Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Random thoughts: Joy is both the fuel and fire for sustained learning

They say learning is to change. 

I reflected on my learning journey. What are some of the things that I have been doing on a sustained basis, they are those related in my work and those related to investment. 

The benchmark here is sustainability, not results. Not saying my teaching super solid or my investment skills power. But I am still trying out new ways of teaching despite all odds, even in school. While I might not be able to read as much in the past, I do have a habit of reflecting on the failures of a particular lesson and how to do it better. Same with investment, I still read business news everyday and financial reports of companies under my radar. 

What keep me going? Why didn't I have as much success in areas of health (eat properly or exercise regularly) or spiritually ( Commit to the 5 "commandments")

I ask myself, what have I got from investment. I did have some winnings that gave me a adreline rush at times, but more importantly, it opened up a new perspective. I see things from another angle of business and investment. It's like opening up a new eye. I also make some friends or know some like-minded people. 

In the past, I wanted very much to be acknowledged as "intellect", wanted my analysis of companies to gain followers or approval from guys at value buddies and etc. Well, not that I have gain any recognition, but I felt very at ease now leaving comments at forums or blogs, and enjoy the interaction even if there is no affirmation. 

The same goes with my teaching work. I get a kick at times with delivering superb results, but mainly just enjoy the company of young children. When their eyes go "Kim Kim" I simply felt so satisfied.I also see a world of purity and innocence through the pupils lens. U can say a new perspective too.

My learning at work is really trial and error. I will do a bit more reading now together with talking to people as a way to hone my craft. I have so many ideas to bring back. 

These are my successes at sustainability.

How about health? Do I regularly or whenever possible exercise to eat healthily? Obviously no. 

Do I knowingly not clear my minds of evil thoughts even though I am fully aware of them? Obviously I am not practicing well in my spiritual path too.

Looking at the successes and failure, it is Joy that is present at both successes and absent in both failures.

So what feed joy? Is it small successes? Well, u might not believe me when I say I had six pack belly and can run 2.4 km in 9 minutes during My NS days and still getting Gold in my initial reservist years.

Had I have my success? I did. But it did not sustain. 

Is it compananship of like minded people. That is highly possible an important ingredient. I still run quite a bit during my uni days because it easy to find "ka" to run with and I am not adverse to running alone too. I do have a "ka" to run with in school if I want, but just sianz to do it. 

So the companionship is not just someone to run with me but also share the same joy and frequency in running.

Can I just force myself to do something so that it becomes a habit. They say do it continuously for 18 months and it will become a habit. I say it's deeper than that, the conditions for that habit to develop must stay too, if there is no joy in doing it. I ran every day in my NS days for 2 years. I play Mahjong almost every week in my uni days before I met my wife. 

Of the 2 successes I had, are their periods of "non-joy". U bet. 

In the failures, are their occasional joy too? There is. But in areas of investment and teaching, the practice of it itself is joyful. I can't say the same for controlling my diets. I can say the reverse is true, I enjoy "nuaning" at home and snacking .. LOL

Now, is it possible to program yourself to enjoy what u do almost every time U do it. (Interest, motivation are all lumped together with joy, joy is a simplistic example for positive feeling). This goes back to the question of innate ability or borned with it. 

 I believe there is a certain degree of truth in we are all built for certain things. Some things we do, we just feel so at ease, with the flow. Some we just have to make the efforts to go against the flow. 

U can't program yourself to feel joy. It's a fuel, but it is also a sign of what u are built of, its a signal to tell you if u are in the right place. 

This is not about what we can achieve. U can hate your work and still be rank higher than me in terms of achievements, but given a choice U will jump ship whereas I will continue. 

Making sense? Hope so. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Random thoughts: Buy New, buy used or just renew COE?

I had the weirdest experience.

My friend recently Trade in his previous Toyota Altis for 30K (about same age as mine) and bought a new one.

