPF system is what it is like now, I am quite sure it will be different, but I will not lose sleep over it. Last look, I already had the minimum sum after working 10 years. If I slog another 20, think that is the advantage of being a man whore isn't it? 

I am quite sure my cash... Will continue to grow too, albeit super slowly. Finacial freedom? I am working towards it in a chill manner, get it fine. Dun? I had my reasonable amount of 天伦之乐,my window of job satisfaction, the security of monthly pay cheque, money to pay for materialistic Indivigules. 

Because I did not delayed my gratification, I rightly did not deserve FI and doing whatever I like and working at my pace. 

But I go for the 1 bird in my hand. I pick whatever I have. 

Self-Delusional? Maybe. After talking to a fellow blogger, i had this thought.

Best investment teacher- Mr Market
Best way to riches- Mr Frugality
Best way to wealth- Mr Contentment.

I have problem with Mr market and mr frugality. I will try my hand on Miss contentment. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Random thoughts: My thoughts on the election.

I am not canvassing for any party. I feel election politics is rather "sickening" 

I have my view on the Ahpetc accounting issues, I am not going to write my whole understanding on it because people has their own stand and they are not going to be convinced. I read both Silvia Lim open letter and MND appendixes

But there is a lot of smoking, scaremongering and tactics to get votes. A lot of strings pulling the puppets. I am quite sick of it all. 

I do see some bright spots from
Both camps, a few who are genuinely taking about specifics of policies and what they would like to achieve. 

But more Are tactics to stir emotions to get votes. 

Singapore deserve better. I remember the late LKY saying politics is about improving lives, taking care of people. Now all I read and hear  is grand vision and the smell of a particular tactic ... 

It's 90% tactic and 10% substance.

In investing, it's the boring stuff that makes money. In politics, it's also the boring stuff that affect people lives. Election is not about boring stuff but drama, let's get it over with, quickly, shall we. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Random thought: weekend prospecting

This is random series. 

I was just doing my leisure read. I was reading up on Warren purchase of Philip66. I was intrigued to see Warren buying a company from the Oil sector. It is not hard to see why.

Philip is a Mid stream and downstream player. So if there is over production from
Shale and crude, it still need to be transported and refined. Also, they get fees for transporting the oil through pipes. They have recurring incomE

When I read their transcript for their quarter presentation, I am quite blown away by the quality of questions. Specific, and obvious that homework was done. There were expansion plans and growth drivers were clear. It is what actually Warren books say he would buy. 

So, I remembered Rotary Engineering as a builder or storage tanks for oil and they have put behind the overrun project. If the world is flooded with oil, then they need a place to store it. Rotary engineering has a lot of things going for it, but strangely, it's order book is drying up. 

It's has neligible debts. And it moving up the value chain but building more sophiscated storage solution and has made inroads in new market such as Thailand and LNG storage. They mentioned they Are leading a constortium in bidding for a port project. 

They are also using their cash to put an  10% stake in a indonesia Terminal storage company for recurring income. 

Yet, they have not won any significant big projects and their earnings will continue to fall. In fact, their current order book of 161 mio will most probably just last them
At most another year from now. 

Chairman has been buying the company since the price is at 50 cents and is continuing to buy at 30 cents. But the CFO left... Mixed signals here.

It has fallen from a sexy turnaround story with buy targets of above 80 cents to a sorry 30 plus cents company... 

Catalyst would be a big project win.

It reminded me that for every crisis, there is opportunity. We just need to know where to look. 

Remember everyone was talking about rising interest rate being good for the banks? 

Of course the amount of loans will still depends of the state of economy. 

But the banks are the recent "unlikely" causality. 

My radar is expanding to prepare for further weakness in market...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Random thoughts: Teacher's Day- A confession of a teacher.

Happy early teacher's day! To all my fellow colleagues if any of the readers are teachers. I know of 2 at least. I am speaking for myself only. U dun have to agree with me.

It is a confession because I am a cynical person and although I have a big Ego, some of the motivational slogan is really a bit over the head even for my big ego.

My honest thoughts:

"Teacher, a profession that create all other professions" 

No, the economy creates jobs and hence professionals.

"All doctors, lawyers pass through the hands of a teacher"

You are right, so are most white collar criminals and maybe rapists, robbers and etc. We might have a hand in creating the good but we also have negligent in stopping the evil. If we should not be too harsh on ourselves than we shall not put halo on our heads too. 

To me, it's a wonderful and enriching job nonetheless. U for the 1-3 years, meet someone, they are under your care and u try your best for them to get the best results. Along the way, u hope they learn the soft skills and values, and because u demanded from them, u tried to better yourself. I believed I am a better man no matter how "lousy" in absolute terms, but still better due to my profession. 

The most fulfilling part, is when teaching the weakest of pupils. Pupils who most probably no longer believe they can do it, and yet they improve and become more confident. They are grateful and they become closer to you. The reverse is true, it is more painful when they do worse under your care. 

I know of teachers who double up as social workers. Hats off to them. The spark of human spirit, can be seen in the colleagues who work alongside with you, it is a humbling and lifting experince. 

It is really a job of a boy who throw the starfish back into the sea. It's not going to change the world, and with exception of extreme cases of both pupils and teachers, the impact might not be lifelong .

But no one live forever. Look at yourself, even your parents do not have the biggest dent in your life isn't it? U are the one that draw on your experinces and filter the experinces and become who you are. 

I just hope I can be part of the positive force that shape the filter of experinces in the young mind and heart. 

Happy teacher's day! 

It's my childhood dream. 

My son made me a teacher's day card. I sharing it with u LOL 

See. My son holds mummy's hand and I am the one that always disturb him. Lol.

But I think I more handsome LOL