Monday, August 14, 2006

Talked about my dad sometime ago.

Found out he has Stage 2 to Stage 3 Liver Cancer.

Looks like I'll be flying up to Taiwan (where he's been living for 30 years). Time to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done.


Hi. Thank you all for your comforting words. The funeral was yesterday.

The passing of my Grandaunty was to me, a very interesting event. I saw (some positive and some negative) facets of people which I had not seen before.

1) The relatives
I was practically adopted by my grandaunt, albeit without any official papers. Born out of wedlock (although my parents married a month later), I was thrust into my grandaunt's arms when I was 2 months' old, and when she was 52. Now, parents out there will know how tough it is to look after a new born when you're in your 20s... this woman was in her 50s!

My grandaunt had a hard life, with all her children passing on before her. Who she had left was her son-in-law (now 78), her 3 grandchildren, her 9 great-grandchildren, and me. In terms of blood ties, I was the furthest one away.

So why was it that it was me and my wife who was taking care of ALL the final details? Or that it was only the 2 of us (together with my children) being at the wake alone for 3 full days? Why was it that the "family" came only on the evening on the 3rd day, only to leave early? In my mind, they behaved more likes guests rather than family members.

Yet when it came time to walk around the casket, they reached out and carressed the casket as though they cared.

It's all BS. It disgusted me. I can't be too bothered to be angry with them. But all this wayang (showmanship) got to me.


It's funny... that the 2 people who were REALLY affected were myself and another girl whom my grandaunty looked after as part of her bid to earn more money. This girl who visited her when she was in the nursing home, who tried to hide her sobs, whose company sent a wreathe dedicated to "her grandmother". Somehow, I felt it was enough that the 2 of us were there... not the grandchildren, nor the great grandchildren.....

2) The friends
My friends came for 3 days in a row.. many repeatedly. They came and they hugged me, joked with me, spent time with me, prayed with me. They knew, inside, that I needed them at this time when I was feeling very vulnerable. I did not expect anything.. but got everything.

Thanks guys

3) The colleagues
One of my colleagues visited unannounced. His presence and the look on his face showed me his concern. Another was tasked to deliver the "pek kim", or the contributions from the office. This one was interesting; she hemmed and hawed.. and finally when she did come, she called me on the phone and asked to me to meet her outside because she had just "gone to the temple and therefore cannot go for such things".. why? So she can pass me the pek kim.

I wanted to tell her to go shove it. I didn't need the money. I didn't need for you to come to give me all this lip service. But I didn't want to insult the rest... but this one, she pissed me off really badly.

Another one of my colleagues covered for half a day in a branch because I was away.. the first thing she did? Write me an email... "condolences.. blah blah.. as this is a mutual swop, please cover my duty on blah blah blah date".


4) My family
My wife and my daughter were with me almost all the time (my boy is 18 months and it was difficult to bring him to the wake). My girl, who is almost 6, took it upon herself to make sure the peanuts and candy were well stocked. She also hugged me.. and comforted me and she sensed that I was down.

Of course, my wife. She was always there for me. Always.

My in laws? Thanks for the home-cooked meals. The quiet looks of concern.

I love you all..

Sorry guys... had to vent vent vent...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

She's gone

After 30 years of being my dad and my mum. After doing what you needn't have done.

Thank you.

Sleep well, Kor Po.

A part of me just died today.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Housing Loans - Fixed or Variable Rates?

Aug 8, 6:11 PM EDT

Fed Leaves Key Interest Rate Unchanged

AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With the economy losing momentum, the Federal Reserve halted the longest unbroken stretch of interest rate increases in recent history Tuesday - a reprieve for millions of borrowers after more than two years of rate pain.

In my line of work, I talk to clients about their mortgages. The current trend is for everyone for look for fixed rates which in my mind is a BIG mistake.

Let's look at the facts, interest rates have been going up and up in the last 2 years, more or less in tandem with the increases in the Fed Funds Rates. In the US, home loan rates are tied up directly to this Fed Funds Rate. In Singapore, however, there is no one rate which ties up all the rates in Singapore. Instead, each bank would have its own Board Rates. These rates can be arbitrarily changed by the individual banks, with no need for any justification to be made to any of their clients. The board rates are loosely linked to the Fed Funds Rates. Most banks, however, looks at the 3-month-Interbank rate when determining whether or not to raise their board rates. (although I totally disagree.. more on that in another post, if I'm in the mood :o) )

2 years ago, when rates were low, clients objected to fixed rates when you mentioned them. Even when rates turned upwards, clients continued to believe that rates would continue to remain relatively low. However, in the last year or so, clients have begun feeling more pain financially. All of a sudden, going "fixed" became more important. In a conversation with a client yesterday, he made it very clear that he would only consider going fixed; "too much lah... the other bank increase so many times... very chia lat you know" was his lament.