I thought: Wow, it's still worth so much. Assume Mine is worth 20K, it might be worth it to consider getting a new attrage (the cheapest Japanese saloon in market)

I called the Mitsubishi showroom and ask for a quotation. I was quoted 8K for my Vios of mileage 180k. When I say de-registering the car now or by May would give me 8K too, since my ARF is about 14K and I have 1 more year to go. She didn't reply.

So, guess I am still back to my original plan of renewing COE.

Maybe my friend mileage is low. But the trade-in value is quite ridiculous IMHO.

Had I manage to get a higher trade-in value, the depreciation rate might have convinced me to jump ship and consider getting a new car. But it's about the same rate of depreciation now:

Assume I renew my car for 5 years for 25K and gave up my PARF of 7k. It's 32K. So depreciation is less than7 K a year.

Trading my car for a new Attrage would also mean I get a depreciation of 8K a year.

Not very huge difference if u ask me, but I would have much better cash flow renewing my car since I need not worry about loans. As for servicing or repair, I think it is still much cheaper then paying a loan of about 500-600 per month. 

But I would get to drive 5 years more. I am quite sure my wife would like to have the convience of a car. I would like to provide for that too. 

The savings of $600 over 5 years would be $36000, which could be my downpayment for my next car, if I so wish to get 1. 

I looked at second hand car of 1-2 years too, but a search of Sg carmart for cars register from 2015 onwards show prices about the same for a brand new Attrage. Makes no sense to me again. If I look at cars with 5 years Remaining. It's the same. 

But looking around for options does help me make a more informed choice.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lee metals: Steel delivering

Dividends that is. 

While NP profits fell compared to a year ago, dividends of 2 cents is 0.71 of EPS and 0.35 of FCF. No financially strain here,.

I recently increased my position. I felt 2017 will be a better year for Lee metals. I have holding this company since 2013, and has receive 8.5 cents. Before u poke, let me strip myself- I bought it at a av price 33 cents.

If we track BCA demand, 2015 is a bountiful year. Billing was 35 Billion. 2016 was 26 billion. 2017 minimum range is from 28 billion. The recent budget announcement has 700 mio public project brought forward. Of course, there is a possibility of demand falling short, but that is highly unlikely as these projects are local and mainly government projects (2/3 of projected demand) which will continue.

Next, 2017 steel prices has been on a roll. Increasing steel price is a boon for Lee metals. 

Lee metals is largely owned by family. So it is rather illiquid. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Random thoughts: The sense of urgency as a student

Time flies, as much as I enjoy my semi-retirement life as a student, (Stressfree at full pay, how cool is that?)it is almost at half way point. It is quite a hectic schedule, but stress-free, makes hell a lot of difference. 

I felt an urgency to really read as much as possible, talk to people as much as possible and prepare as much as possible before I go back to school, because I am aware, once I return, my capacity is so stretched that I cannot even think properly.

I have questioned many of my practices,  formed some vague but at least  basic understanding of how to put my core beliefs in education into action. It is inter-connected, but basically, the core pedagogy (enabler) should be differentiation, by-product, joy. The final product is mastery of discipline and not just knowledge. 

From teaching, to coaching, to deployment, there are so many new ideas, it makes me feel so obsolete. I had became a dinosaur before I knew it. 

I wonder how can I find the time to deepen my understanding when I go back, I notice from an idea to a concept, I took quite a while, I read, got ideas, talk to people or write to crystallize the idea, refine it, and the fantastic idea begin to feel "redundant" as more assumptions get challenged, and when I continue to explore and think, it became clearer and clearer,  technically it took 4-6 weeks from the initial birth of an idea to where it is now and it is still changing when I put it into something concrete to bring back.

How different, when I heard my school is embarking on a massive review on assessment and expect one discussion and 2 hours to get it done? Premature babies are seldom healthy and has high mortality rate. But I understand,  2 hours is already a luxury. 

We are all trying to change the tyre when the car is moving. 

I have only half the time left. Will my latest "upgrade" of biological computer last me 5 years? Perhaps, I would go take my Masters, something I never thought I will do. But that is 4-5 years down the route. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Random thoughts: My biggest takeaway as a student

My mental model.