The signals have changed. In the last 6 months, the Fed had changed the language of its releases. Then last night it happened. They've stopped the back-to-back interest rate increases. The impact on Singapore? I expect rates to hold steady... there's just no more justification to rise further... Given that the financial system is still flushed with funds, I expect rates to drift downwards.

Fixed rates are typically priced at higher rates than typical variable rate ones. That has always been the case. If one had chosen a fixed rate pacakage 2 years ago, he would be laughing to (at) the bank.. why? Because in a period of rising interest rates, he would have kept his rates at extremely low levels. However, the reverse also holds true. If one chooses to go "fixed" in a period when interest rates are falling, one could end up holding a VERY expensive mortgage.

So... how does one decide? Simple. Do your homework. Keep abreast of market expectations... then take a view. Decide what the interest rate trends are likely to be... then commit.

Don't be too influenced by what your friends say; they may not be well informed.

Think hard.

Good luck. :o)

(My little contribution to the community this National Day)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Last bets, anyone?

My big boss just bet S$2,500 for me to lose 40kgs by December 31st, 2006... and I just accepted.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Up up and away!

.... just like Superman...

*sigh* am running out of progress in the progress package to keep up with ALL the price increases...

Aug 5, 2006
ERP rates at 6 expressway gantries to go up

FROM Monday, motorists and taxi passengers will have to pay an extra 50 cents in road tolls when they pass through six key expressway gantries.
Four of six gantries regulate traffic along the Central Expressway (CTE), while the remaining two affect traffic on the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and the East Coast Parkway (ECP).

The new rate for the Ang Mo Kio gantry on the CTE from 8.30am to 9am will be $1.50, and that for the gantry after Braddell Road from 8am to 8.30am will be $2.

Evening ERP on the CTE will rise in similar fashion - a year after motorists living in the north started paying to get home. Between 6.30pm and 7.30pm, the new rate will be $1.50.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said as recently as May that average speeds on the CTE in the evening peak period had improved from 28kmh to 55kmh with ERP.

That speed is well within the authority's definition of 'optimal traffic flow' of 45-65kmh for expressways.

The authority was unable to comment yesterday on how conditions had deteriorated.

Expressways have the highest traffic volumes. Nearly 10,000 vehicles per hour head north on the CTE during the evening peak. This is about three times the volume on most arterial roads.

The last rate change affecting the CTE is for the gantry at the PIE slip road.

Elsewhere, the new rate for the Fort Road gantry on the ECP from 8.30am to 9am will be $2.

On the PIE, motorists will have to pay $1 to pass the Kallang Bahru gantry from 8.30am to 9am.

The increases will also affect other categories of vehicle.

For instance, very heavy trucks and buses will be charged $5 (up from $4) at the PIE slip road into the CTE from 8am to 8.30am.

The LTA monitors travelling speeds on the expressways and roads in the Restricted Zone and radial roads where the ERP system is in operation every quarter, and also for the June and December school holidays.

Following each review, the ERP rates will be adjusted to maintain travelling speeds of 45kmh to 65kmh for expressways and 20kmh to 30kmh for arterial roads.


I had my friends from work over last night. Cooked them a Hainanese Chicken Rice meal using a recipe from Chubby Hubby. Brilliant! :o). I'm really happy to have found the ultimate solution to soft, succulent chicken. Me? I'm a sucker for soft (chicken) breasts...

I just had my 6-year-old daughter ask me to draw and cut out a heart shape for her. She's in a good mood, I can tell, and we have a family date to go out the Poison Ivy at Bollywood Veggies tomorrow for lunch. We like the food there. No MSG and excessive salt. Just wholesome (organic) food, nice home-like atmosphere and interesting owner in the form of Ivy Singh-Lim. My 17-month-old boy has just changed out of his pyjama's and is urging me to "let's go" downstairs for breakfast.

I am sitting in my study, in my HDB flat somewhere near Siglap... and I'm feeling really happy. Strange, how can it be when I am not able to quantify my happiness? I feel really contented. I'm not a millionaire but I think I'm really wealthy.

My friend asked me last night if I would consider buying a private property for investment. Perhaps. But that's really not important... neither is having a huge car, or millions in the bank (although THAT would be REALLY nice)

What makes you happy my friends? Think about it and write it out. This will really help you filter all the unimportant things that are troubling you.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hokien 101

My initiation into the world of Hokien pop :
Very funny.. even has a line with talks of exploring the world, eating spaghetti by the roadside

Na sih gua wu ji pa ban...

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