Not the slogan shouting type of positive attitude etc. it's my understanding and analysis lens. 

I now see issues in 2 ways: the pendulum and the ice-berge. 


It's easier to see the faults or weaknesses of current situation. But we sometime forget the trade-off when we swing the other side. Anything extreme is not good. 

But it is important to know where we stand in the arc of pendulum none the less. It makes us aware of how we do damage control or value add in terms of costs of being at this side of the pendulum. 

What is more important, though, is we won't be caught swinging around. If we happen to be at the right side of the swing at the right time, then u get tail wings. When u are at the wrong side, u know u can expect headwinds. Why not just go with the flow. To a certain extend, we all are alreading going with the flow, there is no much choice, but u keep applying resistance such that hopefully one day, the swing comes to the right place. 


What u see, is much lesser than what u don't see. Let me write this part through a story in a mocking manner.


Boss: look why are things so disorganized! Why is sales so bad. 
Men: (glum silence)
Boss: what can we do!
Men: maybe we should look at what difficulties the sale team is facing.
Boss: Yes! You are right. U have 2 days. I want to see surveys done by them, interviews recorded and transcripts sent to my desk. I want action plans on my table. 
Men: Yes sir!

1 week later 

Boss: I have read through, some of the sale staff are not sure what to do. What the heck are u managers doing. I want to see instructional menus given to staff, I want SOP to be established. I want u to brief them on these things, understand! And I want you to closely monitor their performance ! I want spreadsheet! If they need training, u better hell send them there. 


**Get my drift ?? Winks. Ya, I am applying my pendulum thinking in the above too. It has swing too far.  

FSL trust and singpost update

FSL trust

I used to own FSL trust and it has been on my radar since. Many things have happened, and I thought readers should know.

1) CEO left. He made no secret his unhappiness and the board did not mince words in explaining the reasons of letting him go. Apparently, there is some coporate issue and conflict of interest. The Ex-CEO is accused of pursuing his own interest over the trust.

2) Profit guidance. The trust is expected to report loss due to impairment but still positive in generating cash flow.

U can read the announcements from the SGX. When I first read 2 announcements, I am rather tempted to re-enter the counter if the price is good. It is cash flow that determine payout although the impairment might cause stresses on its loan convenant.

However, I decided against it when I read this:


FSL do have 4500-5000  TEU containers chartered to YM and it's a big contributor to revenue.
 While the news state 4500 TEU - 5000 TEU, I am not sure if FSL will be spared.

Yang ming is the biggest contributor. So I will leave it alone.


I will leave FSL behind and is going to leave Singpost behind me. 

Scenario 3 happens. Top line is increasing fine but the bottom line is horrible. The main culprit if u read the presentation is the ballooning expenses in US companies.

The wound did not end there. To add salt to injury, one major customer of the US firm went bankrupt. That is already reduce business dealings with it before it bankrupt is not comfort to me. 1 thing is quite clear, this is a bad deal as there is going to be impairment going forward.

Given the new dividend policy of pegging payout to profits. U can kiss decent dividends good bye.

I am kissing it goodbye come Monday. I still like the company but no longer it's current price 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Random thoughts: Overpaying by 400% for years.

Car servicing and repair, is what I am talking about.

I have always gone to the authorized dealer for servicing and repair. I wanted a peace of mind. The fact that one of my friends had a bad experience with cheaper workshop also created my bias.

Yesterday, my car's air-con was spoilt. I drive it back to Buneo Motors. I was told it was most probably a coil problem. I was quoted $2300 after discount. Although the price is ridiculous, I am still willing to go along with it, as it has become my habit and I thought since I am renewing my car, I might as well get the original part.

Deep inside, I am wondering why it cost so much, since a system 2-3 air con cost the same. 

What broke my back is I was told that since I did a walk-in, my car will be ready earliest on Wednesday, and there is a possibility that I might get it on Thursday.

I chat with the taxi driver and he gave me his workshop contact. I asked for a quotation and it was $600. That's almost 4 times difference. I can change the coil every 2 years and I still save. 

I got a rude shock. I have been a corkster all this time. From year 3 onwards till now. I asked about servicing package and again what I was quoted was 3-4 times cheaper. I had always thought the premium I pay us 30-50% more. Not 3-4 times more. 

Good luck to the new management of buneo motors. I understand some people like to bring their car for servicing in style, with lounge etc. But to close down sin Ming and let customers wait 2 days or more for their car is going to be a bad mistake in Singapore. 

I am going to try their servicing service. The air con is working fine. 

I have been paying for things I don't need, such as a nice lounge, receptionist  etc. I am cheapo, I actually like the no-drill direct talk with the mechanics. 

Good bye buneo motors. I am not coming back. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Random thoughts: meeting friends not seen almost over 2 decades

My college friends, to be precise. 

We meet up during the CNY holidays but did not have enough. One of them is based in China, so we had a Friday lunch together. 5 hours just fly by. 

I have wanted to write a post on my student's life. It is like my FI dream come true. But decided against publishing it. I wouldn't be able to meet them for lunch if I am not a student. A student life is cognitive stimulating but emotional less fulfilling for me, but definitely less mentally and physically taxing.

Anyway, I Digress.

My friends have both climbed up the coporate leaders very successfully, perhaps at the pinnacle for our age group. The first part of our conversation centered around work.

The interesting part is about our aspirations. When I shift the conversation from the tangible to the satisfaction, I was really intrigued.

My friend gave up a high position in a listed company to help a MNC set up a subsidiary in Singapore. It was 3 times more hectic and some nights he totally goes without sleep. He told me he see it as a challenge to build something from scratch. The same goes for the other friend into estate development in China. The satisfaction comes from seeing through the project comes to fruitation.

I was the only one when I shared that my wish is to focus on teaching and take on less management roles and relying on investment income to make up the shortfall in pay. LOL. But we are not judgmental. 

I was taught a valuable lesson too. My friend told me in no uncertain terms that not all gift to a wife is really equal. No, it's not about monetary value. It's about surprise. An agreed gift is not a gift. Lol. Ok. I will create surprise for our anniversary. 

Towards the end, we all finally lossen up a bit, and the feelings of the good old days finally came back, even if it's a fleeing moment, I experience the secondary school feeling of 初心

Random thoughts: Visual metaphor for self-awareness

During my course, there is this module on coaching. 

And my trainer causally remarked that when she was the principal, she actually ask the teachers to think of a metaphor for their school vision.

I did the same for myself and realized a few things.

1) The first image that come to your mind reflect the state of current affairs. U have to be honest and not analyze too much. Just think of what comes to your mind. If it's a beautiful picture, good, if it's a ugly picture. Then u know u dun think too highly of yeh current situation.

2) Next, picture an ideal picture. The first one that comes to your mind. Strangely, after that picture appears, I have no problem explaining the metaphor, and the explanation holds true to my beliefs too.

3) Then it can be a rude awakening of what we are doing and what we visualize it's our perfect belief can be quite different.

Let me share mine:


Teaching- Night sky
I think of my teaching. First picture that comes to mind that sticks. Night sky. Beautiful, calm.

Every stars is my pupils, they all shine, although some brighter than others, but altogether makes up the beautiful sky. There is no need to compete. 

They shine because they reflect the light shone on them, and the are a mirror of they education. 

I am thinking too much of results and hoping all of them to shine brightly. I could not accept perhaps the dim star are also beautiful and make up the sky.

Teaching: The bad (test tubes)

Manipulation for results. Fit what I am doing now like a square.

Money matters- Golden hills

My idea is to have enough to spend such that it will never run out. True enough, I yearn FI

Money matters - begger (the bad)

Realize my low self-esteem too.

Home- Werewolf (bad)

Dun quite understand why this image sticks. Maybe because I have a inner demon? 

Home - Garden 
Close to nature, beatitful flowers that are a sanctuary to the tired. The care for flowers for them to blossom is like my care for my child. 


If u try this mental Exercise, share with me your mental image and let me know if it accurately reflect your beliefs, will yA